You go into a lululemon store on the hunt for a new pair of leggings. Maybe you’ve seen your friends wearing them to brunch. Or you’ve spotted them on classmates in barre, CrossFit or spin. You did a little research, checked out the website and read some reviews, and decided you want to try them on before buying. So now you’re staring up at this wall of pants trying to figure out which of the 15 leggings you saw online and liked. Which ones did you read were really good for running? Which ones had reviews about the material pilling?
A salesperson (lululemon calls them educators) approaches and asks if you need help.
Maybe you say yes and admit you’re totally lost among all the choices, the educator helps you and you walk out with the perfect pair. They feel great, your butt looks great and they’re designed for your favorite workout. YAY you!! Enjoy your new leggings!
… or maybe you get a little intimated and say no, you try on a couple pairs, find one you like but then a couple weeks later you realize it isn’t working for you. What now? Well, I can’t send you back in time to pick a different pair, but I can help explain what you should be looking for next time.
… or maybe you don’t live near a store but want to order online. I can help with that too.
Luon, Luxtreme, Nulu, Nulux, Everlux, Everstreme.
Ok, that last one isn’t actually the name of a lululemon fabric. But looking at that list, it could be, right?
All those fabrics names sound pretty fancy, but what do they actually mean? Which leggings are best for HIIT classes? yoga? being a mom or a student?
Let’s just dive in.
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Created in 1998, this is the fabric lululemon was built on (and the only one they offered for the first 8 years). Back in the 90s, the founder of lululemon noticed that women in yoga classes were practicing in cotton pieces with no stretch; he knew that people loved the feel of cotton but needed a material that would perform for them and move with them through poses. He created a solve: a new fabric he called Luon, a proprietary blend of Nylon & LYCRA in an open loop knit – and lululemon was born.
Luon feels like cotton, but has four-way stretch and moisture-wicking capabilities (meaning it’ll both breathe and wick sweat away from your body during that hot yoga class).
This material is designed for low impact activities such as yoga, barre, pilates, etc.
Years ago, if you came in to the store asking for a yoga pant, I’d show you Wunder Unders, Groove Pants, Astro Pants, Gather and Crow Crops – but nowadays, when the teenage girls come in asking for “yoga pants”, they’re specifically looking for the Groove Pant. The Groove is a long, flared pant with a high-rise waistband. It’s been through many variations over the years, but this is the closest pant you’ll get to the original lululemon yoga pant (called the Boogie Pant) that started an athleisure revolution.
The second classic style is the Wunder Under. This pant is the traditional legging look, has a high-rise waistband and comes in a couple other fabrics as well, but let’s keep it simples and stick with the Lion versions for now.
- Wunder Under 21″ Crop (more colors here)
- Wunder Under 24″ Crop *Scallop
- Wunder Under 25″ Tight
- Wunder Under 28″ Tight (more colors here)
- Wunder Under Super High-Rise 28″
- Wunder Under 31″ Tight
Launched in 2008 (in conjunction with a material called Swift seen mostly in running shorts and casual styles), this material solved for runners. It’s much more compressive than Luon and feels slicker – more like Spandex than cotton – although it’s also blend of Nylon and LYCRA. Luxtreme has the same technical features as Luon (moisture-wicking, breathable and four-way stretch), although it actually dries faster.
Hot tip: If you have pets that shed and you’re looking for something that won’t pick up fur, go with Luxtreme or Nulux.
This fabric is best for high-impact activities such as running, interval training, CrossFit, spin, etc.
Most of the pant you’ll see in this fabric will have deep pockets on both sides of the legs as well as small pockets in the waistband and a drawstring.
My favorite Luxtreme pant was the Run: Inspire Crop, but it was retired a few years ago and replaced with the Pace Rival Crop. I’ve grown more fond of high-rise waistbands over the years, and these are a medium-rise, so I don’t wear them as often. But the compression level, non-sheer mesh behind the knee for breathability and the longer crop length make these some of my favorite crops to recommend to ladies who prefer the medium-rise.
Another medium-rise option that’s very popular is the Speed Up family. These are the most compressive tight we sell in my store, although there are other tights designed to be more compressive, such as the Tight Stuff Tight but it’s availability fluctuates on the website (it’s not currently available). Although you aren’t supposed to have to bounce between sizes based on compression level, more often than not I do see ladies size up one size from their normal lululemon size in the Speed Ups.
- Speed Up Crop 21″ (which are on markdown right now!)
- Speed Up Tight 25″
- Speed Up Tight 28″ (more colors here)
- Speed Up Tight 28″ *Brushed (slightly warmer for cold weather)
- Speed Up Tight 31″
The third luxtreme option you’ll see offered year-round is the All The Right Places family. These are in a class of their own as far as the waistband design (no drawstring), seaming set-up (no middle seam down the front) and having no zippered pocket in the back. As the name implies, these were designed for a wide-range of activities making them the most versatile of the luxtreme options, so if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop pant, I’d suggest these. I will say, this is maybe my least favorite waistband, personally, and the one I’ve seen as the biggest hit or miss with ladies either absolutely loving it or hating it. You’ll find these in a high-rise 23″ crop, a high-rise 28″ full-length and a low-rise 28″ full-length.
Nulu fabric was launched in 2015 as a “naked sensation” although I don’t think they technically call them that anymore. Now they’re referred to as a “next to nothing” feeling, I think. This is hands-down the best-selling fabric, and my personal favorite for everyday wear (between shorts, special editions and the regular tights, I have at least 10 pairs of Aligns).
Along with being designed to feel like you aren’t wearing anything (in a good way, I promise!), this fabric has a buttery soft hand-feel … and is very delicate. That means no high-impact workouts or any kind of intense activity since the process used to create that buttery soft sensation makes the fabric susceptible to natural pilling over time and with heavy use. These won’t be the most durable leggings you buy from lululemon, but they’ll probably be your favorite.
Leggings made with Nulu fabric are the top choice for pregnant women. A quick Google search for ‘lululemon pregnancy’ or ‘lululemon pregnancy pants’ will show you how Nulu fabric (and the Aligns specifically) are revolutionizing the field of maternity pants.
Nulu is best for light everyday wear (I wear this fabric to work almost everyday) and light-impact workouts like barre, pilates and yoga.
Since it’s the most popular and best-selling style, you’ll see the most options within the Align family.
Hot Tip: When deciding on the best length, think about where you want the bottom hem to hit on your leg. I’m 5’4″ and the 25″ inseam, which is designed to fit as a 7/8 length, hits me right above the ankle in the perfect full-length spot. The 28″ length leaves a good bit of extra fabric at the bottom that bunches up unless I have them hemmed (which lululemon will do for free in their stores, fyi).
- Align Short 4″
- Align Short 6″
- Align Crop 19″
- Align Crop 21″
- Align Crop 23″
- Align Pant 25″
- Align Pant 28″
- Align Pant 31″
- Align Jogger Crop 23″
- Align Jogger 28″
Super High-Rise Options:
- Align Super High-Rise Crop 21″
- Align Super High-Rise Pant 28″
- Align Super High-Rise Crop 23″ *Velvet
- Align Super High-Rise Pant 28″ *Velvet
There are also quite a few special edition versions of the Aligns out right now:
- Align Crop 21″ *Cross Waist
- Align Crop 21″ *Love Knot
- Align Pant 25″ *Keyhole
- Align Pant 28″ *Wrap Waist
Nulux was launched in 2016 as the high-impact companion to Nulu fabric. It’s my favorite workout material and I own an embarrassing number of shorts and tights from the Fast and Free family, which is the main pant option you’ll find in this material. Nulux is lightweight, cool-to-the-touch and feels like you’re wearing nothing while also staying in place perfectly during any type of high-impact workout. You’ll feel compression in the waistband, but through the leg truly feels “next to nothing.” I get asked a lot about the durability of the raw hem at the bottom and I promise you, it doesn’t fray, so don’t worry.
This fabric is best for high-impact activities such as running, interval training, CrossFit, spin, etc.
The main style family you’ll find in Nulux is the Fast and Free. Just like the Aligns, this is a very popular style so it comes in a ton of different varieties. It’s divided into two main categories: those that have reflective dots on the bottom of the legs and those that do not.
- Fast and Free Short 6″
- Fast and Free Short 10″
- Fast and Free Crop 19″
- Fast and Free Crop 23″
- Fast and Free Tight 25″
- Fast and Free Tight 28″
- Fast and Free Tight 28″ *Brushed
- Fast and Free Tight 31″
As the newest revolutionary fabric, Everlux was launched in 2017 as a solve for sweaty studio workouts that were somewhere in the middle of the low- and high-impact. These are great for Zumba classes, cardio classes and spin classes – basically any indoor class that gets your heart-rate up (but doesn’t involve running). Everlux is designed to feel cool on the skin and to dry very quickly.
Indoor studio classes such as Zumba, cardio, spin, weights, etc. (anything that doesn’t involve running, really).
We’ve only seen Everlux in a handful of styles so far, the main one being the In Movement family. You can get In Movements in a 2.5″ short, a 19″ crop, a 23″ crop, a 25″ length (I’m 5’4″ and these are full-length on me) and a 28″ full-length. During the collaboration with SoulCycle, the To The Beat Tight was very popular so that stayed on as a (semi-permanent and online-only) additional Everlux option.
Quick Reference Cheat Sheet
|Fabric||Feels:||Best for:||Key Styles|
|Luon||cottony soft||low impact||Wunder Under, Groove Pant|
|Luxtreme||smooth and slick||high impact||Speed Up, Pace Rival Crop, All The Right Places|
|Nulu||buttery soft, naked sensation||very low impact, casual||Align|
|Nulux||smooth and slick, naked sensation, cool against the skin||high impact||Fast and Free|
|Everlux||cottony, but feels cool against the skin||sweaty studio classes||In Movement, To The Beat|
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