The 9 Best Leggings for Work in 2021
Comfy alternatives to dress pants
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When you're working for long hours on end, it helps to wear comfortable clothes. Dress pants can ride up, dig into your torso, and much more after a while. This begs the question, could you wear something more comfortable to work like leggings? Leggings can be a great alternative to wearing uncomfortable trousers or stiff slacks to the office, but not all leggings are created alike. There are jeggings that can pass as jeans for casual Fridays, leggings with or without pockets, and much more. The good news is, we've researched the top options for you to wear in the office.
Whether you want to be comfortable yet polished for that big presentation or need a versatile pair to wear while working from home, here are the best leggings for every style, budget, and body type.
Best Overall: Uniqlo Ultra Stretch Denim Leggings
Uniqlo's Denim Cropped Leggings are perfect for casual Fridays at work or as a sleek alternative to sweatpants when working from home. There are three shades of denim to choose from, and they have the look of skinny jeans but without any stiffness.
The added DRY technology makes the leggings easier to dry after washing them, too. With button closure, a fly, pockets, and belt loops, these pants have the look and feel of classic denim jeans as opposed to true legging.
Material: Cotton, polyester, spandex | Sizes: XXS to XXL
Best Plus-Size: Universal Standard Roya Leggings
For plus-size women, finding flattering yet comfortable leggings can be a challenge. Universal Standard’s Roya Leggings are made in various sizes. There’s even a choice of inseam lengths, either at 23 or 27 inches, making these leggings appealing to short and tall women alike.
The leggings have an exceptionally soft feeling and won’t pile easily (meaning, they don't need to be replaced as often). So even if these pants are slightly above your budget, their high quality makes them worth the investment.
With a high waist and a waistband designed not to roll, you also won’t have to worry about adjusting your leggings throughout the day, which can be inconvenient while sitting at your desk.
Material: Pima cotton, modal, spandex | Sizes: 4XS (00 to 0) to 4XL (38 to 40)
Best Cropped: Loft Velvet Kick Crop Leggings
If you’re looking for leggings that easily transition between day and night, consider this velvety pair from Loft. These versatile, high-waisted pants can be dressed up or down for a myriad of occasions, whether you’re at the office, working from home, or running errands. They’re an understated, fitted cropped pair of pants with a slight flare, which makes them classier than more casual leggings. These leggings are also machine washable and extra stretchy for maximum comfort.
Material: Polyester, spandex | Sizes: XS to XL
Related: The Best Women's Dress Pants
Best for Maternity: Spanx Seamless Leggings
For expecting mothers looking for comfortable work attire, these Spanx leggings are your best bet. The leggings have just the right amount of thickness, so they’re not see-through.
Additionally, they’re constructed with a waistband that fits over your bump and is designed to grow with you. The waistband smooths so that any lumps won’t show while keeping you supported before, during, and after pregnancy. The leggings are available in black or navy.
Material: Nylon, spandex, elastane | Sizes: XS to 3X
Best Alternative: Athleta Wander Stash Skinny Pant
When you want to throw something on while still looking work-appropriate, these pants from Athleta are the perfect pair. They're made for busy workers and commuters.
These pants come with two pockets in the front and on the side, in addition to two back zippers for personal items. For those who aren't fans of high-waisted pants, this pair comes up to just below your natural waistline, while the leg tapers down to the ankle for a more professional look. These pants won’t rip or tear easily, which makes them machine washable and extra durable. They also come in peat, abalone grey, and black.
Material: Nylon, spandex | Sizes: 0 to 16
Related: The Best Women's Suits
Best for Petites: Two by Vince Camuto Seamed Back Leggings
Many petite women may often find leggings too long for their stature. Enter the Two by Vince Camuto Leggings: Available in petite XXS to XL, as well as XXS in regular length, these are a great pair of pants to wear at the office or even while working from home.
And while some leggings run the risk of looking too sheer, these pants' rich black fabric is perfectly opaque. One great detail in the design is the seam, which runs from the waist to the hem. Not only does it add sophistication, but it also gives petite women the illusion of a longer body.
Material: Viscose, nylon, spandex | Sizes: XXS to XL
Best Budget: A New Day High Waist Ponte Leggings
These Ponte waistband leggings easily fit into any budget without skipping out on fabric opacity. They feature a high waist that’s truly flattering for most women. Best for less formal office settings, these versatile leggings can be worn with most business casual tops or a long blazer. But if you’re working from home, they go just as well with your favorite sweatshirt or tank top.
The ankle-length hem also makes these pants wearable with all kinds of shoes, from boots to flats or even a pair of trendy pointy-toed pumps.
Material: Rayon, polyester, spandex | Sizes: Small to 1X
Best High-Waisted: Ideology High-Waist Pocket Leggings
High-waisted leggings are a comfortable yet flattering option, and the Ideology Pocket Leggings are not only body-enhancing but can also be worn from the office straight to the gym.
Best of all, these leggings feature a hidden pocket in the back of the waistband. While large enough to fit a smartphone, it's great for stashing your locker room key, whether you're running on the treadmill or enjoying a yoga class.
You'll also feel good wearing these leggings as they're sustainably made. This also allows for a truly flexible fabric material.
Material: Recycled polyester, spandex | Sizes: XS to XL
Related: The Best Work-From-Home Clothes
Best for Sizing: J. Crew Any Day Pant
With a rise that sits just above the hip, J. Crew's Any Day Pant is a classic, work wardrobe staple. The pants also win points for size and fit inclusivity.
Unlike activewear leggings, this pair has a bit of structure. And though they look sleek for the office, they’re still comfortable and flexible. In addition to black, these work leggings are available in navy blue and heather charcoal for more casual looks. Note that most customers found that the pants run a bit small.
Material: Rayon, nylon, spandex | Sizes: XXS to 3X (regular), XXS to large (petite), XS to XXL (tall)
Our top pick is the Uniqlo Ultra Stretch Denim Leggings (view at Uniqlo). They come in three different denim shades, which allows them to take you from the office to a night on the town. Like jeans, they have a button, zipper, belt loops, and pockets. Unlike jeans, they're super soft and comfortable.
What to Look for in Leggings for Work
Leggings are commonly made out of stretchy fabrics, like cotton, polyester, spandex, and nylon, to name a few. Cotton leggings are very stretchy and breathable, however, they tend to show sweat, so it's best to find cotton leggings that are mixed with other fabrics like spandex or polyester. Nylon leggings are a durable choice, especially if they're mixed with spandex. These will feel cozy, wick away sweat, and stretch nicely without losing their shape.
A common look for leggings at work is a pair that looks like jeans—they look great for casual Fridays and the sort. However, some leggings mimic the appearance of traditional dress pants, as well. You can also wear plain leggings, but look for thicker, opaque fabrics, so you're properly covered while you're in the office. If you're unsure of what style to choose, check with your job's dress code policy.
Meet the Expert
This roundup was written by Amanda Lauren, a lifestyle writer who covers fashion and office accessories for The Balance and The Balance SMB. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, and more.