When it comes to workout wear, classic black never goes out of style—but it's never all that interesting, either, especially when you'd like to stylishly highlight the results of all that lifting, squatting, lunging, and pressing you've been doing.
Fortunately, a number of companies have caught up to the fact that fashionistas like to sweat, too, and are producing workout leggings in colorful, crazy patterns and prints. Below, we've rounded up six retailers whose designs are comfortable, functional, and durable enough to withstand all kinds of physical exertion, but which wouldn't be out of place on a high fashion catwalk thanks to their daring aesthetics.
Designed with hot yoga in mind—and manufactured in California—Onzie leggings are made from a breathable, super-stretchy, ultra-thin fabric that can handle your sweat. They're also made in an ever-changing rotation of prints that run the gamut from earthy to extra-terrestrial. The current collection includes peacock and snakeskin patterns, as well as leggings with a faux leather texture and one wild fabric that looks like an intergalactic oil spill.
The activewear arm of the Gap corporation, Athleta keeps it classic year-round with basic blacks, grays, and muted, heathered hues—but each season also brings a fresh cut of their wildly popular workout tights in several more daring prints. This year's collection includes a pair of crops that looks vaguely like the laser background from your high school yearbook photos, and the signature Chaturanga tight in a colorblocked, jewel-toned tapestry print.
Nordstrom's Zella line is one of the department store's best-kept secrets: Not only do their leggings come in fun colors and bold patterns, their quality is on par with (or dare we say, better than?) a certain famous (and famously pricey) maker of ladies' athleisure-wear. The classic "Live In" legging holds up so well after multiple workouts and washes that you can go years without replacing them—but with big splashy graphic prints and a never-ending variety of crazy space-dye colors to choose from, it's cool if you want, like, a zillion pairs.
Forever21 originally made its name as a place for girls of a certain age to score of-the-moment trends on the cheap, which is why you may not know about their line of classic (and surprisingly well-made) activewear. Clever colorblocking, neon accents, and mesh panels rule the collection, but affordable gems in creative prints can be found—and if you don't mind shelling out a bit more, the site carries fun pieces from high-end activewear brands like Jala and TLF.
Another yoga-centric brand, Teeki's prints trend toward a certain Southwestern flair: desert roses, sun-bleached skulls, a lone elk (or occasionally, a unicorn) silhouetted against a vivid sunset. If Georgia O'Keeffe returned from the grave to design activewear, it would probably look something like this. In addition to their unique aesthetic, Teeki has the bonus of being environmentally-conscious; their pants are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Try: Clouds Hot Pant, $72
This is the sweaty version of Stitchfix's style-by-mail model: a subscription service to keep you in spandex for the rest of your life. In addition to having the imprimatur of Hollywood fit girl Kate Hudson, Fabletics keeps itself well-stocked with workout pants, like the Salar legging, in dozens of ever-changing prints. The sheer number of options can be a little overwhelming—as are the constant emails announcing the arrival of new styles—but if you spend a lot of time in workout wear and want to refresh your wardrobe on the regular, Fabletics is hard to beat as a one-stop shop.