Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Leggings and Tights

Leggings and tights are the two most common skin-tight garments that are often worn by women across the globe. Men in the olden days used to wear tights when riding on horses. Now the garments are synonymous with women’s garments. At first sight, they look alike because they all reveal the exact contours of women particularly on the legs. However, there are key differences as highlighted here-under. Note that there are stockings which should not be confused with either leggings or the tights.

What are leggings?

Leggings resemble tight pants and tights at a glance, but are different in terms of design materials, patterns and appearance. These are a fashion statement and are usually worn by women as standalone garments for casual purposes. The garment is opaque, made of thicker fabrics such as cotton,, spandex or polyester. Women can wear leggings under tunics or long T-shirts.

Most leggings run down from the waist to the ankle. That is the key difference between they do not cover the feet. Others extend to the mid-calf. One can wear leggings on a daily basis or exclusively for weekend entertainments. They, however, do not qualify to be worn in a corporate world. On the other hand, tights can be worn under other garments in a corporate world.

Leggings come in different patterns and designs depending on specific brands. Cheaper brands may be partly translucent with cheaper and thin fabrics used in their constructions. These tight-fit garments may be worn with sneakers or riding boots. Almost most of footwear that matches in design with the leggings can be worn.

Because of the thicker materials in making leggings, they are relatively expensive compared to tights. They can be worn throughout the season. During winter months, leggings can play a vital role of insulation, especially when worn in combination with jackets because they are thicker.

In addition to making fashion statements, leggings are actually great garments to wear on workouts. They are comfortable and reveal the exact contours of women’s lower body. They are made of the elasticized material, so it becomes easy to run wearing them. Unlike tights, leggings are not susceptible to ripping if they come in contact with rough objects or if you scratch yourself against a wall.

What are tights?

Tights come in varieties. Some extend from the waist to the knees, while most cover your feet from the waist. But, there are other tights that do not cover feet and are not necessarily leggings, although others mistakenly regard them as leggings. Instead, they are called the “footless tights”. They still have the characteristics of tights as made with sheer materials that are translucent.

Tights are made of thin materials, and the fabrics can be cotton, nylon or polyester. They come in many patterns, colors, and designs. Generally, they run from the waist down to the feet. Unlike the leggings, tights do not qualify to be worn as standalone garments because of their translucent nature. That might be regarded as immoral if a woman roams the streets wearing tights.

Instead, tights are worn under dresses, skirts or shorts. They can be worn for casual or professional purposes under garments. Women in the corporate world can wear tights under their skirts. They are elasticized so they can stretch well under any garment. Compared with leggings, tights are extremely tight around one’s body. In hot days, you can sweat because of the tight feet. One should not wear tights without opaque garments at the buttocks.

Tights are also suitable to wear on workouts as long as they are undergarments. They can be worn with heels or ballet flats. To avoid tearing the tights, do not scratch against the wall. Other tights are very stretchable just like pantyhose. Price wise, tights are cheaper than the leggings.

Key differences between tights and leggings

Designs of tights and leggings

Both leggings and tights come in different designs despite their seemingly identical look at a glance. Leggings are made of thick, elasticized fabrics such as spandex, polyester, nylon and cotton. They can come in different patterns too. In terms of length, leggings often extend to the ankle with some variations extending to mid-calf. Other designs may even have reinforcement in the crotch or have pockets hence they are worn as standalone garments. Leggings are seldom translucent unless it is a cheaper brand.

Tights, on the other hand, are made of sheer materials that are translucent. The elasticized fabric used is usually polyester or cotton. These materials are made to be too tight than in leggings. Because of this tightness and thinner materials, tights are not to be worn as standalone garments. They can reveal women’s private parts, which may be regarded as immoral in society. Tights extend to the toe tips from the waist. Other variations may extend to the knees or mid-thighs. There are different patterns and colors.


Tights, because of being semi-transparent, are not to be worn on their own in any setting. They can be worn for casual or professional reasons as long as they are the undergarments. Some women wear them under shorts, skirts or dresses. When worn under skirts, it feels perfectly professional to get in a corporate company.

Leggings, on the other hand, are only designed to be worn on casual occasions. They are perfect for workouts or for sports such as horse racing. Men can also wear leggings during such races to avoid entanglement. It is still acceptable to wear leggings under other garments such skirts or long dresses.

Fit of tights and leggings

Tights fit snuggly on your feet and serve as the second skin. In hot weather, it is likely to sweat overly when wearing tights because of their extremely tight form-fit. They cover the feet also. Those that do not cover feet are called the footless tights.

Leggings are also tight but not as tight as tights on the legs. They reveal the contours of the legs while covering your legs to the ankle or to the mid-calf. They are comfortable to wear even during the winter months to act as part of insulation.

Care for tights vs. leggings

Both leggings and tights can be laundered. However, there are no special requirements when laundering leggings. You can wash them the same way you wash ordinary pants. Tights, on the other hand, need special attention. It is recommended to wash them while in mesh bags.

Tights Vs. Leggings : Comparison Chart


Summary of Tights and Leggings

  • Tights are made of thin materials and tend to be semi-transparent whereas leggings are made of thick materials and are opaque
  • Leggings can be worn alone whereas tights should always be work under other garments
  • Tights cover feet though some are footless tights
  • Leggings extend to the ankle or mid-calf
  • Tights reveal the leg contours perfectly because they are extremely tight.

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References :

[0]Hunter, D. (2010): Ballet Apparel for Men: A Complete Beginner's Guide. Performing Arts

[1]Santos, S. (2011): Introduction to Rigging: Aerial Fabrics. Lulu.com (22 Feb 2011). Page 384. 

[2]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/idhren/5448507043/

[3]Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/dancing-feet-girl-legs-466341/

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