Is the key to chic just a good pair of tights?

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  • Style SOS: The quickest way to ruin an outfit is with bad tights - but which are the best tights? And there sure are tights everywhere - cheap ones, expensive ones, fashion ones, body-shaping ones… But which ones are genuinely worth spending cash on? In a week of true fashion geekdom, we've tried and tested an array to bring you: The Marie Claire Best Tights Awards.

    Full disclosure: some of my best tights are older than my children (5 and 3, thanks for asking), and that’s the awful truth. Yes, I work in fashion, but I’m a writer not a stylist. I don’t spend my days slaving under studio lights, checking different deniers for show-through with the flash or debating which sub-shade of charcoal is just right with the chartreuse of the Gucci skirt.

    When it comes to clothes, I’m more your big-picture kind of girl – stripy JW Anderson draped skirt, clashing tee and silver Miu Miu block heels? Yes please! Now, oh yes, tights…um, does that pair in the back of the drawer have (visible) holes? No? Then it’s all good. Until I get out of the house and find: the crotch is down to my knees/the knees are sagging round my ankles/they’re all bobbly when I look at them in the cold light of day* etc etc.

    *delete according to day. Ladies, the struggle is real.

    It’s fair to say the topic of tights has not been thrilling enough to grab much of my attention – until they started to play a starring role on the catwalk (sexy Saint Laurent sheers, anyone?). When the winds they started a-whistling, I realised – a quick dash to M&S/the corner shop (depending on desperation level) with no prior planning will no longer do. Forget bad shoes – the quickest way to look a) not chic and b) not French is with bad tights. Just think about all the great looks being ruined as we speak by legs with an unpleasantly naff sheen (when the packet SAID MATTE)…

    Boring they might be, but when you start looking, there sure are tights everywhere – cheap ones, expensive ones, fashion ones, body-shaping ones…so which ones are actually, genuinely, worth spending hard-earned cash on? You know, the money you could otherwise be spending on fun things like a new bag or some new earrings? In a truly great week for fashion geek-dom, we’ve tried and tested an array of different pairs to bring you…the Marie Claire Best Tights Awards.

    Basic Black

    best tights

    Like your trusty T-shirt bra, every wardrobe needs a good, high-quality, built-to-last pair of thick black tights. And beating off stiff competition, Wolford are the ultimate brand for this, with 15 different styles in your ‘matte everyday tights’  category, in a variety of deniers from semi-opaque to seriously opaque. The Pure 50, a spendy £34, are properly matte (and they actually are – no sheen to be seen) and an ideal velvety texture.  If you’re after thicker tights, the Velvet de Luxe 66, £25, are 70 denier and are the brand’s global bestseller. Worth every penny.


    best tights

    If Ms Minimalist herself Phoebe Philo puts magenta tights on the Celine runway, you know coloured legs are going to be a thing. IRL, a pillarbox hue might be hard to pull off, but there are definitely style gains to be had with a flash of plum or mid-navy. For good opaque matte factor, Tabio’s 80 Denier Colour Tights, £16, are hard to beat. For sheer variety of shades, honourable mentions go to Oroblu and Jonathan Aston – lilac, cobalt, fern green, forest green, ochre, buttercup…if you’re feeling brave, they’ve got the full colour wheel. But in the interests of tights-trial honesty, both of these are a teensy bit shiny. You can’t have everything.


    best tights

    What with party season round the corner, and Dynasty-tastic 1980s being Christmas’s biggest trend, it’s time to make like the girls on the Saint Laurent catwalk and embrace the sexy sheer leg. But being sheer and all, the rip factor is your biggest risk. Especially once heels and glasses of prosecco get involved. For sturdy sheers, our award goes to Calzedonia‘s range of Fashion Tights. The Polka-Dot Tulle Tights, £14, came out to play all day and all evening at two drinks parties – and were still intact at midnight with not a tear in sight.


    best tights

    You know that moment when you get undressed and see strange indented lines all over your lower body that make you wonder if you’ve got body art/had a C-section by mistake? Well, new brand Heist have dealt with this. Their The Fifty 3D knitted tights, £20, are seamless, with a flat, soft waistband that does not dig in (but yet magically does stay up. In fact, they come in Low or High waistband options). You could literally do a yoga class in these and have no issues with your sun salutation. Just the thing for those days when you are NOT planning to stick to your new clean-eating concept.


    best tights

    Frankly, you can’t really expect a pair of tights to undo a festive seasons’ worth of chocolate (huff) – but if they can do the equivalent of put an Insta filter over your lower half, all to the good. But can they? We tried new brand ITEM M6‘s limited edition Anti-Cellulite Beauty Tights – and the jury’s still out. Mainly because we didn’t wear them for long enough (one day) to give a fair trial. But judging by the fact they feel like surgical stockings to put on – i.e. very, very tight – and we did feel somewhat tingly on taking them off again, we’d say initial trials are promising. They also look pretty good – i.e. like normal matte black tights, with no scary shiny body-shaping vibe.

    Luxury fabrications

    best tights

    If you’re slender of leg enough to embrace the Argyll/chunky tight trend as seen at Prada, or if you want to treat yourself to something that is literally a cashmere jumper for your legs, every fashion stylist’s favourite high-end brand Falke is your number one. Marvel at their array of high-quality fabrications, including pure silk, £130, and finest cashmere, £170, plus merino and lambswool. Just don’t put them in the washing machine – hand-wash all the way.


    best tights

    Ah, the nets. All the same rip-risk problems as sheer (see above) but with the added issue of there being actual holes in them to start with – just perfect for catching on everything in sight. Add to this the potential of looking like you’re wearing string bags on your legs (small holes, always choose small holes), and you have to wonder why they still exist. But exist they do, and if you pull them off nothing can ever look sexier, in a rock and roll kind of way. For quality, Wolford wins again – their Twenties Fishnet Tights, £27, are beloved of Beyonce, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga – presumably because they don’t crumble under the pressure of a serious dance move.  Transparenze’s Ambra Fishnets are a cheaper, near-identical alternative.




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