I was SO excited when I heard Anna Glowinski – the designer behind Ana Nichoola – was back with her new project ‘Anna’s Legs’. I always loved Ana Nichoola kit, but found it sometimes difficult to get hold of, so when I learned that the capsule collection of leggings would be available via online women's cycling retailer VeloVixen I was even more thrilled.
The leggings (£95-£105) are designed to be premium cycling tights – they’re fitted with a top end cycling chamois, that is slim enough that you would feel perfectly comfortably locking your bike up and wearing them around the supermarket or for a coffee break with friends. They’re available in China Blue, the iconic ‘Star’ print and ‘Mountain Sunset’. I was lucky enough to test two pairs: China Blue in a size 8, and the star print in a size 10.
The leggings arrived in a lovely presentation box, which contained a helpful guide that would be genuinely useful for anyone wearing chamois tights for the first time. Most importantly, Anna’s Legs made it very clear that the tights should not be worn with knickers – something that can completely negate the value of a chamois.
Pleased with the presentation, I set out to put the tights to the test...
The chamois pad is an Italian CyTech affair – in cycling speak, that basically means ‘the best, most trusted chamois brand out there’. The tights are first and foremost designed with short town spins at front of mind, but ‘stylishly owning the road’ and ‘spinning’ are also listed in recommended uses. I’d be happy wearing these on longer rides too, though I’d never wear tights for a spinning class unless that class was taking place atop of the polar ice caps. In winter.
The material – 80 per cent polyamide and 20 per cent elastane – is an ‘xtra life lycra’ and felt luxurious in my hands when I first opened the box. It’s soft but hardwearing, and looks like I could trust it to last for a couple of seasons – at £95 a pop I would certainly expect that to be the case.
The fabric feels supportive and compressive, but isn’t designed for high intensity rides on hot days. As you'd expect, it is breathable and does wick sweat away from your body, but I’d not recommend these tights for mid-summer days; come the cooler temperatures of autumn and even winter they’ll no doubt be spot on.
The waistband is a notable feature on these tights. Ana Nichoola shorts were known for binning the ‘to bib or not to bib’ debate with a clever high waist that rose even more at the back and meant you could still pull them down for pee-stops, but had all the coverage and support of a pair of bib shorts. These tights follow the same pattern.
The waistband is wide – in the style often adopted by yoga tights – which means it won’t dig in or cause discomfort. But it's here where I encountered some issues with the fit...
So far, so good – but unfortunately I did have some struggles with the fit when it came to these tights, which is why I tried both an 8 and a 10.
I started with the China Blue pair, in an 8. Here, I found the fit quite tight - my legs felt very closely encased. Rather nice in terms of compression, but you could see the outline of pretty much any muscle I (did or did not..) happen to possess. Bending over in front of a mirror I was 98 per cent sure they were a little bit see through, due to the material stretching over - well - my thighs and bum. The extra 2 per cent in certainty was confirmed by my husband. I tried the tights on with a pair of white knickers, and it was pretty obvious what colour pants I had on. The waist in the size 8 was also a little bit baggy when standing, but admittedly when leaning over the bike this did create a nice cocoon around my stomach.
I moved on to try the black star pair, in a size 10. In these, I had a lot more breathing room for my legs, there wasn't a hint of transparency and I felt much happier with the way they looked. However, at the waist I was left with a large gape at the rear. Even when leaning over, I could fit two hands - or even a bidon! - down the back of my tights without having to stretch the material at all. This wasn't necessarily uncomfortable, but it's not an optimum fit either.
It’s worth pointing out that we’re all different shapes and sizes. I'm naturally hourglass shaped - I have a small waist in comparison to large thighs and bum. This is far from the first time I've found I can't get the right fit for both measurements. Women of different proportions might not have the same problem.
The devil is in the detail, and I enjoyed noting the high number of little touches Anna’s legs have applied to their tights. The cuffs are finished with a black elastic, which creates a lovely colour contrast, and there are some Ana Nichoola throwback graphics that long time fans might recognise.
There are also several reflective details, at the ankles and on the ‘Anna’s legs’ logo, as well as a zipped pocket at the rear which would be perfect for storing a phone and credit card.
The washing instructions are printed on the inside of the tights in white, so there’s no need for any scratchy labels, too.
A solid start for the brand, excellent delivery that feels very personal thanks to the handy tips and tricks. Great chamois, and I'm very pleased to see the high waist back. Personally, these just didn't fit my measurements too well - and the degree to which they were 'out' leads me to think this is an area that might need some work.
Interested? See the range here.