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Remember those dark days when there was still heated debate about whether leggings count as pants? I shudder to think of the time when there was a question as to whether it was socially acceptable to venture out with nothing more than a reinforced pair of tights between you and the world.
Yes, there are still some who will swear to their grave that leggings have no place anywhere but the gym. But, mercifully, most have seen the error of their ways and the votes are in: Leggings are pants.
But buyer beware: Not all leggings are created equal. I should know. I’ve been trying to get away with a button- and zipper-free lower half for nearly a decade. And, last year, it finally happened. I found the holy grail of leggings: Spanx faux leather leggings.
You probably know Spanx as the ultimate shapewear brand, created by founder Sarah Blakely after she needed to create a smooth silhouette under a pair of white pants and hacked it by cutting the feet off some control-top stockings. Spanx products have been sucking us all (women and men!) in for two decades now, and for that, we thank you, Sarah.
But back to the ultimate leggings. Available in a range of styles and finishes, Spanx faux leather leggings are substantial, supportive and chic. I was tempted every time I saw the ads show up in my Instagram feed, but with a $98 starting price point, I was hesitant try them.
But once I did, I never looked back, and I’m now the owner of more faux leather Spanx than I should probably admit. I wear them to work, I wear them at home with my kids, on vacation — everywhere.
When I tried on my first pair, the store associate recommended going as small as possible. She warned that they would feel tighter than any leggings I’d worn before. When I held up the size small, they looked like they were better suited to my 6-year-old than to my 5-foot-10-inch and 135-pound frame, but I went for it.
The compression material is a tight squeeze, but it holds you in and smooths you out in all the right places — soft mom tummy, butt, thighs, everywhere you need some extra help. A high waist kicks any semblance of a muffin top to the curb, too.
These leggings are tight, but not uncomfortable. You wouldn’t want to sleep in them, but they are far more comfy than a pair of jeans or pants with buttons and zippers. You get used to the tightness quickly, and while it feels good to take them off at the end of the day, I find myself feeling like any other pair of leggings I pull on for the day feels too loose in comparison.
Spanx makes plenty of other compression leggings that have a similar smoothing effect, but it’s the faux-leather finish that really elevates this particular line to the top of the “work-acceptable” pile. The finish creates a reflective sheen that adds an extra layer of thickness and coverage to the leggings themselves, gives the illusion of real leather, and it really flatters.
There are quite a few different leather finishes: basic faux leather, faux leather camouflage, faux leather snakeskin and my personal favorite, Spanx’s faux leather moto. They also come in plus sizes.
I love the moto leggings because aside from making me look cooler than I am, the ribbed motorcycle-style panels really distract from my actual legs.
The moto-style was my first pair, and I liked them so much I bought two more, plus a pebbled faux leather style, so that I had enough leggings to wear most days of the week.
I wear them to the office nearly every day, and even to big work events. (Hey, if they’re good enough to wear while rubbing shoulders with Lin-Manuel Miranda or Danai Gurira — see below! — they’re good enough for a regular day at the office). They really do pass as nice pants!
It’s no exaggeration to say that a day rarely goes by when I wear these and don’t get a compliment on them. I’ve always paid full price for these leggings and have not been paid by Spanx to write this. I can just honestly say these leggings are the best I’ve ever tried and worth every penny.
Now if I could just save up for a few more pairs so I can wear them seven days a week…