AVOID FINDING YOURSELF IN A TIGHTS SPOT...
From the catwalk to your wardrobe… Grace Cahill on the fashion fixes that work in the real world
IT’S ONE OF FASHION’S PERENNIAL QUESTIONS: when is it seasonally acceptable to wear tights? Some say it’s only the months that with end with an ‘r’ (October, November, December) but I’m more inclined to also include the much colder y’s (January, February). Others – especially my mother’s generation – will say all year round.
Whether you surrender pre or post-Christmas, most of us have a complicated relationship with buying, wearing and maintaining hosiery. We can’t live with them – the constant sliding, itching, laddering – yet when temperatures drop low enough, we cannot live without them. It doesn’t help that we have very little guidance on how to wear them. Walk through any Irish city throughout autumn and you’ll see crowds of black-opaqued legs with skirts and boots. Yet scan through any glossy magazine and the fashion pages are barren of them. The reason being, of course, that bronzed bare legs are traditionally championed in photo-shoots; thick black opaques required in the real world are not.
Personally I grapple with the idea of dark chunky styles that lend themselves so easily to freezing cold mornings when you’re in a rush. What they lend in comfort and warmth, they shed in style. They tend to cast a dull shadow over some outfits, especially brighter ones, and sometimes limit what colours you can wear them with. A simple way to make strong colours work with black tones is to shop the sheer denier styles that are much lighter and more forgiving. If black still feels too dull, then grey, brown or navy worn with certain colours work too.
Thankfully, designers are starting to consider how cold it gets for us coming into party season – whether the fashion critics support them or not – and are thinking up ways to wear cosy cover-ups that don’t limit your colour palette. Phoebe Philo at Céline served up lacy styles with 1980s’ references in fluffy textures that don’t feel too gamine or girly. Marks & Spencer and Debenhams both have lookalike versions in store. Gucci also served bright colours in more daring patterned prints, mimicked at Topshop and H&M, that are beautiful worn with pleated and wrap midi skirts for the braver fashion enthusiasts.
Now for the nitty gritty question. How much should you spend on them? I have friends who would never spend more than a tenner while some of my mother’s friends splash €90 on a pair. Work out cost per wear and if it’s high, invest in seamless, ladderproof ones with a tight fitting waistband that won’t budge – look for Wolford’s at Arnotts (they start at €30) and Falke (€20) at Brown Thomas. You also need to take them off with care, wash them inside out in a wash-bag and don’t ever dry them in a tumble dryer or on a radiator – the more expensive yarns fall particularly prey to heat. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
WHAT DARK CHUNKY TIGHTS LEND IN COMFORT AND WARMTH, THEY SHED IN STYLE”