What is the difference between yoga pants and leggings?

With athleisure on the rise as the next new comfortable and stylish thing, you may be wanting to try all the looks on social media out for yourself. Before you jump into the deeper end of the athleisure pool, it's good to know the basics of outfit pieces that make up a good fitness-slash-leisure fit. One of those basic questions is: do you know the difference between yoga pants and leggings? Is there a real difference between the two, and will it matter which one you order and start showing off around the house, gym, or on your jogging route?Power Seamless Leggings

The short answer is: yes, there is a difference! From the fabrics to the cut and the length, there are a lot of differences between the two.

First, can you wear leggings as pants?

While it used to be a rule that you shouldn't wear leggings as pants, you can definitely choose to wear leggings as pants! Leggings aren't the pseudo-pajama outfit they used to be. Changes in textiles and styles have made leggings become an integral part of people's wardrobes. There are even plenty of outfit options for leggings that can make you look anywhere from comfortable to classy. However, to wear leggings as everyday bottoms, you have to keep in mind that the rule with leggings is to wear a long, flowing or oversize top to hide your derriere.

So what's the difference between the two?

First things first: leggings can be yoga pants, but not all yoga pants are leggings! The difference between leggings vs yoga pants are that leggings can be tight, sometimes thinner fabrics with lots of stretch for movement. Yoga pants on the other hand are usually looser, thicker, and while they can still function as exercise wear, they're also perfect for loungewear and just the casual day in or out and about. Basically, yoga pants are a more chic, trendy version of sweat pants, and can make you look less like you're wearing pajamas.

Yoga pants

Typically, yoga pants are thicker, made of more opaque fabric and can sometimes have a drawstring or elastic waist. The most common designs for yoga pants have a bootcut or flared designs, but some brands offer skinny, body-fit yoga pants too. Since yoga pants come in looser fits, they are sometimes the preferred alternative vs leggings for being worn casually. Wearing yoga pants seems to be the comfortable choice for most people nowadays.

Yoga pants

Yoga pants are made for yoga, and so most varieties will feature a thick waistband. This is the thick, sometimes twice layered fabric that reaches up to your navel, meant to hold your stomach in so you can do yoga poses. Still, they are comfortable and flexible enough to wear that they've become a popular loungewear choice.

To properly style yoga pants, you have to consider the cut and length. If you wear a fitted style for yoga pants, that calls for a longer, looser top, and if you choose yoga pants with flared bottoms, choose the opposite: a tighter, more fit top. The key with all outfits is balance. You won't want to wear two loose items and look frumpy, but you also don't want to wear too many tight pieces together and have difficulty moving in. If you're heading out with yoga pants, all you have to throw on is a jacket and some sneakers, and you're all set.


Leggings are one of the most versatile items in any person's wardrobe, because they can be a great choice to wear for any activity. Leggings can be tight, made to hold your legs in for physical activity, and can be worn under most long tops like oversize shirts, sweaters, tunics or even dresses. Leggings are popular as a casual clothing item because you can wear them anywhere and you can layer different things over them.

 Ultra Seamless Leggings

Like most items of clothing, leggings can come in several varieties and a wide selection of choices for whatever you might need them for. There are regular cotton leggings, most commonly worn for everyday use, which are the most popular variety. For people that just like to be comfortable while going about their day, cotton leggings are thick enough to not be see through but thin enough to be breathable and cool. Another variety is fleece leggings, which are thicker and warmer, more suited to cold weather. There are also leggings made specifically for exercise, which are typically made of Lycra or spandex. Leggings with special fabric are more stretchy and durable, and are your best call for physical activity.

But what about leggings vs tights? While leggings are opaque, sometimes thick and worn under dresses and shirts for comfort, tights are more sheer, meant to be worn with skirts or dresses to help balance an outfit or for a little extra warmth.

As mentioned above, leggings have to be styled with oversize or flowing tops that can hide your bottom. Wearing a top that's long enough to cover you up is a rule for styling leggings, simply because you'll want to avoid any embarrassing fashion faux pas with any accidental outlines from fabric or anything else.

Can you wear leggings to yoga?

Yoga is a popular physical activity, but it can be intimidating when it's your first time. First of all, what should you wear to yoga class?

While there isn't exactly a uniform set in stone, the general rule is to wear clothing with lots of give, made of non-restrictive fabrics that you can move around in. Still, most of us will want to stay a little more covered up than most during a group activity where you might be worried about making the wrong impression. You might be worried then, about wearing fitting leggings to yoga class.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice. Wearing yoga pants vs leggings is your call entirely. While most people these days will default to leggings, you can choose to wear yoga pants instead if that is what you're comfortable with. The best way to figure out what to wear is to perform the 'opaque test': the difference between yoga pants and leggings is that one can be more see through than the other. Try on your leggings, sink into a downward dog pose in front of a friend you trust, and have them check if your leggings stay opaque. Most people are pretty much open minded these days, but you still don't want to be caught with old, see through leggings by strangers.

Again, just be sure to wear a long top, especially if you are not totally comfortable. A longer tank or even a big shirt thin enough to exercise in will do wonders in making you feel more secure with your leggings.

If you aren't comfortable wearing something tight to a public setting, then you might want to wear yoga pants to yoga class instead. Of course, this totally depends on your comfort level, and where you'll be doing yoga. If you feel better wearing something looser and want to stretch and hold poses without worrying about anything else, you might want to choose yoga pants.

Remember that your yoga attire will also depend on the type of yoga class you are attending. Some classes focus on stretching and holding poses, and some may be more strenuous and make you sweat more. Consider which class you are heading to before you choose your outfit. Most beginner classes will be easier on the body, and you can be free to wear shirts and leggings, since you won't risk sweat marks or awkward outlines. There are also varieties of yoga that take place in hot or heated rooms, designed to make you sweat. For these classes, you'll need to wear clothes that can keep you cool. You could even opt for shorts, as long as they're long enough.


Leggings and yoga pants definitely have different fabrics, different styles, and different cuts. In the end, whichever you decide to wear comes down to personal choice. Just keep in mind the basic styling tips for both leggings and yoga pants, and you'll be golden, whichever you decide to rock.