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The best leggings for working out, hanging out, and more

By now you’ve probably heard that leggings are outpacing jeans as America’s most popular pants—and while we’ll never relinquish our denim entirely, we have to admit that the comfort quotient of the former is really beyond compare.

That said, not all leggings are created equal: the best ones need to maintain their stretch, hold firm at the waist, and sit comfortably rather than digging in. If they’re made for performance, they should be breathable, and if they’re billed as thermal, they should have enough insulation to keep you warm through even the coldest winter days.

Different types of leggings serve different purposes, and with the panoply of options out there these days, there’s something out there for everyone.

Some, like American Giant’s The Pant or Community’s Junetown legging, are specifically designed for outside-the-gym wear—the former is made from a heavier-weight ponte fabric that does, in fact, feel more “pant-like” than your average around-the-house leggings, while the latter is made from a luxe merino knit. Pair them with a longer top or oversize sweater for weekends, and you can get away with wearing them all day long.

Others, like Uniqlo’s Heattech leggings, are, in my experience, too thin to stand on their own as “pants,” but are a godsend in the winter layered under dresses, sweatpants, or jeans (if you’re a skier, think of them as an everyday version of long underwear).

Finally, there are the workout tights—which, thanks to athleisure, don’t actually have to be worn to work out. These should be totally opaque (downward dogs and all that), so-comfy-you-don’t-feel-them, and not totally boring—if we’re going to drag ourselves to the gym at 7 a.m., we’d at least like some fun mesh panels and maybe even some color or print to help motivate us.

Swipe right to shop 18 tried-and-tested pairs of leggings you’ll want to live in.

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