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Difference between tights, leggings, hold ups and stockings

Updated on April 4, 2018

Used wrongly on many occasions

The different terms for women's hosiery are often confusing and incorrectly used.

This page will give examples and point out the differences between 4 types of hosiery: Tights, leggings, hold-ups and stockings.

Each of the 4 exist in several colors and materials, this isn't the focus of the page, it's only about the physical differences between them .

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Tights: A bit uncomfortable, but still a good option

Tights are made from a thin material that can stretch a lot, but so are hold ups and stockings.

The big difference is what part of the body it covers: It starts at the feet, covers the legs up to the waist. The color options are wide and the material can be nylon or even wool. Most tights have some kind of pattern, but they can be neutral colored too.

If your tights have a flesh color and are neutral in texture, they are often called pantyhose. This results in shiny bare legs with a layer of fabric.

Leggings: Tights without the feet

The titel basically says it all. A legging is the same as tights, but stop just above the feet.

You could as well compare it to a very tight pair of pants made from the same material os hosiery. Usually, they are made from thicker material, but not always. Most of the time, when wearing leggings, you will see the seams and/or wrinkles, where tights are smoother and don't show any wrinkles.

Because leggings are barefoot, they stay clean longer and can be worn multiple days in a row.

Hold ups
Hold ups

Hold ups: the modern variant

Hold ups only cover the legs and feet, and are therefor a lot less hassle when you have to go to the toilet.

They are usually made of nylon or Lycra, stretch the same as tights but are easier to wear and look sexy like stockings. Perfect for daily wear and special occasions.

The top part of the hold ups usually have a sticky fabric and is elastic, keeping them up and making them possible to wear without garter belts like stockings.

There is an abundance of colors and patterns for hold ups and even exist in different materials than the basic nylon & Lycra combo.


Stockings: Classy & sexy

Stockings are the most sexy option of all three.

They can only be worn with garters or a garter belt and are usually made from standard nylon or more soft silk fabric.

They come in different colors and styles, but usually have a more classic look than hold ups.

Popularity rises

In the USA, the hosiery business is a big one, at over $3 billion dollar / year.

The tights remain the most sold item within the hosiery category. Rising in popularity are the hold ups, but they remain harder to get in the USA, where stockings are still more popular.

In Europe, the hold ups have already caught up to the classic stockings sales.


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