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Leggings vs. Tights: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on March 8, 2024
Leggings are close-fitting stretchy pants, while tights are sheer, cover the foot, and are worn under other garments.

Key Differences

Leggings are a type of skin-tight garment that covers the legs, typically made from a thicker material than tights. They are often worn for fashion, exercise, or as casual wear and do not cover the feet. Leggings can come in various lengths, such as full-length, knee-length, or capri. Tights, on the other hand, are made from a thinner, more translucent material and are designed to cover the wearer's body from the waist down to the toes. Tights are primarily worn under other garments, such as skirts, dresses, or shorts, to provide warmth, improve the appearance of legs, or add a stylish element to an outfit.
Leggings provide warmth and comfort, they are more commonly used as a standalone garment rather than an accessory. Their thicker material makes them suitable for a wide range of activities, including workouts, lounging, or as part of a layered outfit. Tights are more closely associated with hosiery and are a staple in formal or professional attire. They can vary in opacity, from completely sheer to opaque, and are available in a variety of colors, textures, and patterns.
Despite their differences, both leggings and tights serve essential roles in fashion and comfort. Choosing between the two depends on the occasion, the desired level of coverage, and personal style preferences. Leggings offer a casual, versatile option for everyday wear, while tights provide a more polished finish to dressier outfits.

Comparison Chart

Material Thickness

Thicker, opaque
Thinner, sheer to opaque


Do not cover the feet
Extend to the feet, covering the toes

Primary Use

Worn as outerwear or for exercise
Worn under dresses, skirts as accessory


Generally opaque
Range from sheer to fully opaque


Versatile, used for comfort and fashion
Primarily for warmth and fashion under other garments

Leggings and Tights Definitions


Leggings are stretchy, form-fitting pants typically worn for comfort or exercise.
She wore black leggings to yoga class for ease of movement.


Tights vary in opacity and can be used to enhance or alter the appearance of legs.
Her sheer tights gave her legs a smooth finish.


Leggings are often made from a blend of materials like cotton, polyester, and spandex.
The spandex in her leggings provided a comfortable, snug fit.


Tights are close-fitting garments covering the body from the waist to the toes.
She wore opaque tights under her skirt to keep warm in winter.


Leggings come in different lengths, catering to different styles and preferences.
She prefers capri leggings for her summer workouts.


Tights are often worn for added warmth or to complete a formal look.
For her interview, she chose black tights to complement her ensemble.


Leggings can serve as a fashion statement, available in various colors and patterns.
Her floral leggings added a pop of color to her outfit.


Tights come in various designs, including patterned and fishnet, for fashion purposes.
She wore patterned tights to add interest to her monochrome dress.


Leggings are versatile garments that can be dressed up or down.
She dressed up her leggings with a tunic and heels for dinner.


Tights can also serve practical functions, such as compression tights for improved circulation.
Compression tights helped her legs feel less tired after a long day.


A leg covering usually extending from the ankle to the knee and often made of material such as leather or canvas, worn especially by soldiers and workers.


(UK) A close-fitting, sheer or non-sheer skin-tight garment worn principally by women and girls that covers the body completely from the waist down, usually including the feet.


A tight-fitting, stretchable garment that covers the body from the waist to the ankle.


(dance) A similar, non-sheer garment worn by dancers of either sex, especially by ballet dancers.


Warm outerwear pants for children.


(wrestling) A garment, similar to briefs, worn chiefly by professional wrestlers.


Plural of legging


(mining) In blasting rock, a piece of unbroken rock within the pay limit of a blast.


Close-fitting garments, especially for the lower part of the body and the legs.


Skintight knit hose covering the body from the waist to the feet worn by acrobats and dancers and as stockings by women and girls


Man's garment of the 16th and 17th centuries; worn with a doublet


What are tights?

Sheer to opaque garments covering from the waist to the toes, typically worn under other clothes.

How do I choose between leggings and tights?

Consider the occasion, required warmth, and desired outfit look.

Are tights suitable for exercise?

Tights are not usually designed for exercise; instead, leggings are preferred.

Can leggings be worn in all seasons?

Yes, leggings can be adapted for any season, depending on their material and thickness.

How do I care for tights?

Hand wash or use a gentle cycle in a lingerie bag, then hang to dry.

What are leggings?

Close-fitting stretchy pants that can be worn for fashion, exercise, or comfort.

Can men wear leggings?

Yes, leggings designed for men are often called "compression pants" or "running tights."

How should tights fit?

Tights should cover the entire leg and foot without sagging or bunching.

Are leggings appropriate for formal settings?

Generally, leggings are casual wear but can be dressed up for semi-formal settings.

How do I care for leggings?

Follow the care label, usually involving machine washing in cold water and air drying.

Can leggings be worn as pants?

Yes, leggings can be worn as outerwear, especially if they are opaque.

Do tights offer footless options?

Yes, there are footless tights, but these closely resemble leggings.

How should leggings fit?

Leggings should fit snugly, without being too tight or restrictive.

What materials are leggings made from?

Common materials include cotton, polyester, and spandex.

What materials are tights made from?

Tights are made from a variety of materials, including nylon, elastane, and cotton.

Can tights have patterns or prints?

Yes, tights also come in various patterns, including floral and geometric designs.

Are there size-inclusive options for leggings and tights?

Yes, many brands offer a range of sizes to accommodate different body types.

Can leggings or tights be recycled?

Recycling options vary, but some brands offer recycling programs for their products.

Are there thermal tights for colder weather?

Yes, thermal tights are designed to provide extra warmth in cold conditions.

Can leggings have patterns or prints?

Yes, leggings are available in a wide range of patterns and prints.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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