Traveling soon? Here are some alternatives to black leggings

They’re baaaaaaack…black leggings never really went away, but apparently are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Today I’m sharing some alternatives to black leggings that are just as easy (if not easier) to wear.

On a recent excursion to the local mall, I estimated that at least half (if not more) of the women I saw were wearing some iteration of black leggings + sweatshirt or sweater.

Yes, they have a certain effortless and sporty appeal. And they’re a popular choice for travel, at least if you follow “airport style” on social media. But, for many of us they can feel too exposed or informal. I’ve recently come across a few alternatives that look a little more polished, and are available in colors other than black!

You’ll travel in comfort and arrive at your destination looking put-together and polished.

Comforable and polished black leggings alternatives

An alternative to black leggings: Susan B. wears Banana Republic skinny ponte pants in navy.

👉 Style tip: for a put-together look, try matching your shoes to your scarf, cardigan, jacket, hat, or even your hair color.

Above, these are the Banana Republic slim ponte knit pants from a new-ish ponte collection. I have to admit, I’m pretty impressed with these so far. The fabric is substantial, and there’s a stitched pintuck in front for an elongating effect. They’re a rayon-viscose blend, and machine washable.

I usually size up in slim-fitting styles, and am wearing the Petite Medium in navy. They’re also available in black and charcoal in Regular sizes XS-XXL, and in Petites. Per reviews, they hold their shape.

There’s also a matching ponte knit blazer (Regular & Petite sizes). And if skinny pants aren’t your thing, there’s cropped flare style (also with the stitched pintuck in front).

Natural fibers

If you prefer wearing natural fibers, you might want to try these slim pants. (88% cotton, 12% spandex.) They are slightly cropped, and have an unfinished hem. They have pockets, and a stitched front seam which gives them a more polished look. Yes, they can go into the washer, and dryer. Several colors available, sizes XS-XL. (Run small, suggest going up 1 size.)

Sleek and comfortable

Back when I used to travel with a predominantly black wardrobe, these stretch crepe pants from Eileen Fisher were always included. They are breathable, washable, comfortable in a range of temperatures, and look polished enough to wear out to dinner. These run true-to-size and hit at the ankle.

They’re now offered in several colors each season, in sizes Petite P-L and Misses XXS-3X.

Trouser style

If you like to tuck in your tops, or just prefer a trouser style, these knit pants are available in several colors, sizes 0-16, and Plus. They’re also machine washable, and ring in just under $100 (and you can often find them on sale).


And I have not yet tried these Spanx “Perfect Pants,” but they do get rave reviews. They’re available in four colors, Regular, Petite, and Tall lengths in sizes XS-3X.

Sporty chic

This pull-on style (with pockets!) has a front crease and a polished look, without sacrificing comfort. In several colors, Regular length sizes 0-24, also in Tall and Petite lengths.

For more travel wardrobe ideas and packing tips, please be sure to visit my Travel Wardrobe Resource Hub!

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  1. Great suggestions, I’ve noticed too, most people are wearing leggings of some sort. I used to wear leggings but now I find them too bare and I feel exposed. For a while I’ve been looking for a legging/jogger hybrid. I’m definitely going to try some of your ideas.

  2. I love this look on you. It is a departure, in some sense, of your usual style, but it really looks amazing on you. I too avoid tights, except for yoga, but you have me rethinking this option! Great outfit.

  3. Hello… Thought I’d weigh in on the Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants. At least a decade ago, I went with your recommendation of this great wardrobe staple and since that time have purchased nine pair (several styles, but all black except two). About two years ago, something happened at Eileen Fisher: the beloved, reliable stretch crepe pants have undergone a drastic change. The fabric is less weighty, leading to a sloppier, almost baggy, fit. Plus, the fabric wrinkles after washing (!), especially at the outside side seams — even pressing with a cool iron does little to rectify this. The waistband is ‘puckery’ rather than smooth/flat, and the elastic inside the waistband is narrower so it tends to fold over inside the waistband casing after washing.
    I have read many EF customer reviews indicating their displeasure and frustration at this change — especially in the quality of the stretch crepe fabric being used now — it is rougher and uncomfortable against the skin.
    If you have any ideas or suggestions about whether/how loyal EF customers might encourage the company to revert to their previous standards (if possible…) — I would be MOST grateful.
    In the meantime, I have begin seeking alternatives but so far have not had much luck.
    Thanks, as always, for your wonderful style/travel/life observations and recommendations. Your post is the first thing I read each morning!!

    1. I have to agree with Judith’s assessment: I have two pair of the EF stretch crepe pants in navy and gray and have found these same changes 🙁

    2. My Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants are my go-to pants for any travel that includes a variety of venues or events. I’m planning an international trip in the next year and was planning to check out EF for a refresh, so I appreciate your comment although I’m sorry to hear about the newer versions. Thankfully the navy and off-white I purchased years ago (credit to Susan’s blog) are still going strong, perhaps because I use them primarily for travel.

    3. I came here to post the same warning, Judith (and others). For many years, these were my Perfect Pants. And then, as you say, several years ago, they degraded in both style and quality. The crepe is now thinner and without body. And the style is no longer slim, but shapeless. They’re just awful. (What happened at Eileen Fisher?) Distressingly, I’ve not yet found anything to replace them. I plan to try your other suggestions, Susan. Thank you!

  4. This post is a great great resource for travel pants. I followed the link to the Athleta high rise pants with pockets and I will be checking them out at the store soon! The high waist, looser fit in the thigh and pockets are fabulous features for me! Thanks!

  5. As an inverted triangle body type, I much prefer slim pants to leggings for going out and about. They add more balance to my top half. I wore the Eileen Fisher ones (bought at a deep discount) for years before they finally stretched out. These are great options.

  6. I wanted so much to like the Endless pants from Athleta. They get rave reviews , but on me they had kind of a jodhpur silhouette. Tried a different pair in a different color. Same thing.
    Sadly, not for me.

    1. I agree! Jodhpurs are a great description of them. I saw so many rave reviews so tried them on but they have a lot of room in the hips where I don’t. The fabric is stiff so the fabric sticks out. I have a pair of Athleta Brooklyn pants and they’re also roomy at the hips but the fabric is light and soft so they just drape nicely.

  7. You look so chic! I’ve been waiting for this post! Thx! just ordered a couple of the pants from BR. I love buying travel clothes that I also wear daily and feel put together in. I’ll wear a linen button down with these. And these pants look like the old EF system slim ankle pants that were of a heftier material than the crepe ones. thanks again!

  8. I love black leggings; they are my uniform. However, I will open my mind to alternatives, thanks! (PS, though. Anyone traveling to countries [or even airplanes] where the toilets are rudimentary might want to keep wearing black leggings. They have the advantage of not dragging on the floor when lowered to use the facilities.)

  9. Great post today, Susan! Love all the choices in this style of pant. They look great firor traveling and I love that some of your choices have pockets which is a serious quirk of mine.
    I am thinking of checking out the ones from Nordstrom.

    Have a great day!

  10. I wear the Athleta Endless pants both the regular (ankle) length on me ( 5’7′)and I purchase the tall length and have to hem them about an inch to have a full length pant. They don’t stretch out or wrinkle and I can wear them multiple days and they still look fine. The zippers worked great for a concert with bag size limits.
    I think they run a little big so sometimes I size down.

  11. Hi Susan: this is a great posting! Thank you for the research. It is difficult to find pants in something other than black these days. I’m trying the BR ones. I’m wondering about the JCrew merino sweater. Did you order it in medium or are you finding that small is a better fit (sorry to be such a nuisance!). I love the idea of the navy outfit with shoes and sweater over the shoulders matching. Those shoes are great looking!

  12. The Quince brand ultra-stretch ponte pants are awesome. They’re available in bootcut and straight leg and I believe in flare leg also. I own two pair of the straight leg style and I love them! What I love even more is the $39.99 price for those of us who either can’t, or choose not to, spend $100+ on pants. I highly recommend them!

    1. Yes!!!!!!!
      Quince pants are amazing. I love the full length straight and most of all am a fan of the kick flares (for $39.00!!!)
      I’d like to hear from more people on this subject

  13. No offense, but all these pants look alike to me, and I don’t look good in these tapered styles. Could you suggest some straight or wider leg styles?

    1. Mary Alice, I felt the same way about tapered pants with my wide hips and full thighs. But I was desperate for pants after losing some weight and tried the Athleta Endless pant and love them! They are worth a try and Athleta even offers free hemming.

  14. Thank you for your-always great travel ideas.

    May i recommend – especially the new Wanderer pant, specially made for travel but pretty great for every day, too.

    Canadian company, ethically-produced and ships to the US.

  15. I usually travel in jeans but this past summer I was traveling to the East Coast and knew jeans would be too hot. I got a pair of Brooklyn pants from Athleta and they were perfect for the hot weather. We traveled by train, plane and automobile and they looked and felt great.

  16. The Spanx Perfect Pants are fantastic! But you have to size up. They run quite small. And I very much agree with your other readers who say they are disappointed with the quality of the EF crepe pants recently. They are scratchy, they wrinkle, and they’re just not what they used to be. Domage!

  17. I really think black leggings scream “I’m an American” – if your traveling to Europe. Look around when you get there. We got asked all the time, if we were Italian when I took my daughter, and I swear it was because we weren’t wearing leggings. These are great alternatives, but I think most people don’t wear leggings well as an everyday outfit. Just my opinion.

  18. My eye has adjusted to wider leg pants because all of these choices seem quite fitted. That’s not a criticism, as I realize these are presented as alternatives to leggings, and these all seem to fit that niche nicely. It’s more that I didn’t realize how much I have grown accustomed to other styles.

  19. I have been wearing Betabrand yoga pants for a number of years. They are a fairly thick material, so unsuitable for warm weather, but perfect for spring/fall or plane rides. They come in a variety of styles, from skinny to boot-cut, with pockets (!) and without, and have belt loops. I take a XS Petite in Eileen Fisher, and a S Petite in Betabrand.

  20. Hi Susan,
    You look fabulous in your travel outfit, one that would take you anywhere once you arrive. Thanks for the inspo.
    Best wishes,
    Julie xx

  21. I have tried on the EF crepe and both athleta pants , they are too thin for my taste, I’m still wearing jeans to travel in. I will check the thicker pants though.

  22. Great post Susan! After reading your post, I ordered the Spanx pants in two sizes. Today, I had time to drive out to the mall and the Banana Republic store. I tried on a small in the everywhere ponte pant and it fit (a little too long) and also the Poppy Draped Top. Love the pants and got the top in black and white. (Spanx will be returned). Also, I bought the Paul Green sneaker you posted a couple of weeks ago. All of this is will travel with me to Japan and Paris. I will be stylish and comfortable. Thanks for your expert advice!

  23. I love traveling in and wearing leggings – this was a great post. And I love that they all come in navy blue to avoid the usual black. Thank you!