B.missing stockings are Marmite fashion. If you love them, you look forward to the first cool day of September or October, when it’s acceptable to stop pretending “end of summer” exists on these shores and throw on a thick pair of tights under your dress. He has strong views on the optimal denier count and can debate the relative merits of Falke and Wolford at length. I could happily give a Ted talk on whether the Edie Sedgwick modern jazz vibe of a matte pair is more elegant than the sheen of a velvety or satin finish.
The other camp, my camp, would rather brave horizontal snow and slush bare-legged than be seen dead in pairs. In fashion, not wearing tights has long been a badge of honor. Around the time that stumbling around in high heels all day stopped indicating elegance and started making you look a little deranged, going bare-legged became the style ensemble equivalent of a club tie. Wintering barefoot requires a high tolerance for wind chill and, depending on your skin color, a time-consuming fake tan habit. Still, the bare-legged brigade steers clear of leggings because we think they look better.
I guess this is all an elaborate justification for the fact that I stopped wearing tights because no one else in the front row was wearing them and they felt a bit scruffy. Going bare-legged made me feel like a contender. Style is a way of insisting on something, as Susan Sontag used to say, and black stockings made you want to give up, to throw in the towel.
In the 2000s, when Prada was all about knee-length skirts, and during the 2010s, when the midi skirt reigned supreme, going bare-legged didn’t mean being cold. She could wear ankle boots with socks, a long skirt, and a coat, and was technically bare-legged, but only a little flesh was exposed.
But now the mini is back. Not just in the theoretical fashion week sense, but in real life. Skirts and dresses are shorter: on magazine covers and in shop windows, but also on the street, on the bus, in the park. And it is that going without stockings and with a skirt that ends above the knee requires a double dose of courage, not only in the cold but also to feel exposed and naked. So while hemlines have been creeping up, tights have made a comeback.
“This is the season to start wearing tights again,” said one American Vogue headline in September, a statement that surely would not have been greenlit by publisher and warrior queen Anna Wintour before this year.
The renaissance of black tights began with polka dot sheer or tights covered in graphic logos – sleek, edgy tights were a way for opaque skeptics like me to get back into tights without losing face. Amina Muaddi, Rihanna’s favorite shoe designer and 100% the kind of hardcore fashionista who wouldn’t have been seen dead in tights until recently, has designed a range for wolfford including a pair with a black lace leg and a sheer plain leg, and stirrup foot dance tights in high gloss latex.
But crystal dots and fishnet stockings are just the gateway drug to the hard stuff we’re all drawn to: true opaque black stockings. Bare-legged bravado is long gone in the old days, along with impromptu city breaks and mask-incompatible lip gloss. Reader, I’m back in my tights. M&S Autograph 100 denier merino wool, since you ask. The world has really changed.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism