Pantyhose vs Tights vs Leggings: Their Differences, Explained

Pantyhose, tights, and leggings. We often encounter people wearing these to the point that we can consider these legwear as highly common. Who wouldn’t want to feel comfortable while staying stylish anyway? It’s no question that either of them can transform a plain set of outfits into an impressive and remarkable one. However, even though we come across these terms quite often, some of us tend to mistake the tights as leggings, pantyhose, or the other way around.

Let us clear up the confusion by identifying their differences, so the next time you have to go out, you won’t end up wearing the wrong hosiery. 

So, What Is a Pantyhose?

One thing to accurately determine if the hosiery is, in fact, a pantyhose is by measuring the fabric’s thickness or thinness. Generally, this type of legwear ranges from 8 to 30 denier only, which is enough to let us know that these shouldn’t be worn alone. They are so sheer you can easily see the skin through the fabric. Although there are various available colors to choose from, black is the most popularly used. It’s understandable because when it’s worn, you transform from a plain Jane to a royalty. 

The pantyhose hosiery is Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s secret weapon to flawless legs. Indeed, all your blemishes, uneven areas like the knees, as well as scars can be concealed by a transparent piece of garment. Usually, a sheer pantyhose has panty support and can be toeless. Although a pantyhose offers these amazing qualities, one of its downsides is that this can easily rip and cause ugly runs in your nylons.

When to Wear a Pantyhose

Pantyhose are great outfit additions, but have you wondered when it’s appropriate to wear them? After all, no matter how versatile a clothing piece is, it doesn’t mean you can just wear it carelessly without considering how it’d look with your whole attire. If you have one in your closet, still new and unopened and you have no idea when to wear it, here are some events by which you can finally throw on this hosiery:

  • Job Interviews.  It’s fine to go bare-legged in various workplaces, but if you want to create a better impression during your interview, wear pantyhose. Chances are that the one interviewing you is much older. Wearing this undergarment is also considered old-fashioned and this could win you some points from someone traditional.
  • During a Cold Season. Some women feel uncomfy going out in the cold with nothing on their legs. A pantyhose will provide a feeling of comfort and warmth somehow, depending on the denier grade of the fabric.
  • Church. The general principle every time you go to church is to look conservative. While it’s now common for women to wear trousers of any kind to church, wearing dresses or skirts with pantyhose on is preferable. This puts you on a safe side as well if you’re attending a new church.

What Are Tights?

Obviously, the name itself explains what tights are. These are cloth garments that can be see-through or slightly opaque meant to be worn with dresses, skirts, or bodysuits. Usually, dancers and acrobats are required to throw on a quality pair under any type of costumes such as a leotard or tutu.

In a sense, they are quite alike as the pantyhose, but tights boast of their thicker material feature. However, with its variations in styles, you can, at times, come into sheer tights. There are fishnet tights should you want to exhibit a sexier side of yourself. 

While a pantyhose has a maximum of 30 deniers in thickness, opaque tights go around 40 to 100 deniers. Coverage-wise, these are better than the other which is a good thing for women who don’t want to feel too exposed. Still, the way the fabric is structured is not enough to conceal your parts. 

When to Wear Tights

The million-dollar question concerning fashion is when it is right to wear tights. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to mistake their thickness and texture with leggings and end up wearing them as is with nothing to cover what needs to be covered. Don’t wait until someone points out to you that you’ve worn the wrong cloth garment! Here are a few events in which you can safely pull off the tights:

  • Dance Classes. If you are a hardcore dancer or a ballerina, wearing tights is more than just a piece of fashion. Tights help particularly in keeping the legs warm and muscles need that!
  • During the Winter. Wearing a dress can be intimidating if you’re braving the winter season, but the drop in temperature shouldn’t stop you from wearing your favorite winter dresses. A pair of black tights will make you warmer when there is radiative heat around.
  • At School Events. Bazaar Fashion says that tights can only be worn from October to March, but fashion rules can be broken. If you feel like you look good in a gray dress in gray tights (trying to achieve a monochrome look), go and show it off as you’re heading your way to school. 

What Are Leggings?

If you are tired of completing your casual ensemble with a pair of jeans but want to retain its form-hugging feature, leggings would be the best alternative. These bottoms are elastic and close-fitting which doesn’t flare down to the ankles. Leggings can have different styles or rises, but for a more flattering image, the ones that go up to the waist are most preferable.

Out of the three, leggings are, no doubt, the thickest as they can be worn not as undergarments but as pants. Although they would show your entire figure from the rear end down to your legs and ankles, their opacity keeps everyone from seeing through the fabric.

When to wear Leggings

Leggings are legendary which is why they have evolved from being a fashion staple to sportswear with countless added benefits. Women and even men indulge themselves in the perks leggings offer. Yoga, drills, or casual wear, as long as you have a pair of leggings, you’re good to go.

  • At a Casual Day-Out. Weekends are better spent with friends or family. Going out and having a bit of fun will fuel you for the next week. Leggings will keep you comfortable throughout the day whether you’d be meeting someone at the cafe or having a picnic with your parents.
  • At the Gym. Leggings are becoming phenomenal as they transition from your typical casual wear to everyday gym wear. Brands like Nordstrom, Lululemon, and Spanx are just a few that’s dominating the market. 
  • In a Yoga Sesh. After such a stressful week, we all deserve a bit of calm and peace. Meditating or doing poses while inhaling the soothing scented candles will give you the best experience when you’re wearing something homely like a pair of leggings meant for a long yoga session.

Summary of Differences

Have a better look at the differences among the pantyhose, tights, and leggings through the comparison table below.

MaterialComposed of nylon fabric and a small amount of spandexMade up of elasticized materials like a blend of cotton and polyesterMay come in various fabrics like nylon, spandex, cotton, leather, and suede
OpaquenessVery see-throughCan be see-through and thick but not entirely opaqueNot see-through at all/opaque
Durability Can get easily tornCan rip after a few wears and washesVery durable depending on the brand’s quality
UsageThis is mainly used as an undergarment for short clothes or dressesUtilized by several dancers or casual wear lovers.Can be worn as a stand-alone garment, but it’s unacceptable in most formal settings
DesignComes in a wide range from plain to lacey onesSome have patterns and lace designs as wellComes in different fabrics, prints, and patterns
LengthTypically starts from the waist down to the toe, but others can be toelessIt is full in length and generally encapsulates the feetMostly ankle length but other styles show knee-length or 7/8 length
CompressionProvides compression in all zonesProvides compression in all zonesProvides compression in all zones
Colors Comes in a variety of colorsComes in a variety of colorsComes in a variety of colors
Care InstructionsNeeds to be hand washed every after use and hung in a clothesline for it to dryNeeds a laundry bag should you want it to be washed in a washing machine or opt to hand washing to retain its qualityCan undergo machine wash as per care instructions and avoid putting it in a dryer
Popular BrandsHanes, No Nonsense, and L’eggsNordstrom, Spanx, and FalkeAdidas, Nike, and Lululemon