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Leggings vs Stockings

Check out the differences between leggings and stockings including their pros and cons to help you pick the right legwear for every style, fashion, and occasion.

Woman wearing stockings on the sofa.

No apparel is created equal, and a woman’s wardrobe is not complete without the different legwear styles that one can use for various occasions. Pantyhose, tights, thigh highs, leggings, and stockings may all sound and look similar, but it’s not.

When it comes to leggings and stockings, the difference is noticeable. Leggings are footless, and it’s made of thicker material, while stockings are sheer and stretchy legwear that covers the knee or mid-thigh down to the toes. It’s also used for different purposes as leggings can be worn as pants, while stockings should be worn under skirts, dresses, or shorts.

So how and when these two types of hosiery or legwear can be used or styled? And which ones are the best for you?

Main Difference Between Leggings and Stockings

Woman wearing tight leggings and a floral top.

Description – Leggings are legwear that is a tight fit, with a hemline between the calf and ankle. Stockings are designed to be form-fitting and are usually secured with suspenders or garter belts.

Types – Stockings are sheer, while leggings are solid and patterned.

Material – Leggings are made of cotton, wool, spandex, nylon, or polyester, while stockings are commonly made of nylon.

Colors – Both comes in different colors, patterns, and design. However, popular stockings are black and nude.

Design & Material

Leggings are crafted from thick, stretchable material like spandex, cotton, nylon, lycra, or polyester. They don’t cover the foot, and it’s form-fitting, stretching from the waistline to the ankle or lower calf. It’s primarily comfortable to wear for both casual and athletic use. It also comes in different styles, patterns, and fabrics.

Stockings are sheer and almost transparent. They only stretch up to the upper thigh and require suspenders or garter belts to hold them up. Stockings were also created with a darkened heel and toe, but they now have different variations.

Style and Fit

Leggings are crafted to fit snug and shaped to the body’s curve while retaining its level of comfortability. Leggings are very casual and often worn when going to the gym. There are also types of leggings that one can wear under long tunics or as pants.

Stockings are very compatible with office clothes like pencil skirts and gowns for classiness. This sheer stocking would also look best in black or nude if you want to create a modest or clean look.

How To Wear

Woman wearing beige top and purple stockings.

Leggings are best to wear during the cold months. They provide the utmost warmth because of their thick material, and they can be worn on their own or use as layering. Stockings can also be used during winter, but they won’t provide warmth.

While black is always a good choice, leggings can give you more room to experiment compared to stockings. With leggings having so many varieties, you can go out in different colors and prints. But darker colors have a slimming effect compared to lighter ones, so you should be careful in choosing when and where you will use them.

For stockings, black and nude are the most commonly used. But be careful when choosing nude colors because they should match your skin tone. The point of wearing nude stockings is to make it look like you’re not wearing any hosiery, so the sheerest version is best recommended.

When wearing stockings, be careful not to show the garter belt as it is not a fashion statement you don’t to be remembered for.


Stockings are made of delicate fabric and require proper handling. When washing, it’s either with the use of hands. Machine washing is possible as long as it is in a delicate mode and the stocking is inside a mesh bag.

Leggings, on the other hand, can be washed similar to pants, unless it is specified. But to avoid losing its elasticity, you can wash it in a delicate cycle, cool water, and low spin.

These differences are apparent; with the proper knowledge and basic understanding of legwear, one shouldn’t be confused with the other. Leggings are not a replacement for stockings either, and vice versa.

The Pros and Cons of Stockings and Leggings

Woman in leggings and red shoes walking on the street.

Whether you love or hate them, both of these legwear has a market out there and are here to stay. Before putting on your favorite pair, here are a few pros and cons to watch out for.

Stockings are a staple in every woman’s clothing, and it represents vintage fashion and the golden era of glamour, beauty, and elegance. Aside from being a comfortable, easy-to-wear option of hosiery, stockings also double up as lingerie.

Stockings and pantyhose can be synonymous with each other; they are tight-fitting garments in various styles and fabrics. But stockings often stretch to only the upper thigh and are held with suspenders or a garter belt. Stockings can be worn for everyday office wear, date nights, or as a confidence booster.

What do women like about stockings?

  • Stockings are suitable to all body shapes, allowing a person to gain confidence
  • Stocking will enable women to feel sexy, feminine, and empowered
  • Stockings can be used for different types of occasions, from casual to black-tie events.
  • Stockings are the best option to wear especially during warm season as it is less restrictive.

What are the disadvantages?

  • They are often challenging to put on since you must secure it
  • Taking the stockings off is time-consuming, especially if mother nature calls
  • Stockings require proper handwashing to maintain their shape and won’t be worn out easily
  • Minor snags on the stocking can cause more extensive runs and quickly ruining the hosiery.

Leggings are also a staple not only for women but also for men. It is a very versatile legwear that can be worn for any occasion. Leggings go with any outfit from oversized shirts or tops, jackets or robes, and even on the red carpet.

Leggings come in different types: ankle-length, knee-length, mid-calf, compression, and jeggings. Ankle-length leggings come with various options; those made with fleece and cotton are best worn during the winter months. Jeggings are also a popular option because it serves different purposes.

What do women like about leggings?

  • The leggings are very comfortable. Whether you are going out for a run or to a grocery store, it gives you the freedom to move around.
  • Leggings can be paired with anything; one doesn’t have to think far ahead when it comes to their outfit since almost anything can match with leggings.
  • Leggings contour to your body, especially with black-colored ones.

What are the disadvantages of leggings?

  • Leggings in other colors can be harmful if worn incorrectly, mainly if it’s white.
  • The cheap ones that are made from thin fabric can quickly get loose after few washes.
  • Since it’s stretchable, if one is wearing the wrong size, it would loosen over time, and there is a tendency that it would slide off around the waistline.


Leggings can’t be mistaken for stockings. The difference is noticeable, but who’s to say you can’t have both?

Some occasions might call for stockings, some might call for leggings. These leg wears are staples and relevant for any type of lifestyle. So, you can stock up on as many designs, colors, or patterns as you want, so you’ll be ready to dress up for anything.

If you are looking to wear something comfortable, opt for leggings, and if you want to upscale your outfit, stockings will do the job. Plus, leather skirts and stockings go well together when paired.

Leggings and stockings, just like any other clothes, are also an investment. So, when buying leg wears, never settle for low-quality materials. If you’re hoping for comfortable and long-lasting leggings and stockings, spend on brands that you know won’t disappoint. You can also look for neutral designs so that you can wear them all year round.


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