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On days when I am not required to be in an office, there is a 100 percent chance I’ll be sporting leggings and a T-shirt. While I love wearing leggings, I straddle the line between two sizes — my legs are a size small while my butt requires a medium — which can make finding the right pair difficult.
Other women who are blessed in the derrière department know the struggle: Too often, leggings that fit your legs nicely will stretch too tight over your butt, turning see-through when you bend over (and treating the girls behind you at yoga or barre class to a show they did not consent to). One option is to size up, but then you end up with leggings that are baggy on your legs, and honestly, what’s the point?
Most high-end activewear brands will have kickass leggings options that are super stretchy, opaque, sweat-wicking, shaping, and flattering as heck. This is fantastic news if you have $128 to spend on magical Lululemon tights, but that’s a lot — and is kind of a waste if you don’t plan to actually work out in the gear.
Over the years, I’ve tested out countless brands and pairs in a huge range of prices and have found several styles of leggings that fit correctly on big-bottomed girls — as well as developed a few tips for picking out the right pair off the rack.
First, always look for a high-waisted option. This will help you avoid the leggings sliding down your waist and exposing the top of your underwear, or worse, your ass crack. Anything labeled “low-rise” is likely to be disastrous.
Before you even bother taking an item to the dressing room, try what I call the “nail test.” Put your hand inside the leggings and pull the fabric over the nail of your thumb. If you can see the color of your nail or nail polish, put the leggings down and walk away immediately.
I also always look closely at the label. Is there a high percentage of a stretchy fabric in the blend? The more spandex or elastane, the better.
And it might sound ridiculous, but while in the dressing room, try squatting and taking a photo of your butt at the same time. Use the camera flash if you’re shameless like me, because we all know dressing room lighting is rubbish. If that makes you at all uncomfortable, I recommend ordering things online, examining them in the comfort of your own home (where it’s much easier to take butt selfies), and returning rejects at your leisure.
To help you narrow down the search, here are seven of my very favorite leggings brands that will showcase your booty without exposing it. (Please forgive the models for their small behinds; I promise these all pass the test.)
Outdoor Voices: I was convinced that these leggings were too good to be true and that all the cool, pale colors would be entirely see-through (in my experience, the paler the color, the more see-through it ends up). I was wrong. These leggings have a lot of compression, which means they make round butts look extra-fantastic, and there’s a hidden waistband pocket for keys or cash.
Björn Borg: I have a completely obnoxious pink cheetah-print pair of Björn Borg Wayan Leggings, which are tragically no longer in stock, but I am currently coveting the BB Phoebe Tight ($39.95) and BB Pandora Tight ($59.95).
Aerie: I picked up the Aerie Chill Hi-Rise Legging (currently on sale for $20) in a blue dotted print that I basically live in. It’s hyper-soft and comfy, ideal for sitting on my sofa all day or for gentle movement classes like Pilates. The Aerie Move ⅞ Legging (currently on sale for $30) is also excellent.
American Apparel: American Apparel may be disappearing as we know it, but grab the brand’s Nylon Tricot High-Waist Legging ($42) while you can — right now you can still buy them online in select sizes. They are completely opaque and go with everything. The Shiny Legging ($42) is equally delightful.
Alo Yoga: Admit it, you’ve seen pictures of very flexible yogis wearing these leggings on Instagram. They are pricey but also perfect. May I recommend the High-Waist Moto Legging ($118) and the High-Waist Goddess Legging ($102)?
Terez: These leggings are outrageously comfortable and come in a variety of cool prints that will show nary a hint of what lies beneath. I am counting down the days until the Women’s Emoji Performance Legging ($78) comes in the new tall band style.
Nancy Rose Performance: The compression fit is strong with these ones — like, almost too strong. But they look so good. So, so good. The Cheetah Print Plank Pant ($98) and High-Waist Besom Pant ($108) are amazing.