I Tried Wearing Red Tights for a Week
Where’s the line between in-the-know fashion girlie and overzealous elf? My findings below.
In life, being nosy takes you places. They’re not always good places, but they’re interesting nonetheless. Case in point: My relentless inquisitiveness recently brought me into the hotly debated fashion territory of the red tights outfit.
Adored by both Blair Waldorf and Mr. Incredible, red tights can range from appropriately kitsch to downright silly to, in my opinion, incredibly chic. ICYMI, red is the colour of the season, and as a result, scarlet stockings are quickly becoming a hot-ticket item for accessorizing.
Look no further than the Spring 2023 runways. Proenza Schouler and Burberry presented sexy sheer pantyhose. Attico and Ferragamo (above) opted for opaque hosiery statements. Kylie Jenner, Dua Lipa, and Anya Taylor-Joy have all dipped their toes into the look (get it?). If my famous contemporaries can do it, I figured, surely I can too — so I spent a week in these babies.
Because I’m not working with a designer budget, I got my hands on a $10 pair from Amazon, which I found to be perfect in colour and comfort. Upon slipping them on, I was pleasantly surprised to love the way they made my legs look — so much so that I was tempted to throw on a bodysuit, ditch pants and bask in my cerise-bottom glory. Can you blame me?
Red, after all, is a powerful colour. It’s been said that painting your nails in this hue can attract male suitors. It’s the archetypal femme fatale lipstick of choice. It’s a quintessentially sultry shade associated with love, passion and anger. Traipsing around town with your legs dyed vermillion? That’s a statement whether you want it to be or not.
Where many of today’s trends can be a window into the psyche of irreverence, red tights are the antithesis of giving up. They are, for better or worse, the materialization of trying; of caring about something enough to give it a shot! And as with any effort, there are instances when they do not work out. Many times throughout my experiment, I found myself trying on approximately every single item in my closet, making for a very stressful getting-ready process (and a mess).
Still, day one started strong. My red tights outfit comprised a black dress I thrifted years ago, my favourite tall boots by Circus NY, and a cozy winter jacket (also thrifted). It was a mostly black ensemble with a palatable sliver of red, making for what I thought was an easy entry point into the style. But when I walked into an outdoorsy brand’s press preview to find an intimate crowd of earth tones, cargo pants and puffer jackets, my red tights began to feel more childish than sophisticated.
Later that night while grocery shopping (priorities), things went downhill when my friend remarked that my outfit matched the recognizable No Frills signage. (For U.S. readers, this is an affordable supermarket chain in Canada.) Not my chicest moment. I felt the urge to inform every confused-looking passerby that “This is actually really cool and trendy!” but I decided against it.
On day two, I won’t lie, I was feeling myself. Using that same black dress as a base, I threw on a cable-knit sweater and added a crimson hair ribbon for good measure. Sure, I felt a bit like a Christmas elf. But I decided to lean into that holiday cheer, and as I commuted to work listening to Mariah Carey’s Oh Santa, all my outfit decisions made sense.
That morning at the office, a co-worker I had never seen before said she loved my ensemble. Upon informing her of this article, she replied, “To give you my honest feedback, it makes me more inclined to try to take risks with my outfit.” I’d call that a win.
For days three and four, I experimented with red accents, either by pairing the tights with jeans for a peekaboo pop (and extra insulation) or by tying in the shade with other red accessories. At a holiday party with Pandora, I opted for a black blazer with a red shoe clip by Canadian brand Maguire. I wore a pair of gold Mary Janes, which I think offset the look well. This event was held at a swanky bar with pink lighting, so my red tights outfit felt magically in-place.
To end the week, I decided to build out my outfit from a colour that was not black (groundbreaking!). I wore a thrifted beige suede skirt along with my favourite tank from Canadian label &Or Collective.
I was quite pleased with the look, which I finished with a red headband and wore to a dinner party. At this point, my tights felt less like a gimmick and more like an extension of my festive self-expression.
My learnings throughout this process? Though intimidating, a red tights outfit can be what you want it to be. At their best, these tomato-colour stockings freshen up a “meh” ensemble. They can break up a neutral palette by adding a touch of vibrant visual interest, and they can turn up the dial on an already maximalist outfit.
There were times when I did feel a kinship with cartoon characters. I also could not shake the feeling that I was perpetually on my way to a holiday party. But overall, red tights have a kitschy magnetism that just makes getting dressed fun.
Do they pair seamlessly with any outfit? No. Will they become a regular part of my wardrobe rotation? Indeed they will. And if you, too, feel a growing curiosity about crimson lower limbs, I say follow that intrusive thought. It just may give you a new outlook on fashion.
To get you started, below are FASHION’s top picks for the best red tights to try now.
Amazon run-resistant opaque tights
Sold by a vendor called “CozyWow,” these tights live up to their name — giving off a rich opaque hue with a comfortable stretch.
Made of nylon and spandex, they have both stretch and durability for long-lasting wear. Plus, they’re made from a thick material that adds insulation during colder weather.
Free People back seam net tights
Switch things up with these netted red tights, which offer all the colour interest of red stockings with the added edge of the fishnet fabrication.
Featuring a statement back seam and sheer finish, they’re the perfect statement styling piece. And thanks to their secure high-rise fit, they don’t skimp on comfort.
Burberry Check wool tights
Turn up the dial on your festive attire with Burberry’s red patterned tights. Featuring the brand’s iconic check design, they offer a striking red finish with a classic preppy vibe. Made of wool, polyamide and elastane, they promise to provide an ideal blend between cold-weather coziness and stretchability.
Whether they’re paired with red separates or a black slip, these tights bring an element of runway coolness to any ensemble.
Simons recycled nylon tights
Using a nylon blend made from reclaimed clothing and fabric scraps, these red tights are both sustainable and stylish.
Featuring an elastic waistband and reinforced toes, they promise not to rip or fall, offering a polished pantyhose look that will never steer you wrong.
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