Cotton is a natural fiber that is famously soft, strong, breathable, easy to care for, and relatively cheap — which makes it a great choice for everyday clothes, and especially loungewear. However, cotton alone doesn’t stand up to the stretching required of most leggings (it can lose its shape). That's where synthetic fibers come in. A small dose of spandex or polyester blended in can make a big improvement in the overall feel of your leggings. This is why for most activities, the best cotton leggings aren’t actually pure cotton, but are instead made from a minimum of a 50% cotton blend. The exact percentage of cotton will come down to what activity you plan on wearing the leggings for.
Leggings for lounging can have a higher cotton content because they don’t need to defy sweat and gravity like a pair of performance leggings would. If you want some cotton leggings mostly for Netflix and chilling, look for ones with just a small percentage of spandex included. (Note: For those who demand all-natural fibers, don't worry, there's one pick below that still boasts 100% cotton.)
For true athletic leggings know that since cotton holds onto moisture, it’s not the best fabric for working out. The best moisture-wicking leggings are made with entirely synthetic fabrics. That said, if you love some cotton in the mix for softness and breathability, look for a blend with a higher percentage of synthetic fibers to help you stay dryer and more comfortable through yoga class.
Leggings That Look Like Pants
Leggings that can pass for jeans or work pants will also need a bit more synthetic fibers in order to hold their faux-structured shape. Look for pairs with belt loops, buttons, and pockets that sell the illusion of a more tailored pair. Belt loops also let you accessorize a bit more, and go a long way towards creating a dressier outfit. (Even if your pants secretly feel like pajamas.)
Wherever you're wearing them, these cotton leggings can rise to the occasion.
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