fashion

'The $29.90 jeans that are more comfortable than leggings but still look like denim.'

I have a fashion confession to make. Before I found my beloved Uniqlo Denim Legging Pants, most of my wardrobe choices revolved around trying to wear high-performance athletic leggings everywhere.

Not only were my leggings comfortable, they also made my legs, butt and “abs” (ha, ha) look amazing. I wore leggings to the shops, to school drop-off, to meetings and appointments. I was a woman obsessed.

I still love my leggings – I wore them to the zoo yesterday, actually – but sometimes, I crave that elusive, polished-yet-cool look that only jeans can deliver. And that’s when I unleash my secret weapon: the Uniqlo Denim Legging Pants.

uniqlo pants jean leggings
The jeans. Image: Supplied.

These jeans are the ultimate secret fashion hack. A pair of jeans that looks and feels like denim, but have all the flexibility and comfort of leggings, without that too-tight compression feeling? And they only cost $29.90? My brain just exploded, trying to figure out that fashion riddle. Then again, the Japanese brand Uniqlo is renowned for its classic-yet-clever designs that also tick all the fashion boxes.

Don’t be fooled - while there is the word “leggings” in the name, the Uniqlo Denim Legging Pants are NOT the jeggings you’ll find in teen fashion emporiums. You know the ones: from a distance, they look like jeans, but up close you’ll find they are slippery lycra printed with a denim and stitching. They’re terrifying, and resemble what an alien would produce from its UFO if asked, “what do human jeans look like?” Those jeggings are more like the idea of jeans. And a far cry from the perfection of the Uniqlo Denim Leggings Pants.

Instead, my Uniqlo babies have the thick and slightly textured feel of real denim. Like “real” jeans, these pants are made mostly from cotton, but they differ beautifully thanks to the extra elastane and polyester added in to make them super stretchy. There is a little bit of fashion trickery going on to create the true jeans effect, with a button at the front that doesn’t actually button, and false pockets at the front. But that’s all okay, because I’m lazy and hate undoing buttons and zips, and also, the jeans have two functioning pockets at the back. Which is two more pockets than any of my leggings have.

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uniqlo pants jean leggings
All of the piano kicks. Image: Supplied.

And oh, the stretch. You can lunge in these, bend, squat, or do weird kicks like me. (Yes, my body hurt after doing the poses in the photos and I think I pulled all of my muscles, but I NEEDED to show you how flexible these jeans are.) This means that they are super comfortable to wear, and feel like my beloved athleisure leggings. Mostly, I appreciate the stretch quality of these jeans when I have to squat down to help my little kids with something.

This gorgeous stretchiness means that the jeans hug my legs gently and make me look like I’m wearing chic skinny jeans, without that disturbing leg-strangulation sensation that happens when I’m wearing actual skinny jeans.

The high-waisted design suits both my fashion taste and my particular body shape. I have what is known as a “mum tum”. After three pregnancies and two babies, my tummy has a tendency to pooch out a lot. (Trust me, I am sucking it in and also pressing it in with my hand in that side-on photo of me.) Regular jeans can either cinch my floppy belly in the middle, to create two floppy bellies, or encase the whole thing in tight, constricting denim. The soft fabric of the Uniqlo Denim Legging Pants, paired with the high waist, makes for a very comfortable and flattering fit.

Now, for the pièce de résistance. Excuse me for shouting, but this is important. THE WAISTBAND IS ELASTICISED.

uniqlo pants jean leggings
The elasticated waist band is a GAME CHANGER. Image: Supplied.
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My weight fluctuates, which means I used to have several pairs of jeans on the go, depending on whether I’d gained or lost weight. This was not only annoying, but also affected the way I felt about myself if the jeans I wanted to wear wouldn’t fit me. Thanks to the forgiving and discreet waistband of my Uniqlo jeans, I can wear them at any weight and always feel great about how I look. And of course, there are moments when a gal just wants to have a huge lunch with her nearest and dearest, and this elasticised waistband just gets me.

The only thing that I wish was a little different was the sizing. Currently, the size range for these miracle jeans is only XS to XXL. I’m sure there’s plenty of women on either side of those sizes who would love to wear these comfortable and stylish jeans. I also find that Uniqlo sizes tend to run a bit small, which mean that I ended up buying a size L instead of my usual size M. This further reduces the size range available for curvy girls.

The Uniqlo jeans were my first step into the wonderful world of Uniqlo leggings. I own the ankle-length jeans, but you can buy cropped ones too. Both lengths are available in blue and navy washes. There’s also a whole range of Uniqlo Leggings Pants, in eight different colours. I own the black ones, and am considering getting them in a dark green next. And yes, there is also a cropped version. There are more Uniqlo leggings apart from these four styles, so definitely check out the store or website.

Is there anything better in the world than pants that you actually want to wear? As someone who prefers to walk around in their undies at home, I’d say a huge “yes”.

*Just a little note to say that this story isn’t sponsored – the truth is that I love these jeans so much that I felt the world needed to know!

Carla Gee is a writer and illustrator living in Canberra. You can find her on Instagram as @bycarlagee and @littlecloudcarla.

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