Sweats and leggings fatigue is real. These days, we find ourselves longing for real pants…but we still want them to have a stretch waist and a polished, non-athleisure vibe. After all, there are plenty of days when we could really go for the comfort of leggings or the ease of joggers without the bother of a zipper, the pinch of a rigid waistband or legs that wrinkle if we happen to sprawl out on the couch. Plus, is it really too much to ask to have one’s butt optimized? Here’s our rundown on the best figure-flattering pants to buy now.
20 Pairs of Pants That Feel Like Leggings (but Look Way More Polished)
Super-comfy, but more profesh
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Our Favorite Pants Like Leggings at a Glance
What Do You Call Pants That Look Like Leggings?
Pants that look like leggings are popularly called stretch pants or pull-up pants. Think of them as the evolutionary missing link between the before-pandemic days (when we good citizens thought nothing of zipping ourselves into suit pants or dress pants with a zip fly and tab closure) and pandemic times, when we maybe opted for sweatpants 24-7 because we weren't leaving the house, wanted to be comfortable full-time and maybe had a chardonnay-enhanced figure we didn't want to examine too closely. No judgement! But now that we're all seeing each other, these casual pants like leggings give us a variably figure-enhancing and dependably easy option to throw on with a nice top.
How We Chose the Best Pants Like Leggings
We chose our edit of pants like leggings based on waistband, fabric, figure-flattering fit, size range and reviews
- Waistband: Want to fuss with zippers, button flies or hook closures? Then this list isn't for you, since we edited out any pants with such annoying details.
- Fabric: Why do we love leggings? Their stretch fabric is always comfortable, moves with you and can even be made into wide-legged styles. So every pair of pants on our list has stretch fabric.
- Figure-flattering Fit: Sure, one woman thinks ankle-length crop skinnies are heaven while another person wants a gentle straight-leg pant that's full-length. And then there are petite, tall and plus-size shoppers with particular needs. We took pains to represent everyone in our list.
- Size Range: Not only do we seek out styles that make a wide range of styles, we only included pairs that had a wide range of sizes in stock when we published. Because no one wants to learn about the pants of their dreams only to find out there's a six-month waiting list.
- Reviews: We polled our staffers and pored over online reviews to sniff out the less-than-optimum fabrication, irregular sizing, weird fit and other retail bummers, and weeded those babies out first.
Top Smoothing Pants
- What We Like: machine-washable, core-shaping design
- What We Don't Like: requires line drying
- Material: 68 percent rayon, 28 percent nylon, 4 percent elastane, with 80 percent polyester and 20 percent elastane lining
- Size Range: XS to 3X
"I have wide hips and I love the way the waistband really smooths over my hip dips and lifts my butt, giving my shape a very sculpted look," says PureWow commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. "The silhouette is so polished and clean-cut, for a put-together, yet sexy look." Thanks to smoothing ponte fabric and Spanx's signature flattering fit, these pull-on pants have a perfectly flat front. And the fabric has a super-comfortable four-way stretch, so you don't have to sacrifice comfort for a professional look. Wearers praise the pants' ability to shape and hold, without being overly restrictive.
Most Impressive Size Range
- What We Like: woven to let air flow through fabric, seven colorways including vivid pink and blue as well as neutrals
- What We Don't Like: stretch fabric may not hide lumps and bumps
- Material: recycled polyester/spandex
- Size Range: 00 to 26, regular, tall and petite
"I love that they come in so many sizes, including tall and petite, and that they look polished and professional but are so lightweight and comfortable," says PureWow fashion editor Abby Hepworth of these bestselling pants. "They are my go-to travel pants, because the front pockets are just the right size and there’s also a zippered pocket in back for stowing important things you don’t want to lose." Made of recycled material, they have the soft feel of an expensive legging, and the wide waistband and gentle drape of the leg fabric make them crisp enough for wearing to the office on Friday or as part of an upgrade-worthy travel look. Quick-drying and UPF 50+, these pants are begging to be worn at a nice resort ASAP.
Hottest Cargo Style
- What We Like: a low-bulk but high-style cargo pant, three colors (black, latte and khaki)
- What We Don't Like: natural-fiber fans won't like the all-poly fabrication
- Material: polyester with nylon pockets
- Size Range: XS to XXL
With a loose fit for the on-trend swish when you walk, these pants have unobstrusive cargo pockets midway down the leg. Lightweight, they have ankle ties and an elastic waist as well as a slightly cropped length that let you show off any footwear you pair with these, from sneakers to heels.
Premium Lightweight Pants
- What We Like: flattering back darts
- What We Don't Like: can be too thin for colder weather, 14-inch leg opening might be too narrow
- Material: viscose, nylon, spandex
- Size Range: XXS to XL
"These are slinky little pants that can be dressed up or down," says PureWow Senior Editor Dana Dickey. "Not only are they super comfortable, they can be washed in a hotel sink when you're traveling then just dried over the shower rail. I depend on these to layer under dresses all through fall." Eileen Fisher's separates are beloved for their durable construction, high-quality materials and classic ultra-wearable designs—and this pair of pull-on skinny pants is one of the brand's most popular styles.
Top Wide-Leg Choice
- What We Like: machine wash, high-rise fit
- What We Don't Like: cotton can look bulky
- Material: 97 percent cotton, 3 percent elastane
- Size Range: 3XS to 3X, regular, petite and tall sizes
Easy through the hip and thigh, with a cropped, wide leg, these pant are slouchy in the best way, and less clingy than tighter leggings analogs. "They're are flattering, comfortable, simple design, easy to style and wear," writes one reviewer. "Yes, the fabric is on a heavier side but that's what makes them so flattering, imo. They don't show every lump and bump on my thick thighs. I live in a hot a humid climate and feel very comfortable wearing them at 98 degrees."
- What We Like: machine wash, high-waisted
- What We Don't Like: lighter colors aren't opaque
- Material: 88 percent recycled polyester, 12 percent spandex
- Size Range: XXS to XXL, regular, tall and petite
Versatile and lightweight, these pull-on pants come in six muted shades like night shadow blue and mistletoe green. "The name says it all," according to one reviewer. "These are the perfect pants for running around. I just bought a couple more pairs since they make such great work pants. I'm 5'5, 130 and the small fits nicely."
Most Cuddly Fabric
- What We Like: retro styling, satin side stripe
- What We Don't Like: shiny fabric can look chintzy
- Material: 95 percent polyester, 5 percent elastane
- Size Range: XS to XL, short and long options
These velour pants are throwbacks to the popular styles of the early 2000s, when athleisure came out of the closet and into the club. These have wide legs and a generous give to the elastic waist, and they're made to pool at the bottom—so no hemming required.
Top Petite Style
- What We Like: slim styling, front slant pockets
- What We Don't Like: limited colorways
- Material: cotton
- Size Range: XXS to XL, regular, petite and tall
Petites, your lightweight cargo dreams have been answered, with no more unwanted bulk at the bottom of your pants leg thanks to this pair, which offers a 25-inch inseam in petite size. In white and black, these breathable cotton pull-on pants are endlessly versatile. "I can't say enough about these pants," writes one reviewer. "I was hesitate to order thinking they would look frumpy on my petite frame. They look great."
Favorite Patterned Option
- What We Like: flat-front with elasticized back waist, machine washable
- What We Don't Like: mid-rise waist can hit at wrong point, depending on waist length
- Material: 54 percent viscose, 46 percent Lenzing Ecovero
- Size Range: 2 to 20/22
Francophile chic comes in a peppy package with these elastic-waist trousers that hang straight from the mid-rise waist. What's especially dressy about these pants is that the front is tailored—flat like a pair of pants that would have a side-zip—but thanks to a back-waist elastic band, they adjust to fit without needing a constricting series of buttons or a zipper.
Best Boot Cut
- What We Like: machine washable, four-way stretch
- What We Don't Like: no pockets
- Material: 67 percent rayon, 28 percent nylon, 5 percent spandex
- Size Range: XS to XL, 30-, 32- and 34-inch inseams
"These pants are very comfortable and look sleek," writes one reviewer. "I love them and will wear them through three seasons. I’m usually an XL but I sized down to a L and they fit better due to the stretch." Available in olive, charcoal, navy and black, these boot cut pants have a pull-on style with flat elasticized waistband and belt loops.
Essential for Travel
MInistry of Supply
- What We Like: front welt pockets, back button pockets, wrinkle-resistant
- What We Don't Like: waistband is on the narrow side
- Material: 69 percent viscose, 26 percent nylon, 5 percent elastane
- Size Range: XXS to 3XL
"Love them! Two weeks in Europe, washed them in the sink (after spilling red wine on them), wrung them out and hung on the shower head to dry," writes one reviewer. "The next morning, they were clean, dry and wrinkle-free! My new travel essentials! Love the feel of the fabric, the wide waistband and the snaps to adjust length." Machine-washable, these trousers can be adjusted from 30-inch to 28 1/2-inch to 27-inch lengths, and back again.
- What We Like: tapered leg, pintuck seam
- What We Don't Like: sweatpant-like fabric can pill
- Material: 58 percent cotton, 38 percent modal, 4 percent elastane
- Size Range: XXS to 3XL
The pintuck detail along the flat front of these Everlane babies make them look presentable, while the double-knit cotton modal fabric is always nap-ready. Win-win. "These are my favorite pants for cooler temp seasons. So comfortable and they have really held up so well," writes one reviewer. "I’ve had them for several months, worn them frequently and they truly still look like new."
Favorite Crop Style
- What We Like: machine washable and dryable
- What We Don't Like: might be too boxy on petite figures
- Material: 83 percent viscose, 17 percent polyamide
- Size Range: XXS to XL
Loose and flowing, the style is "versatile and fabric is lightweight enough for spring/summer but substantial enough that they aren't see through," according to one reviewer. "[I] can definitely dress up or down and waistband is comfortable, not too restricting." And the crinkled crepe fabric is nice variation on your smooth-fabric black pants collection.
Outstanding Slim Fit
- What We Like: large streamlined pockets, 28-inch inseam
- What We Don't Like: white drawcord stands out on darker colors
- Material: 98 percent cotton, 2 percent elastane
- Size Range: XS to XL
These are an elegant version of ripstop climber pants that are surprisingly flattering, have handy pockets and are practically indestructible. "Very comfortable and slimming," writes one wearer. "Easy wear with a slip-on sandal and T-shirt.
Favorite Straight-Leg Style
Nic + Zoe
- What We Like: wide elasticized waistband, machine-washable
- What We Don't Like: needs line drying
- Material: pant is 76 percent rayon, 21 percent nylon, 3 percent spandex; front waist panel is 100 percent nylon
- Size Range: 0 to 18, regular, petite and plus
A wide waistband that's easy to pull on, then lays flat with an inner-waist panel that smooths and shapes? Say no more. Plus, the fabric blend is so fine, you won't believe it's machine-washable.
Tops for Tummy Control
- What We Like: machine washable, petite sizing
- What We Don't Like: can "swish" when you walk
- Material: rayon/nylon/spandex; support panel is nylon/spandex
- Size Range: XS to XXL, regular and short sizes
This versatile pair of straight-leg trousers has a built-in slenderizing panel for your midsection, so feel free to take the day off from abdominal muscle vigilance. When you go to pair it with your fave cropped sweater, you'll appreciate there are three color options—brown clay, lunar grey and rich truffle—in addition to the (always useful) basic black.
17. MoFiz Women's Golf Dress Pants
- What We Like: non-functional waistband button, four-way stretch fabric
- What We Don't Like: inseams start at 26.8 inches and may be too cropped for some wearers
- Material: 63 percent rayon, 32 percent nylon, 5 percent Spandex
- Size Range: XS to 2 XL
The straight leg, belt loops and shorter length of these trousers, which come in five colorways, would look smart and non-wrinkled as you battled it out on the golf links. But here's the thing: The cut of these pants as well a the pockets are as welcome in the boardroom as on the golf course. "No need to iron," writes one buyer. "[They] came out good after the wash [and] can definitely become your go to work pants."
Top Barrel Silhouette
- What We Like: side-seam pockets, tucks at knees
- What We Don't Like: drawcord is unnecessary
- Material: cotton
- Size Range: 2 to 14
The secret of these pants' elegant shape? The side seams are forward-facing, which makes them slouch appealingly. And there's a tuck in the knee to create curved drape or the trousers. The inside seam of size six is 27 1/2 inches, suitable to wear with wedge heels or flats.
Top Slit Front
- What We Like: high-waist, machine-washable, tumble-dry
- What We Don't Like: unlined
- Material: 63 perent polyester, 33 percent rayon, 4 percent spandex
- Size Range: 0 to 16
These lightweight stretch pants have a slit in front, a contemporary style that shows off shoes, since the 31.5-inch inseam is long enough to wear with heels. "I’m a true size 16 and these pants hug my curves and actually have a smoothing effect," writes one reviewer. "I love the slit in front—very chic but still professional."
Top Luxe Pants
- What We Like: on-seam pockets, office-appropriate
- What We Don't Like: pricey
- Material: 70 percent triacetate/30 percent polyester blend fabric
- Size Range: XS to XL
Of course the office attire pros at Theory would make a great-looking trouser with an elastic waist that looks more at home in a pitch meeting than at the school playground. With just enough room in the leg to look like trousers and not leggings, these synthetic-blend trousers will mix and match with most of your office wear.
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