The Great Fashion Debate: Tights Or Bare Legs?

Does everything LOOK BETTER with bare legs, or do tights offer MYSTIQUE and an edge of sophistication? We weigh up the PROS and CONS of hose …



For some of us, the hint of skin glimpsed through a sheer sheath (or if you channel Tom Ford, fine meshed fishnet) can be more alluring than a bare bronzed calf. The aesthetic of tights, far from being a cover-up, conservative or keeping-out-the-cold, is the start and end point of the appeal for true hosiery advocates. Born in the youthquake of the 1960s, when mass-produced nylon stockings arrived just in time for raised hemlines and sexual revolution (Mary Quant even began selling her own hose in 1965, telling Vogue they were essential to the “streamlined simplicity” of her look), we’ve since seen the triumph of Donna Karan’s matte opaques in the 1980s and the glossy, sheer styles of the 1990s. Today there’s no right or wrong answer – matte, sheer, crocheted or coloured, tights have got you covered, making a defiant statement against the bland bare leg, while good skintone sheers look sleek and polished.Tights can add girlish charm, lend authority in the boardroom, or smoulder after hours; and with the capability to boost, lift or slim, they’re kind to the female form.


Invest in good-quality tights to prevent bobbling, sagging and wrinkling at the knees. This season’s almost-bare best-sellers across the age spectrum are Falke Shelina Toeless Tights 12 Denier (€14.75) at Brown Thomas. An open toe means you can wear sandals and show off your pedicure while having the smooth effect of tights. Ask for help in matching shade to skintone. Care for sheer tights by hand-washing in lukewarm water.



It’s the first rule of fashion – everything looks better with a bare leg, whatever the weather. Fashion heavyweights (editors, stylists, buyers – the powerhouse fashion week “frow”) have long been united in their adherence to this aspirational style dictum. But then, they travel everywhere by taxi, their closet choices unplagued by banal considerations like biblical rainfall and force four winds. It’s become a statement of fashion status. And where beautiful people tread, civilians follow. To have legs that can tolerate all-season outings, you must keep them buffed, fuzz-free and permanently tanned … “I love my hosiery,” says Brown Thomas Fashion Director Shelly Corkery, “preferably when sheer. But I am a real bare-legged girl at heart, especially for eveningwear. It takes a lot of hard work though – polishing, moisturising and serious daily exfoliating. The mid-length skirt has helped no end!” Bare legs are a challenge, certainly, especially in our unpredictable climate. But Carine and Anna and their acolytes have very firmly thrown down the gauntlet. And what self-respecting follower of fashion can’t rise to the no-nylons challenge?


Visit waxing experts Brazilia in Dublin – their Lycon wax is quick and painless. Wax in the City, on South William Street, is good for an emergency wax when you’ve forgotten to book. Invest in a good home self-tan: we rate Crème de la Mer’s The Face and Body Gradual Tan (€85), and He-Shi’s Luminous Shimmer (€15.50), a wash-off bronzer that reflects the light. Use a non-greasy body oil for glossy legs; try Neom Organic Body Oil (€40) or Kiehl’s creamy Crème de Corps; try the limited edition Grapefruit version (€42).

This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our March issue, out Saturday March 5.

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