Be honest, you'd probably live in your leggings if you could. Whether you’re wearing them to the office (yes, it is possible), trying out an influencer-inspired styling, just wanting to be comfy, or, you know, actually planning to workout, leggings are a mainstay of virtually every woman’s wardrobe. Everyone has their preferred features — soft, stretchy, high-waisted, compressive, cute — there are countless options to suit your particular lifestyle and personal aesthetic. But any activewear aficionado will tell you, no matter how many of those boxes you check off, the ultimate marker of a perfect pair of leggings is the opacity. Finding the best non-see-through leggings is like finding the holy grail. It doesn’t matter if you’re crawling into a taxi or stretching into downward dog, no one wants to worry about the seat of their leggings going sheer every time they bend over. Flimsy fabric is public enemy #1.
One could very easily spend several hours online going down product review rabbit-holes in search of a promising recommendation. Should you decide to try before you buy and brave the racks IRL, you’ll likely spend a comparable amount of time going from store to store, awkwardly contorting your body in front of dressing room mirrors to check for any sign of show-through. Leggings must pass the squat test.
“I definitely make sure my leggings aren’t see through before purchasing,” says Megan Roup, trainer and creator of The Sculpt Society. “The mirror test is important — I’ll do a few stretches and make sure I can’t see anything in the mirror.”
Popular recreation-wear brand Outdoor Voices has catered to this by implementing in-store features to help make the experience easier and those leggings fit-checks more accurate. “Take them for a test drive,” says OV founder and CEO, Ty Haney. “At all of our shops across the country we make sure to incorporate some form of indoor activity (like a kickboxing corner in Chicago) that allows our community to see how our Product for Recreation holds up while in motion. There’s nothing worse than buying product that isn’t suited for your favorite activities.”
For Roup, the ideal legging is a thin, opaque compression pant that is high-waisted with a large elastic at the top. “I used to be a black-leggings-only kind of girl but I’ve recently been switching it up and wearing more color," she shares. "I love pairing colored leggings with a matching sports bra. When wearing colored leggings, it’s important they are opaque and you feel confident in them.”
Right now, the three styles in Roup's regular rotation are the Adidas Believe This tight, the Center Stage legging from All Access, and Victoria’s Secret’s Total Knockout tight. “I prefer simple design, with limited prints and not too much going on. All Access and Victoria Secret have great color offerings that aren’t see through.”
The ubiquity of athleisure has prompted more and more performance-wear brands to address these frustrations. The approach of labels like Outdoor Voices combines performance technology with a consciousness for style to create leggings that satisfy the highest standards of function and fashion.
“We prioritize materials first at Outdoor Voices, and settle for nothing but essentials that are high-quality and meant to last,” explains Haney. “After that, it’s all about comfort. You’re already jumping over a huge hurdle by moving your body, the last thing you need is an ill-fitting pair of leggings that leave you feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable. All of our product includes some form of tonal texture that quickly wicks and camouflages sweat. The most popular is definitely our Springs Leggings made of Textured Compression — they are constructed with color-blocked paneling and always pass the squat test.”
Below, shop these expert-approved picks, plus a few other tried-and-true non-see-through styles that pass the squat test with flying colors. Pro tip: If you want your new opaque leggings to stay opaque, take care when laundering them. “Wash on cold and hang dry or if you have to, use a low heat setting in the dryer,” Haney instructs. “This will help keep the stretchy fibers and shape intact, while reducing your energy use! Good for your OV, and for the planet.”