Difference Between Pantyhose, Stockings and Tights
By Theydiffer - July 3, 2015

Ladies are always confused as to the differences between stockings, pantyhose and tights. Many confuse them as being different kinds of underclothing that are similar in function. Some even bring this topic into a heated discussion. This often leads to women making wrong choices on what to wear on certain occasions. But worry not because this myth has to end right now.


Stockings are most commonly known as hose. They are a two-piece elastic and almost transparent garment that cover the toes and legs in a very close-fitting manner. They are usually made in nylon and silk, and most of the time, should be supported with garters or a garter belt.

On the other hand, pantyhose are sheer hosiery that are also close-fitting. Unlike stockings which only reach the top of the thigh, pantyhose are worn up to the waist. They are also made of nylon, and also of other fabrics that are blended with nylon.

Tights are pieces of clothing that cover the body from the waist down. They are usually heavier in material than the others and come in various designs and patterns. Many tights are opaque or made of fishnet.

Comparison Chart

Waist-down coverageCoverage to top of thighWaist-down coverage and often have a panty-support
Used for every day and sports wear; can be worn with short skirtsFor mid-length skirtsFor formal dresses
Some versions increases moisturization and reduce celluliteProvide ventilation in the crotch areaCan prevent ankle swelling
In everyday life people often do not distinguish betweentights and pantyhose and mean the same thing.  ‘Pantyhose’ is the word used in the U.S., whereas in the U.K. the word ‘tights’ is used.

Tights vs Stockings vs Pantyhose

So what’s the difference between tights, stockings, and pantyhose? Below is our analysis.

  • Tights and Pantyhose are similar in their coverage area – from the waist down to the end of the toes. While both are held up by an elasticized waist, their main difference is that pantyhose are sheerer, and often offer a panty-like support, while tights don’t. Stockings, on the other hand, only come up to the top of the thigh  and should be supported with a garter-belt worn around the waist.
  • Tights are more an every day item of clothing, but they can be used in the theater, especially for male ballet dancers that need support for their genitalia and a gentle contouring of their body while dancing. They are also used by equestrians in horseback riding and are comfortable to wear in cold or warm weather. Tights for actors and athletes are usually thicker and spandex-blended, and in fact are often footless and known as leggings. Stockings and pantyhose are both used in formal occasions, though pantyhose are mostly used for formal dresses, while stockings are suitable for mid-length skirts only.
  • Modern technology allows innovations in tights that provide moisturization to the skin, and even help to reduce cellulite. Pantyhose can also prevent chafing between thighs and can also hide visible panty lines. The disadvantage of wearing pantyhose is that they cover the genitalia too tightly,  eventually resulting in perspiration, bacterial growth and of course, odor. On the other hand, stockings provide proper ventilation in the genitalia area and may help avoid bacterial growth.