zella live in leggings better than lululemon

Zella Review: Live In Leggings are Better than lululemon Wunder Under Pants

There, I said it!

Don’t get me wrong, I love almost everything else about lululemon. I just think the Wunder Under Pants (WUP) are overrated due to a number of reasons. Another close contender to the Live In leggings are Alo Yoga’s Airbrush leggings and Athleta’s Chaturanga Lycra fabric.

I sit here in my Zella Live In leggings wondering, “Why haven’t these gals pilled yet? And most importantly, why can’t other brands, especially lululemon, prevent pilling as well?!”

It’s frustrating because I want to wear my lulus everyday, but that inevitable moment where in down dog, my attention hones onto my first pill in between the legs and totally ruins my zen. Namaste goes right out the window! My most recent lulu pill disaster was in my NEW high waist tech mesh leggings. Just after one wear, I saw pilling in between the thighs. For $118, I was expecting the “perfect” leggings. What is a girl to do when she wants to wear tech mesh? Zella, please come out with your own tech mech version already.

Today I want to be the advocate for a brand that is totally underrated. Zella is hands down amazing. But this success didn’t happen overnight. I remember in 2009 when I slipped on my first pair of Zella live in leggings. They were thick and uncomfortable. I hadn’t joined the “leggings are the new pants” movement just yet. Fast forward to 2012, I decided to give Zella another try. I bought some purple Live In leggings and they fit perfectly. I did everything in my leggings. Went to the grocery store, worked out at the gym, and even did cartwheels down the middle of the road. I could tell that these babies we’re going to last me a lifetime. Fast forward 3 years later, they’re still like new! What I loved most was that I didn’t spend a whole lot of money for a product I was not afraid to live in. The name of the product speaks for itself. Zella has come a long way and I look forward to what they have to offer in the years to come.

zella live in leggings better than lululemon

Segue into my Zella Live In Leggings review…

What Is Zella?

Zella is the activewear line for the Nordstrom Product Group (NPG). Nordstrom carries a variety of brands, but to maximize their profits and brand they also create in-house labels with the NPG. Zella produces leggings, bras, shorts, jackets, hair accessories, gym bags and even underwear.

Zella offers their products in a variety of colors and patterns. I’ve tried about everything they’ve offered in stores. My least favorite product from the Nordstrom product group were the printed live in leggings. I tried it on back in 2012 and the fabric would stretch to white and I decided to pass on that particular product even though they had amazing prints.

While I was working at Nordstrom, I decided to buy a pair of black Live In leggings. It automatically became my favorite work pant. I taught yoga in the corporate office. With Live In leggings, I could easily transition my from my work to workout outfit. These pants are magic!

The Live In leggings are strikingly similar to lululemon WUPs. After some digging, I found out that Libby Vance, a former lululemon Product Manager, took a Creative Director position at Nordstrom to help create the Zella brand. Some of their earlier collections were parallel to lululemon’s. Later on Libby went to design for Karma Wear, which was also sold in Nordstrom back in the days.

Zella Live In Leggings Review

zella review live in leggings review try on

I am reviewing the medium rise Live In leggings in a teal space dye color. I recently bought the high waist Live In leggings in Green Ponderosa. The color is exactly what I’ve been looking for. They are similar to lululemon’s Fuel Green. I wanted a pair of Fuel Green Align Leggings so badly but I missed that boat. I could only find them on the resell boards for ridiculous prices. I am glad Zella came through with this particular color and silhouette.

#1 Size: Zella runs true to size (TTS). I wear a size SMALL per their size chart and am a size 6 in lululemon for reference. The high waist Live In’s do fit a bit tighter around the waist but it did not bother me. Buy your Live Ins according to how compressive or comfortable you want your leggings to fit.

Zella Sizing: XXS=00-0, XS=0-2, S=2-4, M=6-8, L=10-12, XL=14-16

#2 Style:  Zella leggings come in long, midi, crop and knicker length.

#3 Inseam:  Zella leggings come with a 29″ inseam. The leg opening bunches up just around my ankle. I can also wear them with the heel covered.

#4 Rise: Zella makes both standard (fits below navel) and high rise (at or above navel) leggings. A medium in Live In leggings has a 11″ front rise; 14 1/2″ back rise.

zella live in leggings review waistband rise

#5 Waistband: Zella leggings come in both standard and tall waistbands. The medium rise pants have a 2.5″ waistband and the high rise leggings have a 4″ b waistband. I absolutely love their TRUE no-slip elastic waistband. There’s also a waistband pocket on the right hip to stow your keys or cards.

#6 Fabric:

  • Fabric content: 88% polyester, 12% spandex and made from imported fabric.
  • Fabric Feel: There’s a slight brushed feeling to the fabric, but rest assured, none of my Live In leggings have pilled…ever!
  • Fabric Performance: Moisture-wicking fabric dries quickly to keep you cool and comfortable.  Fabric is form fitting and slimming.
  • Opacity: Leggings are 100% opaque. Only printed leggings are white backed. In my previous experience the printed leggings have stretched to white.
  • Fabric Features:
    • Leggings have a hidden waistband pocket to stow your credit cards or keys.
    • Zella uses a similar silhouette for all their Live In legging variations, and offers a wide range of designs and features. Some Live In leggings have mesh or laser cut panels for added breathability. I have also seen a pair with shiny fabric panels. I love all their iterations of the Live In silhouette. It keeps me coming back to see what’s new!

zella live in leggings review logo

#7 When to Wear: Live Ins are great for exercising (yoga and aerobics), high intensity sports, and casual wear. They were designed with the intention for you to LIVE IN them!

#8 Cost: Live In leggings range from $56-$79. The leggings are very affordable. You are definitely getting what you pay for (maybe even more IMO).

#9 Gusset: Live In leggings have a triangle-shaped, single layer gusset.

zella live in leggings review gusset

#10 Stitch Seam: Smooth flatlock seams are used on the inseam, waistband, gusset and front and back rise. The seams are guaranteed to not rub or irritate during wear.

#11 UPF Protection: There is UPF Protection but the level is not disclosed.

#12 Made in China. I have also seen Zella pieces made in Vietnam.

#13 Care Instructions: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low. Yes you can tumble dry them and they will not pill. These leggings are essentially indestructible! I alternate between rack drying and tumble drying my leggings to prolong their life. I hang to dry on a foldable drying rack such as this one.

Should I buy Zella’s Live In Leggings?

Absolutely! They’re affordable, very form flattering, durable and very comfortable! The price point is excellent. Live In leggings range from $56-$79. You can also sometimes find Live In leggings on sale at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack, their discounted store. I will definitely continue to invest in Zella Live In Leggings for as long as I am active.


Where to Buy Zella Live In Leggings

For more fitness fashion discounts and deals, please visit my Fitness Instructor Discounts + Brands page.

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