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The Best Workout Leggings for Going Commando

Any former ballerina will tell you: Underwear is not required for exercising.

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A model wearing Carbon 38 leggings and sports bra Photo: Carbon 38

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Going commando while working out is a thought that had never even occurred to me. But a few weeks ago, while talking with a group of friends, I learned that some people simply don’t wear underwear when they work out. Sure, I’d invested in special athletic underwear about three years ago, but not wearing any at all?

A beauty industry executive told me, “I started going commando in my workout leggings because it always felt more comfortable than underwear riding up in every single possible place. I’d rather have nothing than deal with bunching. Also, I’m an ex-ballerina — we NEVER wore underwear under our leotards and tights.”

Caroline White, designer of the athleisure brand Sukishufu, recalls a similar experience as a gymnast: "When I was competing, going commando when wearing a leotard was a given. As crazy as this sounds, you could actually have marks deducted from your score if your underwear showed.”

And a wellness writer friend of mine concurred: “I just hate being able to see the lines, especially if I'm doing something post-workout.”

With that, I asked every woman I know (and some I don’t) to weigh in on the best leggings to wear if you’re not planning on wearing underwear. (And if you’re not quite ready to skip the briefs, we got you covered there, too.)

A woman in gray workout leggings and a sports bra
A woman in gray workout leggings and a sports bra

Dear Kate Go Kommando Leggings, $109

Dear Kate is the first of two brands on this list to make underwear, first and foremost. CEO HongJoo Sunare explains that the leggings, which are literally called Go Kommando, are “lined with our revolutionary underlux fabric technology” and “are designed to be worn with nothing underneath.”

The underlux is sewn into the crotch in a shape that’s similar to a maxi pad. The proprietary fabric is made of three layers that are all sweat-wicking, absorbent, and stain resistant.

A woman in black workout leggings and a black sports bra
A woman in black workout leggings and a black sports bra

Terez Silver Racer Performance Leggings, $87

“The breathability of a Terez legging is what separates us from the rest,” says the brand’s creative director and co-founder, Amanda Schabes. “Some might argue that it's the long underwear of fitness, but in the form of a fully functional performance legging. Like a second skin!”

A few of Terez’s best prints are the artistic Black Geo and the Sunset — Schabes recommends the Silver Sequins or Fair Isle Purple to get in the holiday spirit.

A woman in shiny black workout leggings
A woman in shiny black workout leggings

Carbon 38 Elasticity Leggings, $115

Carbon38 leggings are all moisture-wicking and feature a wider crotch gusset (that little piece of extra crotch-reinforcing fabric that you want all of your activewear to have), which leads to a closer and more comfortable fit on the hips,” explains Yoon Chung, the company’s chief merchant. She explains that the wider gusset eliminates that backrise seam cutting into the body and offers a contouring, defining shape to the butt.

The in-house line from the athletic wear e-tailer is a favorite for comfort and well-suited to going commando. Try the higher-waisted Takara Leggings in the seasonally appropriate emerald hue, or the black-but-not-boring Elasticity Leggings.

a woman in printed leggings
A woman in printed yoga leggings

Beyond Yoga Lux Palette Essential Long Legging, $69

For a commando-approved option from Beyond Yoga, check out the Lux Print collection. The fabric on these leggings has, as co-founder and CEO Michelle Wahler explains, “a super comfortable four-way stretch, cooling properties, and is quick drying — all very important characteristics ​to look out for​."

A woman in black and blue workout capris with mesh detail
A woman in black and blue workout capris with mesh detail

Alala Captain Crop Tight, $105

Alala’s leggings were the first ones I test-drove; the brand was ahead of the curve on the mesh-inset legging trend, and its Captain Crop, in all its various (and even customizable) iterations is still the best around, thanks to a quick-drying nylon fabric with anti-chafing flat seams.

If leggings aren’t your thing, definitely try the track shorts. Like many shorts, they’ve got built-in underwear — and unlike many shorts, they feel like silk.

A woman in black workout leggings
A woman in black workout leggings

Commando Perfect Legging Control, $72

The second brand on this list known first and foremost (ironically) for underwear, Commando has branched into bottoms that you can, well, go commando in. “Our leggings are made from an amazing smoothing fabric that is completely opaque, and never bags, sags, or fades. Because no one wants to have panty lines during downward dog,” Kerry O'Brien, founder and designer of the brand, explains.

A woman in striped yoga leggings
A woman in striped yoga leggings

K-Deer Signature Stripe Leggings, $98

Kristine Deer, founder of K-Deer, is blunt about it: “We sweat from every angle and when you're not in the right fabric, everyone knows about it,” she says. “For women who sweat, the last thing you need is a bunch of fabric that retains moisture and can cause an unhealthy odor or even worse, irritation or infection.”

The case for working out commando in K.Deer comes down to the the lightweight, compressing, moisture wicking, quick-drying fabric used for every style made. Deer explains that it’s the traditional hiked-up center front seam that causes discomfort, and K-Deer’s leggings simply don’t have that seam. “With our leggings, because the fit is snug designed for the female anatomy, going commando is encouraged and often preferred by yogis and runners alike. Without that center front seam, there's no friction.”

A woman in purple workout leggings
A woman in purple workout leggings

Ultracolor Ultra Silk Triz Legging, $185

First things first, these leggings have a built-in thong, but they’re staying in the commando category because you’ll still have less laundry to do, which is, at least, one motivating factor for ditching underwear. “The initial intent of Ultracor was to create a sexier legging than what was already out in the market,” Melissa Pizzuto, the brand’s designer, says. “We wanted shapewear that gives you a butt lift, no camel toe, and no panty lines, so that women can feel extra confident and wear their leggings without having to cover up with a long T-shirt.”

They’re expensive, but they’re also a premium product — the printing, bonding, and laser technology used to create those sexy cutouts is all proprietary, and the product itself is manufactured at a company-owned facility in Los Angeles. One pair will set you back $185, but hey, at least you don’t have to worry about camel toe.

a woman in black shiny workout leggings

Sukishufu Hustle Black Velvet Leatherback Legging, $140

Founder Caroline White recommends taking the Hustle Black Velvet Leatherback Legging for a commando run. “Suki only uses opaque fabrics and we cut and then test our garments from all angles to ensure that you are comfortable, and importantly, well-covered no matter what you get up to,” she explains.

They’ve got a fully-lined gusset and provide UPF 50+ protection. If the idea of working out in velvet seems obscene, think again. As the brand explains, “Technical Velvet has been around for many years and used in performance wear for dance, ballet, and gymnastics, and is this season’s key trend in ready-to-wear.”