My love of tights started as an 8-year-old fair-haired second-grader in a small town USA. That was my first year of school after losing my leg just three months prior. Because prosthetic technology, circa 1975, was nothing like it is today, my first leg was an anatomically shaped leg carved from willow wood. The back of it had an open space, the size of a fist, the purpose of which was due to the physics of the prosthetic knee. And because I was not a fan of that posterior open-space, my mom and I got creative in the sewing room.
Living in the throes of 70’s fashion with gauchos and bell-bottoms making the runways, my mom’s sewing skills kept me right in the mix with longer hemlines and other modifications keeping my prosthetic leg covered. What we couldn’t fix with fashion, however, was the shiny skin-tone exterior of my prosthetic shin. And then we discovered tights: the denier gods answer to prosthetically induced fashion situations, which I affectionately refer to as “PIFS”. Not only did they withstand the forces that articulating prosthetic knees put on fabric, but they made my leg less “artificial”.
Fast-forward 22 years later and I am aimlessly wandering the Florentine streets when I have my first encounter with an Italian a hosiery shop. Tucked in the corner of a side-street from Piazza della Repubblica, I came across a little shop with samples of their fabulous goods adorning the windows. Not knowing that I had hit a fashion mecca, I entered the door; walked into fashion paradise; and renewed my passion for tights all over again.
Why do I love tights? They are hosiery’s equivalent of hats-not a lot of women wear them but a lot of women look at tights thinking that they wish they could pull them off. And like hats, they are fashion’s answer to a busy girl’s life. Not only do add that little something to an outfit too difficult to accessorize with jewelry or other accoutrements, but they can be worn time and time, again.
Mind you, however, not all tights are created equal as the denier count is what makes or breaks a tight. Generally, the higher denier count makes tights more opaque. And these are the ones that can be washed and dried like ordinary clothing. Lower denier count tights are more like nylons and are a bit more fussy (but that’s just me).
But even with comparable denier count, a tight is not a tight. I am lucky in that business travel frequently brings me to Europe where I fill my free-time with checking out the local fashion scenes and adding to the local economy by doing some major power shopping. When it comes to buying tights, there is nothing better than Italian tights. Not only are they the best quality but they are fabulously fashion forward. Next, are Austrian-made tights which tend to be really high quality since they are made for colder climates. Although less fashionable, every once in awhile one can find some Swarovski crystal blinged-out designs.
When time and resources precludes me from indulging in European shopping sprees, I have found less expensive shopping trips through none other than Spanx. Though known for all-things related to body-shapers, Spanx brand’s “Tight-End Tights” is the closest thing I have found to European-made tights. Made of 85% Nylon and 15% Lycra, these tights have a high-quality opaqueness, meaning that you cannot see your skin tone through them, with the added value of the Spanx-hold-it-all-in engineering which works wonders for the wobbly parts.
What’s especially great about these tights is the fact that they withstand most PIFS and they are easily laundered: this lazy fashionista’s dream. What’s not so great is that their quality isn’t what they were several years ago. But overall, they have a limbitless* rating of 4 because they withstand several months of weekly wear at $38.00 a pair.
And so it is.