Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Pantyhose and Tights

Pantyhose vs Tights

Pantyhose and tights are two kinds of leg garments. Both garments are coverings that start from the wearer’s waist down to the feet. The lower body parts, like the thighs and the legs, are covered by these garments. Many people prefer wearing both garments because they are comfortable, close-fitting, but stretchable.

An important similarity between tights and pantyhose is their usage. Both garments provide warmth and beauty. In wearing these garments, skin chafing at the foot can be prevented, also hiding skin imperfections like skin color, blemishes, bruises, hair, scars, varicose veins, and other things help beautify a woman’s legs. Both also provide a uniform shape and color of the wearer’s legs.

However, there are also many differences that exist between the two garments. The first difference is in language use.

In America, “pantyhose” refer to sheer garments that are worn as hosiery. Pantyhose is a successor and replacement of stockings. Tights, in an American perspective, refer to a similar garment with denser, opaque, and thicker material. Pantyhose can range from 8 to 30 denier (the measurement count used to denote thickness or thinness of fabric). Tights, on the other hand, are 40 to 100 denier.
Meanwhile, the British and some Europeans do not have pantyhose. Rather, they only have tights, which refer to the same leg wear design and construction. In this context, tights are a general term that encompasses both thin and thick legwear.

Another difference is the nature of the garment. Pantyhose is almost considered as an undergarment or underwear. As hosiery or underwear, pantyhose cannot be worn by itself but serves as a supplementary garment in adherence to a certain dress code in a situation or context. On the other hand, tights can be worn independently as legwear.
As an underwear or hosiery, pantyhose is sheer, almost see-through, and skin revealing. This is because pantyhose is made as a thin material in the leg section. However, the panty or upper part of the pantyhose is often made with cotton or other porous material. In contrast, tights have a uniform consistency of fabric.
In use, pantyhose is used as lingerie and during formal occasions. It is prone to tears (often called runs) while tights are more durable and used in casual, performance, utility, and athletic events.

The origins of pantyhose and tights also differ. Pantyhose were introduced in 1959. Meanwhile, tights were already in existence since the Medieval Ages. Pantyhose are exclusive to women while both sexes can wear tights.


1. Both pantyhose and tights are leg garments. However, they have significant differences.
2. Pantyhose and tights as garments are used in the U.S. “Pantyhose” refers to the sheer, undergarment legwear while “tights” refer to opaque and thicker legwear. In England and some European countries, tights are a general garment term for any legwear regardless of thickness or thinness.
3. Denier count on pantyhose ranges from 8 to 30 while tights have the denier count of 40 to 100. The thinness of the pantyhose contributes to its vulnerability to tearing while the thickness of the tights indicates its durability.
4. Pantyhose is used as an undergarment, lingerie, or a staple in a formal women’s wardrobe. On the other hand, tights are durable, made for a variety of purposes (athletic, performance, casual, or utility) and can be worn by both sexes.
5. The construction of pantyhose requires different combinations of material. The upper part which serves as underwear is made of porous material and gets slightly thinner as it reaches the bottom. Meanwhile, tights have a consistent thickness of fabric or material throughout the garment.
6. Tights were made and worn earlier than pantyhose. It has been in fashion since the Middle Ages and still exists to this day. Pantyhose, meanwhile, is considered newer with its introduction in 1959.

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1 Comment

  1. This article is somewhat misldeading: there are multiple kinds of tights, some of which meet the description above, but others of which do not.

    With respect to modern, general-population fashion terminology, tights are essentially just thicker pantyhose (i.e. higher denier pantyhose, as mentioned in the article). There are control-top tights (i.e. non-uniform consistency of the material), and tights, although having a higher denier, are still not heavy enough to be able to be worn as pants substitutes on their own (unless you’re really brave!).

    Tights are not to be confused with leggings, which are very thick, footless garments that can be worn on their own.

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