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Shopping Tips

Buying the right size of tights can make all the difference but because there is no standard sizing always buy the larger size as you’ll put less pressure on the fabric. Sizes vary between manufacturers, therefore check your size in each product before buying.

Because hosiery has become as fashionable as clothes, with an array of textures, designs, brands plus hundreds of shades of colour, we now face the dilemma of knowing exactly what goes with what!

The purpose of hosiery is to tie the outfit together, so the rule sort of changes depending on what you’re wearing. The key is linking the outfit & footwear texture together – as this will determine what colour you choose, denier no. and pattern. We’re loath to give a list of do’s and don’t because like every other piece of fashion – it’s personal taste and rules more than ever are made to be broken. However in saying that the right pair of tights seduces, conceals, tans, bestows elegance and can make your pins go on forever!

A FEW SHOPPING TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN PUTTING YOUR OUTFIT TOGETHER

Black shoes don’t determine the colour of the tights. You need to look at the shoes in the context of the colour & texture of the skirt/dress – for example a heavy grey skirt & a black pair of shoes can be paired with tights in the same colour family as the shoes not just the colour of the shoe.

When your skirt or dress is light material you need the sheerest of hosiery otherwise you’re not complimenting your top half.

Not everything can be fighting for attention you need to make a call do you want the attention on your outfit or your legs?

Sheer and opaque – what’s the story? Sheers come in fabric of varying thickness, which is called denier. The sheerest is a 5 denier, perfect for light dresses/skirts. The higher the denier the more opaque and harder to see through and opaques make your legs slimmer!

Before you buy a pair of tights check out the fabric content, I recommend you take note of the percentage of Lycra or Elastane. They’re both high-quality fibres that are woven into tights to give a lot better fit and finish. Generally cheaper hosiery will contain less Elastane or Lycra ( 2% to 5%) than more expensive brands commonly containing 10% to 30%.

Of course we would say this

But it’s like most things you definitely get what you pay for – expensive good quality tights last much longer. Did you know that currently the most expensive tights on the market are made by Fogal; they’re 100% cashmere and cost £200!

DIY TIPS

Getting them on

Sheer tights are easily snagged on rough skin and jewels, so keep nails filed, moisturise your hands and legs regulary. But above all remove the diamond knuckledusters! Gather each leg at the ankle, glide over the foot and gently up the leg. Stretch from front to back of your leg, pulling each leg equally. Remove hosiery as gently…. of course there are exceptions (use your imagination)

Shave your Legs

Just because your covering your legs does’nt mean they’ll hide a forest beneath – don’t be lazy get that razor out!

Clear Nail Varnish

You’d think by now we’d have come up with something else – but keeping a pot of clear nail varnish in your bag or on your desk at work will stop a ladder from running. In the case of sheers we would recommend having an emergency stash on hand where possible, Murphy’s law and all that!

Caring for your tights

I know it’s a total pain and you would have to question how good it could be, but hand washing is really how hosiery should be cared for. But if you can’t be swayed then machine wash in a short cycle on a cool wash and in a pillow case if you don’t have a hosiery washbag. Dry away from direct heat and never iron.

HISTORY LESSON

Hosiery Time Line (source Wikipedia)
We could start back as early as the stone age, because stone age man could spin yarn – however they didn’t apply their skills to making tights, god knows they had a bit more on their plate – like hunting and making fire!. So let’s skip this era and head onto 400-500 AD to the pyramids in Egypt where one excavation of a tomb uncovered a pair of red wool socks tied with a cord at the top. All very interesting but where are the fish nets and back seams?

Straight into the 16th century and the invention of the stocking frame. It was invented by William Lee of Calverton near Nottingham in 1589. Its use, known traditionally as Framework knitting, was the first major stage in the mechanisation of the textile industry, and played an important part in the early history of the Industrial Revolution.

The machine imitated the movements of hand knitters. Lee demonstrated the operation of the device to Queen Elizabeth I, hoping to obtain a patent, but Elizabeth refused, fearing the effects on hand knitting industries.

The original frame had 8 needles to the inch, which produced only coarse fabric. Lee later improved the mechanism with 20 needles to the inch. By 1598 he was able to knit stockings from silk, as well as wool, but was again refused a patent by James I.

Lee moved to France with his workers and his machines, hoping that Henry IV would grant subsidies and give him a monopoly patent but they didn’t materialise. He died in Paris c.1614 without fame or fortune.

In 1669 the penalty for the exportation of stocking frames from England was £40 but despite this huge fine frames were still smuggled out of the country.

As you can see the textile industry had huge reprocussions on the economy and technology – all very interesting but let’s get back to fashion. In 1929 over 88% of all woman’s stockings were knit of silk. However in 1927 Dr. Wallace Carothers invented Nylon – the beginning of the modern materials revolution. The Du Pont company pitched the invention to compete with silk in the women’s hosiery market. “Nylons”, as they were soon called, eventually replaced silk stockings. Covering about two-thirds of a woman’s leg, from feet to mid-thigh, stockings were fastened with garters and a belt. Women could buy them in either “full-fashioned” form with seams at the back or “seamless”. One piece sheer tights were not developed until the 1960s.

Cultural adjustment of hosiery made of a new fiber took time. Available to consumers nationwide by 1940, nylon stockings did not become a part of everyday life immediately. In fact it was World War II which drove the craze for Nylon stockings. When America entered World War II, first silk and then nylon were commandeered by the federal government to supply defense needs. Overnight, stockings made of any materials became hard to find. Nylon became important to the war effort because it was used, for example, in parachutes and tires. However America assured its ladies that when the war ended they’d get their stockings back.

True to its word, in 1945, at the end of World War II, Macy’s sold out of it’s entire stock of 50,000 pairs of nylons in six hours – the dawn of fashion had begun.