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Leggings vs Yoga Pants

Leggings and yoga pants may possess lots of similarities but there are also differences. Find out what sets them apart and how each of them is meant to be used for.

Woman in sweater and black leggings sitting after jog.

Like many people, I get confused about the difference between yoga pants and leggings. Comfort is what I go for, and I am sure that that can be said for many people. However, with so many different styles emerging from different companies, it can be difficult to decide which is which. After doing some research, I learned a lot about these two.

In a nutshell, leggings and yoga pants are similar, but the main difference is that yoga pants are built expressly for sports such as yoga, running, Pilates (both indoor and outdoor), and leggings are not like the design and material of the leggings is too thin for fitness exercises.

The line between leggings and yoga pants can be blurry, especially when you’re not sure which is for what. However, taking a closer look at the differences between these two can help make your decision process a breeze and keep you feeling good.

What are They Meant To Be Used For?

Close-up of woman in leggings practicing yoga.

Leggings were essentially meant to be out of sight and to be worn underneath certain clothes like skirts, dresses, pants, etc., as an added layer during winter or those cold days to keep you warm. However, these days they are not only used for those cold days but have become more fashionable.

They are usually worn with longer shirts or sweaters because the material is so thin and, in most cases, can be see-through. They are stretchy, which makes them comfortable and a preferred option to jeans. They are also tight, which allows for flexible movement, and are usually seen in ballet dancers or people that do acrobats.

Yoga pants, on the other hand, are made specifically for working out. They give you the confidence to be able to exercise without worrying about anyone seeing what is underneath because the material is thicker. The wide thick waistband makes sure that the pants do not move up or down, but it does not hamper your movements, allowing for maximum comfort and flexibility.

Yoga pants are not only worn for workouts but have also become a part of casual wear when relaxing at home or going out to run errands. Although another brand of yoga leggings has been made that is thicker than the regular leggings, it still does not have the same quality to be considered for strenuous workouts.

The Different Kinds of Leggings and Yoga Pants Material.

Two ladies in yoga pants lying on yoga mats.


  • Cotton: These are the most popular leggings that many women have adopted as everyday wear. They are worn just about anywhere because of how comfortable they are and are thick enough not to be transparent when you’re going about doing your daily activities. These are usually the cheapest as they lose shape over time.
  • Wool/fleece: These are perfect for cold weather as they are made to keep you warm due to them being thicker. They also look good, although more expensive than cotton leggings.
  • Leather: For those looking for edgier leggings for a night out, leather or faux leather leggings are the way to go as they look chic and stylish.
  • Nylon: These leggings are also very popular because of how durable they are. Although they shrink when washed, they do not wrinkle, and they are stretchy. They do require more care when being washed so as not to damage them with fabric softener.

Yoga pants

Yoga pants are often a blend of different types of fabrics instead of just one. The main fabrics used are polyester, nylon, and Lycra. The combination of all three is used because it makes the material comfortable, flexible, absorbs moisture produced when working out and gives the pants a soft feel.

Different Leggings and Yoga Pants Styles.

Two women wearing pastel leggings outdoors.

There are different styles to choose from when it comes to both leggings and yoga pants, so you’ll never run out of options. The most common leggings are those that are full length or go from the waist to the ankle.

You then have those that only go to your calf, much as capris pants do. For people that like their leggings to be a little more secure, there are leggings that have stirrups that you hook underneath your heels so that they stay in place.

Yoga pants have a variety of styles, more so than leggings. These include but are not limited to yoga pant leggings, yoga sweatpants, yoga capris, booty length, and flared yoga pants.

Is It Appropriate To Wear Yoga Pants In Public?

Close-up of a woman wearing yoga pants.

If you are wondering if wearing yoga pants in public is appropriate or not, the answer is yes, it is appropriate. Almost everyone is wearing them in public, and people hardly give you a second look these days.

Of course, they may not be appropriate in certain places, like work, as they are not considered to be dress pants, but for the most part, you can wear them almost everywhere, especially if you accessorize them well.

How To Look Good In Yoga Pants?

Close-up of woman legs wearing yoga pants.

Although yoga pants and leggings can be worn with just about anything, there is a certain etiquette that can make or break your look. Yoga pants that are tight tend to look better with boots, simple sneakers, or simple ballet shoes.

Capris leggings or yoga pants are commonly seen in gyms or when working out and not as everyday wear to events, running errands, etc. Sweatshirts and denim jackets often pair well with both leggings and yoga pants. It is also recommended that bold colours and prints in yoga pants and leggings be matched with simple shirts and simple footwear so as not to create a clash or confuse the eye.


As both yoga pants and leggings are comfortable, stretch well, and fit the shape of your body well, it comes as no surprise that they are the favourite go-to pants for all kinds of women. Even celebrities like Jennifer Lopez are often photographed wearing yoga pants to the gym.

Not to mention the Kardashian sisters, who make fashion statements with the different types of leggings and yoga pants that they wear.