Like every sensible woman, you’ve probably wondered if you can get away with wearing leggings all year round. You may have been scarred in the past by putting on a pair of leggings that feel great in the cool of the morning, but by noon you’re sweating profusely because you underestimated how warm your leggings are. Or the opposite happened and it was a glorious winter day. Unusually warm, you decided to put on your favourite second-skin leggings for a leisurely day hike. The minute you’re under the shade of the trees, you’re horrified to discover that winter is in full effect here, and your barely-there leggings are doing nothing to stop the cold from creeping in. If you’re a legging lover like me and try to wear leggings as much as possible, some version of these scenarios should be familiar.
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It doesn’t have to be this way. You can have your cake and eat it too. You can rock your leggings all year round and never overheat or freeze your face off. You just have to pick the right leggings for the season. And I promise there is one for every season!
To fight off the winter chill, look for leggings that are made from thicker fabric. Second-skin leggings may seem like the best thing since chocolate cake, but they’re just not enough if you want to stay toasty in winter. Look for fabric with some substance and weight to it. Most brands won’t list what’s known as the “gsm” of the fabric, which means “grams per square meter” of fabric. The higher the gsm, the thicker the fabric. If this information is available, look for fabric that is 300gsm or higher for winter. Otherwise, look for leggings described as “thick”, “warm” or “winter-proof.”
Another thing to look for in winter leggings is sweat-wicking technology. Staying dry will keep you warmer than when you are damp or wet. Think about what it’s like when you’re swimming and you get out of the water. Even on a warm day, the air hitting your wet swimsuit will feel very cold on your skin. This is a great way to cool down on a hot day. Not such a great tactic in the winter though. Leggings made from sweat-wicking material will pull moisture and wetness away from your body and evaporate it into the atmosphere so you stay as dry and warm as possible. If you do accidentally get your leggings wet in slush, snow or rain, they will dry more quickly than non-sweat-wicking fabric like cotton or wool.
High waisted leggings
Opt for high waisted leggings over mid or low rise leggings in winter. High waisted leggings are a great winter hack because they prevent any skin from being exposed around your midline. We all know the feeling of a cold breeze slipping through the cracks of your clothing and shocking your bare skin if your pants and top don’t overlap enough. High waisted leggings will ensure the wind doesn’t get away with any chilly sneak attacks. The high waist design can also act as a comforting extra layer underneath your top layers, providing even more warmth.
Stay away from mesh details if you want to stay warm in winter. Mesh might look cute and keep you cool when you’re working out, but a chilly breeze on an exposed part of your leg is the last thing you need when you’re trying to stay warm. Save the mesh for summer or hot workouts.
Matte Finish Fabric
Finally, for maximum warmth, look for leggings that have a matte finish and a cotton-like feel. Avoid shiny or silky feeling athletic fabrics. These tend to have a cooling effect on the skin and can make chilly winds and sub-zero temperatures feel worse. Since you don’t need any extra help cooling down in the winter, go for the matte cotton-feel leggings that will be soft and comfortable in colder conditions.
Glorious summer! The long warm days of summer are the best, but heat presents its own challenges for legging lovers. I adore full-length leggings because they make you look taller and leaner, but they can feel like way too much on a hot summer day. There is hope though! You’ll be cool as a cucumber if you pick the right hot weather leggings. Here are some things to look for:
This is where second-skin fabric truly shines. This type of fabric is highly breathable and feels like nothing when you’re wearing it. Even on a hot day, you will feel fabulous and in a full-length pair of second-skin leggings. A major bonus is that this type of leggings will keep you cool while providing full sun protection. Great if you don’t love slathering your whole body in sunscreen.
Nothing can make you feel more bogged down and horrid on a hot day than sweaty clothes. Look for sweat-wicking leggings made from technical synthetic fabric. As mentioned previously for winter leggings, this type of fabric will pull any moisture and wetness away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable in hot or humid conditions. They will also dry in a snap if you happen to spontaneously dive into your local swimming hole when the summer heat becomes unbearable.
Mesh is a yes!
Mesh panels and detailing on leggings is all go for summer. Mesh is a great way to be technically covered up, but feel like you’re wearing nothing. The high breathability of mesh allows maximum airflow on your skin so you stay as cool as possible. Max out on mesh for summer!
Weird fact: some people don’t like shorts. I’m one of them. I would rather wear leggings any day over shorts. I also love the sleek long leg silhouette that full-length leggings give you, but sometimes on really scorching days, you need more bare skin exposed than a full-length legging allows. Enter the perfect compromise: crop leggings. The cropped length can vary from mid-calf to just below the knee, so pick your favourite length and enjoy setting your calves free for summer! If you need some help deciding on the right length for you, check out our helpful article about how to choose the best leggings for your height.
I’m not usually a huge fan of silky-feel leggings fabric. I prefer the buttery-softness of brushed fabrics, but shiny athletic fabric can be a godsend in summer. The silky texture can feel so much cooler on your skin than a brushed cotton-feel fabric. They’re also very breathable and sweat-wicking, which makes them the ultimate leggings for hotter days.
Autumn/Spring: the in-between seasons
Autumn and Spring can oscillate a lot between hot and cold. Early autumn can be as hot, if not hotter than summer. It can also be very wintery in late autumn. The extremes of Spring can also leave you freezing one day and stripping off layers the next. You could use the legging recommendations for summer on hot days and winter on cold days for both of these seasons. Just replace “summer” with hot conditions and “winter” with cold conditions to cover pretty much any situation.