What Are Leggings and When Did They Become Popular?

Is it just us, or are leggings the most comfortable pants on Earth? They feel like a second skin, and nothing beats a quality pair of leggings when you want to feel comfy. More polished than sweatpants and more laidback than jeans, leggings are the perfect compromise in a pant.

Of course, leggings are more than just comfortable. From exercise to warmth, there are plenty of reasons leggings reign supreme. Keep reading for all the juicy details.

Possibly the Best Invention Known To Man

We won’t downplay the love we have for leggings. They’re versatile, comfy, and can be so cute in different designs, colors, and cuts. 

You probably already own at least one pair of leggings. Still, if you want to know more about what leggings are and what makes them different from other stretchy pants, we’ve got the info you need.

So, What Exactly Are Leggings?

Leggings are opaque, skin-tight pants. They don’t come with a zipper or button, and their material makes them easy to slip them on and off without a problem. 

At first, there wasn’t such a thing as pocket leggings. In those cases, you would have to carry a purse, handbag, or wallet with you to carry all of your daily essentials. Thankfully, some brands started adding pockets either inside the waistband or on the sides of their leggings about halfway down the thigh.

Leggings are made with elastic fabrics to create a skin-tight fit with the stretch you need to move around comfortably. Think: polyester, Spandex, and cotton. 

Manufacturers use polyester for its thickness and durability. It’s the ideal fabric to blend with other flexible materials because stretching can make a fabric lose its shape over time. With polyester, your leggings will bounce back better for longer. Another benefit of polyester is that it absorbs moisture well, which comes in handy for activewear.

Spandex is the fabric that gives leggings their elasticity, making them stretchable and form-fitting. Spandex can stretch up to 500% and then shrink back down to its original size. 

Finally, designers choose cotton to blend with spandex because of its breathability. With this fabric, you won’t become overheated as a result of it. Its fibers let air pass through easily, so you’ll definitely feel a bit of that summer breeze on your legs when you’re outdoors. 

What’s The Difference Between Leggings and Tights?

One of the most noticeable differences between the two is that tights tend to be sheerer. You shouldn’t be able to see through a pair of leggings, but it is common to see tights that you can see through.

Both leggings and tights can have designs, but the nature of those designs is often different. Leggings will sometimes have splashes of color on them or patterns like camo. In tights, you may find designs created from a combination of opaque and see-through material. For example, some tights may have opaque circles all around the legs for a polka dot design.

Another difference between the two is when you typically wear them. Leggings are usually what people opt for when comfort is a high priority. On the other hand, tights are almost always used for formal occasions or as an accessory. 

People wear them underneath dresses, shorts, and skirts when they want to be modest or professional, and you can also find dancers wearing them underneath their leotards.

Finally, tights and leggings are often made using different materials. Whereas leggings are thick and durable because of their polyester and Spandex blend, tights are on the other end of the spectrum. Tights use nylon that is blended with elastic fibers to make them sheer, lightweight, and delicate. 

Why Wear Leggings?

First of all, why not? But second, one of the many reasons we love leggings is for their versatility.

There are endless reasons to wear them, from comfort to style and beyond:


With their snug fit and softness, leggings make you feel like you’re being embraced by the embodiment of comfort. It’s common to see people out and about wearing leggings with t-shirts or hoodies. Still, just because you want to be comfortable, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. 


Leggings are so easy to dress up. This is especially the case when you’re wearing a pair of solid black leggings. Thanks to their length and opaqueness, they can look sleek when you style them the right way.

A quick and comfy fall outfit can be as simple as wearing solid black high-waisted leggings with a turtleneck top, your favorite pair of boots, and maybe a plaid shirt, cardigan, or light jacket. You have endless outfit options where you can swap out your jeans or trousers for leggings.


If you’re anything like us, you’re probably wearing leggings more often during the winter. The low temperatures and freezing wind can be so harsh on your skin that you can’t help but cover up with your go-to leggings. 

Some leggings are lined with wool, which does a lot for retaining heat. Wool is one of the best fabrics for protecting you against the bitter cold. If you don’t have a pair like that, another option is to wear leggings underneath your jeans. Or, if the rain won’t go away, slip a pair of leggings under waterproof pants and stay dry and warm.

It’s easier when your outer pants/jeans are loose-fitting, but they can also fit under skinny jeans that have a bit of stretch to them. The trick is to slide your leggings inside the jeans and put them both on at once. It may take a bit of maneuvering, but you’ll be thankful you did when your legs aren’t freezing like popsicles.


You can’t forget athleisure. These moisture-wicking wonders are so useful for keeping you fresh throughout your workout. One of the best leggings for this occasion are compression leggings because they help with blood circulation and oxygenation.

Some people mix up leggings with yoga pants, but leggings are awesome for activities beyond yoga. If you pair full-length leggings with matching tops, then you’ll have a great fit any time you go to the gym.

A Little Timeline

Although they didn’t look much like the high-rise leggings today, leggings first appeared sometime around the 15th century in England. Men wore these leggings under their tunics.

Fast forward to the 20th century is when we’ll see the beginning of the modern leggings we wear now. Once Spandex (also known as the brand name lycra) was invented in the 60s, designers started to use it to create tight, stretchy clothing. Still, it wasn’t until the 70s and 80s that leggings exploded in popularity.

A combination of celebrities wearing them in movies or in concerts (plus the aerobics craze) made leggings a must-have piece of apparel. The 80s, in particular, were famous for printed leggings featuring bright, bold patterns, reflecting the overall mood of fashion at the time.

Though they took a hiatus for several years, they came back into style when the fashionistas of the 2000s were spotted wearing them. Thankfully, they’ve consistently stayed popular and in style since.

They’ve shown up in lots of different styles and inseam lengths, including: 

  • Leather leggings
  • Jeggings
  • Yoga leggings
  • Ribbed leggings
  • High-rise
  • Mid-rise (or Midi)
  • Ankle length
  • Workout leggings

The Only ⅞ Legging

If you’re looking for your first pair of high-quality leggings, or you need a new pair to replace your old ones, TomboyX has some great options for you.

For starters, you can check out The Only ⅞ Legging. These leggings are perfect for your active, resting, and lounging days.

These leggings are made of 78% recycled polyester and 22% spandex, so they have the thickness, durability, and stretchiness to keep you snug and comfy anytime. Not to mention they have side pockets and they’re OEKO-TEX certified, so you can be sure that they were produced through ethical and environmentally-friendly methods.

These leggings are solid black with a pop of color in the lower inner legs, and they come in a variety of colors, including Smoke, Ice Cap, and Fog. 

The Only ¾ Legging

If you’re interested in shorter ankle leggings or you’re more petite, then you should check out The Only ¾ Legging. They’re made with the same material and have all of the same qualities as The Only ⅞ Legging.

The only differences are that these fit more like capri leggings and stop somewhere along the lower leg, and the pop of color is going to be running along the sides of the legs, starting below the waistband and running all the way down.

A Step in the Right Direction

And as usual, these best-sellers — like all of our products — are fit-tested for all body types, so  you’ll have a perfect fit as long as you follow our size chart. We know leggings are for everyone, so we’ve made sure to create leggings that will fit anyone because accessibility is key.

Leggings, in general, are a great investment, and we’re sure the style is here to stay. So, do yourself a favor and try one of these to-die-for leggings! 


A decade of leggings controversy, explained | Vox 

Polyester | Materials Index | CFDA 

Analysis of Spandex/Cotton Elastomeric Properties: Spinning and Applications |  Scientific and Academic Publishing 

Tights, A Medieval Fashion Faux Pas, Return! | Getty Iris