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What is the Difference Between Tights and Leggings?

Payal Kanjwani Feb 27, 2020
Tights are feet-length leggings of mostly thin and semi-transparent material. Leggings are footless tights of heavier, opaque fabric.

Lesser known Facts

- There was a sheer scarcity of the fabric of tights during World War II, so women would actually paint a faux seam line creating the impression of wearing it.

- Originally, the design of leggings was the fusion of two disjoint garments, one for each leg.
There is a lot of confusion between these two very popular skin-tight garments since they have similarities. But it is important to know the differences between them as you may end up buying the wrong garment, either leading to wardrobe malfunction, or into creating a fashion disaster. It is also essential to know how to wear them.
Again, people usually commingle these garments with stockings. To tell you, neither leggings nor tights, are like stockings. They are more like socks that stretch up to the thighs.
Both, tights and leggings can spice up any outfit. They have the power to make a fabulous winter dress―bearable. (And to hide the tan, of course!) All in all, they lend many options that include coverage. Let's find the difference between tights and leggings.

Tights Vs. Leggings


Tights are thin, skin-tight piece of clothing, often sheathing the body from the waist to the toe tips. They are thin like stockings, and mostly semi-transparent.

Leggings are a type of thick, skin-tight clothing that cover the legs, mostly ankle-length. They may be worn by both men and women. They give the appearance of pants.


Tights are commonly made of elasticized cotton and polyester blends. The material is thinner comparatively.
Leggings have a fabric which is thicker than tights. It is elasticized material of cotton, spandex, lycra, nylon, or polyester.


Tights are meant to cover the feet. In fact, they mask coverage from legs to toe tips, stretching up to the waist.

Leggings cover up to mid-calf to near-ankle length.


Tights are mostly, semitransparent, they are designed to be worn under clothing. Wool tights is an exception.

Leggings are mostly opaque, but we do get thinner leggings, resembling tights.


Tights are designed to be skin-tight. They give the appearance of being a second skin.

Leggings are designed to fit snug, take the shape of the wearer's body, and are very comfortable.


Tights come in absolute opaque, opaque, sheer, fishnet styles, or any combination of them. The variety also lies in toe-type―sandal toe, open toe, reinforced type.
Leggings are thick, patterned, solid. They come in various styles―shiny (leather-look) leggings, denim leggings (jeggings), etc.


Wear tights under shorts, shirt dresses, skirts, or dresses. Wear leggings with tunics, short dresses, sweater dress, shirts, denim mini skirt, plaid skirts, and shorts.


Tights can be paired with ballerinas (ballet flats) or boots. Don't pair them with open heels or peep toes. Leggings can be paired with any kind of footwear, considering the outfit and occasion.


Tights are commonly worn as dance costumes (esp. ballet), in theme parties, or mostly in the theater world. Sometimes, they can be worn instead of stockings. Formerly, they were a part of winter clothing.
Leggings are worn during sports and activities like running, dancing, exercising, and mostly in the cold weather. But the latest trends call for replacing them with pants. They are apt for all seasons.
Try matching the color of your tights or leggings with your shoes. This will impart an elongated appearance to your legs.