If I had a nickel for every time I got this question–I would be a RICH WOMAN. ??
Finally–much like the situation in when I FINALLY decided to do a very necessary comparison of the Everlane market tote vs. the Madewell Transport tote–I decided enough was enough. A blog post on this topic is necessary!
Let’s finally get to the bottom of the debate: ARE the Zella Live In Leggings REALLY just like the Lululemon Align leggings but half the price? Which pair is better? Which is better for which situations? Types of workouts?
We’re going to answer allll of those today. ?
To kick us off–let’s answer some of the most important questions first:
ARE the Zella leggings equivalent to Lululemon’s Align leggings?
Short answer: No! I don’t know why anyone says this. ?
I do not think they are remotely the same–even though they’re often touted as being interchangeable. Also, I don’t think either are “better”–they’re just different! Which is the point of this post today! (Please note, this is a comparison between the two brands LEGGINGS only!)
Which do you like more?
I will tell you this–I love BOTH brands, the leggings that they make, and I think they both deserve a place in your wardrobe. I don’t think there is one clear winner here, but my goal for this post is to compare and contrast them so you can make a decision on which is best for you!
Which hold up better in the wash?
Again, I think both are great when it comes to quality. So if your quality workout clothes are falling apart in the wash, it’s because you’re washing them wrong. You need to be washing your nice workout clothes only with each other–when you wash them with other items (cotton, sweaters, etc)–particles come off of those items and stick to your workout clothes. This is what leads to pilling. You also need to wash them in cold water–hot water ruins ALL.
Also, hang them dry. DO NOT put them in the dryer. Yes, some people who work at Lululemon will tell you that you can dry them, but if you really want them to last a long time, not fade, not pill, you should hang them to dry. I do not dry anything that I care about or anything of value in the dryer–ever. The dryer is for sheets, towels, underwear, and pajamas. Read my whole laundry post here.
More on Lululemon Leggings:
I absolutely LOVE Lululemon leggings. I received my first pair of Align leggings (worn above) as a gift from my dad probably close to a decade ago. They have held up beautifully. (Again, read above re: laundry). I think the sizing on these is more forgiving than most Lulu stuff, which runs very small. They are insanely stretchy, so you don’t have to size up AS much as usual–it really just depends on your preference. I’m a size XS or S usually and I pretty much wear a 4 across the board in Lulu pants. (Granted, I wear a 6 in tops!)
For a recent partnership with them (this post!) I tried out The Everlux In Movement leggings (worn below). I also really loved these–but they’re different and definitely thicker and hold you in more than the Align leggings! The Everlux leggings are made for high impact, but they are still really soft and stretchy, unlike many other HIIT leggings which can feel too constricting at times. I wear these when I do Orangetheory AND when I run outdoors. They are awesome. I’m also going to be trying out some of their running leggings in an upcoming partnership, so stay tuned for a review on those! ??
Overall thoughts on Lululemon leggings:
I don’t think any other brand makes leggings that feel and perform like Lululemon. I don’t mean that as in Lululemon leggings are BETTER–I mean they are UNIQUE. Honestly, I think they feel most like “second skin” than any other brand–they are softer…for lack of a better term, more “buttery” than other brands.
Key differences between Align + Other Lulu leggings:
I think the Align are best for light impact activity and running errands, etc. Honestly I really only wear them for everyday–like a chicer substitute for sweatpants. I choose more supportive leggings for working out, but they’re ideal for travel if you want something you can wear on the plane AND to yoga or hiking or something, if that makes sense.
The Align pants are also often referred to as their “naked” pants–I think they were called this maybe back in the day, but they REALLY do feel like you’re not wearing pants. They are unlike any other legging I’ve come across! The Zella Live In Leggings are WONDERFUL, and they are also significantly less expensive, but they feel NOTHING like the Align pants. If you asked me to name the most comfortable all-purpose pants I own, my first answer would likely be “LULULEMON ALIGN LEGGINGS!!!”
A note on Lululemon prices overall:
You are going to pay more for Lululemon leggings. I think it obviously depends on your budget, but I think they are exceptionally well-made and are worth the investment should you have the money and desire to invest in them. The average pair costs $98–obviously, they’re on the high end of the price spectrum, but again, this is not one of those instances you’re only paying for the name brand–you’re also paying for the feel and performance.
Pant length and sizing:
Lulu leggings come in different lengths–I know pant length is an incredibly individual preference, so it’s nice that they come in crop, 7/8 length, and full length! (I’m 5’6 for height reference and both pants I’m wearing above are the 7/8 length–which is slightly cropped.) Overall, their stuff runs REALLY small, so just go in knowing that you likely should size up at least one size in everything. They only go up to size 14, but since their stuff is so small, that really is only equivalent to a size 12. This is very frustrating and something I very much hope they will change in the future, but luckily, Zella DOES make plus size leggings!
I love love Zella! They are one of my favorite athletic/athleisure brands out there.
The most popular Zella leggings are called their Live In Leggings which, again, are the type that are most often compared to Lululemon’s Align leggings. However, I would actually say they are more similar to Outdoor Voices leggings than they are to Lulu’s. Zella leggings are far thicker! (The one’s I’m wearing above are the full length and I’m 5’6 for reference.) They come in high and medium rise as well as different lengths, granted, not nearly as many color combinations as Lulu does. I wear a small in the Live In Leggings–I’d say if you’re in between sizes, go up, not down. (An XS would’ve been a littttlee too tight for me.)
Zella leggings, again, are thicker in general, so I would not typically reach for them for something like hot yoga, running outside on a hot day, etc. However, they are great for something like Orangetheory–and of course, general errand running, weekends, etc. Zella leggings, due to their thickness, are going to naturally be more forgiving than align pants–if that’s very important to you.
The Zella pair I would say are MOST like Lululemon leggings are actually Zella’s Hydra Leggings! (Hydra leggings shown in the first photo of this post. Note, these are probably the only Zella pants where I wish I’d gone with XS, so size down!) The Hydra Leggings are still very different from Lulu’s– they’re perforated for extra ventilation and they don’t *look* the same–they just feel a bit more similar–light, and more buttery, if you will!) These are the Zella leggings I’d say are best for hot yoga!
Huge kudos for Zella for being size inclusive and making their leggings in plus size! (Their plus size options are not nearly as extensive, so obviously there is room for improvement, but still–a big step in the right direction!) I think we can all agree that more brands (especially when it comes to activewear) need to provide more inclusive sizing, so it makes me happy that Zella is doing so! Also, so many of you raved about Zella’s maternity leggings–but I actually can’t find them on the site anymore! If you’re pregnant, keep an eye out for them–maybe they’ll bring them back? I hope they do!
Another point for Zella. In general, Zella leggings are less expensive (almost half the price of Lululemon leggings) I just did a whole review on Zella activewear in this post, so definitely check that out if you want more in-depth details of each type of Zella legging (or are interested in tops/sports bras!)
Overall, you truly cannot go wrong with either brand here. If you do have the budget and wear leggings a lot, I think you’ll definitely benefit from adding both brands to your wardrobe! (I absolutely love having both!) But if you do have to choose, I hope this post was helpful!
What other brands do you like that are similar?
Of course I love Zella and Lulu, but Lolë is my other favorite brand when it comes to workout leggings. (No, I don’t JUST love them for packable jackets!)
Overall, I really love that their leggings are thinner while still being supportive. (I.E. You won’t overheat in them!) I will say I pretty much strictly wear these for working out–I would typically reach for Lulu Align or Zella Live In leggings if I just wanted a plain pair of black leggings to wear out and about for non workout purposes. (Granted I have not tried Lolë’s basic black leggings–I will try to give those a test run and report back for you!)
Favorite Lolë leggings:
I think their Cayo leggings are the most unique and hands down the best for hot yoga–they’re made of this super thin (but sturdy) swim-like material that is great for outdoors–especially around water. (Paddle boarding, beach yoga, anything outdoorsy!) They are made of the ideal material to feel “barely there” and keep you cool! Whenever I’m in hot yoga and I’m wearing tight, thick pants, it makes me feel claustrophobic, so these are my go-to’s!
I will also wear the Cayo leggings to OTF on a hot day (can you tell I HATE being constricted/hot? ?) but I will say if you are a huge stickler for a ton of support, they aren’t going to be your #1 choice for a HIIT workout.
These pants are also made from recycled fishnets (but they don’t feel like it, haha, I promise!)–how cool is that!?
If you also want a pair of HIIT/running leggings that are more supportive but still thin and not overly thick/restricting, I also love their Sierra leggings! They run big though, so size down. (For example, I’m a small in Zella but XS in Lolë Sierra leggings). I wore them in this post if you want more info on them!
Their Burst leggings (styled in this blog post–also pictured above) are also AMAZING–I probably wear this pair to work out the most because they’re my favorite for OTF! Again, they’re thin, but super supportive and stretchy at the same time. They also have a “coolmax” gusset–meaning, no sweaty crotch issues. Let’s not pretend that’s not a problem with light colored workout pants. ? I also love that they have lot’s of zipper compartments which come in handy for running outdoors. I wear an XS in these for size reference!
(Now this has me thinking, maybe I need to do a whole post dedicated to different Lolë workout leggings as well, haha! What do you think?)