You may have heard all the buzz about leggings and how they’ve really made a comeback since the 80s, back into the fashion world and definitely making its way in the gym. However, with yoga pants pick in the early 2000s and the 90s and leggings getting into the fashion world on the market today, you might be led to ask—what really is the difference between leggings and yoga pants?
Even though some people might have thought that they are the same thing, there are definitely differences that define one from the other. Especially if you are looking to invest in some yoga leggings for your upcoming classes at the gym, you will definitely want to know what the difference between leggings and yoga pants are—to know what’s good for you.
Even though they are both active wear and designed with flexible material, they can easily be confused with one another—making it hard to tell the difference in the store or in the closet—until it’s too late. Although it’s not exactly a matter of life or death on your hands, you would still be missing out on a large range of benefits if you haven’t purchased the proper pair for the upcoming class.
Investing in the best yoga pants can not only be like investing in the most flattering yoga pants, which can be great for your confidence but the best pair can actually have a huge effect on your workout and on your performance.
The secret is not just investing in some affordable victoria secret yoga pants and calling it a day, you have to know the difference between leggings and yoga pants and pick out the best pair for you and your circumstance.
To help you know the differences between workout leggings vs regular leggings, we’re going to lay it out for you—real clear—then we can get into the details.
To define yoga pants and leggings:
Leggings: These are soft pants and pretty tight-fitting. They are usually designed with elastic and first begun as straight down to cover the entire leg and the ankle, however, now they have different cuts and lengths. They found their design with acrobats and dancers. Leggings are often designed with fabrics like lycra, nylon, cotton, polyester, or a combination of different fibers.
Yoga pants: Also soft, yoga pants, however, are normally thicker and are normally available in primarily black. They were originally designed with a bell-bottom design with yoga enthusiasts in mind. However, recently, the cut has gotten much more modern, with different types of ends to the legs—bootcut, tight-fitting, capri, and kundalini. Yoga pants are often designed with fabrics like cotton, spandex, polyester, nylon, wool, lycra, or other synthetic materials.
Even though you can easily define the two terms, you really just can’t fully grasp the context of managing the differences between them. Especially since athletic wear has become leisure wear, the importance of knowing when to wear what type of pants are just as important as investing in both! One thing is for sure—you can never have enough leggings and pants.
The last thing, however, that you would want to do is to wear leggings or yoga pants that are inappropriate. Especially if you think that you can get away with the black leggings underneath your dress on a cold day, they might look tacky.
There are also a few things you should do—especially when trying on yoga leggings before you purchase them. If you’re going to be exercising in them, moving in them, and not planning to wear a really long shirt or dress over them, you for sure need to be certain that they pass the bend-over test and are not see through when you move. This could be extremely embarrassing and this potential crisis can easily be solved with a simple trial test.
You also might run into places, gyms or activities where yoga pants and leggings are banned, this is definitely quality information to know before you invest in certain clothes and then come to find out that you cannot wear them at the actual activity or event in the first place.
Later on in this article, we’re also going to take you through a few activities you can do and which particular pants you’re “supposed” to wear while doing them. That being said, you still may have questions like, "Can you run in yoga pants?” or you might even be wondering which to wear during yoga. Ultimately, we’ll cover the certain activities that are best done with each and help show you how to look good in yoga pants—even though there are few people who don’t!
Finally—let’s see what the people have to say:
Yoga Pants and the People
Especially with “athleisure” wear on the rise and yoga pants or leggings becoming more and more acceptable in the workplace, there is definitely a spike in the production and consumption of yoga pants and leggings.
People tend to turn to yoga bottoms for comfort—especially if they’re having a bad day or know that it’s going to be a long day. People are also starting to turn to leggings and pants to fit into any outfit.
Especially since it is now such a mainstream fashion statement, you can start getting away with wearing your yoga leggings underneath a nice blouse and pairing it with boots. This sort of trend is making yoga pants and leggings a typical, everyday wear that you’ll see on the street and even in the workplace.
However, even though it seems like the easy choice, you might not be making the right one. Depending on the activity you’ll be doing or the place you’ll be going, you might have to wear particular kinds that will help you perform better or that is even actually acceptable.
There are so many different styles of yoga pants and leggings that you also might be overwhelmed with your choices. With all the different styles, there is no distinct line that separates yoga pants and leggings. However, there are distinct differences between the two. You can either invest in yoga pants, yoga bottoms, yoga leggings or yoga tights. So since there are so many different kinds, we thought we would help you out a little and help show the differences between the two.
Yoga Pants vs. Yoga Leggings
In the battle that has been there since the “athleisure” trend has blown up, leggings vs stretch pants have been a “competition" as old as time. Do you choose leggings for your office casual wear to wear underneath your dress or can you get away with yoga pants? What about if it’s cold outside—which pair of bottoms should you turn to?
Yoga Pants are normally thicker and much looser than yoga leggings, which can be extremely helpful if you’re actually doing yoga. They are great for activities—however, if you are going to be running, you might not want to slip a pair of these on since they are going to be much thicker and heavier. They also were originally known for flaring down on the bottom, which can be pretty cumbersome and annoying when running. If you’re looking to choose between pants and leggings to simple run errands, be comfortable at work (not as an underneath-the-dress garment) or be casual, you should invest in yoga pants. Ultimately, they are like a “fancier” version of sweatpants—or a more feminine version of them. Yoga pants can offer freedom of flexibility, full coverage, body-slimming compression, and performance enhancing features like moisture-wicking properties, anti-chafing fit, and UPF protection.
Yoga Leggings are normally thinner and much tighter than yoga pants. They are also one of the tightest versions of yoga bottoms out there, with the purpose behind them to be worn underneath shirts, tunics or dresses. Even though you can wear them to work out, they’ll put out all your insecurities on display and it would help if you are pretty confident about your body to slip them on. Yoga leggings are perfectly acceptable in most workout environments—especially in yoga and pilates. They are designed to be breathable, wick away sweat, go perfect with a yoga top, and keep you cool (or warm). However, yoga leggings are going to actually be thicker than yoga tights—which you might think they are the same—but read on!
Yoga Tights is a term that is normally used interchangeably with “leggings”. However, tights are actually much thinner and much tighter—if you can squeeze into them. Even though both tights and leggings are pretty skin-tight, yoga tights are normally lighter and much closer to the body. Tights are more often than not worn underneath dresses and skirts since there can be a possibility of see-thoroughness…meaning that a person will probably feel much more comfortable if they have more coverage on private areas if just wearing tights.
In general, yoga tights and leggings will be for those who have the confidence or desire to wear something tight-fitting and compressive (even if it’s for athletic medical reasons). Yoga pants are often targeting loose-fitting silhouettes who like to keep a bit more private and leave some of their figure for the imagination. Even though there is no “right and wrong” or clear answer, especially since the general public will often use these terms interchangeably, it is helpful to know a bit more of the background.
First and foremost, a lot of the difference between leggings and yoga pants can be traced back to their original beginnings—back in the fabric.
Types of Fabrics
With yoga leggings and yoga pants, there are a variety of different fabrics that the pants are made of. Whether you are going to be doing an activity or wearing them casually, you should know the various types of fabric and how they can differ from activity to activity. After gaining knowledge, you can choose which fabric works best for you.
Heavy-duty yoga fabrics will be for heavyweight exercises and will be materially heavier than the others. This type of fabric has luxurious spandex woven into the seams. It is your go-to fabric if you’re looking for a great balance between coverage, compression, and support.
Mid-duty yoga fabrics will be for mid-tough exercises and will be relatively heavy in material-feel. The mid-duty fabrics are a blend between poly and spandex. It will normally be characterized by a creamy, soft touch to the skin when running your hands over it and slipping it on.
The lightweight yoga fabrics mainly focus on extreme, moisture-wicking properties that are often seen for athletes doing sports. They can be work in the heat and work well with high-cardio workouts and even hot yoga.
Whether you’re choosing to wear yoga leggings or yoga pants, you’ll notice that they can also differ in style. From sophisticated designs, the plan color look (normally black) to printed patterns, you can find a pair of leggings or yoga pants that match perfectly with every workout and every outfit.
Since we’ve already taken a look at the initial difference between yoga pants and leggings and we’ve dug much deeper back into their original fabrics, we should look at a few more differences—including physical properties and the various users that normally choose leggings or pants to wear.
Difference Between: Physical Properties
If you’re looking at each pair of pants specifically, you’ll notice that they differ in their physical properties. You can tell the difference between leggings and yogas from how they feel and how they look, either while they’re on the shelf or if they’re being worn.
Yoga leggings will have a softer material that bends and moves in a more elastic-nature. When being slipped on, they’ll fit much tighter than yoga pants. Normally, when wearing a pair of pants underneath a dress, skirt or tunic, you should turn to yoga leggings. They are tight enough to wear underneath clothes. They are also relatively thin—making it actually more advisable to wear with clothes over them (especially in the more private areas).
Yoga pants will be thicker in material, although they will definitely till be flexible. However, yoga pants are much less elastic-y, since they are opaque. When looking at a pair of yoga pants, you won’t be able to tell what kind of material it is made out of. Fortunately, they can fit any body shape comfortably. Since they are made of thicker material, you should feel comfortable with wearing yoga pants without wearing anything over them—especially since they probably won’t be see-through.
Difference Between: Shape and Color
Back in the day upon their creation, yoga pants had more of a bell-bottomed shape. They were designed tighter at the top of the legs, near the thighs, while opening up at the bottom in a much looser fashion.
Leggings are often tight throughout the entire pant-leg. From the thigh to the ankle (or calf—depending on the cut of the leggings), you’ll have a tight fit without any flair.
When it comes to color, yoga pants are normally found only in black. Originally, they were designed to only be sold in black. However, you can find yoga pants in other solid colors. However, they often do not come in patterns.
Leggings, on the other hand, can be found in a variety of different colors and designs—as well as just plain black. Depending on your desired outfit color and design, you can find a pair of yoga leggings for any occasion!
Difference Between: Users
Although the two different types of garments relatively have sort of the same properties, they are initially designed for different activities.
Yoga pants were originally created simply for yoga enthusiasts. They were made to be able to bend and move depending no matter what your activity may be. They are flexible enough to move with you and can be used, as well, for lounging about.
Yoga leggings were originally created for acrobats and dancers so that they did not have the flare of the bell-bottom to bother them while doing their activities and flipping around. From then, they’ve evolved to be utilized for all types of sports since they are easy to move in.
Difference Between: Transparency
As we mentioned before, you can wear yoga pants without using clothes to cover. Since they are designed with an opaque material, they aren’t see-through and can be comfortable without worry of others seeing undergarments—or other things. Since they have a stretchable waistband, they can also fit onto any size body.
Yoga leggings, however, are designed with a more transparent material that might be see-through when worn on their own. They can be worn as inner pants when it’s extremely cold or worn underneath a dress, tunic or skirt. You can even get away with wearing yoga leggings when it’s cold outside. Normally, yoga leggings aren’t designed with an elastic waistband, which means that they often fall of the body or waist.
Difference Between: Flexibility and Comfortability
As we also mentioned at the beginning of this article, yoga bottoms—whether they are leggings or yoga pants—have seen a spike in trend in the fashion world and everyday wear. This can put an individual at a bit of a confusing standpoint when trying to decide which type is best for their situation or activity. When it comes down to it, this is based on flexibility and on comfort.
Yoga pants, when rated on comfort, are designed for the most comfort since they have a stretchable waistband—making it impossible to fall down—no matter what the movement may be. They are also thicker in material, making them warmer.
However, if you’re looking for flexibility, you should go for yoga leggings since they are tight-fitting and often used in flexible activities and sports like acrobatics.
We know, we know, that was quite a lot of information to remember. Fortunately, we’re going to help you go through the buying process of getting the perfect pair of yoga pants or yoga leggings.
The Purchasing Process
- When you’re going into the store, you’ll want to first make sure what the purpose of your purchase is, whether you are getting them for everyday, casual wear or you need a new pair of leggings for yoga class or for running. Setting your purpose before you even go to try them out, you’ll have a much easier and quicker experience in choosing which is the perfect type of leggings or pants for your activity and main purpose.
- On that note, make sure that you never buy fashion leggings that are actually designed for everyday, comfort wear for running errands, etc., if your purpose is working out. Normally, these leggings are designed with fabrics like cotton, which are definitely not moisture-wicking which can make working out extremely uncomfortable. Also, some of these leggings are designed to make your body warmer in the cold and may be heavier than the other workout leggings.
- If you plan on running with your leggings or yoga pants, you’ll want to make sure that the name of the leggings has the word “running” in them. Since some leggings are specifically designed for yoga, they are going to be thicker and more suitable for that activity. However, if you’re looking for leggings that are specifically designed for running, you’ll be getting leggings that are actually designed to increase speed, reduce friction, and to cool off the body. Some of them also have increased compression to help with muscle soreness and get that lactic acid moving. These running tights will be extremely aerodynamic and much different than yoga pants.
- While you’re shopping for leggings, if you’re doing it in-store you can go through an easy, three-step process that can ensure that your leggings are perfect for you. First, pick out your size and pattern that you like. When you go on to try on the leggings or pants, this is where the process begins.
- When you’re in the tryout room, you should make sure that you have a mirror at your disposal—this is essential to the try-on process. Put on the leggings and then look yourself to see if you look good—because if you look good you’ll feel good! If it’s passed that step, then it’s time to move on to the bend-over test. Although you might feel silly, it’s important that your movements won’t grant the whole gym behind you a view. If you are in a dressing room with a few more mirrors, you’ll be able to check it out from all angles, making sure that it’s not see-through and looks good from all angles. Even though you may feel silly—it’s important that you do the bend-over test!! (Better in the store than an embarrassing situation in the gym!)
- Once you’ve done the dressing room test, you should take them out of the dressing room (while still wearing them), and head out into the store. Walk a bit in them and check them out in various other mirrors in the store because of the different lighting. You have to really make sure that you like the look of them!
- Finally, once you’re finally happy with its coverage and its visual appeal, you should actually see how they perform. You can do a few stretches or lunges, making sure they fit and move with you. At this step, make sure that the leggings are flexible enough, don’t pull in weird areas or sag (or if they fall down at the waist while you’re moving around.) If you’re feeling bold and this is a big purchasing decision, you can even run a bit around the store or the dressing room area to see how they feel on you. You might notice that with movement, they actually start to slip down or rub and chafe—this is great to know before you make the investment.
Not only should your favorite pair of yoga leggings and yoga pants be comfortable and look good, but they should also be functional. Knowing which pair of pants to take depending on your body type, your style, your purpose, and your activity, you should be able to make the best decision on the perfect pair of pants (or leggings)!