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I thought I'd hate 'flared leggings' — but this pair won me over

Yoga pants are back — and I found the best pair.
Courtesy Rebecca Shinners

The first time I heard the term "flared leggings" on TikTok, my jaw dropped to the ground. Had the Generation Z crowd really just rediscovered and then reinvented the "yoga pants" of our past? As a millennial, I was reluctant to embrace a trend that reminded me so much of my middle school days.

But soon enough, the style started to pop up more frequently on my social media feeds, and as someone who puts entirely too much trust in the internet, I became a little more intrigued. By the time Aerie asked if I wanted to try its Real Me Crossover Flare Leggings in April of 2021, I was ready to jump at the chance.

Offline by Aerie Real Me Crossover Flare Leggings

Aerie's "Crossover" style has become well known for its ultra-flattering waistband, first rising to TikTok fame in a mega-viral video posted by Hannah Schlenker. Users flocked to her comments section to ask about the pants — and the rest is history. In March 2020, an Aerie spokesperson told Shop TODAY that the leggings racked up a waitlist of more than 156,000 people and sold out over six times.

Today, a quick search on the app yields countless videos on both the brand's original style and the flare pants — #aeriecrossover has nearly 14 million views alone. One video with over 783,000 views even called the flare version "the best thing TikTok has ever convinced me to buy."

Offline by Aerie Real Me Crossover Legging

When my High-Waisted Crossover Flare Leggings arrived, I quickly understood the hype. The waistband made me feel confident when I pulled them on, but my favorite thing about the pants is actually the fabric. The brand describes the "Real Me" material as "ultra-light with soft support and a weightless touch" — and I have to agree. It feels extremely soft against my skin but still offers support, an ideal combination whether I'm lounging at home or on the go.

Aerie currently offers the flare leggings in four colors (the super-popular shades Royal Palm and Cabin Fever are currently on sale but selling out insanely fast) and long and short lengths. I chose the shorter option, but the pants were still too long on me. At just 5 feet tall, I've found that the brand's extra-short length fits me best, but the flare versions don't offer this option. I had a tailor shorten the pants, and it's been more than worth the extra effort to get the perfect fit — the only downside was having to wait longer to wear them on repeat.

Social Editor Rebecca Shinners wearing the Aerie Real Me High Waisted Crossover Flare Leggings
These ultra-flattering leggings will convince you to finally try the flare trend.Courtesy Rebecca Shinners

It turns out, these flared leggings filled a void in my wardrobe that I didn't even know was there. When I first received the pants, I had been working from home for over a year and had moved away from wearing leggings daily. The tight style was restricting, so I chose to wear sweatpants or pajama bottoms instead. In an effort to look more put together, I tried switching from "indoor" sweats to "outdoor" leggings whenever I needed to run an errand throughout the day. Enter, Aerie's flare leggings: the in-between style I didn't know I needed. While the loose hem may be a style decision, I like it because it actually makes the pants more comfortable than straight-leg leggings.

I've had my Real Me flares for close to a year now, and I haven't looked back. After adding the pants to my wardrobe, I found myself reaching for them multiple days in a row and opting for traditional leggings less often. While I usually wear them at home, they have also become my first-choice pants for days when I'm on the go. I pair them with chic sweaters when I want to dress them up and sweatshirts for more casual outings.

The bottoms have also held up after many washes and still fit just as comfortably as when I first received them. There's slight pilling on the inner thighs and hips, but I don't find it as noticeable as with other older leggings I own. As for the infamous waistband, it's cute, but I'm not seeing the "snatched" look so many reviewers rave about. I'm more impressed with the bottom's overall comfortable feel. Plus, the waistband has slightly stretched out over time and sometimes rolls down, so it doesn't hold me in as much.

But if you prefer the "fold over" look, Aerie has a flare legging version to suit your style.

Offline By Aerie The Hugger Foldover Flare Legging

Or fully commit to the trend with these brand-new "super" flare options.

Offline By Aerie Real Me Crossover Rib Super Flare Legging

If you're intimidated to try the look, don't be — you can basically style them similarly to traditional leggings. While I usually opt for looser, shorter tops to pair with the flared pant, I still go for similar footwear. (The flares fit perfectly over my go-to sneakers and mini Uggs, which have been rising in popularity lately.)

Convinced that it's time for you to get in on the flare leggings trend? This comfortable lounge pant is the perfect pair to add to your cart.

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