Like many long-held aversions, my distaste for tights can be traced back to childhood. Every morning before school, I’d begrudgingly pull on a pair of itchy, thick, unsightly leg casings to fulfill my school uniform’s requirements. I hated the ritual so much that when I finally acquired the freedom to dress independently, I thought I would avoid tights for the rest of my life. For most of the last decade, I stuck to this resolution. It wasn’t until recently that fate–or rather, fashion’s trend cycle–intervened, serving me up a smorgasbord of tights so compelling I didn’t just want to wear them again, I actually wanted to make them the main event.
Indeed, the last few seasons, both on and off the runways, have completely altered my perception of tights as more than just boring but necessary vehicles for warmth. Marc Jacobs floral two-tone offering and Kasia Kucharska’s scribble socks have set up camp in my brain. Saks Potts’ now-infamous monogram leggings continue to make the rounds, while Gucci’s interlocking double “GG” offering has me double-tapping every lace detailed serving that pops up on my feed. Maria Bernard’s deliciously matchy-matchy cocktail of zesty yellow tights and hefty boots sent me into a serious tailspin, I spent way too much time pouring over this alluring lace-infused, frilly extravaganza, and to top it off, I’ve mentally revisited this image of Jo Rosenthal no fewer than ten times.
As a result of this veritable hosiery charm offensive, I am now in the business of not only wearing tights, but wearing tights that teeter on the side of slightly obnoxious–in a good way. If you, too, have struggled to think of hosiery as a friend and not an enemy, scroll below for some outfit inspiration and styling advice that will hopefully change your mind.
Counteract Hosiery’s School Girl Reputation With a Dose of Distressing
If, like me, you’re still plagued by thoughts of bland school tights, a distressed pair serves as an effective middle finger to those shudder-worthy entrapments of yore. Inspired by Rui Official, I decided to lean into head-to-toe sheer vibes with a stocking-like tie-dye top (plus a blazer so I didn’t completely freeze). I contemplated wearing a kilt on the bottom, but all it took was a brief bout of uniform deja vu to convince me a mini skirt was the better choice–as an added bonus, it showed off more of the tights. Lastly, adding Pepto-Bismol-pink heels was my styling equivalent of biting into a doughnut I thought was plain, only for it to ooze yummy, jammy goodness a few minutes later.
Go All In on Color (and Then Add More)
Colored tights can feel jarring when paired with an otherwise neutral winter ensemble, so I recommend committing to a fully saturated look. Perhaps this outfit was a subliminal ode to Twiggy in this outrageously ahead-of-its-time Kermit green look from the 60s, or maybe it was a personal reminder to eat more greens, but either way, I can’t get enough of this palette. Another perk of statement tights: they’re a great excuse for pulling out shoes you might otherwise relegate to summer months. These peep toes have never popped so distinctively.
Patterned Tights Are the Coolest, But If You’re Unconvinced, Try Leggings
I credit Molly Blutstein with my burning desire to forgo a dress or a skirt and wear tights with just a jacket on top, but I chickened out last-minute and opted for leggings that look like tights instead (baby steps people, baby steps), a happy-medium if you’re not completely sold on the idea. I call this my “meeting friends for one drink that never means one drink” outfit. Puffer coat for warmth? Check. Western boots for a spin on the dance floor? Check. And a bag perfect for stuffing mints in after I undoubtedly order a round of onion rings? You guessed it–check. If you’re wondering whether I was tangentially inspired by Versace’s AW19 mustard/tangerine mixture, the answer is yes, and thank you for asking.
Taking the outrageous tights trend with a pinch of salt has truly been the key to embracing it. By finding tights that feel like “me” (a lot less opaque black and a lot more ROYGBIV), I’ve been able to recalibrate my conception of them as springboards for self-expression instead of stylistic inhibitors. For those of you who have also struggled with hosiery aversion, has the recent explosion of statement tights tickled your fancy? Or are you still hesitant? Let’s talk it out in the comments.
Photos by Serena Brown.