The Eighties-inspired sheer tights are back in trend this winter06:54:00
Good news! Sheer black tights are back.
Fashion epiphanies are sometimes a matter of noticing the smallest, almost imperceptible things that can end up making you feel incredibly smug.
This winter, it’s the tiny yet game-changing matter of the right tights. Forget opaques. Dismiss bare legs. Believe it or not, sheer black tights are back for the first time since the Eighties.
Now, if anyone had told me last year that I’d ever find the slightest desire to wear sheer black tights again, I would have scoffed at them. Never! Not me! I’d had sheer hosiery so firmly categorised as old-fashioned, frumpy and generally unnecessary to life that it was just inconceivable.
Last winter, I remember waiting in a smart Paris hotel lobby while a cocktail party was going on and feeling supercilious to observe that the gathered Frenchwomen — and I am speaking of businesswomen of a certain age — were all wearing sheer black tights and court shoes.
What an old, backdated, conservative French custom, I thought. Something we advanced British left behind around the time of Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love video — which would be 1986.
Now I’m eating my words. The subliminal comeback for black sheers started on the catwalks in March, most noticeably at Hedi Slimane’s swansong collection for Yves Saint Laurent.
You’ve guessed it: the inspiration was all things Eighties —velvet pelmet minis, giant lame shoulders, puffball skirts.
Frankly, the models were so thin they were painful to look at and the whole thing was so shockingly extreme it was hard to imagine it having any real-world impact.
But there has been one: Slimane’s girls wore black 15-denier tights and since then it’s become a trend on the catwalks and among the fashion crowd.
Once you’ve adjusted your eye, the great thing about this look is that it’s obviously the cheapest fashion revolution of the year: a new look available in every supermarket and department store in the land. Also, it’s ageless.
While young, leggy girls are switching to sheers as a novelty, the rest of us have a perfect entitlement to them, too. Good legs are a lifelong blessing, if you happen to have them and they never look better dressed than in sheer black hosiery. Fifty, 60, 70 — go ahead, be enviable!
15 denier tights:The rules
As soon as there’s the slightest snag, bin them — you just look unkempt otherwise.
Sheer is good, shine is not. We don’t have to go back to the Eighties. Keep it matt — it looks much more sophisticated.
Resist patterns, whether seams up the back or polka dots. Keep it simple.
NEVER be tempted to go down a size. There’s nothing less flattering, or uncomfortable, than tights that don’t fit.
Even those of us with non-racehorse limbs can get into it. For me, the new black sheer option solved all my dilemmas about what to wear with my favourite black midi skirt and has given new life to a mid-calf cocktail dress I haven’t worn for years.
Opaques looked too drab and depressing with them. Fishnets felt too risky. A semi-transparent coating of black tights does the trick beautifully. As for where to buy them, there are options on every corner.
If you’re the type who can’t wear sheer tights without seeming to encounter every nail or splinter in the vicinity, it’s probably wise not to splash your cash on the upper end of the market.
But there’s no denying that if you spend more, you get smoother, silkier tights that — in my experience — last longer than less expensive brands.
For some inexplicable reason, when it comes to high-end hosiery, the German-speaking countries have cornered the market with Wolford (Austrian), Falke (German) and Fogal (Swiss) among the best.
Try Wolford’s super soft Luxe 9 (£17, wolfordshop.co.uk), Falke’s Lunelle 8 denier, which come in six sizes (£16, falke.com), or Fogal’s super soft Catwalk 10 denier (£25.50, fogalworld.com).
When it comes to the High Street, M&S offers every variation at competitive prices.
With so many options, you’ll find one to suit — it’s an easy, sophisticated solution for what to wear this winter. Great for parties, nice for everyday.