Are Leggings and Footless Tights the Same Thing?


Footless tights and leggings can look quite similar in photos, which often leads to confusion. And to confuse matters further, we can toss patterned hose and other legwear into the mix.

If you check out just the photos in the illustration below, you can see where some of the confusion comes from. Don’t read. Just look. They ARE sort similar in appearance.

And that’s not to mention the fact that the fashion waters are muddied by the terms people use to describe their own wardrobes. In other words, even seeing tights/hose/footless tights/leggings in person doesn’t always clear things up for you, since people use different terminology to describe the same products.

Are leggings and tights the same thing?

But if leggings and footless tights look so similar in some instances, is there really a big difference?

You bet there is!

Hose are typically sheer, leggings are generally solid or opaque, and tights, including footless ones, are usually somewhere in between.

Ok… so it warrants noting that there is some crossover between product categories too, like tights that are lacy or sheer and leggings that are only semi-opaque. But “Hang on!” you say. “How can this be, if these categories make sense?”

Keep reading! We’ll make an expert out of you yet!

Distinguishing Characteristics

Items in each category share similarities, like the materials, texture, and design features. It’s also the manner in which hose, tights, and leggings are worn that distinguishes them from one another.

Here are the basics:

Nylons and Hosiery 

  • Available in a wide variety of colors and patterns and in different textures and thicknesses, ranging from ultra sheer to solid, hosiery is designed to be worn under clothing. Hose have been around forever so there’s not a lot of confusion surrounding them, but since they do come in many accessorizing colors, patterns and styles these days, shopping from images only can be deceiving sometimes.


  • Once hose reach a certain thickness or become so solid they no longer show skin through the material, most people brand them tights. They may be patterned or solid in color, but they are still designed as innerwear. They are warmer than hose or nylons and can also jazz up your legs when worn with dresses, skirts, or shorts.

Footless Tights 

  • Unlike traditional tights, footless varieties don’t have built-in feet. Most are “one-size-fits-all” designs, appropriate for women ranging from a size zero to a medium. The larger the lady wearing them, the sheerer the tights become, so for most women, footless tights show way too much skin to be worn as anything other than underclothing. This is a real disappointment for the unwitting shopper that buys footless tights expecting leggings.


  • Generally opaque, leggings can be worn as inner or outerwear. They may be created from thick or thin material and in a range of colors, styles, patterns, and designs. They may look somewhat similar to footless tights, but they don’t lose their solid appearance when stretched.

What the heck are they good for?

So if legging are so versatile and tights spice up your standard nylon or hosiery options, then what the heck are footless tights good for, especially since they are somewhat sheer in appearance on most women?

Simply put, the answer is “LOTS!”

Under Shorts

Footless tights are popular for wear with denim shorts. They can make an outfit dressier, sexier, or funkier, dependent upon the pattern, color, or overall design. Big sellers with roller derby girls, footless tights are spunky, sassy, and inexpensive. They’re gonna get destroyed at the derby, but those runs and rips only make them look meaner!

Under Skirts and Dresses

Colorful tights jazz up a solid colored dress or long tunic like nobody’s business. Romantic, sexy, free-spirited, and classy styles to choose from make footless tights a hit with a wide variety of personality types.

Under Ripped Denim or Leggings

Funky footless tights look badass under some ripped or frayed jeans. Blew out the knee on your black leggings?  That's okay!  Throw some thin lightweight crazy tights under them, and you will have a hole new look (or is that whole??).

Not a look for everyone

Footless tights aren’t for everybody. They are inexpensive and prone to flaws. They may have runs, stitching changes, and print pattern inconsistencies. There may be white streaks or other flaws along the seams, torso, or even the crotch or bum. These inconsistencies often appear intentional and add to the funky uniqueness of my products.

These products have their own following and appear in a dedicated section of my website to ensure you never get confused over which item you’re purchasing.

My customers rock these tights with their flaws and all, wearing them under denim shorts with flat army boots, or in some cases, with their roller derby skates.

This blog post’s purpose is not to sell you on the idea of footless tights in general or to convince you to buy particular products. It’s simply to ensure you know what you’re shopping for when you choose footless tights, leggings, or other legwear.



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  • Carrie Paxson