Tights season is back. Cooler temperatures mixed with occasional sunny spells means our legs need more protection than they do in the summer months.
Tights are the compromise that allow you to get a few more weeks of wear out of your favourite summer frocks.
Evolved in the US from stockings in 1959, the very first tights were seen as a symbol of sartorial freedom, unshackling women from wearing tedious and uncomfortable undergarments like girdles and garters. They made wearing Sixties super-mini skirts and dresses possible, and were a key component of the era’s famous Mod look.
At that time, the average marrying age for women was around 20, which essentially meant they went straight from childhood to adulthood: but fluxes in style, trends and outlooks offered women a taste of independence before marriage, and tights were part of the story. For the first time, women looked, thought and dressed differently to their mothers. Never mind the thigh gap; tights helped create the generation gap.
While early nylon tights were easy to ladder and had a tendency to sag at the knees and ankles, some 63 years on and big brands have nailed the fit - especially when it comes to curves.
By their nature, tights have stretch as well as control, but up until very recently it was tough to find a good pair that worked for anyone who wore extended sizes. A good pair of plus size tights was the fabled unicorn in hosiery departments everywhere, but now, with further research, development and tech coming into play, there are great options to suit different tastes and budgets.
We’ve rounded up the best size-inclusive tights to spend your money on below. From brightly coloured nylons to options that won’t roll down or dig in, no matter what, here’s our pick of the best.
Sheertex Classic Semi-Opaque Rip-Resist Tights
Sizes: 4 - 24
Self-described as the world’s toughest tights, tested against pineapple spikes, jagged conch shells and even kitten claws, Sheertex designs are available in sizes that go to a UK24.
The rip-proof styles come in a variety of designs, from classic opaque black and polka dot and vintage-inspired looks with a seam running up the back. All share a deliriously comfortable waistband that has a cooling feel and promises no rolling down.
But it’s the nylon itself that’s most impressive. The product of two years of development, the knit features a polymer more commonly found in bullet-proof vests and mountaineering kit, a test of its strength and endurance. These tights are pretty much indestructible: so much so that every pair comes with a 90 day no-rip, ladder or tear guarantee.
Sheertex’s range also includes sheer socks and no-sweat shorties to protect thighs against the dreaded rub without adding bulk under dresses. Revolutionary.
Buy now £33.00, Sheertex
Heist The Thirty
Sizes: 6 - 22
Heist changed the tights game when the brand launched in 2015, promising to turn hosiery from “a necessary evil into something you’d be truly excited to wear”.
What makes them unique is that the tights have been stitched without a gusset, so there’s no danger of digging or cutting in and having to constantly readjust. Instead Heist’s tights, which come in a range of denier densities and a handful of subtle patterns, seamlessly go from toe to up to a high waistband that doesn’t dig or roll. Handwashing is recommended.
Buy now £22.00, Heist
Snag Black and Orange Stripey 80 Denier Tights - Hocus Pocus
Sizes: 4 - 36
It’s no exaggeration to say that Snag has turned the tide against boring tights, especially for the plus size market. The brand’s size-inclusive offering covers most bodies, from a UK4 to UK36, and in wild and wonderful patterns to suit both moods and seasons.
This Halloween, add some magic to your look with opaque orange and black striped tights. This sort of look is usually only available for kids, but why should the little ones have all the fun? Pair with a Halloween outfit as the finishing touch.
Buy now £10.99, Snag
Snag Hallow-queen 80 Denier Tights
Sizes: 4 - 36
Bring the magic of the Milky Way to your pins with these star-strewn tights from Snag. Featuring moons, constellations and the odd galaxy, the comfortable black tights come with a cotton gusset for welcomed breathability.
Buy now £13.69, Snag
ASOS Design Curve 2 pack 60 denier tights in super stretch fit in black
Sizes: 24 - 30
Get two plus size tights for the price of one over at ASOS which has this 60 denier pair with super stretch lycra for just £15. The high rise designs sit comfortably on the waist and offer a semi-sheer finish that’s perfect for pairing with AW22 frocks.
Buy now £15.00, ASOS
Big Bloomers All Woman 20 denier tights
Sizes: 22 - 42
Tights with pulling power, this set is available in a choice of popular colours (choose from navy, coffee, natural and black) and in some of the most generous proportions on this list. The Italian-made tights offer plenty of room over the thighs and legs without falling down constantly. In fact, the brand claims to have reviewed them on the 7ft tall Town Crier of Staffordshire with great results. Ideal for plus size as well as very tall people.
Buy now £7.95, Big Bloomers