Tights, Camera, Action!
Here is Number 4 in my occasional series about garments close to my heart – or in this case, my legs: tights. It’s incredible (to me, at any rate) to think that I can remember a time before tights – a time when you had to wear a suspender belt and stockings, and in the winter you could add long-legged bloomers to cover the gap. Then tights came along and transformed getting dressed.
What got me musing so fondly about tights was of course the recent death of Mary Quant. Her innovation of opaque tights in an assortment of colours made a deep impression on me. I forsook flesh-coloured tights there and then and have rarely worn them since.
I am now the proud owner of a carefully curated wardrobe of tights for all seasons in every possible gradation of black, brown, navy, grey, purple and dark green, and even a few discreet and not so discreet patterns. (If you’re inclined, as I am, to be conservative in your dress choices, you can still entertain a bit of anarchy on your legs). All the thicker tights are stored in (Damesnet hot tip alert – you heard it here first!) one of those snazzy Lakeland scarf holders – essentially a coat hanger shaped like a solid triangle with lots of holes in it.
Tights-care is an important branch of domestic science, and my tights can expect nothing but the best – or the best that is consistent with not actually washing them by hand: a gentle wash in coolish water in a net bag, and no intemperate blasts from a dryer. But even the best-tended tights show wear and tear after a while: bobbles and tiny white fibres on the ‘sole’, so that you have to make sure you put them on in the same position every time, and snags and fuzz can appear on the rest of them. I’ve realised rather belatedly that you can double the life of your tights by wearing them inside out once they’re too far gone on the outside.
There are few things to match the bliss of putting on a pair of warm tights – I can almost hear my legs thanking me for them. I’ve got two particular favourites at the moment: black thermal tights from the pound shop (though they cost more than that) and a slightly cashmere-y feel navy pair. Yes, I know it’s May but the bare-leg trend is not for me – not until it’s 30⁰ in the shade, at any rate.
Finally, let’s not forget how versatile tights are. I believe you can mend a broken fan belt with a pair of tights, though I’ve never tried it. If you’ve forgotten to pack a scarf for a winter weekend away, artfully-tied woolly tights will keep your neck warm. I’ve mentioned before that a tube cut from an old pair of tights can tame a wayward ponytail, and should you receive a last-minute invitation to a fancy-dress party, don’t panic. Just put on a short wrap-over dressing down, grab something you can make music with (biscuit tin, egg slicer, or even an actual stringed instrument), pop a pair of tights on your head for an instant liripipe, and hey presto: you’re a medieval minstrel!
Yes I remember the time before tights and the revolution when coloured tights hit the shops. Fond memories.
Thanks Verity and the Lakeland scarf tip!
I forgot to mention that tights also make good slings or ties for yoga mats!