Full disclosure: We originally began this project back in mid-January. Normally, it's reasonably warm enough during Chicago winters to strut out every so often in a pair of tights.
Enter the winter of 2014.
Now that spring finally has semi-sprung -- and by that we mean it's above freezing -- it's time to debut our official test of the latest tights on the market. Treat your legs to a new outfit -- surely your old tights are ripped and holey by now.
Spanx Patterned Tight-End Tights Peek-a-Boo
($32 suggested retail)
- Description: Gray with a slightly ornamental, diamond-shaped patterned
- Warmth: 1. The pattern is cute, but it means that every single gust of freezing Chicago wind attacks of your legs.
- Comfort: 5. The nature of Spanx is to dramatically suck you in, so I was half expecting these to cut into my stomach or make it hard to breathe. These tucked and smoothed in the right places while still being comfy.
- Fit: 5. I'm long. Like, very long (6'3"), which means finding tights that fit my legs while also being comfortable in the crotchal region can be very difficult. These tights fit both areas well without being so stretched out that runs were forming.
- Would you wear again? Definitely, but only in warmer weather.
- Additional notes: I was originally drawn to these tights because of the pattern and really wanted to wear them on-stage while performing in my band. The Spanx part of the tights that suck you in are NOT patterned, however, which definitely looked weird with my miniskirt. These are great for work skirts, though.
Topshop black tights
- Warmth: 4
- Comfort: 4. They were not as warm as the tights with fleece lining but not as thin as pantyhose.
- Fit: 3
- Would you wear again? Yes. They have a cute pattern and were comfortable and versatile. They didn't run or get snagged either.
- Additional notes: The sizes tend to run small as most European sizes do. I'm petite but the small was a bit too small, so I'd suggest going up a size.
Topshop Charcoal pointelle wool tights
($20, on sale for $10)
- Description: These acrylic-blend tights are printed with a snowflake and zig-zag pattern.
- Warmth: 4. Despite the "holes" in the pattern, the tights are warm.
- Comfort: 3.5
- Fit: 5. The fit is great, especially in the waistband.
- Would you wear again? Yes. These quickly became my go-to tights for a solid week or two, and I even received a few compliments on the cute pattern.
- Additional notes: One beef: While the product description says "wool," these are actually an acrylic-poly blend, meaning they're not natural fibers and therefore don't breathe very well.
Star Power by Spanx Center-Stage Heathered shaping tights
($28 suggested retail)
- Description: Having never tried Spanx or any other shaping tights before, I was excited (and a bit nervous) to squeeze myself into my first pair.
- Warmth: 2. They keep an itty-bitty bit of heat in, but these certainly aren't meant to be sweater tights by any means.
- Comfort: 4. They're a little pinchy on top at first, but do a nice job holding everything in.
- Fit: 5. Zero bagging or sliding around; these tights hang out exactly where they're supposed to.
- Would you wear again? Absolutely -- I've got them on right now!
- Additional notes: Because of the sheerness of these tights, they appear to be a little shiny at times. Not my favorite look, but they get the job done very well.
Star Power by Spanx Center Stage shaping tights
($24 suggested retail, not pictured above)
- Description: "Shaping tights, comfortably firms tummy, hips, thighs and rear." These tights are charcoal from toe to mid-thigh, and then transition to a black "gusset," which the package says can function as underwear. Don't wear a super-short skirt or dress with them if you're short like me; the black part will peek through and it looks pretty unflattering.
- Warmth: 1. Not any warmer than your typical tights. I would stick to above-40s weather.
- Comfort: 2. These tights were, for lack of a better word, really tight. Within two hours of putting them on I was complaining about how squeezed my thighs felt.
- Fit: 3. I was wearing size A, which is for people in my height range but a liiiitle bit skinnier than I am, so that may account for the tightness in my thighs. They otherwise fit my legs and waist just fine, however. If given a choice, I would have gone a size up.
- Would you wear again? Probably. The dark gray is lovely and versatile.
- Additional notes: The tights are supposedly designed to "shape" the thighs, hips, and rear, and while I'm not quite sure what that means, those parts of my body received a lot of compliments while I was wearing them. I guess this is what all the Spanx hype is about.
Perfectly Opaque Tights by Commando
($40 suggested retail)
- Description: Commando calls these tights their "most cozy and opaque tights yet," complete with an "invisible-edge waistband" that won't dig into your middle. They're rated "light to moderate" in the compression department to provide "gentle smoothing."
- Warmth: 4. These are the thickest, most opaque tights I have worn without heading into the full-on sweater or fleece-lined category. They also have a silky, extra-wide waistband that keeps your torso toasty.
- Comfort: 4. They made a great first impression in the comfort department, with the oversized waistband that pulls up above your belly button. In theory, it's kind of maternity panel-esque, but in reality, it feels retro pin-up girl-ish. They don't suck everything in, so to speak, as much as Spanx and similar high-compression brands, but there definitely was no trace of digging or pinching.
- Fit: 2. After a long walk to the office, the crotch was sliding halfway to my knees and the waistband was down around my hips; I had to duck into the ladies room straight off the elevator to hike these babies back up. I did choose the correct size for my height and weight, though I was on the low end of the range for weight and high end for height, so maybe they're just not a great match for my body type.
- Would you wear again? Not to work or anywhere I had to do a lot of walking, but I would consider wearing them to a cocktail party where I'd be cabbing it door-to-door.
- Additional notes: Hosiery vocabulary lesson! The opaqueness of tights is designated with denier, which can range from really sheer (10 denier) to very opaque (100 and up). These are 110 denier and Commando's most opaque offering.
Walgreens West Loop Fashion Tights Diamond Control Top
(Price varies by location, not pictured above)
- Description: "Perfect fit from waist to toe"
- Warmth: 5. But still breathable -- they didn't overheat
- Comfort: 4. They were perfect except for the waistband.
- Fit: 4. Waistband was so much tighter than the rest of the material
- Would you wear again? If my Express tights were dirty and these were my only option, then yes.
- Additional notes: They really were pretty great. But when the waistband tries to cut off my circulation, it holds me back from loving them.
--Aly MorrisCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun