Yoga Pants vs. Leggings: What's the difference?

The Origin of Leggings

Perhaps your first memory of women in leggings would be Jane Fonda wearing them in one of her bestselling fitness videos or Olivia Newton-John dancing in them while singing ‘Let’s Get Physical.’ Or it could be your mom wearing leggings (or even yoga pants) in a picture while she was pregnant with you.

Whatever your earliest exposure to leggings or yoga pants, just know that they’ve been making their rounds for centuries and yoga pants are here to stay!

Fyi: just in case you're wondering, as it turns out, leggings and yoga pants started as a trend back in the 14th century for men.

What is the Difference Between Yoga Pants & Leggings?

Leggings vs Yoga Pants?

Leggings and yoga pants lead the way as some of the most popular forms of athleisure wear in today’s fitness do it for the gram culture.

What’s the difference between leggings and yoga pants? The main differences are the material, what they’re used for and the styles available. To make it easy, we’ve put together a list of characteristics as they relate to yoga pants, fashion leggings and activewear leggings. No, they’re not all the same.

Let us tell you why…

Yoga Pants

MATERIAL

Typically made of thick, opaque fabric with some stretch. They’re ideal to wear alone and they feature an elastic or drawstring waist.

STYLES

You’ll find lots of flared or bootcut designs. Some brands even offer skinny versions, too.

USED FOR

Performing yoga or as loungewear. Wearing them during yoga will help ensure you’re comfortable as you flow from pose to pose. Similar to sweatpants they make great loungewear and are perfect to run errands in.

HOW TO WEAR

Balance is key when styling yoga pants. Flared bottoms call for a more fitted top and vice versa. Throw on a jean jacket and casual sneakers and you’re ready to take on the day.

 

Fashion Leggings

MATERIAL

Made of stretchy, thin fabric. Often, they’re too sheer to wear without a longer top (they’re not pants).

STYLES

Form-fitting throughout, various lengths are available including below the knee, calf length and ankle length. The colors and designs available will feel endless.

USED FOR

They’re a comfier, sleeker alternative to pants or jeans. Figure-flattering features like high waists and tummy-control panels are abundant.

HOW TO WEAR

Dressed up or down, they look great underneath a tunic or long top. Pick casual separates if you plan to have a relaxed day. To dress leggings up, choose luxurious fabrics and fresh accessories like a silk oversized shirt and booties.

Activewear Leggings

MATERIAL

Typically made of performance-driven and moisture-wicking fabrics.

STYLES

They also come in various lengths from knee to ankle. There are plenty of colors and patterns to choose from, including on-trend mesh and sheer panels.

USED FOR

Designed for workouts, activewear leggings can be worn while engaging in different types of exercises.

HOW TO WEAR

For the gym, pair them with other performance pieces—a tank top and sneakers are a great base. Rock them as an athleisure ensemble by adding a graphic sweatshirt or jacket.

 

Can You Wear Yoga Pants as Leggings?

You can wear yoga pants as leggings, but you may find them less soft and comfortable for everyday wear. Technically, yoga pants are a type of legging, so they will often look just like regular leggings from the outside!

The main difference lies in the type of material used. You may find that yoga pants have a firmer, more constricting waistband than many regular leggings. The high-performance fabric used in yoga pants may feel a little scratchy or stiff in comparison to regular leggings, as well.

Then again, some brands like Alo promote yoga pants with stylish cutouts and fun colors meant to transition from the yoga studio to the street, so you can find yoga pants that feel comfortable in both settings!

Popular Brands

Many big-name and some small activewear brands sell both yoga pants and regular leggings. Some of the most popular of these include:

  • Lululemon: this iconic brand continues to provide some of the most sought-after yoga pants on the market. They do also sell many casual-wear leggings as well!
  • Athleta: This company offers a wide range of excellent sportswear, including yoga pants. Plus, the company focuses on fair trade and on sending a feminist message to its consumers!
  • Alo: promoted by some celebrities, this brand offers a range of activewear clothing, including yoga pants.
  • Victoria’s Secret: this sexy brand offers a wide range of yoga pants in their loungewear line.
  • GymDeity: this affordable brand offers comfortable everyday wear leggings as well as a good selection of sportswear and yoga pants.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Leggings and yoga pants do appear similar, if not the same, at first glance. However, the details mentioned above define the difference in a number of ways. Oh my, yoga pants, leggings, and tights! But, in all seriousness, they all serve different purposes and have slightly different appearances.

Choose the best pair of leggings and yoga pants that work you in and out of the gym. Besides, No one will know the different anyways!