Tights, Leggings, Pantyhose, Socks, Thighs Highs, Stockings, what's the difference? With legwear being the hot new trend, it's good to know the difference between legwear styles so you can figure out what works best for you, and know your vocabulary!
Tights: Tights cover the whole leg including the feet and typically come up to mid waist. Tights are opaque, meaning that they are dense and you cannot see through them, so they usually keep your legs warm. Tights come in a variety of materials and textures, including microfiber, wool, ribbed, and cable knit. What makes them tights are the fact that they have some lycra in them to make them stretchy and thus cling to the leg. Tights are a fun way spice up your outfit as they will usually draw attention to your legs. Solid colors, textures, and patterns, as well as the chic black tights look, are very in for this season.
Leggings: Leggings, also referred to as footless tights are basically like tights without the feet. They were very popular in the 80's and now they are back in full force. Leggings come in a variety of lengths, including capri (just below the knee), mid-calf, and ankle length. Because leggings are stretchy, they can usually be adjusted to your desired length. A mid-calf look is most approachable and flattering, while a capri length is great in warmer weather and for an edgier look, and a sophisticated ankle length legging provides more wamth. Solid colored leggings are a fabulous way to finish off any outfit. If you're getting bored with the trend and want to take it to another level, printed leggings, lace leggings, and wool leggings are a great way to vary the look.
Pantyhose: Pantyhose have the same sillouette as tights, but are sheer. The amount of sheerness can vary, from a 5 denier (denier refers to the density of hosiery) which is so sheer that you can barely notice they are on, to a 20 denier which gives a subtle color or pattern to the leg. Opaque tights range from 30 denier (most common) to 50 denier (very thick). Pantyhose are great for making the leg look smoother in a nude color, sexy in black, or funky in a bright color. Printed pantyhose are very savvy, and can even give the illusion of tattoos on your leg in certain prints!
Socks: While we all know what socks are, they should be addressed as they are a very important trend this season, and have been taken to a variety of interesting levels. New this season are over the knee socks. While knee high socks (also referred to as trouser socks) are a trend seen last winter, worn under boots, this season socks have reached greater heights coming up above the knee and showing out from under boots. Over the knee socks were made popular by the Prada ad campaigns, with their silk silvery gray long ribbed sock. While very sexy, over the knee socks will keep your legs warm this fall and winter, however you wear them. Wool ribbed socks are the most luxurios, while printed over the knee socks can be fun too. If anyone ever said that socks can't be worn with sandals, maybe they had a point, however socks worn with chunky thick strapped wedges or heels can be very stylish.
Thigh Highs: Thigh Highs, or Stay Ups refers to legwear that reaches the mid thigh and stays up on it's own. They stay up by insertion of silicone bands that stick to the leg or by means of elastic to make them a little tighter at the top. Thigh Highs also commonly have decorative details at the top bands to make them fun and flirty. Some women prefer thigh highs to avoid lines at the waist that can be caused by pantyhose and tights. Others don't like potential lines created at their thighs. The choice between different types of legwear is really up to the wearer.
Stockings: While many people refer to stockings as anything that goes on your feet and legs, a more specific definition of the term is old fashioned hosiery which requires a garter belt to stay up. Stocking were traditionally knit to fit the leg, so they are shaped like a leg, made in a variety of sizes, as they have no lycra in them and need to fit your leg perfectly. They should reach your upper thigh, but have nothing to keep them up at the top so they need a garter belt. Stockings commonly have back seams, fancy heels, and decorative tops. Stockings can be very sheer or opaque, and are traditionally classified as a lingerie item sold in lingerie stores.