Here’s a straw poll of the Vogue office, on the subject of wearing tights: “I caved yesterday – they were black opaques,” said one senior editor, a little wistfully, but firmly in the ‘the time is ripe’ camp. “I’ve just bought some new ones – never reuse last year’s – and I think I’m going to start wearing them next week. Exciting times!” a senior beauty editor confers over email. “I’m holding off until it drops another five degrees,” retorted a member of the ‘holding out ‘til Hallowe’en’ team. “Nothing in my wardrobe goes with tights. But they do give license to wear skirts that would otherwise be deemed too short to wear,” another ponders. “I’ll never surrender!” yelps the youngest, most lurgy-ridden editor. But even she was given food for thought by a wise member of the features team. “Actually, if you’re wearing a skirt above the knee with bare legs by November, it can look a little bit as though you just haven’t been home after a night out.”
A woman’s attitude towards tights is the ultimate personality litmus test. Views on tights indicate whether you take public transport or single-handedly keep Uber afloat; whether you’ve just had a quick break in Sicily or maxed out your holiday allowance; whether you have 100k Instagram followers or ten. Bare legs can variously indicate: wealth, fame, madness, youth (or an obsession with it), a healthy immune system, an allergy. Often their reception is city-specific. In London, in February, they’re scorned; in Newcastle, they’re a birth right. And in New York – where else? – bare legs are the ultimate power move, particularly at Fashion Week. Click back through those February street style shots, where temperatures dropped to -18 degrees Celsius, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an American editor in hosiery: the honeyed shin confers status faster than any Prada-tights-clad limb ever could.
This week, as temperatures in the UK plummeted faster than the value of the pound, we asked Vogue readers in a Twitter poll when it was time for tights. 58 per cent ticked the “now! I’m freezing” option. 18 per cent fobbed it off, ticking, “not for a few weeks”. Eight per cent declared they were “hard nuts” who were holding out for December. Finally, and perhaps most surprisingly, sixteen per cent feigned ignorance: “tights? What tights?”
To the brave sixteen per cent who cannot face another winter of itchy legs and hot flushes: kudos. As you well know, skirts and dresses, quite simply, look better without tights – and this season’s thigh-high boots are the perfect ammunition with which to march on a bare-legged winter (see Vogue’s How to dress your legs for more ideas). To those of a more practical bent, let us recommend Heist, a brand whose hosiery is so innovative it has no seams nor ill-placed gusset (its also super soft).
And to those who seek a compromise: why not try tights and open-toed shoes, as seen on the catwalks of the spring/summer 2017 shows? Once a faux pas, at Altuzarra’s show, cherry-printed tights peeking through patent strappy sandals looked positively sassy. At Gucci, things took a fetishistic turn as latex red tights were worn with strappy stilettoes and green sequined tights came with black iterations. At Balenciaga, the effect was all-out Eighties: thick Spandex leggings worn with contrast-colour, square-toed, whip-thin strapped heels.
At Céline, sheer black tights were worn with seriously summery wrap-around sandals, the big toe encased in a little leather strap, almost entirely oblivious to the offending nylon wrapped around it. They looked surprisingly nonchalant – despite the fact that they must have required double-sided tape to prevent feet from slipping out of the shoes. Still, the fact remains. Ladders are never chic.