Charlie Gowans-Eglinton | Fashion Editor | Friday, 31 July 2015

How Stopped Wearing Black Tights 364 Days Of The Year

How I Stopped Wearing Black Tights 364 Days Of The Year

The Debrief: My legs are quite cold today, actually

Black tights are a no-brainer – they make your legs look thinner, hold you in, make miniskirts viable, even negate the need for a tan (I’m half Scottish). Just talking about them makes me wish I was wearing a pair right now. But I’m not, and this is why. 

I can’t remember when black tights stopped being a casual acquaintance, and became a crutch. Certainly, I’d always worn them – this picture proves it (I’m the little one, aged 6ish). So far, so normal – matching velvet hats aside – but then consider the fact that I grew up in Australia, that this picture was taken in Australia… Not a lot of call for black tights down under, I don’t need to tell you. But so it began.

How Stopped Wearing Black Tights 364 Days Of The Year

Fast forward to teenage me, living just-outside-London now, and really getting into my black tights stride. Wearing them to school day after day built up a dependency. Cue experimentation with denier (Note: 120 is too many) and even bright colours – ironically, these were my darkest days. Perhaps the most important lesson that I learned on my art foundation course was that legs should never, ever, be a primary colour. 

Aged 18, I strolled along a Greek beach in my stockinged feet, the sand forming stiff little shoes over my tights. Aged 19, my black tights accompanied me on my summer holiday, for thirty-something degree nights out in Barcelona. This might seem obvious, but tights are REALLY HOT, actually, much hotter than trousers, because they fit like a goddamn glove. Shoes became an issue – can one wear sandals with black tights? One can, but one shouldn’t. One did, though, I am loathe to admit. Luckily, I have always had a tendency to avoid full-length photos, and, being quite old, my teen years pre-dated picture phones, so my tights fetish was only minimally documented. But I can never forget.

The tights stuck with me (/on me) through a fashion degree, and a bunch of internships – I remember thinking then that wearing black opaques and black short-shorts made me look competent and professional. Note to interns – this is not so. Don’t make the same mistakes I did; grown-ups don’t wear those. They’ll give you side eye and tell you to go file the lookbooks.

I got a proper job, and celebrated with new tights. Life carried on as always, wrapped in polyamide. But last summer, I had an epiphany - or maybe my legs were just really, really hot. Effortlessly fashionable women don’t wear tights. Sure, there are exceptions – Saint Laurent’s fishnets, say, at £700 a pop. But on the whole – no tights. Trousers? Yep. Jeans? Definitely. Leather pants and jumpsuits and an endless stream of skirts and dresses, sure – just not with tights. 

So I tried a bare leg. First to the office, in a long-ish dress; there were no whispers, no pointed fingers. Then I went tights free for a night out, heading as far away from civilisation as I could, to a place where no one would know me - Clapham. Nothing happened – it was quite anticlimactic, really. And that’s where it ended, the longest relationship I’ve ever had. Clothes just look much better with bare legs, actually, and it really broadens your shoe options. And if anyone notices that my knees look quite like potato smilies, they don’t mention it. Besides, potato smilies are delicious. 

NB: I still have a drawer of black tights at home.  

Like this? Then you might also be interested in: 

How To Wear Black In Summer

All The Very Worst Belts From Your Youth

My Life In Handbags. And Probably Yours, Too

Follow Charlie on twitter: @charliegowans

Tags: Fashion So-Called Rules