Insomniac Sale Picks: Quality Leggings

*In this late-night feature – which will run Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of each week – I’ll gather up three fun items that are currently on sale online and share them with you! I would LOVE suggestions: Stylish wide-width pumps? Classic v-necked sweaters? Chandelier earrings? Petite dress slacks? What would you like to see featured?*

MANY of you requested a few picks for quality leggings, so here we go:

HUE Ultra Leggings with Wide Waistband – was $36, now $33.50

While I don’t own this exact pair of HUE leggings, I’ll tell you this: Most of my pairs are from Old Navy and Target, and are all bagging at the knee after less than two years of wear. My HUE pairs? Still in great shape after two years of wear. The style shown above includes a wide waistband, which I personally adore, so I’m calling them a good bet! Available in sizes XS – XL.

Miraclebody by Miraclesuit Basic Ponte Leggings – was $96, now $67.20

So here’s what I’ve learned: If you’re looking for warm, sturdy, high-quality leggings that won’t bag or sag and never show your skintone through the cloth, what you’re really looking for is skinny ponte pants. Or ponte leggings, like these. Ponte isn’t as cheap as the spandex/cotton blends, but it lasts longer, looks better, and keeps you warmer. This pair has a high waist and slim leg, and is available in sizes 2 – 16.

Smartwool Midweight Natural Rise Bottom – was $80, now $61.99

This is a risky pick, I know, since this legging is technically a base layer. But I’m putting it out there for a few reasons: Smartwool makes great stuff, these leggings are 100% merino which means they’ll be incredibly warm, and they receive rave user reviews. Does anyone own these babies? Are they too thin for legging use? Available in XS – XL.

(Can you tell I’m SCRAMBLING? I’d actually love some input on sources for great leggings from you folks! Please share!)

Other not-currently-on-sale resources for quality leggings:

  1. Eileen Fisher – They will not be cheap, but they will be fabulously made.
  2. Athleta – My impression is that athletic leggings may have a higher nylon/spandex content, but they are built for constant, hard use. The Finesse Legging sounds like a good bet, and it comes in petite, tall, and plus sizes.
  3. Nordstrom – From athletic brands to plus sizes, there’s a ton to choose from. See especially offerings from Wolford.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

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27 Responses to “Insomniac Sale Picks: Quality Leggings”

  1. Kat

    Speaking of athletic leggings–I wear my Under Armour ColdGear running tights as leggings basically all the time in winter, but they do look like athletic wear, so only for casual outfits. They *are* toasty warm, though…

  2. Emi at Project Swatch

    I’ve never bought expensive, or even mid-priced, leggings – mine are all $6 target leggings, and while they don’t last very well, $6 is an easy replacement cost. I wonder if going up a notch in quality would be worth it in the long run.

  3. Aris Merquoni

    As far as base layers go, Icebreaker is pretty terrific. Their sizes on leggings are pretty strict (I can wear their XL tops and underwear, but can’t fit their leggings quite–and XL is their largest size,) but like Smartwool they’re 100% merino and very comfy. I mean, not itchy at all. Catch their end-of-season clearance events and you’ve got yourself quality stuff for the long haul.

  4. JB

    I’ve been a big fan of Smartwool for years, but I recently heard that their quality has gone down since they were purchased by Timberland. Do you know anything about that?

  5. Leslie

    I have the smartwool leggings – bought as an under-layer for winter workouts. They are very warm and comfortable, have an obvious overlock seam on the outer leg which might deter one from using them as leggings although I have. Didn’t wear them much this winter because it was crazy mild here in Michigan but expect to continue using them for years given how well every smartwool piece I’ve owned has held up.

  6. Sarah

    I have a pair of Danksin black leggings that I’ve been wearing for a few years already. They are only a little bit faded, since I wash them in cold water and never stick them in the dryer. I read somewhere once that they were Vera Wang’s favorites, and decided they might be good to try. They are also quite reasonably priced. More than four years later, they are in great shape!

  7. Kasmira

    I recently purchased a pair of We Love Colors leggings (in the matte finish). Very comfortable, thick, and resilient.

  8. Anneesha

    Thanks for the high-waist option! I carry a little extra weight in the lower tummy area – exactly where all waistbands hit. Yesterday I had a huge waistband bulge from tshirt hem + waistband of tights, slip and undies ALL hitting in the same 1″ circumference. I’ve found though that chopping off knit tops (used as an underlayer to keep neckline modest) at the ribcage solves this somewhat. But high waist leggings would smooth it all out.

    I like Old Navy’s extremely skinny pants for use as leggings.

  9. Mrs.M in MI

    Last year I received a pair of leggings from Vera Wang’s line for Kohl’s and they are nice and thick and have held up extremely well. They also have a nice high rise. This year I bought some Old Navy leggings because they had the colors I wanted and while they are OK, they are not as nice as the Vera Wang ones.

  10. maria

    Thanks for these, Sal! I picked up a pair of those Hue leggings and they are fabulous!

  11. laura @ in widening circles

    I know I’m really late to the party, but I just threw out a pair of American Apparel leggings (purchased before I realized what a shit-tastic company they are, so I wasn’t sad to retire them when they ripped). Anyway… I picked up a pair of leggings from One Tooth Yoga. I guess they’re popular in Canada but their first US retail location is not far from me in Milwaukee. I don’t work for them, I promise, but their leggings are GREAT! There’s a very small logo on the outside, but it’s up high by the waistband so if I wear them for something other than yoga (like to work! squeeeee!), they look like totally normal leggings. Thick, no skin show-through and never sag or bag.

  12. Heather

    I have a pair of Smartwool bottoms that are very similar to what you linked to. Mine are black and I do wear them as leggings sometimes – they are certainly thick enough. The only drawback is that they aren’t really that stretchy, so they get a bit baggy at the knees. They are very warm and comfy, though.

  13. Becky

    I have a pair of I/O Bio Merino wool baselayer bottoms in a delicious purpley color they called “Jelly”. I tried using them as leggings, but the lack of stretch make them too baggy in the knees. They definitely looked like long johns. However, as a lovely warm baselayer, they are fantastic.

  14. K

    You discovered my winter legging secret! Since I don’t own a pair of proper leggings, this winter I got really lazy and started wearing a pair of black thermal base layer leggings under my sweater dresses and boots. The fit is a little baggier, but at -20 who cares!

  15. Jenny

    I got a *wonderful* pair at Express just before Christmas. They’re leggings, but nice and thick and with a waistband and zipper. I loved them to much that I went to their website to get more, but they were already sold out.

  16. Sarah

    For those of you with Costco memberships, I got a two-pack of DKNY leggings for $15. They are not cotton-y material, so no fading. No show-through either. They look tiny when you take them out of the package, but they’re designed to kind of suck everything in. Waist hits just below belly button. So far they have held up well; I wash them on gentle cycle in a lingerie bag and line dry.

  17. Carmen

    I bought a pair of Ann Taylor Loft capri length leggings a few years ago and they held up for a long time – I was really sad when they ripped this fall. But I beat my leggings up, so it wasn’t that surprising. I don’t think they’d be warm enough for really cold weather (I live in Northern California – “winter” for us is in the 50’s) but they were good quality, and hit me at the perfect capri length. That NEVER happens, I have super short legs! I did get the full length leggings from Loft and while they are good quality, they are way too long.

    I bought some capri length from Target this year and they lasted me about 2 months. What a waste.

  18. Linda

    I like Gap skinny ponte pants for a nice thick legging. They come in petite, regular and tall.

  19. Katie

    I’m not sure if Lululemon is available in the US, but here in Canada, that’s my go-to brand for leggings! It is, of course, on the pricey side, but so worth it! Because I have a thick waist and a rounded tummy, most regular-rise leggings cut me off, so I own 2 pairs of the Lululemon Will pant:

    It’s foldable but I wear the waistband all the way up and it makes me look 10 lbs lighter 🙂

  20. Suze

    Athletic leggings (from Athleta and such) will stand up to hard wear but they can be quite hot. I live in the south and don’t wear them as street wear even in the winter. HUE leggings make more sense, or even smartwool as merino breathes well.

  21. M

    Background info to put my opinion in perspective. I wear leggings pretty much every single day, no matter the weather. I live in Southern California, so my winters are more mild than most, but I have also spent time in places like Michigan in winter. Size-wise I am at the upper end of normal sizes/small plus sizes, depending on the line. I wear leggings partially because I am fairly active in my daily life (biking, walking around the city, running up and down subway stairs) and don’t want to have to change when I move from one activity to another.

    -I own a few pairs of Hue leggings (both jegging type material and a smooth nylon) and they are thicker material than others leggings, but as a woman with ample thighs that touch while walking, they pill SUPER badly and quickly. Some of them also look somewhat sloppy because I am short and the leggings are always too long so I try to wear them with boots. Color selection is ok (their tights have a better color selection.) You can also frequently find them on sale at Macy’s.

    -I actually like older Forever 21 cotton leggings. ($5-$10) Oddly enough, the cotton Forever 21 leggings seem to be much worse quality now than in the past. Pairs I purchased this past summer are already filled with holes, but others I bought years ago are still fine. They also used to carry way more colors in the plus sized line (purple, grey, blues, brown, etc.) Now I’m lucky to find a single pair in my size in black. They have a MUCH larger selection of colors and materials in the non-plus sizes. I don’t know how those hold up. Personally, I’ve never had knee bagging issues.

    – At Ross I’ve found a nylon leggings from a brand named “Miss Juli” that I really like ($5-$10). Unfortunately they are kinda like super thick pantyhose, which means they can get runs, but in the years I’ve been wearing them, it seems to usually happen in the upper part, which is fine with me since I always wear a skirt or dress on top. I’ve only found them in black so far.

    I’ve tried other brands and leggings and sometimes it’s a crapshoot to determine which pairs I’ll love and while I won’t. I got some cute textured leggings in neutral colors in a cotton/nylon blend from Deb Shops. They are probably awesome in colder climates, but I was uncomfortably warm this winter in Southern California when I tried to wear them. Target has a variety of leggings actually – the cheapest ($5-$10) cotton ones (kinda thin, never seem to be in stock in my size and with my body shape, the thick elastic is not flattering, at all), “paper label” leggings ($8-$13) which are a bit nicer and come in more varieties & rolled footless tights ($2-$5), which are cheap, soft and come in a variety of colors and don’t end up bagging at the knees. The fit of the footless tights in a single marked size can be extremely variable. I’ve read good things about the Danskin leggings, but have never purchased a pair myself.

  22. Anjela

    I own six pairs of SmartWool midweight black leggings. I started wearing them 10 years ago when my stepmom bought me a pair for Christmas, and I buy a pair or two when I can catch them on sale in the spring. I wear them under my clothes nearly every day from October through March, because I am one of those people who perpetually runs cold, and these are the only things I have found to save me from being miserably cold all winter. For as much wear as I’ve subjected them to, I’d say that they’ve held up exceedingly well. That is my glowing, wholehearted endorsement for Smartwool Midweight Leggings as a cold weather layering piece. I can probably count on my two hands, though, the number of times I’ve worn them on their own as leggings, and it has always been because I forgot to pack pants in my gym bag or because I came across a surprise opportunity to go to the gym, and they’re better than trousers for working out. I don’t think they’re suitable for everyday wear on their own because the texture just doesn’t look quite right, and as a previous commenter pointed out, by the end of the day they do bag at the knees a bit (and, as I have found, in the bottom).

    My favorite all-around leggings are Lululemon Wunder Unders. They are kind of finicky in terms of care (you have to wash them with other synthetics, and without fabric softener if you want them to maintain their moisture-wicking properties), but they don’t show skin through them when they’re stretched over your curvy parts, they’re great in cold or hot weather, and the gusset keeps your anatomy from showing. You can wear them with your long and lean looks for work or errands, and then you can wear them at the gym with your workout gear. They’re pricey, but for as much use as I get out of mine, I have found them to be worth it. I especially love their reversible Wunder Unders–you can get two colors for the price of one!

  23. Anna

    Lululemon! Pre-shrunk so you can stick them in the dryer. Free hemming for the entire life of the product. Many of them are also reversible and most of the time in a different color and/or pattern.

  24. Kelly

    Read this yesterday, happened to be in NYC for the day, raced over to Lord & Taylor to see if they carried any, bought the Hue leggings you mentioned at the top of this post. LOVE them!. They are a substantial double knit with a flattering seam down the front. They look more like skinny pants than tights and they are just what I was looking for! Thank you!

  25. tess

    I too live in NorCal and wear leggings six days out of seven. So I am trawling the comments looking for ideas.

    I have the Hue Ultra wide-waistband ones and I’m not totally thrilled. (Kelly, mine don’t have a seam down the front, that sounds pretty cool.) The cotton is thick but they are loose on my thin calves and very, very long. But! They come in grey.

    At Nordstrom I tried on a pair called, I think, Lisse. They were also wide waistband. Didn’t hit me in the right place but on someone else could be awesome.

    Does anyone have any ideas for good ones that *aren’t* black?

  26. holly

    I ave found the PBL perfect black leggings at

    These leggings are amazing with no muffin top no see through and no bagging. High grade cotton with great stretch and fit up to a size 22.