I’ve come to the conclusion that you are either a jeggings/jeans gal, or a leggings girl. And I am a true leggings girl – I happily live in them, day in and day out, for dressing up or slobby days at home.
To me, leggings are a mum life staple, taking you from a workout to the school gate, grocery shopping and kids birthdays. BUT to me, leggings are NOT pants. Leggings are designed to go UNDER layers UNLESS you are actually working out. So leggings are fabulous for layering under dresses, or for making tunics and long tops work. My favourite long tops for the past few years have been Oosh wrap dresses and Intimo tunics, or whatever fun top I come across, combined with a long bum-covering singlet or slip. Lately it’s more likely to be a neon Augustine ‘dress’ (I think they’re pretty short for a dress!!!) or a flowy PQ Miracle number, all with the intent of hiding the mummy tummy and the bum that’s a little large for my liking.
Through the past 10 years of mummying, (goodness knows why ‘mummying’ hasn’t yet been added to the oxford dictionary!), Kmart leggings have been $7 and I’ve been through a fair few pairs, mostly in 3/4 length with a few full length in winter. They’ve always been fairly thin, making that tunic absolutely essential, but enough to be decent. Once mine have started to split or look manky, I’ve cut them shorter to wear under dresses in summer, so I’ve always felt like my $7 has been well spent.
The thing is, the last few pairs have not felt as nice to wear, as if they got THINNER?! They also got tighter, and there is no evidence as to whether my thighs got bigger or Kmart’s sizing went haywire. A couple of months ago, I started to replace a couple of pairs, and then as I put on some new leggings… my finger went through them. This was not good. My $7 no longer felt like a good investment.
What had been catching my attention in the past year or so though, was the explosion in activewear with a cult following, such as big brand Lululemon. The prices were eye-watering – upwards of $130 per legging. Leggings.
I ran a couple of polls on FB to see what the favs were of my friends, and it turned out I knew a surprising amount of gals who were laying down good money for these leggings and who were SWEARING that they wouldn’t go back to anything else.
So I did what any budget-savvy mama does 😉 and hit TradeMe and the FB marketplace.
Well, either these big brands are REALLY THAT AWESOME or there are a lot of leggings languishing in the hidden depths of dresser drawers, because unless you’re a size 8-10, your chances of getting these leggings are very slim. When they did come up in the 8 weeks I was looking, they generally still went for upwards of $70-$80 per pair.
It was clear that this was going to be an expensive exercise… but I did it, so you don’t have to, friends! 😉 I trialed some of the top leggings brands in my efforts to find the best in activewear tights, and here are my results:
*Disclosure: I picked up most pairs secondhand and bought some new. I am a 14-16 and bought a size L in every brand. Also while I considered taking my own photos, my butt aint special and there’s nothing great to see with regards to my thighs, so I’ll stick with stock photos for your viewing pleasure 😉 Also, I bought all of these myself and these opinions are my own.
LORNA JANE – Core 3/4 Tight, patterned crop, Catch Me if You Can.
I picked up a few pairs of Lorna Jane, including a black pair of core 3/4, a beautiful pair of florals and the Catch Me If You Can crop.
The three Lorna Jane brand icons represent the daily practice of Move, Nourish and Believe – Moving every day, Nourishing from the inside out and Believing that anything is possible. They appear on every Lorna Jane garment as a constant reminder that Active Living is more than just words. These icons are a personal reminder, every day to act on your dreams, work on your wellness and truly believe that anything is possible – We call it the Lorna Jane difference. – LJ Website
Lorna Jane tights are fabulous to wear. In terms of sizing, I found the L to be firm-fitting in a comfortable way (I’m sure my hubby would disagree after watching me peel myself into them!), because they held everything in nicely and felt really supportive when working out.
The floral pair are really pretty – absolutely a legging that makes you feel amazing wearing them. I paired mine with a floaty white top for a busy day and it was really nice not just being in black! The floral ones are thicker than the other two pairs, but all of them passed the bend-over test – no undies to see here, folks!
The pair with Catch Me If You Can down the side feel like an empowering personal trainer – very motivating if you wake up with less energy than you need!
Conclusion: At $100 or more per pair (these prints are swoon-worthy) Lorna Jane are not cheap BUT they have AfterPay 😉 ……… but BUT but, there are often Lorna Jane leggings (and tops etc) on Trade Me and they go for really reasonable prices (think more $30). If you’re happy browsing and waiting, do that, its worth it. Sizing advice – All the pairs I tried were a Large and fit really nicely.
KMART – Sliced Crop
Although my $7 leggings had become a disappointment, I knew that Kmart sold activewear tights and it was only fair to give these a go 😉
The black pair I ordered were incredibly small-fitting, and not at all true to size. Then I found these spliced crops, which incidentally were a bit larger fitting, more in line with the sizing I expect from Kmart.
They’re a much nicer material than the $7 leggings, designed for movement. However the splicing cut into my skin (the other brands I tried with splicing did not do this) and I don’t think they pass the bend over test very well.
Conclusion: Kmart has its place – like with cheap longer singlets and tunics to go over leggings. Active leggings aren’t their specialty.
Side Note: A friend recommended a jegging/denim look legging from Kmart for $16. They look really tidy but I’m between sizes and they’re a bit snug. I can see them being a really comfy staple for busy days while still looking nice, but I haven’t yet worn them enough to comment on durability. Also: Kmart reviews. Ya might be interested.
I’ve seen friends with BlackMilk leggings and they look amazing. They have some AWESOME prints (including this awesome Kiwiana one!) as well as some plain staples.
I bought these gorgeous Hamlet leggings, and these gorgeous matte black ones, which retail for just over $50.
The black matte leggings are DEVINE. They feel like a second skin and they wear beautifully under ANYTHING – except a pair of high boots, which marked them :-(. I have size L – perfect.
Hamlet seemed like a good fit for a writer! The Hamlet leggings are a different fabric and the L is a little small fitting. They look fabulous and eye catching but I am still trying to decide on a great top that covers the bum (leggings are not pants, remember!) and doesnt take away from the cool print!
Conclusion: If you wear leggings for more than just active wear, I highly highly recommend the matte black pair – they will be a wardrobe staple! Comfy, durable and a fair price point too – these are the true winner. Customer service at Black Milk is pretty hot too!
PS: I havent finished… stay tuned for more.