When should you start wearing tights? Life’s most polarising sartorial conundrum

Kate Moss, Ashley Park, Yara Shahidi and Charlotte Gainsbourg have all embraced tights season in style
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Back in September, when temperatures were still in the mid 20s, I saw a friend on the train wearing tights. It looked weird, frankly, to me. “But it’s autumn,” she argued.

As with so many of life’s most polarising sartorial conundrums, deciding when and where it is right to wear tights is a case of “to each their own”. Some choose to wait until the temperature drops into single digits. More resistant types might say, “When hell freezes over.”

Now that we have reached mid-October, commuter sightings are firmly on the rise and it seems fair to assume that most who enjoy wearing tights will be considering the stock of their hosiery drawer.

Carla Bruni pictured wearing tights at the Saint Laurent Ready To Wear Spring 2024 show in Paris
Carla Bruni looking chic in a pair of sheer black tights - WWD

The declaration that tights season is open comes with a little required wardrobe maintenance – any pairs that are bobbled, laddered or generally lacklustre can be replaced, ready for a fresh winter ahead.

The unseasonably warm weather did delay the 2023 tights klaxon slightly. “Normally in the last week of September and first week of October we see an uptick in tight sales,” says Stephen Sheldon, founder of the designer tights emporium Luxury Legs. “With the change in season you always see people searching [for them online]. The warm weather we have been seeing this year has created a slight delay in that with more sales coming in over October, but we are well and truly in the swing of things now.”

Ashley Park at the Stella McCartney show during Paris Fashion Week
Ashley Park at the Stella McCartney show during Paris Fashion Week - Dave Benett/Getty

It’s set to be a stellar season for sales of tights. Hosiery styles of all kinds were integrated into the autumn catwalk shows, playing a starring role at Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel and Saint Laurent. It’s filtered down into an “anything goes” attitude on the high street – colours, sparkles and embroideries; chunky knitted tights or ultra-fine sheers. You can buy Gucci lace tights with diamante logos for £250, or you can get the look for a fiver at Marks & Spencer - that’s £5 for three pairs of 10 deniers, spanning eight colours including navy.

Fishnets too, are having a revival. Victoria Beckham at the weekend wore fishnets with open-toe sandals (talk about a summer-winter non committal combo) while actress Yara Shahidi attended Vogue World last month wearing a slinky deep navy gown with contrasting black fishnets and platforms. It sounds weird on paper, but it looked great in practice.

Actress Yara Shahidi at Vogue World last month wearing a slinky deep navy gown with contrasting black fishnets and platforms
Actress Yara Shahidi at Vogue World wearing a slinky navy gown with contrasting black fishnets and platforms - Getty

The best thing about tights being an on-trend item is that any woman, with any budget, could wear them any time, anywhere. Make like Kate Moss in a blazer, pencil skirt and slingbacks, and a smokey 30 denier. Channel Mindy Kaling in an opaque monochrome outfit and platform heels. The styling possibilities are endless.

Kate Moss in a pair of smokey 30 denier tights
Kate Moss in a pair of smokey 30 denier tights - Getty
Mindy Kaling
Mindy Kaling sporting tights with a monochrome outfit and platform heels - Raymond Hall

As to when to put them on? It’s all in the mindset.

The year-rounders

What’s all the fuss about? You’ve been wearing tights all summer. Maybe it’s because you have an aversion to recognising official Fashion Seasons, or maybe it’s a very deliberate channelling of French chic styling principles. See here a pin up in Charlotte Gainsbourg, wearing a grey-ish 15 denier. This photograph was taken in June.

Charlotte Gainsbourg wearing a grey-ish 15 denier
Charlotte Gainsbourg wearing a grey-ish 15 denier - Getty

We recommend: Heist’s ‘The Fifteen’ design – available in five colours – will give you the Gainsbourg look.

The halfway house fishnetters

For occasions where you want to acknowledge a new fashion mood, but don’t actually need your tights to offer you any warmth, fishnets come into their own. The window that these particular requirements can be met is, let’s face it, brief. Wearing fishnets is purely a fashion statement – you might as well have bare legs. Victoria Beckham made the most of the fleeting opportunity, though, wearing hers with a red satin slip dress – no jacket required either.

We recommend: Calzedonia’s £12.99 fishnets have this season’s fashionable more open design.

The evening wearer

You announce that tights season is open, annually, with a bang. You debut a new eye-catching pair for a big evening event – perhaps they are metallic, perhaps just a semi-sheer but worn with a killer satin shoe. The point is that your tights are the focus of the outfit, not a mere accessory – see Falke for an excellent selection of tights in all manner of colours and patterns. Model Neelam Gill has mastered the art of show-off tights this year – we’ve already seen her in lilac lace, and in a pair which matched tonally in an all-purple look (White Stuff has numerous bright shades if you’re keen to try this colourful tights trend).

Neelam Gill
Show-off tights: Neelam Gill outside the Victoria Beckham show during Paris Fashion Week - Getty

We recommend: Falke has an excellent selection of tights in all manner of patterns, from checks to stripes and spots, while White Stuff stocks numerous colourful shades if you’re keen to try that look.

The rigid rule setters

Delete as appropriate – I will only wear tights… “when there is an ‘R’ in the month”, “when temperatures drop below 14 degrees”, “after Hallowe’en, bonfire night, or perhaps even Christmas”. The dedication shown to rules, often passed down through generations, is commendable – the British equivalent of the American “no white after Labour Day” diktat. But when we refuse to bend rules, in some cases, we may see this character morph into the below…

We recommend: Treat yourself to a pair of Wolford’s £35 Velvet de Luxe tights as a reward for waiting out your self-imposed deadline.

The panic buyer

You’re indecisive. You’ve gone to work in a skirt with bare legs, but the air conditioning is on full blast in the office, and you’re goose pimply and shivering by lunch. As such, you’ve made a dash to Marks & Spencer to pick up a five-pack. M&S sells 5.4 million pairs of tights per year. What’s the betting that at least 50,000 of those were bought on a break-time whim, with a chicken and hummus wrap on the same receipt?

We recommend: At £10 for two pairs, you can’t go wrong with M&S’s 100 Denier BodySensor tights; they’ll adapt to changing body temperatures and have a reputation for being ladder-resistant; an impulse purchase which should see you through the rest of the winter.

When will you start wearing tights again? Let us know in the comments

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