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I wore $200 leggings to see if they're really that much better

Here's where they had a leg up over other brands.

ultracor leggings Credit: Marissa Miller/Ultracor

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No matter what I have on my schedule, I wear leggings all day every day. As an all-around fitness buff, I’m always on the cusp of a workout, so I like to be prepared whenever the motivation strikes. (Although to be honest, changing in and out of leggings is often a workout in and of itself.)

As such, I was thrilled—star-struck even!—when I got the opportunity to try out Ultracor leggings. I have long been keeping my finger on the pulse of everything celebrities are wearing these days. And if these $200 leggings are good enough for Emma Roberts, Hillary Duff, and Kelly Ripa, surely they’re good enough for me. Or are they?

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What are Ultracor leggings?

lemon and star Ultracor leggings
Credit: Ultracor

Ultracor's quirky, fun designs are art for your legs.

Billed by the brand as the “most luxurious performance legging,” Ultracor prides itself on using technology at every stage of the design process, from digital-printing quirky patterns like lemon blooms, evil eyes, and stars, to laser-cutting pixelated designs as a unique take on ventilation. All/most designs also have a built-in brief, basically a panty like you'd find in jogging shorts, that's there so you don't have to wear underwear underneath. The leggings are made of a compressive blend of polyester, nylon, spandex, and lycra intended to support your body during medium- to high-intensity exercise like running, cycling, dancing, and Pilates. They're also intended to offer a shapewear effect, smoothing, slimming, and holding everything in.

Prices range from $118 for a more basic pair, all the way up to $345 for those bedecked with Swarovski crystals. Each piece is made to order and produced in-house in the U.S. That’s why the specific leggings I ordered—a Sprinter High magenta pair with geometric cutouts all down the leg—aren’t currently in stock. But there are a lot of similar styles available, like the Essential Ultra High Legging and the Diamond Mesh Ultra High Legging.

Ultracor makes four styles of leggings, which differ based on inseam length and waistband: the Ultra, Ultra High, Sprinter, and Sprinter High. All have a three-inch waistband except for the Ultra leggings, which are two inches. The Ultra and Ultra High leggings have a 24-inch inseam, which ends just above the ankle for most people. The Sprinter and Sprinter High leggings have a 22-inch inseam, which comes to right below the calf, according to the brand.

How I tested the Ultracor leggings

Ultracor leggings
Credit: Ultracor

Ultracor's built-in shapewear provides a smoothing, compressive effect.

I wore the Sprinter High leggings on three different occasions to gain a sense of how they’d perform under different scenarios. First, I completed a 20-minute Pure Barre workout that’s comprised of high-intensity, low-impact resistance training. The following day, I wore them for an hour of Tracy Anderson’s Method, which fuses weight training and dance cardio. Directly after that, I ran outside for 30 minutes.

What I like about Ultracor leggings

breathability
Credit: Ultracor

Pixelated cutouts in Ultracor leggings are a unique take on ventilation.

The built-in shapewear effect was so apparent, I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at my butt in the mirror. Even in the bright magenta color, I didn't notice a single dimple or dot of cellulite. It creates a figure so flattering it almost feels like I’m deceiving people with a sartorial version of Photoshop. I'm also a big fan of intense compression when I work out—I find even the slightest jiggle distracting. This is where the leggings really thrived. They held everything tightly in place.

The length was just right, too. I went with the Sprinter High because of my short legs and preference for a wider waistband that sucks you right in. On my 5-foot-3 frame, the leggings hit just below my ankle. I like that they don't require shortening, or that I don’t have to wear them pulled down under my heels to prevent bunching above my shoes, which I've resorted to in the past with too-long leggings.

I appreciate any form of ventilation, so the pixelated cutouts along the sides were a nice detail, and a welcome departure from overdone mesh panelling we often see in “breathable” leggings. I felt not just a coolness against my legs, but an actual breeze that helped propel me forward. I despise wearing shorts, so I’ll take anything that allows me to comfortably wear pants in the summer. These leggings did just that.

The 3-inch waistband is made of several layers of the fabric, for a sensation I’d describe as like a seatbelt with some stretch. It’s so durable you probably wouldn’t feel it much if you punched yourself in the stomach (I mean, don’t try that at home, but the visual is there for perspective). Not only did it help me feel fully sucked in, but it prevented the waistband from over-stretching or the leggings themselves from falling down. These stay tattooed to your body, whether you’re working out or running errands.

Squat-proof” is a term a lot of athleisure brands like to throw around, and while Ultracor hasn't explicitly identified its leggings as such, I’d like to do it for them. I have previously unknowingly flashed my neighbors while working out outside in leggings far thinner than I thought, so I’m extra sensitive to this feature. I can’t speak for other colors, but the magenta did not show a sliver of what’s underneath. I thank the thin black inner lining that contributes to its opaqueness without adding bulk.

What I don't like about Ultracor leggings

before and after Ultracor leggings
Credit: Reviewed/Marissa Miller

Before and after an hour of the Tracy Anderson Method, a sweat-inducing dance-inspired Pilates workout.

While there’s a lot to love about Ultracor leggings, there’s also a lot I could have done without. I prefer going commando when wearing leggings—try it and thank me later—which is what the built-in briefs are designed to allow. I would have tolerated a brief that supported the entirety of my cheeks, but that was not the case—it felt like I had a permanent wedgie. In the briefs’ defense, no panty line was visible, which is an impressive feat for leggings this tight.

What worries me more is how delicate I felt I had to be with these leggings so as not to rip them because the cut-outs can snag so easily. I also usually take my workouts outside, and with leggings this pricey,I didn't want to risk rolling onto the grass in these for fear of staining them or having them come into contact with a branch or rock. Being overly cautious during a workout is no way to live.

I hate when sweat shows on my clothes, but only five minutes into my Pure Barre workout I developed narrow, dark sweat stains in the crotch both in front and on the back of the leggings. Luckily I was home, because had I been in-studio, I would have been the (sweaty) butt of all jokes. The sweat situation during the Tracy Anderson Method was a whole other beast. Not only did I develop a pool of sweat towards the top of the leggings, but on the backs of my legs and on my ankles where I was wearing ankle weights. I was so embarrassed about all the sweat that I wore a long, baggy t-shirt to cover it on my post-Method run.

Finally, due to the compressive nature of the fabric, the brand suggests sizing up. I should have listened. I have a 28-inch waist, which corresponds to Ultracor's medium, but I could have and should have gone with a large to smooth out the ever-so-slight muffin top it gave me. While I love a wide waistband, this one rolled down any time I folded my torso in half, be it a crunch or a forward fold. I imagine this issue would remedy itself if you size up.

Here’s the part that pains me the most to write: Upon putting on the leggings for the first time, I thought to myself, “How soon can I take these off?” They have a very big presence, from the odd inner brief to the geometric cutouts that need babysitting. For me, they simply aren't the lounging-around leggings I'm accustomed to.

Are Ultracor leggings worth buying?

These leggings have a very slimming and flattering effect thanks to their built-in shapewear, so if you tend to wear both together, this two-in-one solution might be a sweet deal.

Point blank: Ultracor leggings are fine if you don’t mind shelling out a couple hundred bucks for athleisure that looks great when you're not working out. While that could be true for any type of high-end leggings, Ultracor's designs and prices err on the extravagant side and could leave you looking like a sweaty mess if you wear them for their intended purpose. Would I order them again? No. They're pretty but they aren't practical, at least in my world.

Shop Ultracor leggings at Revolve

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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.