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You didn't choose your height, but you can choose these leggings.
High-rise leggings are like the miracle workers of the pant world. They smooth your stomach, lift your booty, and create the illusion of longer legs. And who wants to wear a sports bra with low-rise leggings? Not us.
Yet finding the perfect high-waisted pair isn’t easy. With so many brands out there today, it’s hard to decipher which styles are worth the money over which ones roll, pinch, or simply show too much skin. So we spoke with fitness experts and then researched the best leggings in high quality materials, extensive size ranges and inseams, and various compression levels. Whether you’re looking to lounge in a pair of high-waisted leggings, want one for your most intense workout sessions, or need a few for your growing belly as a mom-to-be, we found the best pairs that you can add to your virtual cart right now.
Best Overall : Alo Yoga High-Waist Airlift Legging
What We Love: Alo’s signature soft and stretchy Airlift fabric feels like a second skin while still providing smoothing and sculpting.
What We Don’t Love: The 28-inch inseam may be too long for petite figures.
There’s nothing quite like a buttery pair of leggings, and Alo Yoga’s High-Waist Airlift Leggings is the best on the market in our book. Constructed with an unbeatable softness and four-way stretch, these leggings will move with you during your workouts and errand runs. The extra-wide waistband sculpts and smooths while the high compression material lifts your booty for extra confidence with every step.
Further, you can trust the durability and excellence of this style thanks to Alo’s initiative to wear-test their products in-house—a definite bonus once you consider its higher price point. We also love the sheer number of colorways to choose from; there are three neutral “core” options and 12 brighter, bolder hues (like teal green and fluorescent pink) for you to peruse before you add to cart. With a 28 inch inseam, the legging may be a bit long for shorter folks, so you may want to consider the ⅞ High-Waist Airlift Legging instead.
Price at time of publish: $128
Sizes: XXS-XL | Colors: 14 | Material: Polyester, elastane | Length: 28.5 inches | Compression: Light
Best Budget: Old Navy Extra High-Waisted PowerChill Hidden-Pocket Leggings
What We Love: These affordable leggings come in a wide range of sizes and offer smart features, like hidden pockets.
What We Don’t Love: With light compression, these leggings aren’t meant for intense workouts.
Old Navy has been one of our go-to spots for budget-friendly athleisure pieces for as long as we can remember, so believe us when we say that the brand’s Extra High-Waisted PowerChill Hidden-Pocket Leggings are the real deal. There are tons of features that make this pair a must-have in your rotation aside from the low price point, including the lightweight, cotton blend material with four-way stretch for added flexibility and the flatlock seams that prevent that frustrating chafing feeling. A hidden pocket in the waistband for keys or cash? Say less. We also have to applaud Old Navy for its extensive size range as well as offering this style in tall and petite inseams. The cotton makeup and light compression make these leggings better suited for the couch than the court, but hey, we’re not complaining. For your workout needs, we recommend checking out Old Navy’s High-Waisted Power Soft Leggings.
Price at time of publish: from $16
Sizes: XS-4X (also available in petite and tall size ranges) | Colors: 5 | Material: Polyester, Tencel modal, cotton, spandex | Length: 28 inches (regular), 26 inches (petite), 32 inches (tall) | Compression: Light
Best Splurge: Year of Ours Ribbed Football Legging
What We Love: The adjustable waistband allows for a custom fit.
What We Don’t Love: We wish it came with a pocket for our phone.
Do you ever wish you could adjust the waistband of a legging, making it tighter or looser? Well that’s the beauty of these drawstring leggings, a genius design that makes us willing to pay the extra price. We’ve worn these pants on long plane rides and road trips, and never once felt uncomfortable, because we could adjust the tightness. Plus they don’t roll down since they are the right fit. Besides the comfort factor, there’s something intriguing about the lace-up design, which can help you snatch your waist if you please. Who knew a style borrowed from football could be sexy?
The medium compression makes the material versatile for all sorts of activities while the ribbing adds some stylish texture. Not to mention, this pair comes in 14 different colors, from mint green to hot pink to classic neutrals, so you’re guaranteed to find a hue to match your favorite sports bras or workout tops. The only thing that could make this pair better? A side pocket, but stashing your phone in the waistband works too.
Price at time of publish: $125
Sizes: XS-2X | Colors: 14 | Material: Nylon, spandex active rib | Length: 26.5 inches | Compression: Medium
Best Plus-Size: Superfit Hero Superhold Pocket Leggings
What We Love: This style comes exclusively in plus-sizes, and the fabric is thick, compressive, and squat-proof.
What We Don’t Love: The brushed fabric easily picks up pet hair and lint.
When it comes to finding plus-size activewear, not many brands can boast quality pairs with inclusive sizing like SuperFit Hero can. The brand’s Pocket Leggings are made exclusively in sizes L through 7X, and each size is fit-tested by real athletes. Super compressive with non-slip and non-roll security, the Pocket Leggings will become your new best friend during high-impact workouts. And when your routines calls for squats and deadlifts, the opaque, quick-drying fabric has got you covered. As the name suggests, there’s two roomy pockets for stashing your phone and other essentials. While the brushed fabric is super soft, it does attract pet hair and lint easily, so if you have a fur baby, you may want to go with another style.
Price at time of publish: $98
Sizes: L-7X | Colors: 6 | Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 29 inches | Compression: High
Best Petite: Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation 7/8 Tight
What We Love: The petite size range available for this pair allows shorter shoppers to wear quality leggings without them looking ill-fitting.
What We Don’t Love: These aren’t the most booty-enhancing leggings that we’ve seen.
Anyone who is petite knows that shopping for leggings is a pain as too many styles bunch at the ankles or go up way too high, nearly reaching your rib cage. That’s why we love Athleta, one of the brands that actually offer leggings in petite sizes.
Jessie Diaz-Herrera, a certified fitness instructor and creator of the body-positive dance movement Free the Jiggle, is also a fan. “If you're looking for a lighter but still strong hold, I would go with the Ultra High-Rise Elation 7/8 Tight,” Diaz-Herrera says. “I personally get them at 7/8 length because I'm 5 '1 and don't gather on the bottom. Great short girl hack!”
Crafted from the brand’s signature Powervita fabric, the leggings are buttery soft yet offer medium compression, especially in the tummy area thanks to a three-layer waistband with mesh inner lining. While we love the supportive waistband complete with a back pocket, some wish the waist seam sat higher in the back to better define the booty.
Price at time of publish: $89
Sizes: XXS-3X (petite and tall size ranges available) | Colors: 6 | Material: Nylon, lycra | Length: 25 inches (regular/plus), 23 inches (petite), 28 inches (tall) | Compression: Medium
Best Tall : Carbon38 High Rise Full-Length Legging
What We Love: A 31-inch inseam makes this pair the perfect full-length fit for a tall wearer.
What We Don’t Love: The light fabric may not feel supportive enough for high impact workouts.
Simple, sleek, lightweight—Carbon38’s High-Rise Full-Length Legging boasts these qualities and more, and is especially perfect if your stature is on the taller side. With a full-length inseam of 31 inches and ultra-wide waistband, this style doesn’t fall short on tall shoppers who are tired of ill-fitting leggings. The brand’s signature “Melt” fabric offers buttery softness and light compression, which may not be supportive enough for vigorous activity, but can be perfect for hot girl walks and running errands. We’re also obsessed with the range of neutrals, bold hues like fuchsia and aqua, and earth tones like brown and olive.
Price at time of publish: $108
Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 7 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Length: 31 inches | Compression: Light
Best Color Options: Colorfulkoala Women's Buttery Soft High Waisted Full-Length Leggings
What We Love: These affordable leggings come in more than 20 colors.
What We Don’t Love: With light compression, these bottoms don’t shape or sculpt as much as others.
Everyone needs a pair of colorful leggings in their wardrobe, and few compare to this budget-friendly find from Colorfulkoala. Buttery-soft, flexible with a four-way stretch, and ultra-lightweight, this high-waisted pair is the perfect addition to your usual leggings rotation — there’s even a hidden waistband pocket. For added comfort and to prevent chafing, the Buttery Soft Leggings are constructed with flatlock seams on the legs — a plus if you’re averse to bulky seams found with other styles. Though they have a thick waistband, some wished the leggings offered more sculpting throughout. While we love this pair for a multitude of reasons, we can’t get over the fact that leggings of this quality are under $25 — and come in more than 20 colorways.
Price at time of publish: $23
Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 21 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Length: 28 inches | Compression: Light
Best Compression: Girlfriend Collective Compressive High-Rise Legging
What We Love: The size range is extensive and there are even three different inseam lengths offered to accommodate petite and tall shoppers.
What We Don’t Love: Some of the lighter shades can show sweat and panty lines.
The Compressive High-Rise Legging is Girlfriend Collective’s best-selling legging, and we’re not stumped as to why. Ideal for high-impact activities like running and biking, this style will keep you feeling supported without limiting your flexibility (thanks to the material’s four-way stretch), and quickly wicks away sweat. The waistband is also double-layered for added security, and even comes with a hidden pocket for storing smaller items while on-the-go. Who knew recycled water bottles could produce such high performance fabric?
We especially love how extensive Girlfriend Collective’s sizing is. Not only do the sizes range from XXS to 6XL, but there are multiple inseam lengths available: 19.5 inches (perfect for petites), 23.5 inches, and 28.5 inches (ideal for taller folks). And while we love the variation of colors, some of the lighter shades tend to be less forgiving, showing sweat and panty lines underneath. When in doubt, stick to dark colors.
Price at time of publish: $78
Sizes: XXS-6XL | Colors: 7 | Material: Recycled plastic bottles (RPET), spandex | Length: 19.5 inches, 23.5 inches, 28.5 inches | Compression: High
Best Flared: Splits59 Raquel High Waist Airweight Flare Leggings
What We Love: This flattering flared style is a step-up from typical full-length leggings, yet can still mesh well with other workout gear in your wardrobe.
What We Don’t Love: They can be a bit too long on petite figures, even in the shorter inseam.
A favorite brand of Kara Liotta’s, fitness trainer and co-founder of KKSweat, Splits59 knows good activewear, especially when it comes to the trendy flared legging style. The beauty of flared leggings, like the Raquel High Waist Flared Legging, is that they elongate your legs and go with an array of shoes, so you can wear them to the gym and beyond. Yet the flared hem in this style is not too wide, so you can still feel like your bottoms are functional enough to work out in (while still looking cute).
Additionally, the four-way stretch, compressive, sweat-wicking fabric, and ultra-high-rise waistband make this pair ideal for any type of sweat-inducing activity, whether that’s yoga, an intense gym session, or just a brisk walk around the block. Further, the Raquel Flared Legging comes in a multitude of colorways—14 to be exact—and three inseam lengths to accommodate a variety of height ranges. However, some petite shoppers report that even the shorter inseam is too long, so you may want to take advantage of the brand’s five day trial period to test them out.
Price at time of publish: $118
Sizes: XS-XXL | Colors: 14 | Material: Nylon, polyester, spandex | Length: 30 inches, 32 inches, 34 inches | Compression: Medium
Best 7/8: Outdoor Voices SeamlessSmooth 7/8 Legging
What We Love: These leggings are offered in cool colorways and aren’t see-through.
What We Don’t Love: They tend to run big.
We love ⅞ leggings since they hit right at the sweet spot where they aren’t too short but also don’t bunch around your ankles. If a pair of leggings from Outdoor Voices isn’t already in your workout gear rotation, consider adding the SeamlessSmooth ⅞ Legging to it if you want something cool, comfortable, and perfect for any medium-impact activities. Like the others we’ve mentioned, this pair is high-waisted, outfitted with a thick waistband that keeps you feeling secure during your workout without restraining you.
It’s also made from Outdoor Voices’ signature SeamlessSmooth fabric, which is “soft to the touch” and boasts a, as the name suggests, seamless and smooth appearance. It offers opaque coverage, so you won’t have to worry about others seeing your undergarments through the leggings — even with the lighter grey and blue shades. With a colorful stripe on the sides of each leg stretching from the top of the waistband to the ankles, this pair is a sleek upgrade from the other basic pairs you likely already have in your closet. It does tend to run big, so consider sizing down for a more compressive fit.
Price at time of publish: $78
Sizes: XXS-XL | Colors: 3 | Material: Polyester, nylon, spandex, polypropylene | Length: 25 inches | Compression: Medium
Best Everyday: Terez TLC Leggings
What We Love: This pair comes in tons of colors and aren’t overly compressive, making them ideal for everyday wear.
What We Don’t Love: They take longer to ship because they are made to order.
While certain high-waisted pairs are more appropriate for one activity over another, leggings like Terez’s TLC Leggings are perfect for any everyday excursion for a few reasons. Not only does this style come in 20 different hues, giving you multiple options for all the days in the week, but the comfort level is unmatched, making it difficult for you to ever want to wear a pair of jeans or slacks again. Ideal for low-impact workouts, lounging on your couch all day catching up on TV, or for strolling through your local Trader Joes, the cozy and flexible TLC Leggings will become your new everyday obsession. At $94, this pair’s price point is a little on the steep side, but with the amount of wear you’ll get out of it, it’s worth the extra splurge in our opinion. While we love knowing that these are made to order, that does mean they take longer to ship.
Price at time of publish: $94
Sizes: XXS-3X | Colors: 20 | Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 25.5 inches | Compression: High
Best With Pockets: Vuori Daily Pocket Legging
What We Love: The side pockets on this pair are large enough to hold a smartphone.
What We Don’t Love: Lint and hairs tend to catch on the fabric.
A high-waisted legging is revered for its comfort and security, but a high-waisted legging with pockets, on the other hand, takes those benefits to a whole new level. We love Vuori’s Daily Pocket Legging in particular — with two smartphone-sized side pockets that are practically inconspicuous on the leggings at first glance. Made with Vuori’s signature, airbrushed BreatheInterlock Performance fabric, this pair keeps you feeling cool, comfortable, and even secures your smaller belongings right at your hips.
Similar to the Year of Ours Ribbed Football Legging, these have a drawstring in the waistband to let you adjust the fit. Choose between six color options when shopping this style, from classic Black to bold Jade, just be aware that not all colorways are available in this pair’s full size range. Like other brushed fabrics, these do tend to pick up lint and hair, so have your lint roller ready.
Price at time of publish: $98
Sizes: XXS-XXL (not for all colors) | Colors: 6 | Material: Polyester, elastane | Length: 24.5 inches | Compression: Light
Best Cotton: Skims Cotton Rib Legging
What We Love: The coverstitch details add a unique touch to this pair, plus the size range is extensive.
What We Don’t Love: These are not suitable for any sort of exercise, even low-impact.
Yes, leggings are often associated with working out, but sometimes you need a cozy pair to wear while you spend all day on the couch. Buzzy loungewear brand Skims has one of favorite lounge styles in a cozy cotton rib jersey fabric: the Cotton Rib Leggings. Reminiscent of long johns, they feature an elastic waistband, a V-shaped cover stitch detailing in the front, and ankle cuffs. Considering the undergarment undertones and sheer cotton fabric, would we wear these outside the house? No, but we’re perfectly fine with hibernating.
Price at time of publish: $54
Sizes: XXS-4X | Colors: 10 | Material: Cotton, spandex | Length: 30 inches | Compression: Light
Best Capri: Athleta Salutation Stash Capri
What We Love: These leggings come in both petite and tall sizes alongside the regular size range.
What We Don’t Love: They run small.
If you’re on the shorter side and hate when full-length leggings bunch at your ankles, or if you just prefer to show a little extra skin when the weather gets warm, consider a pair of capri leggings, specifically this high-waisted pair from Athleta. The Salutation Stash Capri is a fan favorite from Athleta shoppers — its Powervita fabric is as soft as butter, sweat-wicking, and even has UPF 50 protection, so you can feel comfortable sporting this pair outside without worrying about a sunburn. The Salutation Stash Capri also comes complete with pockets on each hip that are large enough to store a cardholder or your smartphone. What’s better? There are three different inseam lengths available for this pair — regular, tall, and petite — that hit mid-calf for that perfect capri fit. They do tend to run small, especially in the waist, so consider sizing up.
Price at time of publish: $99
Sizes: XXS-3X (with petite and tall size ranges available) | Colors: 7 | Material: Nylon, lycra | Length: 21 inches (regular), 18.5 inches (petite), 23 inches (tall) | Compression: Light
Best For Workouts: P.E Nation Recalibrate Legging
What We Love: The fabric on this pair feels ultra-soft but is still suitable for high-impact activities.
What We Don’t Love: We wish it came in different inseam lengths for different heights.
A legging that’s made for intense workout sessions, has pockets, and feels light as a feather? Sign us up. P.E Nation is known for its high-performing active styles, and the Recalibrate Legging is certainly no exception. Constructed with high-impact activities like HIIT and running in mind, the ⅞ legging has a high-rise fit with an adjustable, drawcord waistband and is squatproof, so you won’t have to worry about any of your undergarments showing through. Though the ⅞ length tends to be universally flattering, we wish it came in different lengths for better customization.
Price at time of publish: $99
Sizes: XXS-XXXL | Colors: 3 | Material: Nylon, elastane | Length: 25 inches | Compression: High
Best for Running: Hey Girl Run High-Rise 25” Legging
What We Love: These are compressive without feeling restrictive or uncomfortable.
What We Don’t Love: This style only comes in bright colors.
If running is your activity of choice when it comes to your regular exercise routine, you need the right pair of high-waisted leggings to ensure you feel comfortable taking each stride. Luckily, Hey Girl Run takes this need seriously and created an activewear brand with the explicit purpose of outfitting runners. The brand’s High-Rise Legging is the perfect pick if you’re seeking something new and effective for your runs; this pair offers high compression that keeps you feeling secure but not restricted, plus a high-rise waistband with a drawstring for added support. There’s even a side pocket large enough to hold a phone and cardholder or whatever else you prefer to keep by your side on runs.
Though we wish the High-Rise Legging came in a few neutral shades for those who don’t love bold hues, we love how most of the available colorways (like Hot Pink, Ultra Marine, and Kiwi) are bright enough to keep you visible (and safer!) while you’re running outdoors.
Price at time of publish: $55
Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 6 | Material: Polyester, spandex | Length: 25 inches | Compression: High
Best Maternity : HATCH The Ultra Soft Before, During And After Legging
What We Love: You can wear these leggings during all stages of pregnancy, including before and postpartum.
What We Don’t Love: Some mothers may want more compression.
These leggings take “high-waisted” to a whole new level, and for a good reason. Hatch’s The Ultra Soft Before, During & After Legging is the extremely high-waisted maternity legging you’ll be reaching for before, during, and after (hence the name!) thanks to its modal and spandex fabric blend, which makes this pair ultra soft, stretchy, and lightweight. There’s not much compression, so if you are looking for compressive leggings, look elsewhere.
The waist height varies depending on the size legging you get, but it ranges from 13.75 inches and 15.75 inches, covering your entire belly (and then some) no matter the trimester. When you no longer have that same pregnant belly, you can still enjoy the coziness of this pair thanks to its ability to revert back to pre-belly stretchiness — they’ll just fit higher on your waist than some of your other, non-maternity high-waisted leggings. What’s better? When you purchase two pairs on Hatch’s website, you save $20.
Price a time of publish: $98
Sizes: XS-XL | Colors: 2 | Material: Modal, spandex | Length: 26 inches | Compression: Light
What to Keep in Mind
The material makeup of a legging has a big impact on its functionality. For example, leggings made primarily from cotton, like the Skims Cotton Rib Leggings, are ideal for lounging, but likely too soft and sheer for a workout. If you’re looking for leggings that will withstand any sort of activity, consider materials like nylon, spandex, or elastane, which can be found in pairs like P.E Nation’s Recalibrate Legging or Hey Girl Run’s High-Rise 25” Legging.
Stylist Alison Bruhn also recommends looking for sweat-wicking fabrics when selecting a pair for exercise.
The length of your leggings, or inseam, is one of the more important factors to keep in mind, especially if you’re on the extra-short or extra-tall side. Thankfully, a lot of brands offer styles in regular, petite, and tall inseams to cater to all ends of the height spectrum. But a good rule of thumb for petites is to look for leggings with inseams that fall between 19 to 24 inches, like Athleta’s Ultra High-Rise Elation 7/8 Tight. Those who are tall should look for inseams anywhere between 28 to 31 inches. When in doubt, check the size guide and reviews to see if other customers discuss the length of the leggings.
While all of the picks on this list feature a high-rise waistband, not all brands have the same idea of “high-rise” in mind. A traditional high-waisted pair will hit either at your belly button or just above, as seen in styles like Vuori’s Daily Pocket Legging. An ultra-high-rise pair, on the other hand, will just about reach your chest area, like we see in Old Navy’s Extra High-Waisted PowerChill Hidden-Pocket Leggings or Hatch’s The Ultra Soft Before, During & After Legging.
Your Questions, Answered
Does a high waist keep the leggings from rolling down?
Yes and no. While higher waistbands made from supportive fabric should stay put, according to Liotta, rolling often is an indication that you are wearing the wrong size. So before cutting off the price tag, it’s best to try the leggings out.
"Bend over, stretch your hands over your head, run in place,” says Bruhn. “If at any point, the waist starts rolling down, they are not the best fit for you. If it is a little compression and support that you’re looking for, find a wider band that goes across the stomach.”
Are high-waisted leggings compressive?
While high-waist bands tend to offer more smoothing and support, that doesn’t necessarily mean the leggings are meant to be compressive, according to Bruhn. To ensure you get all the sculpting you want, look for leggings with high compression levels, like Girlfriend Collective’s Compressive High-Rise Legging.
What underwear should you wear under high-waisted leggings?
While underwear preference is totally up to whatever the wearer feels most comfortable in, Bruhn recommends wearing a thong in order to have the most seamless look with no panty lines. If you’re worried about missing the coverage that panties provide, have no fear. “The stretchy fabric from the legging should naturally hold you in, creating a smooth look with plenty of coverage,” says Bruhn.
Even thongs can create panty lines — we’re looking at you, lacy designs — so it’s best to stick with lightweight, seamless options. Liotta recommends Lululemon’s InvisiWear Mid-Rise Thong Underwear, which is made from a sweat-wicking, breathable fabric and has a cotton gusset that will keep you comfortable no matter the workout.
Why Shop With Us
Madison Barber is an InStyle contributor and avid online shopper and fashion lover who spends her free time hunting for hot new brands and great deals. She spent hours researching the best high-waisted leggings and consulted Kara Liotta, fitness trainer and co-founder of KKsweat, Jessie Diaz-Herrera, certified fitness instructor and creator of the body-positive dance movement Free the Jiggle, and stylist Alison Bruhn, one counterpart of the mother-daughter duo behind The Style That Binds Us, for expert insight.
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