7 totally non-grandma ways to wear tights this season

tights trend
Photography by Peter Stigter

Flirty fishnets, rich hues and classic sheers—tights are the life of the party this holiday season. Here are some ways to get a leg up on this chic everyday staple.

MVT (Most Valuable Tights)
Statement tights appeared at Proenza Schouler, where an exaggerated fishnet poked out of revealing cut-out dresses. The label’s ’80s-punk throwback made Saint Laurent’s small-weave fishnets seem downright conservative. Meanwhile, Diane von Furstenberg paired quirky Swiss dots with her office-babe wrap dresses. Over at Honor, luxe evening looks were accessorized with muted jewel-toned tights.

Waist Land
Droopy tights are the fashion equivalent of a wet blanket, but experts say this is where technological strides have been made. “Many styles feature a seamless waistband that doesn’t dig into the body and doesn’t show through clothing,” says Liliana Mann, owner of Toronto boutique Linea Intima. Likewise, Wolford’s Pure line uses a waistband that is wide and flat. “Even if you’re wearing a knit dress, it never digs in or rolls,” says Jenny Altman, intimates expert at Wolford. “It’s ‘glued’ down the front and centre so you’ll never get that indentation.” In the post-Spanx era, tights should make a woman feel sleek and smoothed.

Tight Times
The lipstick metre dictates that in tough economic times, lipstick sales spike as a consumer’s way of making a wallet-friendly addition to her wardrobe. In the years following the 2008 recession, the definition has evolved, according to Altman. “We had a hosiery metre this last recession. When people couldn’t afford to buy new clothes, they were accessorizing with hosiery,” she says, referring to the way it instantly, and cost-effectively, updates a look. A lightweight dress can seamlessly transition into fall and winter when paired with a cardigan, tights and booties.

Sheers & The Kate Effect
If you’ve ever ripped a pair of tights before leaving the house, you’re a) familiar with sheer hosiery, and b) of a certain age. “There is a generation of women who have never worn sheers,” says Kerry O’Brien, founder and designer of Commando. “They were considered something their mother had to wear.” Denier is the weight by which the fineness of a yarn is measured, and sheers fall somewhere between 0 and 20. If better fibres have made sheers more appealing, so has the celebrity love given to them by the Duchess of Cambridge and Taylor Swift. To avoid tearing your sheers, trim cuticles, remove jewellery, then cream hands and legs before wear.

Play Stylist
Can’t find the shade you want? Make your own hue. “I layer different colours to make a richer or slightly different shade,” says FASHION Magazine’s fashion editor-at-large Zeina Esmail. Mixing prints and patterns head to toe is also an option. “The rule of thumb is to wear two prints that have a common colour,” says Mann. Balance the look with a neutral-coloured top. Avoiding strong motifs and busy lace patterns will ensure legs look their best. “An easy, flattering look is a seamed pantyhose,” says Vasilia Panagakos, owner of Avec Plaisir inToronto. “It makes the leg look longer.”

Work It
Etiquette deems bare legs with a knee-length skirt to be 21st-century work-appropriate. But when temperatures drop, working women should think outside the black (opaque) box. Panagakos suggests a soft motif or opaque stripe to update a skirt suit. Fishnets also get the green light, but make sure to select a small-weave version. “There are very soft nets that are appropriate even in a conservative office environment,” says O’Brien. Bonus: A fine fishnet makes the leg look almost airbrushed.

Chill Factor
If 0 to 20 denier tights qualify as sheer, anything above 20 is considered opaque—the latter are a practical option during the winter months, regardless of skirt length. But people do get creative in their pursuit of warmth. “I double up on tights,” says Esmail, referring to her chill-busting strategy. And at close to $350 a pair, Wolford’s ultra-luxe Cashmere/Silk tights are an investment purchase with function. “They’re a splurge, but they’re warmer than pants. I actually wore mini-skirts all winter,” says Altman. “It’s like wrapping your legs in sweaters.”