Finally, a pair that does it all.

By Laura Reilly
Jun 06, 2019 @ 3:30 pm
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When you’re hiking in the desert — where 45º mornings quickly change to 103º afternoons — one thing that’s for sure is that you need to be comfortable. Turns out, you could say the same about living in New York City, land of sweltering summer heat and frigid office air conditioning.

While the concept of climates sending mixed messages is nothing new, what did throw me for a loop was the fact that the sartorial solution to both situations was a single pair of comfortable leggings.

I first met Free People Movement’s High-Rise Econyl Leggings on a day hike through Joshua Tree National Park. In the earliest hours I spent amid the elements, the air was still crisp and cool, and the leggings were keeping my body temps balanced. The fabric’s bouncy weave gently squeezed my curves, holding in my middle and thighs while I trekked between dramatic boulder stacks and narrowly avoided cacti.

Around 11 a.m., things started to warm up, but, thanks to the leggings’ highly breathable yarn, plus carefully placed cutouts, I felt cool as air. I’m no Girl Scout, but I’m not not outdoorsy. These breezy bottoms were night and day, compared to other leggings I’ve worn on hikes where my legs sweat profusely and body heat gets trapped with no exits in sight.

The high-performance qualities of the leggings can be largely traced back to their innovative fabric, Econyl. You may have heard of this emerging material, sometimes found in swimsuits, for its landfill-divergent composition. The nylon fibers of the fabric are sourced entirely from plastic collected from landfills and ocean waste, creating a carbon-negative footprint in the process.

What’s more, the unique, recycled nylon is ideal for activewear, being both thin, durable, and extremely flexible. Its ‘cooling’ capability can be attributed to the moisture-resistant and moisture-wicking properties, which move sweat away from your body and out into the air.

Back in New York, I had all but forgotten about the leggings — relegated immediately to the top of my athletic-wear drawer — until one fateful laundry day. While peeling through my drawers looking for a pair of black trousers that I knew damn well weren’t there. I caught the Econyl leggings staring at me while I continued sifting through garments and thought, ‘What if?’ I had an important-ish meeting that day and thought jeans would be too cazh so, just as an experiment, I slipped into the detailed black leggings and a sleeveless blazer dress. To my surprise, it totally worked.

I’m not really a leggings-as-pants type, but the subtle pinhole detailing was exactly the differentiator my outfit called for. Plus, once I felt the familiar, shaping hold of the leggings, I knew I was keeping them on.

All through my sweaty subway commute to my AC-blasting office workday, I felt — and looked — honestly, amazing. Later that day, I wore the already shockingly versatile leggings out for drinks with coworkers and got all the compliments, proof enough to me that there’s nothing these humble black leggings can’t do.

Shop the leggings that have made their way into every part of my wardrobe from FreePeople.com.

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To buy: $128; freepeople.com

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