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The best sculpting leggings put through their paces

April 12th 2017 / Susannah Taylor / 5 comments


Hi-tech, compression leggings are all the rage, but which ones will elongate your legs, flatten your stomach and help lift your bum? Susannah Taylor put the latest and greatest brands to the test

Once upon a time, skinny jeans were the daily pull-on for legs. Now it’s a pair of leggings. New research by (a personal training course provider) shows that 65 per cent of us wear workout clothes even when we aren’t exercising, with one in two saying they would go out for food in it. Like it or not, this all means that leggings have become a staple garment in most women’s wardrobes.

Now, if you’ve been in any exercise class or visited a school gate at pick-up time of late you will know that not any old legging will do. The best have the capacity to wick sweat away from the body, aerate your legs and compress your muscles. This is all great but what we really want to know is which look the best - which ones will hold in your muffin top, elongate your legs, flatten your stomach, flatter your thighs and lift your bum? Which ones make you feel amazing?

Leggings lover Susannah Taylor went on a mission to find out…

1. Lululemon All the Right Places Pant II, £118


Flatter ranking: 10/10

Style stakes: 7/10

Performance rating: 10/10

Feelgood factor: 10/10


These leggings are bit like full-leg Spanx. They may not be covered in wild jungle prints, but they feel incredible. Using what Lululemon call a ‘Luxtreme fabric’, which apparently stretches four ways, I feel totally sucked in, and not just around the stomach area, but the bottom and thighs too. In fact the fabric feels so strong and snug I would recommend these as compression tights on a plane, but don’t let that put you off. When I went running in these, the waistband didn’t budge a millimetre let alone an inch and I swear their ‘tight’ feeling made me run faster. Looks-wise the fabric is thick enough that you wouldn’t see any underwear through them when in a downward dog (always a good test) and my stomach is sucked in (but not uncomfortably so) and looks as flat as a pancake. Meanwhile the tough fabric will definitely hide cellulite and create a super smooth bottom. The added bonus is that there are two pockets for keeping keys/ phones, credit cards in and Lululemon points out on the label that there's no front seam and therefore no dreaded camel toe. I would buy them for that alone.

Buy Here

2. Varley Barry Nightstalker Leggings £75


Flatter ranking: 9/10

Style stakes: 10/10

Performance rating: 7/10

Feelgood factor: 8/10


This is a great pair of leggings that flatter in all the right places. One of my bugbears is leggings that aren’t long enough and these are great as they come right down to the ankle, elongating the legs. Where the Lululemons lack in the fashion or style stakes these Varley ones make up for it with a really great starry print guaranteed to get a second look in the gym. Quite silky to touch they feel sexy as well as functional and they do feel slightly supportive although the waistband did fall slightly when I was going from station to station in the gym. However, they do, somehow, make your legs look a million dollars, and my husband gave them the thumbs up as one of his favourites.

Buy here

3. Every Second Counts Live Every Day Legging, £96


Flatter ranking: 10/10

Style stakes: 9/10

Performance rating: 10/10

Feelgood factor: 10/10

These are possibly my favourite pair of leggings for the way they feel. Firstly there’s the waistband which is double thickness, double the strength of most leggings I’ve tried and reaches to my belly button leaving me with a stomach that would give Gigi Hadid a run for her money. Then there’s an in-built side panel on each leg that runs all the way down to the ankles, giving your pins a streamlined look and feel, and a clever panel that crosses over the tops would stop any thigh wobble . I also love the stripey fabric at the front and back which actually makes my bottom feel like it’s being cupped slightly (strange but true). Looks-wise the stripes are just enough to make you look like you know your capri pants from your compression tights, but will still go with every top you throw at them. These are leggings to make you feel amazing.

Buy here

MORE GLOSS: Budget fitness wear that rivals high-end competition

4. Bodyism Octavia stretch jersey leggings, £155


Flatter ranking: 8/10

Style stakes: 7/10

Performance rating: 9/10

Feelgood factor: 9/10

When most leggings are covered in a starburst, a Manhatten skyline or a Moroccan print these days, a humble plain black pair can seem a little dull in comparison. However there is definitely a place in every woman’s wardrobe for a great pair of simple black leggings, and these ones rock. Not particularly fashion-forward looking, they are, however made of brilliant, super strong stretch fabric that hoists thighs in and smoothes ( I swear, lifts) your bottom. The waistband is strong, double thickness and practically immoveable, leaving a streamlined look all over. A brilliant basic.

Buy here

5. LNDR Tempo Leggings in Navy Marl, £85


Flatter ranking: 7/10

Style stakes: 7/10

Performance rating: 6/10

Feelgood factor: 6/10

Made from very soft, cool comfort technology I would say these leggings have more of a cosy feel that would be more at home in a yoga class than a HIIT one. The soft fabric means they don’t compress the legs so I wouldn’t put them in the realms of sculpting leggings, but I can see they do a great job crossing the line between sportswear and daywear (and I can imagine are great under a pair of salopettes on the ski slopes). I love the detail of the striped waistband but l it’s a shame it isn’t at the bottom of the tights as it gets hidden under my top (maybe they are made for crop-toppers only!) and unfortunately it doesn’t hold my stomach in like others here do.That said, they feel a bit like second skin once on, are extremely comfy, and are made on a circular loom meaning they have a virtually seam-free finish making them reasonably flattering (although the seam running between the legs is a little too obvious for my liking – my husband pointed it out!). Definitely a pair of leggings for tree poses not triathlon training.

Buy here

6. Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity Crop Run leggings, £80


Flatter ranking: 10/10

Style stakes: 9/10

Performance rating: 10/10

Feelgood factor: 10/10


When it comes flattering thighs and bum sculpting Sweaty Betty have sure done their research. It feels they have asked women exactly what they want from a legging: tummy tucked; muffin top tamed; a waistband high enough that won’t fall down; support panels that support the thighs and a fabric strong enough you can’t see cellulite through. These leggings deliver on all accounts. I wore these through two hours of tennis and the waistband didn’t budge at all, and I felt altogether ‘held-in’ all over. At no point of my leaping about, serving, lunging for wayward balls did they stop doing their job. What’s more the print is fabulous – I only gave them a 9/10 because I was worried it’s such an obvious print I’d see it everywhere! I own a longer pair of the Zero Gravity Tights and they are seriously quite brilliant.

Buy here

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Join the conversation

  • victoria
  • April 12th 2017

Thank you for all your comments regarding price, it's certainly something we will take on board.

Meanwhile, this recent GTG feature on 'low-cost fitness wear that rivals high-end competition' might be of interest (please paste the link into your browser)

Hope that helps!

Get The Gloss


  • Justine
  • April 12th 2017

Love reading getthegloss, but have to agree with previous comments, it would be lovely if there were reviews for cheaper sculpting leggings as not everyone can spend that much on one item of activewear. In this economic climate you'd get a lot more readers/comments with more affordable fitness clothing.

  • Rebekah
  • April 12th 2017

Interesting article but c'mon guys how about something at a more affordable price, some of these are truly excessive even for someone super keen on the gym like me.

Show all (2)
  • Ann
  • April 12th 2017

Never long enough although I do understand that my legs are longer than most!

  • Kimberley
  • April 12th 2017

I love getthegloss and I regularly check it out for a bit of lunch time reading but I wish more of your reviews and things would feature fitness wear, products, supplements etc that are attainable for people with a lower economic status!

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