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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 ones.
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. That's where Aerie's High-Waisted Crossover Flare Leggings enter the picture.

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 1.2 million views even called the flare version "the best thing TikTok has ever convinced me to buy."

When my flared 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, and in 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.

I've had my Real Me flares for a while 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 famous 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.

If you prefer the "fold over" look, though, 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 the "super" flare option.

Offline By Aerie Real Me Crossover Rib Super Flare Legging

But if you’re intimidated to try the look (don't be!), Aerie even offers the leggings in a traditional style.

Offline by Aerie Real Me Crossover Legging

What I like most about the flared leggings is that 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.)

Unsurprisingly, I'm not the only shopping expert who loves these leggings. Shop TODAY senior editor, Francesca Cocchi, says, "I truly live in these yoga pants — or what the cool kids call ‘flare leggings.’ I’ve owned countless yoga pants and leggings from various brands over the years (going all the way back to my high school gymnastics days), but this is by far the most comfortable and flattering pair I’ve tried." Cocchi also mentions that they’re also very affordable considering the great quality.

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.