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Answer Angel: The women’s legwear maze

Ellen Warren, Tribune News Service on

Published in Fashion Daily News

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Please explain to me the difference between leggings, jeggings, pantyhose, joggers, tights, sweatpants and plain old pants. I am so confused. I went online to buy some fitted pants (slacks?) with a little stretch and now I am overwhelmed.

— Beth A.

Dear Beth: I’ll do my best to explain these terms, though you have every right to be confused since even the labels and signage in stores and online is too often misleading. But first I want to guide you to find the pants you’re looking for. Search “pants with stretch” and you’ll see a big selection of traditional pants with a bit of Lycra, spandex or elastane (the same thing as spandex) that really add to the comfort. They’ve got a little give so there’s less bagging at the knees, for instance. You can find pants with stretch in many fabrics: cotton, wool, velvet, denim, corduroy and more.

Leggings: footless, stretchy, form-fitting legwear.

Jeggings: leggings that look like really tight jeans or pants often with what looks like a fly (but it doesn’t open) and fake pockets that have no function. No feet.

Pantyhose: sheer or opaque legwear — usually nylon — customarily cover from toes to waist and usually worn with dresses or skirts; can hide or minimize leg blemishes, veins, etc. Don’t wear in public unless covered by clothes.

Tights: really tight (duh) can’t-see-through legwear with or without feet, in various thicknesses, popular for exercising, running errands, yoga, pushing a stroller, walking the dog. They hold you in so your flesh doesn’t jiggle as much — the same function as girdles but way more comfortable.


Sweatpants: the heaviest and baggiest of all these listed, cuffed at the ankle with an elastic and waist. They’re thicker and often looser than joggers.

Joggers: sweatpants but not as heavy. They cuff at the ankle, looser than all of the above except sweatpants, usually with an elastic waistband, often with a functioning drawstring in a wide array of fabrics including those usually found in chinos, such as cotton twill.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Why can’t luggage makers use the same size wheels on their products and enable you to replace them yourself? I’ve had to throw out perfectly good luggage when one wheel breaks. I bought a Samsonite suitcase and the wheels stopped working on the first outing. Good luck getting your money back. I gave up after hours on the phone.

— Marge S.

Dear Marge: You can buy wheel replacements online (, $9-$32) but good luck getting the right one, as none of the luggage companies have standardized wheels. Most of the casters fit into molded plastic corners that can’t be swapped out anyhow. To answer why luggage-makers don’t have standardized DIY replaceable wheels: They would make less money if you could fix the wheels at home rather than ditching the otherwise perfectly good suitcase and buying a new one.

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