What’s The Difference? Hosiery Terminology Explained

Hosiery-Terminology-Tights-Leggings-Pantyhose-Stockings

Can’t tell your undergarments apart? Confused by the different names, varieties and types? You’re not alone! Our hosiery terminology guide will help you set the record straight once and for all! Learn the difference between tights, leggings, pantyhose and stockings, so you know exactly what you’re buying.

Let’s start with Pantyhose

Pantyhose are the thinnest of all undergarments; they tend to be sheer, delicate and transparent. They’re typically made of spandex, and whilst they are available in a variety of colors/sheerness, the most popular pairs are black and ultra-sheer. These are a ‘grown-up’, mature choice, a firm favorite for work-wear. Tights Trivia: the word ‘Pantyhose’ is actually an ancient mash-up of ‘pants’ and ‘hosiery’ – clever!

Next up: Leggings!

Once solely 80’s exercise gear, Leggings have had a major comeback. They’re made of spandex, nylon, polyester and/or cotton and are completely opaque meaning that it’s totally acceptable to wear them as a pants substitute. Warning: Do NOT assume that Footless Tights are the same as Leggings because both are ankle length. This common misconception can prove very embarrassing as your underwear WILL show through those tights in broad daylight!
Jeggings are a mash-up of Leggings and Jeans; they have the look of denim, but the feel of leggings.

On to our favorites: Tights!

While Tights are often considered the same as Pantyhose, in reality they’re totally different. (OK, quite different!) Sure they’re slightly transparent, but Tights are thicker than pantyhose and designed to keep you warm and snug. Plus, Tights come in endless varieties of colors, thickness, patterns and fabrics, precisely why we love them so much. They’re great for adding personality, flair and style to any look. Stock up now.

Now for Stockings:

So, originally Stockings were a unisex undergarment and were actually more popular with men who wore them under their pants. Cozy. They’ve since been upgraded to a sensual, lingerie item, generally thigh-high and sheer, worn with a suspender belt (as is the UK term) or a garter belt – meow! Fittingly, they’re often made of silky fabrics, with lace adornments. Not to be confused with Christmas Stockings.

Not to be confused with … Hold Ups!

Hold Ups are essentially Stockings worn without a garter or suspender belt. They are usually made from nylon or a Lycra blend and have an elasticated band backed with silicone on its inner surface at the top of the thigh to ensure they stay up. The silicone can be affected by lotions or oils, so hold off on the moisturizer if you’re planning to rock some Hold Ups! These are commonly referred to as ‘Thigh Highs’. They’re particularly useful if worn with a tight fitting or thin dress, as they ensure smooth lines.

For an easier option: Suspender Tights:

These are having a major moment right now in the celebrity world. Suspender Tights cover the toes to the waist, to give the seductive look of hold ups, when in reality they are tights. The section from the upper thigh to the waist is sheer and skin colored, to give the illusion of bare skin. These are arguably more comfortable and practical than Hold Ups or Stockings.

So, now you’ve finally got you’re head around the confusing world of hosiery terminology, we will further complicate things. The UK has a totally different, and simpler, set of hosiery terminology. The word “tights” refers to every woman’s undergarment that has some degree of sheerness to it, whereas leggings are considered any pair of full or footless tights that are opaque in nature.

Got it? You may go ahead and shop!

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