Monday, 11 January 2010

Giving you what you want - 1: Tights

I recently asked members of the facebook group what they wanted me to cover, and I'll be working through their requests in the order I recieved them.

First out of the gate was lovely Miss Dippy, who replied:

Ooh tights. As it's winter. I am often confused about what tights are in fashion for evening wear and what tights go with what shoes and colours etc? Ta x

And you all know me: I love this kind of thing as it allows me to get all bossy and lay down some rules.

Basically there are three kind of tight-wearing occassion.  There are everyday tights, classy tights and statement tights.  (For the purposes of this post, please read 'stockings' for tights, if that's your preference, especially in the 'classy' section.)

For everyday and night, your wardrobe should have a good stock of opaque black, probably brown, and possibly navy blue tights - as high quality as you can afford.  There's a world of difference between cheap tights and more expensive ones in terms of softer fabric; closer, longer-lasting fit; and durability, so buy the best you can afford.  Opaque tights tend to last for years in my experience, so you can justify spending a bit more for an item you will wear loads of times.  Obviously tights can suffer in the washing machine if they come into contact with zips and bra hooks.  You can buy net bags to wash them in, or tie them in a pillowcase.  The style rules dictate that you match your tights to your shoes or boots, and also to your hem (if it's black, brown or navy).  If you're wearing a brighter colour, match your shoes and tights anyway, depending on which neutral colour fits your preference and what suits the colour of your skirt.

Opaque tights are durable, flattering, easy to wear, and they allow the modest wearing of shorter skirts than would be viable with bare legs or sheer tights... but sometimes they just won't do.  Some workplaces require a level of grooming that won't be met by the more casual look of opaques, and by extension of the rules above if you're wearing a light coloured skirt you really need flesh tone tights.  As I wrote yesterday, retro dressing requires sheer hosiery and indeed, there are social occasions at which you will feel more elegant in sheers.  The best rule of thumb is your footwear.  The more elegant and ladylike your shoe, the less likely you are to wear opaque tights.  A simple court shoe needs sheer tights, where a chunkier mary jane probably needs opaques.   The spohisticated tapered heel above screams for sheer tights, whereas all kinds of boots look better with opaques. Peep toes can be worn with sheer tights if the 'peep hole' is small, but a fully open toe should be worn with bare legs.  Sheer tights should be worn in a colour that represents your actual skin tone (don't try and use your tights to give the sense of a tan: it looks wrong), or in Nearly Black (a warm black tint) for most occassions.  Pure black sheer tights can look a little more dramatic than elegant.

Tights, though can be fun when worn creatively.  I'd avoid patterned sheer tights like those on the right, as they can look like blemishes on the legs, but vertical patterned lace tights look fabulously 'Moulin Rouge' when worn with boots, plain heels or with simple ballet flats and a short skirt (beware, though: lacy tights can chafe if your thighs rub together).  In this case, keep the rest of your outfit plain - as a rule, the more attention-seeking your legwear, the plainer everything else needs to be in relation.

Opaque patterned tights make a real statement.  Be aware that they're not going to be flattering on the whole (though a vertically ribbed pattern will of course elongate and slim the legs, optically), but sometimes fun is more important than flattery.  Diamond tights are widely available, and suit straighter legs, whereas the also widely available herringbone pattern is great for all leg shapes.  Patterned tights can be worn with any footwear, including sandals, but complicated straps will detract from the impact of the pattern.

Less dramatic, more 'stylish' impact can be had by the bold use of colour contrast with plain opaque tights - and it's also an easier look than he patterned looks above, especially if you're less than leg-confident.  A mary-jane or T-bar shoe is perfect for this look, as it evokes a kind of retro nursery-chic, but you can also experiment with open toed shoes and sandals.  The simplest look is pastel opaques worn with darker shoes (though beware the widening effect of pale colours).  But as shown above, coloured tights can add drama to some quite unassuming shoes.  The juxtaposition of colours makes the impact of both thights and footwear more dramatic.  Equally, teaming your plain old black opaques with a splash of lighter colour makes a bold, stylish statement.

1 comment:

  1. i can highly recommend going to harrods/harvey nics/selfridges/fenwicks sales and buying tights. i got beautiful royal blue wolford opaques in selfridges. they were reduced to £10 from £79!


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