Patagonia's lightweight Better Sweater is a fan favorite for a reason — I've worn mine nearly everywhere over the last 3 years and it still looks new
Patagonia's Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99) is one of the best basics I've invested in — it's warm, versatile, and has a flattering slim fit.
The Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece comes in 13 colors and sizes XXS-XXL, with some colorways on sale for $49.50. I've worn it to the office and on the weekends, as well as on hikes, road trips, and flights, for the last three years.
Whether it's a symptom of living a semi-nomadic lifestyle or a desire to buy fewer (and better) things, I tend to rely upon a rotation of quality basics most days. And one of the best basics I've invested in is the Patagonia Women's Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99). If you're unfamiliar with America's (quarter-zip) sweetheart, it's a good case study in form, function, and feel-good shopping. It's also a part of Patagonia's popular Better Sweater collection and a staple for many people I know. The Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece is a hip-length, knit pullover made from 100% recycled polyester fleece. The simple silhouette is sleek, but not restrictive, and has one small pocket on the sleeve. While slim-fitting, it's still roomy enough to be practical for camping, road trips, and transatlantic flights. Thanks to princess seams at the back, it has a tailored look that doesn't feel out of place for weekend errands or low-key outings, too. I find that it's compact enough for a carry-on bag, and it has a good warmth-to-weight ratio for cool days — as well as a wind flap under the quarter-length zipper. Even though I've worn it around my apartment far more often than on hikes, it was one of the first things I packed for a long weekend in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota this past June. Like most of Patagonia's core offerings, the Better Sweater is also relatively guilt-free as far as buying new clothing goes. Aside from the 100% recycled polyester material, it's Fair Trade Certified sewn, and dyed with a low-impact process that reduces the use of dyestuffs, energy, and water required to make it. You can find out more about this process on Patagonia's website. The Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99) comes in 13 colors and sizes XXS-XXL. The classic colors rarely go on sale — like most of Patagonia's bestsellers — but some color options are available for as low as $49.50.
In terms of sizing, the slim fit means my standard small was surprisingly close-fitting, though not unpleasantly tight. If you prefer a looser fit or need room to add layers underneath, you may want to consider sizing up — or opt for the men's version of the Better Sweater 1/4-Zip ($99), which doesn't have the princess seams and includes a pocket on the chest. Patagonia also has a famously generous returns, repairs, and exchanges policy in case you need a different size or don't love it as much as you'd need to for the $100 investment. You can find the fine print here for returns, but the gist is this: If it doesn't live up to your expectations, the company wants to make it right. The bottom line Overall, the Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece is one of the most comfortable, versatile, and frequently worn items in my rotation of much-loved basics. If you're looking for something cozy enough for a weekend morning or chilly hike, but also flattering and nice enough to wear around town, I recommend checking it out. Join the conversation about this story »
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Everlane's new recycled wool coat has a simple and versatile silhouette with a few elevated details that make it stand out — here's what you should know before ordering it
Everlane's $298 ReWool Overcoat is a well-made closet staple that looks far more expensive than its...Everlane's $298 ReWool Overcoat is a well-made closet staple that looks far more expensive than its price tag suggests. It comes in three beautiful colors — camel, dark charcoal, and a rich rust-like toffee — and sizes 00-16. It's versatile, warm, and elevates any outfit. Like the whole Everlane ReNew line, the ReWool coat is made from recycled materials (wool and nylon). If you choose to purchase it, my recommendation would be to consider sizing down — Everlane says oversized, and they mean very oversized. If you have long arms, you may want to order two sizes and return one. The highs and lows of shopping on the internet resemble the highs and lows of any kind of gambling. When you pull out your wallet and commit to a 2D image of something, you do so with the hope that it will at least live up to, or even surpass, your expectations — even with the knowledge that there's a greater likelihood you'll be burned. But, what if you're right? Everlane's $298 Italian ReWool Overcoat is one of those bets that pay off in person. There were a lot of ways for the ReWool Overcoat to go wrong — plenty of under-$300 wool overcoats show up thin and nubby in daylight — but this one pleasantly surprised me. It's well-made. The wool is thick and decently weighty (but not heavy), the camel color true to online photos, and the tricky design details (oversized proportions, a rounded and elongated shape) are executed subtly. It's also warmer than I expected; I've happily worn it over a long-sleeve shirt in 30-degree weather. The style The ReWool Overcoat is chic, and it feels more expensive than you'll pay for it (one tenant of an internet bargain). The staple has just enough upgrades and thoughtful details — a notched collar, a double-breasted front, a rounded silhouette that looks beautiful both buttoned and unbuttoned — to make it feel both everyday and special. I've worn it over sweatshirts and jeans on the weekend headed to brunch and over a nice cocktail dress on date night or to special events. It does what any good staple should do: elevate whatever outfit it's being tacked onto. And for a relatively inconspicuous classic, it's the piece I've gotten the most compliments on from friends in the last few months of wear. One thing to note is that it's not immediately obvious that the ReWool Overcoat pockets are real. A decent amount of reviewers seemed to believe they're fake — and I don't blame them. The coat comes with the pockets sewn so tightly, and the lining so seamless, that I was afraid at first to cut the threads. But, rest assured the pockets are real — and they're deep, with more than enough room for cold hands a phone and keys. Colors and material Right now, it comes in three essential colors — camel, a rich rusted toffee, and dark charcoal — and in sizes 00-16. In traditional retail, Everlane estimates the same coat would go for $630. The ReWool Overcoat also includes a majority of recycled materials (62% recycled wool and 38% recycled nylon, according to the company), like the rest of the ReNew line. And like all Everlane products, you can read more about the factory in which it was made here. Sizing The ReWool Overcoat is oversized, and depending on variables like your height, you'll want to size down. I typically wear a size 4, and I ordered a size 2 after reading a few reviews that called it "huge" in person. I'm glad I did, but I can't imagine the 4 would have been a deal breaker either, and I'd recommend sticking to your normal size if you have particularly long arms. The sleeves on the 2 are a hint shorter than I'd like. Everlane's return policy is within 60 days of the purchase date so while it's not ideal to buy a couple to try on at home, it's not impossible. The bottom line: Overall, the Italian ReWool Overcoat is a versatile, well-made staple. It's substantial and warm without being too heavy, the design feels elevated but not forced, and it makes everything that I wear it with look elevated. If you're on the hunt for a classic-but-cool wool overcoat, I think you'll be happy with this version for $298 — though you may want to consider choosing one size down. Join the conversation about this story »
Absolutely every woman needs a good pair of black leggings in her closet — after all,...Absolutely every woman needs a good pair of black leggings in her closet — after all, what other piece in your wardrobe is as versatile? The best black leggings can be worn under a dress, with a sweater, to the gym, or on a plane. ADAY makes our favorite black leggings, but 2XU, Tommy John, Spanx, Girlfriend Collective, Uniqlo, and Athleta also make great ones. It seems like there's always a different color trying to be the new black, but try as stylists might, no shade of ochre or crimson or teal will ever truly replace black. Even if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there's no way to imitate the sleek, simple, timeless aesthetic of the queen of all colors. And that's particularly the case when it comes to your favorite pair of leggings. While you may occasionally want to spice up your leggings collection with some grays or blues or, yes, perhaps even hot pink, it seems difficult to imagine a world in which black leggings don't reign supreme. When it comes to picking a great pair of black leggings, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. First and foremost, durability ought to sit at top of your list of priorities. A good pair of black leggings will be worn several times a month (if not week), and as such, will need to be able to stand up to both daily wear and tear as well as several cycles in the washing machine. You'll also want to ensure that your leggings are easy to care for and won't lose their color. Nothing is sadder than a formerly black pair of leggings, so you'll want to find tights that can maintain their color. And finally, the price point should be taken into consideration. While great leggings don't have to cost an arm and a leg, you may be willing to pay a bit more for black leggings that will last you more than a few months at a time. Here are the best black leggings you can buy: Best black leggings overall: ADAY Leggings Best black exercise leggings: 2XU Best black lounge leggings: Tommy John Best black shaping leggings: Spanx Leggings Best size-inclusive black leggings: Girlfriend Collective Leggings Best affordable black leggings: Uniqlo Leggings Best black leggings for petite women: Athleta Leggings The best black leggings overall ADAY has a wide range of leggings that are great under skirts and dresses or as a standalone pair of pants. ADAY is all about simplicity and seeks to create fabrics and clothing that are multipurpose, long-lasting, and sustainable. And that's incredibly evident in the brand's leggings. I've always been a fan of the Throw & Roll leggings. Most of ADAY's leggings are made of a material that is quick-drying, sweating-wicking, and sunscreen- and oil-resistant. Plus, they have an elastic waistband that's comfortable yet snug, so they always stay in place. The leggings also have pockets so you can store your phone, cards, and other small necessities. While many leggings are, at their core, gym clothes that just so happen to look good as streetwear, too, ADAY takes the opposite approach. These leggings are first and foremost meant to make you look absolutely excellent, and just so happen to be extremely comfortable and versatile as well. ADAY leggings still aren't necessarily cheap at $125, but that's more in line with high-end athleisure lines like Lululemon or Sweaty Betty who will charge similar prices for workout-only gear. —Lulu Chang Pros: Durable, incredibly comfortable, extremely form-flattering, warm for winter months Cons: Expensive The best black exercise leggings 2XU makes smart workout leggings that feel like a thin second-skin for maximum breathability and minimal interference. 2XU is the performance athletic wear brand founded by former professional triathlete Jamie Hunt, and it's well-known for its quality and tech. The company says its clothes are proven by independent, scientific research to deliver real physiological benefits to athletes. (2XU is tested using the Salzmann pressure measurement device to ensure the right pressure is achieved in compression and the Instron tensile strength tenser to measure strength and resistance.) Either way you slice it, you'll see plenty of professional athletes decked out in the gear — from the NBA to the US Navy SEALs. 2XU uses a proprietary PWX compression fabric. It's flexible, incredibly lightweight, and durable so you can put it through plenty of tough workouts. The company also uses graduated compression, so your waistband will lay flat without causing discomfort, and targeted compression works to increase blood flow, reduce blood lactate, and increase lymphatic drainage to help you be more efficient in the workout and during recovery. I've worn dozens of workout leggings over the last six years as a runner and over the last three as a product reviewer. 2XU leggings are the best intersection of fit, comfort, breathability, flexibility, and durability that I've encountered. I swear by the company's MCS Run Compression Tights (from $118.68) for their anatomical compression mapping. The MCS tights are sports-specific, so this pair has strategic internal compression that targets your calves and quads to reduce muscle fatigue as you run. For cross-training, check out this pair (from $104.13). In the past, there have been complaints that 2XU tights could be see-through. In response, the company added extra paneling in strategic places for greater security. I never experienced an issue in the older iteration, nor in the next generation. The leggings typically come in dark colors and patterns and range in size from XXS to XXL. If you're curious about sizing, check out the sizing chart offered on products on Amazon, and if between sizes, size up for a physical activity and down for recovery use. Paying upwards of $100 isn't ideal for exercise leggings, but if you're looking for the best option overall, that would be these. If you have the budget, they'll perform better than their competitors and stay fresh for longer than an inferior pair. Otherwise, look into Girlfriend Collective's LITE leggings for flattering, under-$80 leggings that are nearly as breathable as 2XU for less money and the added perk of sustainable materials. —Mara Leighton Pros: Graduated compression, extremely breathable, flexible, durable Cons: Expensive, complaints of sheerness The best black lounge leggings Tommy John makes the best loungewear available online, and their Go Anywhere leggings are soft, versatile, flattering, and extremely comfortable. Tommy John, the startup that makes the best loungewear overall on the internet unsurprisingly makes its most comfortable lounge leggings as well. Tommy John has expanded from being a cult-favorite men's underwear label to include women's offerings (courtesy of customers lobbying for it on the brand's Facebook page) and loungewear. We've been fans of most of what they've made: both the men's and women's underwear as well as its loungewear. Its singular pair of leggings are extremely comfortable, flattering, and versatile. There are no side seams, so there's minimal opportunity for chafing, and the midrise waistband is double layered for extra support and noticeable but unobtrusive compression. The four-way stretch material bends with you, and the dark black has outlasted quite a few washes thus far. The midrise and slight compression is also pretty figure-flattering. You can pick them up in black and in sizes 0-14. Despite being cozy enough to warrant the crown for the best black leggings for lounging, they're flattering and luxe-looking enough to be a good choice for activities outside the house. So, if you're planning on wearing leggings on the plane and on a trip, skip doubling up and just buy these. If a cozy pair of leggings that you can wear just as easily on an airplane or apple picking is worth $78 to you, you won't be disappointed. And if you are disappointed, you can return or exchange them within 30 days of delivery. —Mara Leighton Pros: Comfortable, versatile, stretchy, no side seams, double layer waistband, mild compression Cons: The material will likely be too thick for cardio exercise The best black shaping leggings Black leggings are already slimming, but with Spanx black leggings, you'll be able to look your absolute best. Spanx leggings are always high on Business Insider's list of favorites, and its black offerings are certainly no exception to the rule. I'm a huge fan of the brand's Faux Leather leggings, and so is the Insider Picks team. My Spanx leggings are a frequent flier throughout the year, but I've never had issues with these leggings thinning out or otherwise ripping. They hold up extremely well season after season, and while you may think that faux leather is exclusively a fall or winter look, they're surprisingly useful for a night out on the town no matter what the temperature may be outside. I love that the faux leather design comes with Spanx's signature Power Waistband, which means that it hugs you in all the right places, but won't suck you in to an uncomfortable degree. Of course, if faux leather isn't your cup of tea, Spanx has plenty of other black leggings for you to choose from as well. The Every Wear leggings are also a fan favorite, utilizing Spanx performance fabric and thinfused shaping technology for a waistband-free design. Plus, these leggings are breathable and feature an antimicrobial finish for all-day performance wear perfect for long travel days. —Lulu Chang Pros: Extremely flattering, super opaque and slimming, durable and long-lasting Cons: Some women report that Spanx are a bit constricting The best size-inclusive black leggings You'll look good and feel good for the planet once you don a pair of Girlfriend Collective's black leggings. Wearing black makes you look good, and wearing black leggings from Girlfriend Collective can be good for the planet, too. Girlfriend Collective's leggings are made from 25% recycled water bottles, and while that doesn't sound all that comfortable, you'll be shocked by just how dreamy these bottoms really are. The company also offers a more inclusive sizing than many competitors. You can shop sizes XXS (000) to 3xL (24), and typically three inseams (28.5-inches, 23 3/4-inches, or 19.5-inches). The company uses a compression-esque fabric that is well-suited for workouts or for everyday wear, and the leggings are actually surprisingly warm. That makes them fantastic options for standalone wear to the office or to a night out, even if temperatures are falling. Thanks for the soft material, you'll be more than happy to wear these black leggings all the livelong day. If you're not looking for warmth or compression, the company's Girlfriend Collective's LITE leggings are also an exceptional option for their breathability, stretch, price, and color options. They're the pair you'd want to take into hot yoga, and they're made from recycled fishing nets. While you may expect such a pair of leggings to set you back an arm and a leg, Girlfriend Collective is actually quite reasonable when it comes to pricing. Remember, this is the company that once gave its leggings away for free (you just had to pay for shipping). Today, they'll cost you just a bit more, but not a ton — you can get a pair of full-length tights for $68. The full-length option is extra-high rise, and comes with flattering seam details that you won't want to cover up with a dress or a long skirt (though you could if you wanted to). Plus, these leggings are super supportive and feature four-way stretch, so you couldn't possibly be more comfortable. —Lulu Chang Pros: Ethically and sustainably made; affordable; long-lasting; versatile; LITE version is very breathable Cons: Because of the relatively thick material, some may find the classic leggings a bit too warm The best affordable black leggings Even if you've sworn off fast fashion, the black leggings at Uniqlo are exactly what you need to stock up on in your closet. You don't need to spend a fortune to look like a million bucks, and no one knows this better than Uniqlo (or Uniqlo's shoppers, to be more precise). When I know I should be wearing pants but don't want to be wearing pants, I always turn to their black Ultra Stretch Print Leggings Pants. Thanks to the ultra-stretchy material and DRY technology, these "pants" feel like leggings, or rather, these leggings look like pants. Sleek, stylish, and supremely comfortable thanks to two-way stretch and moderately thick construction, these are my go-to leggings for just about any occasion. Thanks to the addition of a waist button (which doesn't actually serve any functional purpose), these leggings look more like real pants than most of the other leggings in your closet. Plus, the form-fitting skinny cut creates feminine, flattering lines, and the striped pattern is ultra slimming. I prefer these leggings in black, but you could also get them in off-white. Uniqlo also has a wide range of other black leggings to choose from, like the Airism Soft legging. More of your standard legging offering, these quick-drying leggings are thick enough to be worn on their own, with a matte surface that makes them look a bit more elevated than your typical gym wear. Of course, the real winning attribute of Uniqlo leggings lies in its price point. Both pairs of tights will cost you just $20 each, which means you could get both (or multiple pairs of both!) without feeling any kind of financial guilt. —Lulu Chang Pros: Leggings that look like pants, super affordable, extremely comfortable Cons: Some customers have remarked on sizing issues The best black leggings for petite women Athleta's leggings come in a wide range of styles, most of which come in petite lengths. If you're a petite woman, finding leggings that are the right length can be challenging. Athleta is one of our favorite brands that sells a variety of leggings in petite and 7/8 lengths. Whether you want black leggings with zippered pockets, ones with mesh inserts, or cute cropped ones, Athleta has a pair for you. Several members of the Insider Picks team tested out the 7/8 Contender tights, which come with two zippered pockets on the sides and an adjustable drawstring waistband on the interior. We really liked the soft, thick material and found the zippered pockets to be super handy for carrying our phones, keys, credit cards, and any other small essentials we needed. I personally love my pair for travel because of the great pockets. Depending on which pair you get, Athleta's leggings can transition easily from workout gear to a great pair of pants for running errands or going out. Athleta is also a B-Corp that's invested in improving production standards, so some of its leggings are certified Fair Trade or made from sustainable materials. —Malarie Gokey Pros: Comfortable, come in petite lengths, variety of styles, some have pockets, some fair trade options Cons: Pricey
As I've grown up, I've realized that it's better for my closet and my wallet to...As I've grown up, I've realized that it's better for my closet and my wallet to invest in certain pieces rather than buy cheap throw-aways. Denim is one such item, as I've noticed that there really is a difference between high-quality and budget denim. I present to you my defense of expensive denim — specifically, the pairs I love from Rag & Bone. I have to admit, I have a vice. But, it's probably not what you think. I don't even feel guilty about how much I love it, much to my wallet's chagrin. Denim — it's one of my favorite things to buy, and of course, wear. Not just any denim will do, though. Over the years, I've dabbled in it all. From sub-$20 pairs at Forever 21 to the kind of splurges that took months of saving up allowance and babysitting money, my shopping adventures have taught me a lot about what to look for in my denim and what is most worth my money. Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that expensive denim is worth it — and I'll tell you why. Why jeans are worthy of an investment There are many reasons you may find it smart to invest in a good pair of jeans for yourself. For the purpose of this article, I'll let you in on my philosophy. The "less is more" principle is surely nothing new, but as I've aged, it's become particularly relevant for many reasons. We're living in a time where the environmental impact of our habits is becoming clearer than ever — and the picture isn't so pretty. Choosing to buy investment pieces that we'll use for years rather than fast fashion throw-aways is one small step to being a more conscious consumer. Personally, I find that investment pieces are usually more wallet friendly in the long term, too. Yes, spending $200 on just one item can feel like a lot, especially when that money could buy you multiple cheap pieces, but often, when buying cheap pieces you may feel less of an obligation to wear or use them for an extended period of time. Wearing a $200 item 50 times is more cost-effective than wearing a $20 item just two times. Longevity really does make an item more affordable in the long term, and jeans are a style you'll get years of wear from. Additionally, jeans are one of the clothing items where I've noticed a significant difference when choosing between cheap and expensive pairs. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general I've found cheaper pairs are quicker to rip at the seams, fade at the knee, stretch out, pill, and tear. Part of this is due to shoddy construction, or the fact that most cheap jeans are not made completely of denim— many pairs include some percentage of spandex or elastic. Rag & Bone jeans are the best I've found When it comes to splurging on a pair of jeans, there are many ways to do it. My personal favorite brand is Rag & Bone. The jeans (which are mostly non-stretch denim) are comfortable, the styles range from trendy to timeless, and while the denim is expensive, it's durable enough to last years. Prices are undeniably high, ranging from $190 to $375, but like any other brand, you can often snag good deals on their pieces whether its on their site or at a department store like Nordstrom or Bloomingdale's. Every pair of jeans I've had from Rag & Bone have lasted me seasons, which keeps me coming back for more. But there are a few other reasons for my brand loyalty. One is the styles. Everyone should have a few pairs of the basics: a good pair of dark wash jeans, a skinny, maybe even a ripped pair, depending on your style. But, it's just as fun to spice up your wardrobe with some more unusual cuts, washes, or patterns. Rag & Bone has a great combination of both, making it a fun spot to pick up classic and contemporary pairs. With an ethos that oozes effortless cool, Rag & Bone is always a place I want to shop. When it comes to sizing, Rag & Bone actually runs pretty large. They offer sizes 23 to 32. I am usually size down a size or two when I shop there, so if you're new to the brand I'd recommend trying on a few sizes in-store to see which you like best. But, regardless of size, I always find their pairs to be comfortable. They wear in well, not showing scuffs or holes for a long time (if at all). Eventually, all good things must come to an end, so when your Rag & Bone jeans meet their end and are truly unsalvageable, you can bring them back to the store to recycle them and get 20% off your entire denim purchase that day. Another great way to save some money and feel a little better about your shopping trip. Bottom Line Expensive denim may seem unnecessary when you can buy pairs for $50 or much less, but in the long run, it's usually a good decision. Everyone's experience will be different, and maybe the jeans that you feel best in are best for your budget too. I often like to go for budget pairs myself when I'm choosing trend-driven pieces. But, if you want to invest in denim that'll only get better with age, I can't recommend Rag & Bone enough. Shop women's denim at Rag & Bone Shop men's denim at Rag & BoneJoin the conversation about this story »