The old adage that what goes up must come down is never as apt as with tights. Aside from the obvious, they are frequently described as a fashion staple yet, realistically, they are anything but. In fact, until recently, fashion circles were widely of the opinion that there was nothing more naff than a pair of tights. Tights were for sensible people who took the time to look at the weather forecast before they left the house and prioritised laundry, homework and bed over a lengthy leg-grooming session when they got home. But, this season, there is good news for secret aficionados: tights are back.
The renaissance has been building slowly since designer Phoebe Philo – she who can single-handedly create or kill a trend – put them on the spring/summer 2017 Céline catwalk, reminding us that black opaques and knee-length dresses are still a good idea, in a Sienna Miller, Keira Knightley and Alexa Chung circa 2007 kind of way. Then, for autumn/winter 2017, fellow fashion houses followed suit in varying degrees of denier: Chanel put white and silver opaque sparklers on its rocket-fuelled runway; Balenciaga offered semi-sheer chain-printed options; Givenchy went bold with statement scarlet; Gucci got nostalgic with knitted perforated chevron pairs; while Lemaire dipped its toe into proceedings with white opaques and classic 30 deniers – the latter being the most accessible entry item to this reinvigorated garment given its ubiquity in most chemists and surpermarkets. In short, the gamut of what constitutes being on trend with tights this season runs far and wide.
The big retailers have honed their hosiery offerings accordingly. Consumption over at Matchesfashion.com is on the up – and the price bracket isn’t putting people off. The Balenciaga ones (£145) seen on the runway in February enable customers to buy their favourite look head to toe, according to buyer Chelsea Power. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the e-tailer also sells tights by Falke at a more palatable starting price of £12, which have been seeing substantial pick-up in recent weeks, says Power. Other brands favoured by the fashion pack include Wolford and Heist (prices start at £17 and £19 respectively) – the latter of which has won plaudits since its launch in 2015 thanks to the hand-sewn, seamless USP.
While some may balk at paying more than a fiver for a pair, bear in mind that, when it comes to tights, a higher price usually results in higher quality. And, while it is probably a stretch too far to say that Balenciaga, Chanel and co are saving us money, cheap tights – with their tendency to ladder – are a false economy.
It is worth noting here that the matt or shiny (shudder) nude tights favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge and Melania Trump are not included in fashion’s current endorsement. On the contrary, they negate the reasons why tights are on designers’ radars in the first place, given that they make it look as if you are not wearing any and you have an impossibly even, year-round skin tone. The look right now is covered up, confident and cool; a sartorial middle-finger to fashion-victim status, which requires waiting for the bus bare-legged in -5C temperatures after the work Christmas party. Need any more convincing? Kate Moss was spotted stepping out in her matt black 50 deniers in Paris in September. Staple status reaffirmed – for this season at least.