So it’s December – time for the annual Christmas party and suddenly you’re obliged to wear something slinky and/or sparkly. Unless you’re particularly into middle aged trouser suit combos like this then you’ll probably need some tights to wear under your gorgeous dress. After choosing a colour, shape and style of dress you like, this should be the easy part, right? Wrong!
It seems that hosiery manufacturers and retailers believe that women basically come in 3 combinations: ‘normal’, tall, or fat and short. Which, if you’re over 5’5 and larger than a size 22 (size 20 in US sizes) means that you either can’t get the tights on in the first place, or that you can only get them half way up your thighs as the legs are too short!
To save you wasting your time and money, I’ve tested three of the easier to source plus size brands of tights. You’ll see below that I’ve graded them on price, handle (how nice they feel), whether they’re roomy enough, long enough in the leg, whether they roll down and whether they are still comfy after wearing for a few hours. Then I’ve given them an overall mark out of ten.
Oh, and just for the record, I’m 5’8, a size 26-28 (24-26 in US) and generally come up somewhere between regular and tall range for trousers etc. If you are a size 32+ or taller than 5’10 then most of these tights probably won’t fit. This site do larger sizes but be aware that they tend to be significantly more expensive and take around a week to deliver.
Evans Black 70 Denier Opaque Tights (normally £6.00, currently £4.80 on sale)
Though according to the size guide I was somewhere in between size 2 and 3 in this brand, I bought the biggest pair. They had an extra panel to give more room and provide a more comfortable fit and they were the cheapest of the three brands I tried. However, they were the least opaque of the lot, and they felt quite fragile – if you snagged them with your nail I think they’d ladder quite easily. They were ridiculously long in the body (they nearly came up to my armpits!) and had plenty of room around the tummy, but were a bit too short in the leg so I had to really tug them up to get them in place. I wore them to a conference and after a few hours sitting and listening to speeches they were really making the backs of my legs prickle. They stayed up pretty well, though I wasn’t moving around much. However, at the end of the day when I took them off I could see that they were already starting to go at the seams.
Leg length: 6/10
Roll down: 9/10
Viva La Diva Pack of 2 Black Opaque Tights (£16.00 for a 2 pack)
I was really disappointed with these. They were quite expensive and when I first opened them, they felt really nice and soft. The material felt strong and durable, so you wouldn’t need to worry about pulling them up too enthusiastically after a few drinks and ripping them! However, despite the fact that they have a comfort panel and again, I got the largest size, they felt very small. I had to really haul them on to get them above the knee (though annoyingly it felt like there was plenty of material down round the ankle bits). I couldn’t get them completely up at first – the body part was tighter than the Evans one but did just about fit, but they were about 3 inches too short to feel properly comfy. I thought they might just be a bit stiff as they were new and they might stretch with wear, so I wore them to work (luckily packing a backup pair of leggings). Big mistake! I hadn’t even got as far as the bus stop before they started to roll down and I had to keep surreptitiously pulling them up! It was a shame as they were the cosiest and would have been the comfiest of the lot otherwise.
Leg length: 2/10
Roll down: 1/10
Overall: 5/10* (* If you have short legs, otherwise 3/10!)
Pretty Polly Curves
These were so close to being perfect but there were a couple of small details which could have been better. Firstly, they are pretty expensive – almost twice the price of the Evans tights! They’re also marketed as being ‘plush’ but I can’t really see how they are different to ordinary opaque tights in the handle – in fact, they look a bit shinier than I expected – I was hoping they would have a true matt finish so they wouldn’t compete with my lace party dress. But on the plus side, they do feel good quality and are very warm – it was barely above zero today and they felt only slightly less warm than my denim jeggings. They were comfy throughout the day and I didn’t get any prickly legs, which sometimes happens with some tights. They stayed up well throughout the day, including a walk around town at lunchtime, but they did start to fall down when I was a couple of steps away from the house on my journey home – though I suspect this could be fixed with judicious underwear choices! The seams at the back seemed to sit oddly and were a bit annoying but it wasn’t a deal breaker. These were definitely the best of the three brands I tried.
Leg length: 8/10
Roll down: 7/10
- Lots of tights have a comfort panel designed to go at the back, but sometimes it’s more comfy to put them on back to front!
- If your tights are the right length but falling down a bit, then try wearing an extra pair of pants over the top (suggested to me but I haven’t tested this yet!)
- It’s handy to keep a pair of leggings in your bag as a backup option in case of tears or ladders