The Perfect Black Leggings

Photos by Kimberly Goodwin Photography

In every woman’s closet, there can be found at least one perfect, little black dress. If this comes as a shock to you and you realize you are lacking, allow us add one more thing to your list of must-haves (sorry, not sorry). Seriously, you need to have a little black dress that you can go to time after time. But, there are more pressing issues at hand that we would like to bring to the attention of our fellow snow bunnies. It’s about your black leggings. We are here to propose that the perfect pair of black leggings might be the most essential item in your wardrobe this year. Not all leggings are created equal. If you do not choose wisely you could be suffering from embarrassing camel toe, accentuated muffin top, or even worse, your buns might be showing! This is not the kind of bun-ny attention any of us want (pun desperately intended).

The little black dress comes out of the closet maybe once a quarter, but your perfect black leggings see way more wear time and require higher performance durability. Between brisk morning runs, cycle class, base layering, and general lounging, it might be fair to say that we all have a pair of leggings which serve as our second skin. Just wait until a friend catches you bent over with your actual skin showing through and you will realize how difficult and important it is to have some decent leggings!

There are many names when it comes to athletic wear and many more when it comes to ath-leisure wear. From companies that offer online subscriptions to companies that give away free leggings because they know you will be hooked, there is so much to choose from these days. How does one find the perfect black leggings?

We suggest you follow these 5 guiding principles:

Leggings3Principle #1
Opaque Quality
Here’s the deal. We all remember that embarrassing situation where a popular producer of athletic wear was putting out some cheek-baring leggings. They have corrected their errors, but there are still a lot of people walking around in leggings with similar translucency. When you try on your leggings in the dressing room turn around, bend over, and inspect your booty! Everyone else is going to be doing it, you might as well be the first to know what’s going on back there. A little trick with opacity- materials with a bit of a textured pattern can help obscure what might be showing through.

Principle #2 
Comfort and Fit  
Only you can be the judge of what is comfortable and flattering to your body, but there are a few key factors that every person can benefit from. Look for a thick waistband, contouring seams, proper length (if you get ankle bunch, consider looking for petite sizing), breathable material, fleece-lining for colder climates, and here is a big one: a gusset crotch. The gusseted crotch is that diamond shaped piece of fabric that is sewn into some leggings. Rather than having one seam that runs vertically up your crotch, this design has a few more seams that spread throughout that region. This seriously prevents the worst legging fail of all: the hungry crotch, the crotch wedgie, the camel toe,  whatever you call it, you know what we are talking about here. In addition to preventing things from riding up, the gusset also prevents camel toe’s evil side kick, penguin crotch. This is the phenomenon where your pants creep down your legs throughout the day until you find the crotch of your pants hanging out mid-thigh- causing you to waddle a little like a penguin. It’s not cute. Look for the gusset!

Principle #3
Ask yourself, “Could I wear these to yoga?” Then ask yourself, “Would they look cute with a chunky sweater and wedge booties?” Finally ask yourself, “Would I get scolded if I wore these to work?” With the perfect leggings, you can answer yes to all of those questions. Well, for some of us maybe not to work but imagine if you could! The idea here is that some leggings just look sporty and some leggings can go both ways. Too much sheen or textured pattern can take a legging over to the sport only side, while adding weird zippers and pleather details make some leggings a nightmare to workout in (think “Ross” from Friends: Season 5, Episode 11).

Principle #4 
Legging prices can vary from $16.00 to $160.00+. Only you know your budget. Just remember that the perfect black legging is an investment. If you buy a nice pair once a year or you buy multiple flimsy pairs within the year, you end up spending the same amount of money, but what brings more quality to your life? For budget shoppers, we recommend checking out Nordstrom Rack. Here you can find higher end brands for more reasonable prices (Zella, The Balance Collection, or Electric Yoga to mention a few of our favorites). This year, challenge yourself to invest in some quality.  You deserve it.

Principle #5
Support a Company with Compatible Values
Being an informed consumer is becoming easier and easier these days as companies are realizing that we are looking past the product and the price tag. Local, small businesses are popping up all over the place under the leadership of entrepreneurs with a vision to do a little bit more than the last person who tried it. We have found companies producing great leggings while investing in the use of recycled materials and eliminating waste (Girlfriend Collective Leggings). As well as companies that are using their platform to support women’s issues while doing interesting things in their design, like adding a hidden whistle built into the pocket of their leggings (Graced by Grit). In fact, the leggings in the photographs you see here are Graced by Grit. The style is “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” They are fleece-lined, have a thick waistband, a gusseted crotch, are cute as hell, very functional, and are decently priced. We kinda like them.

Now, go out there and treat yourself!  The quest for the perfect black leggings is never over. Things can always get better, so let us know what you have found to be the perfect black leggings for you!

About Dalene Scheloske

Dalene studied Sociology and Communication at Boise State University, and graduated with a degree in Social Science December 2013. She currently works in sales and marketing, and writes for