It’s a good question, isn’t it? We’ve probably all wondered, “What’s the difference between yoga pants and leggings anyway?” at some point while getting dressed. You may even be wearing either right now. And if it has been a while since you’ve purchased them, you may even be wondering whether they were labeled as yoga pants or leggings at the store. Unfortunately, there is some grey area surrounding the answer to whether women’s yoga pants and leggings are the same thing. But, overall, they’re different. We’ll tell you why.
One of the best ways to decipher between yoga pants and leggings is to read the label to see what materials were used to make them. Or, you can simply examine them closely. If the material is thin and soft, it's likely a cotton fabric that is good for lounging in or wearing under a tunic or dress. If it’s a cotton blend with spandex or a combination of polyester and spandex, however, it is meant to endure stretching and other activities so that it will keep its shape better than cotton. Yoga pants also have a wider elastic waistband than most pairs of leggings to keep them in place while exercising.
We touched on this already, but pants that endure stretching and don’t lose their shape easily are likely yoga pants. In contrast, leggings are made more for comfort and warmth, so stretchability and durability aren’t as important. You would wear yoga pants for so many types of activities, whether running, doing a spin class, going on a hike, or (of course) doing yoga. You can even wear yoga pants for running errands, knowing that you’ll have full coverage. There are even work-leisure yoga pants that you can wear to the office!
But there are two activities that leggings can do better than yoga pants: lounging and dressing up. Leggings may be thin and soft, but that makes them great for wearing underneath dresses and tunics when it’s cold outside. They’re almost like wearing a thicker pair of tights in that they fit snuggly against the body, providing a bit of warmth and style at the same time. But wearing yoga pants under a dressy outfit would look awkward since they’re made of a thicker material than leggings, making them bulky and even shiny due to the stretchy fabric.
As for lounging, of course, you can lounge around the house in yoga pants, but if you want to be comfortable, leggings are the better option. Leggings are less restricting and generally more comfortable. You can even use them as pajama pants without overheating or feeling like the waistband is too tight.
A great similarity between yoga pants and leggings is the versatility they provide in your wardrobe. You can wear yoga pants literally anywhere, depending on the style, of course. The yoga pants that can take you from yoga to work, for example, more resemble pants than athleticwear. They typically have a pocket or two and have straight legs instead of legs that fit snugly against the body.
Overall, they look like pants but feel like stretchy, comfy loungewear that you don’t have to worry about being see-through. When it comes to what to pair them with, it depends on the style of yoga pants (there are so many) and the purpose. For example, a women’s sweater or blouse would pair nicely with work-leisure yoga pants.
With leggings, it is important to keep in mind that there isn’t as much thickness in the material as there is with yoga pants. As a result, there’s less bounceback when they’re stretched as well. So you’ll want to wear leggings with a dress or tunic that reaches past your hips. Leggings look great with any type of shoes as well, whether sneakers, pumps, or boots. So there’s a lot of versatility in what you wear with leggings, as long as you don’t expect them to provide full coverage.
Now we’re going to through you a curveball. There is an item that defies our definitions of yoga pants and leggings. Women’s workout leggings are pretty much the best of both worlds. That’s because these are like yoga pants, but they’re seamless, so they’re more like leggings or tights. And because of their moisture-wicking fabric, you can ensure you stay dry during workouts. If you go from the gym to work, or vice versa, these are great for wearing under a dress, long sweater, or tunic
As you can see, there are similarities between yoga pants and leggings, but their differences help us answer the question: No, yoga pants and leggings are not the same thing!