Looking for exercise legging suggestions
March 31, 2014 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I feel self-conscious in tight legging pants but I think they are my best bet for comfort while working out and hiking. Can you help me find a pair I'll like?

For reference, I am 5', 36-27-40. I like the regular, loose shorts and snug t-shirt combo for my body, but my inner thighs get chafed and I'm always having to pull the legs down and fuss with the waist and stuff. Really quite annoying. I do have a longer pair of tight shorts (basically and probably exactly these) that are really comfortable and stay put. But I feel self-conscious in them because they make my legs look stumpy and the fabric shows all my thigh ripplage.

I think I could be ok with a snug pair of exercise leggings if they were longer (capri or full length), slimming, and made of a fabric that smoothes/disguises cellulite (this is key). Do such pants exist? Do I want compression? I would greatly appreciate your recommendations of pants that do these things!

Note 1: At the gym, I mainly run/walk on the treadmill and do some lifting.

Note 2: I thought skorts would be what I would want (for hiking, at least), but I have yet to find one that fit my waist-to-hip ratio well, aren't too long on me and whose legs don't roll up. If you have found one that you think may work I'd love to hear about it!
posted by imalaowai to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I see women jogging and walking in yoga pants/tights with loose shorts on top all the time. At least around here, combining your two items would not look odd at all.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:07 PM on March 31, 2014

Have you tried pulling some shorter running shorts over the fitted tight shorts? I see a lot of women jogging in that combo, which eliminates chafing but still gives a bit more modesty.

I have some Nike running capris that I really like. I had to try on many pairs in a range of sizes to find some that fit. Also, it feels weird, but make sure to jump up and down and move around in the fitting room. Otherwise you might end up with something that feels fine but, after a few minutes on the treadmill, is moving everywhere wrong.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:09 PM on March 31, 2014

I'm a fair bit wider than you (but not quite as hourglass), and LOVE my Lululemon groove pants. They meet your requirements - comfy, minimize chafing, a more-flattering silhouette, complimentary hemming in-store, and hefty enough fabric to smooth over cellulite.
posted by Metasyntactic at 11:18 PM on March 31, 2014

I have a couple of pairs of running tights that are basically exactly what you're describing. I'm about your dimensions but taller. I've found that black is the best color for minimizing butt/ripple visibility, and a drawstring at the waist is crucial to keep them from riding down (and try them out running in place in the fitting room, as bluedaisy said). I have ones that are Nike, Brooks and from Target, and honestly the Target ones are my favorite.

You may also be interested in "2 in 1" shorts, like these from Brooks (but I'm sure you can find a similar idea cheaper elsewhere). They combine a loose pair of running shorts with a tighter compression layer that avoids the chafing and some of the bunching up issues.
posted by MadamM at 12:19 AM on April 1, 2014

I recently ordered and returned about 20 pairs of black workout capris and discovered that a surprising number of them turned see through when I bent over. I ended up with capris from Old Navy. They're thick enough to not be see through or show every bump. They even have some black patterned ones that further disguise everything.
posted by capsizing at 3:32 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

American Apparel makes great jersey yoga pants and leggings that are tight, soft on the skin (fully cotton), and not very revealing if you get them in black. I have pretty high modesty standards, but I feel comfortable wearing my yoga pants to the gym. You might need capris for running, though.
posted by redlines at 5:26 AM on April 1, 2014

I wear these when I work out, although in black. I've tried on other similar capris and they don't, uh, compress the lumps and bumps enough to produce a nice, sleek look. With a longish T-shirt over the pants, I'm good to go. As a bonus, they hold up really well. Even after 2+ years of daily use, there's no noticeable wear-through or pilling. Don't even bother with full-length leggings; I'm also 5 feet tall and leggings are w-a-a-y too long.
posted by DrGail at 6:58 AM on April 1, 2014

I really like these capris from Marika (and they're on sale right now!). I normally don't wear tight workout pants because I'm self-conscious about my legs, but they're really flattering. They are higher rise than I usually like but they're really comfortable.
posted by radioamy at 7:23 AM on April 1, 2014

I have one million pairs of the Lucy Perfect Core leggings and I adore them. They are thick but breathable, and they have just enough compression to make my butt and mid-section look great. They're also a bit higher waisted than other leggings I've tried, which I find keeps them in place better and provides further smoothing-out of the midsection.

They come in full length, but most of the ones I have are of the capri variety.

Also, in general I've found that Lucy is higher quality than Lululemon for a similar style and price point, and their sizes are a bit more generous than the latter too.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:31 AM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

A lot of hippie/bellydance stores on Etsy sell a very cute style of pants; sort of gaucho cut, so they're fitted through the hips and upper leg (no chafing!) but they have a flowy lower leg, which is more flattering than regular capris. For example, these or these. (Both of those are a bit pricey, but I've seen more affordable versions at sports stores or Ross.) I like them for exercising, but they also seem more pants-like than plain leggings, if I have to run errands after dance class or something.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 10:56 AM on April 1, 2014

Hey, I'm 5' as well. Nike makes a skapri (tight capri length leggings, though on me they are almost ankle length, with a short built in skirt) which is super comfy, supportive, and about as flattering as workout clothes can be.
posted by Wavelet at 11:38 AM on April 1, 2014

Seconding trying out the tight shorts + loose shorts on top combo, especially since you already have both. Lots of people do it so it's not weird, and leggings/yoga pants get really hot if you're sweating a lot. Otherwise yeah, shorts on top of yoga pants are also fine. Lululemon is a popular brand, although it's not the only decent one out there.

Also this is much easier said than done, and I'm sure you know it already, but it helps a lot to try to ignore how "stumpy" your legs look or how much your cellulite is showing...really pretty much everyone else at the gym is ignoring yours and worrying about their own! I play soccer with a girl shaped very similarly to you or a bit wider on the bottom half, and I spend about zero time judging her thighs or whatever. I've also never in my life noticed cellulite through yoga pants - they're really pretty thick and nobody is looking as closely as you. It's totally understandable and common to worry about it...just unnecessary, if you can help it!

I thought skorts would be what I would want (for hiking, at least), but I have yet to find one that fit my waist-to-hip ratio well, aren't too long on me and whose legs don't roll up. If you have found one that you think may work I'd love to hear about it!

Not sure how long is "too long" for you, but I have a stretchy "yoga pant material" skort that might work for you. It's stretchy so it doesn't gape at the waist, has pretty long "shorts" inside, and a medium easily fits my 40" hips and um, hearty soccer thighs. Mine's from tuff athletics, a decent lululemon knockoff brand from costco. Not sure if they're also in the states but if not, check out stores selling yoga stuff and you can probably find something similar.
posted by randomnity at 12:25 PM on April 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I double up on shorts when I run. The bottom layer is a pair of tight fitting compression shorts that keeps the booty and thighs from jiggling and chafing. The top layer is a pair of looser fitting athletic shorts that keeps me from feeling like the world is watching my butt wobble.

Sometimes I will wear form fitting, capri-length pants, but I always seem to be hoisting them back up because they wind up like panty-hose on me where the crotch is practically down to my ankles. YRMV.
posted by gumtree at 7:00 PM on April 1, 2014

I like Fabletics' LIMA capri (I'm short) leggings. They come in normal length too. A little spendy at ~$24 but wear and wash really well.
posted by TravellingCari at 7:27 PM on April 1, 2014

I'll second the Lucy Perfect Core leggings & capris. I used to be a Lulumemon Wunder Under devotee, but the Lucy leggings are a little thicker and much more supportive; the construction seems to be more solid, too. My last couple pairs of Wunder Unders started fraying after just a few washes.
posted by ThatSomething at 11:07 AM on April 2, 2014

Wear the comfortable shorts, wear a normal, thin, loose-fitting skirt over them (something like this but maybe cheaper so you don't feel bad about beating it up a bit--check Target). I have done so much hiking this way (including rough stuff like rock scrambles) and people always seem to think I'm hard core or something, but really it is extremely comfortable and easy to move in.
posted by anaelith at 4:39 AM on April 3, 2014

I have a pair of Sugoi Moxie shorts.

- these hit right at the knee; perfect length for a five-foot curvy girl
- they're made from a thick, coverage-providing, durable fabric, but don't make you hot because they wick sweat away
- they have a great little pocket to slip an mp3 player or other smallish objects into

Even this kind of pant would have made me very self-conscious a few years ago but I find the less I think about how I look the more frequent, productive, and fun exercise becomes. It's hard to get outside your head but it's possible with practice.
posted by onehundredand80 at 7:28 PM on April 3, 2014

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