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Which cotton leggings are best?

Comfortable and versatile, cotton leggings are a wardrobe staple for many — but not all are created equal. While some are buttery-soft, comfortable and fit like a dream, others are stiff or baggy. 

When you know where to look and what to look for, finding the perfect leggings is much easier. Adidas Loungewear Essentials 3-Stripes Leggings are a perfect choice for those who like the sporty look. 

What to know before you buy cotton leggings


Unlike yoga pants and activewear leggings, cotton leggings aren’t great for sport and working out. Instead, they’re generally worn either as streetwear or loungewear. When worn out and about, you can either wear them on their own as pants or layered under shorts, dresses or skirts instead of pantyhose. If you mainly want to wear your leggings at home for lounging around, comfort is more important than fit. 


Leggings are usually sold in small, medium, large, extra-large and so on, rather than in numerical dress sizes. Since this kind of sizing isn’t standardized, it can be tricky to find the right fit. Ideally, you should take your waist and hip measurements and consult the sizing chart. However, leggings are stretchy, so there’s some leeway if you buy the wrong size. 


While most cotton leggings are full-length, you can also find 7/8-length leggings, which sit between the ankle and mid-calf, as well as 3/4-length leggings, which sit roughly at mid-calf. That said, if you’re short enough that you find full-length leggings far too long, you might find 7/8-length leggings are just the right size for you. 

What to look for in quality cotton leggings


Not all cotton leggings are equally opaque. Some can be unintentionally see-through, especially in the seat when you bend over. This makes them unsuitable for wearing out on the street without something over the top of them. Paying a little extra for high-quality leggings should guarantee they won’t be see-through, but it’s worth checking customer reviews if you’re unsure.


You can buy leggings in a wide range of solid colors and occasionally in prints, such as leopard print. Some brands offer more color choices than others, so you might need to shop around a little if you want something other than basic black or gray. 


Cotton leggings are less likely to have pockets than activewear leggings as they’re not as stretchy so pockets can end up looking slightly baggy. However, you can still find a handful of options with pockets, especially small key pockets in waistbands. 


If you’d like an eco-friendly option, consider buying organic cotton leggings. Organic cotton isn’t processed with harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment the way that regular cotton is. You can expect to pay more than you would for standard cotton, but it’s worth the extra money for some buyers. 


No leggings are made from 100% cotton, as they need some elastane, Lycra or similar for stretch. Around 10% stretch material and 90% cotton gives you a close fit, while higher percentages of cotton give you a slightly looser fit. 

How much you can expect to spend on cotton leggings

Most cotton leggings cost $10-$50, though some designer brands can cost $100 and up. 

Cotton leggings FAQ

Are cotton leggings good? 

A. It depends on what you want them for. Cotton leggings are soft, so they feel nice against the skin. Cotton is breathable so you shouldn’t feel too warm or stuffy wearing them. They’re an ideal choice if you want leggings for lounging around the house or for wearing around town, whether under shorts, skirts and dresses or on their own. The trouble with cotton compared to synthetic materials is that it soaks up moisture and holds onto it — that’s why most towels are made of cotton. So, when you sweat in cotton leggings, they can get saturated and leave you feeling uncomfortable. Therefore, they’re not a great option for exercising. 

Are cotton leggings see-through? 

A. Cotton leggings are more likely to thin over time than leggings made out of polyester or other synthetic materials, so they can become slightly see-through over time. That said, when you invest in a quality pair, you can expect them to retain their opacity for at least a year or two of regular wear. After this time, you can still wear them under shorts and skirts or around the house. 

What are the best cotton leggings to buy?

Top cotton leggings

Adidas Loungewear Essentials 3 Stripes Leggings

Adidas Loungewear Essentials 3-Stripes Leggings

What you need to know: Perfect for Adidas fans, these leggings feature the classic three-stripe design.

What you’ll love: They’re thick with a good level of opacity. You can choose from a range of color combinations. They’re comfortable to wear, whether out and about or lounging at home. 

What you should consider: Despite coming from a sporting brand, they aren’t a good choice for exercise. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cotton leggings for the money

Hanes Stretch Jersey Leggings

Hanes Stretch Jersey Leggings

What you need to know: These affordable leggings are ideal for people looking for a basic option. 

What you’ll love: You can pick from two color options: solid black and charcoal heather. They’re made from a heavy-weight material so they won’t go see-through easily and are well-elasticated for a close fit. 

What you should consider: The fabric is slightly stiff and not the best choice if you’re looking for extra-soft leggings. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Juicy Couture Essential High Waisted Cotton Leggings

Juicy Couture Essential High-Waisted Cotton Leggings

What you need to know: With a buttery-soft finish, these are suited to buyers looking for comfort. 

What you’ll love: The wide waistband is comfortable. They fit nicely with a good amount of stretch. They’re thick enough to wear as pants. 

What you should consider: They run slightly small, so size up if you’re between sizes or are unsure.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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