Is she or isn't she ... wearing control tights?

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The Independent Culture
Good, old-fashioned support hosiery is back ... but this time it's packaged as a sexy slimming aid to give you taut thighs and a pert bottom. We asked six women to test the market leaders. Holly Davies reports

The growing selection of control tights on the market may be something to cheer about if you desperately need to shift a few pounds from your hips, bum or thighs for an evening out. Hosiery companies, from Wolford to Boots and Pretty Polly are claiming they can change your shape with strategically placed strips of heavy-duty elastic. We tried a selection on women of different shapes and sizes who came back with very similar answers. It seems that behind the fancy packaging and "younger look" pitch, most of them were little more than good old fashioned support tights. The other problem seems to be something of a contradiction. If your aim is a sexy night out, these tights may help get you into your little black dress, but you'd be too embarrassed to take it off in company. You'd really have to slip into something a little more comfortable first and hope the red rings left around your waist and thighs didn't show.

Hazel, 19, tried Charnos In Control Super Shape-Up tights, pounds 8.

"When I tried them on I didn't notice much tummy control. They were very supportive around the thighs and at first it was like wearing cycling shorts with tights over the top but I soon got used to them. I was really conscious that the control panel was much darker than the legs. If you were going to wear a short skirt you might need some thigh control, but then you'd be able to see the panel. I'm sure you wouldn't be able to tell the difference if you wore them under trousers. I couldn't really see the point of them."

Holly, 22, tried Boots, Cellulite Refining tights, pounds 9.50.

"It took me five minutes to get them on, which was quite stressful. I suddenly started thinking I must have elephant's legs because the pair I tried were a large size and I'm only five foot five. They looked really good once they were on - which was probably something to do with the micro fibre content. I wore them all day and when I took them off it actually made me feel quite ill. I felt as though I'd been wearing some sort of Victorian corset all day."

Bunty, 25, tried Marks and Spencer's Body Shaper, pounds 5.

"The tights I tried were in a flesh colour which was a good match, not too `fake tan' or pale, just healthy looking. I didn't feel very restricted, which was a shame: I wanted to be held in, as I was wearing a mini-skirt. Having said that they were comfortable enough to wear all day at work. I've worn control tights before and I don't think they are that different from normal tights."

Amber, 28, tried Aristoc, Slimline, pounds 5.

"Awful, awful colour: they made me look like a school matron. And my legs felt like they were suffocating. They didn't make any difference to the appearance of my legs at all. The control panel on the stomach didn't stand a chance of working because it didn't have any sort of support from the sides. I wouldn't bother wearing them again."

Sarah, 45, tried, Wolford, Up 40 tights, pounds 21.

"They felt totally surgical. I couldn't possibly wear them for more than an hour. When I walked my buttocks kept bobbing up and down. Although my bum was undoubtedly lifted my inner thighs looked like they'd been removed, you could have run a train between my legs. It felt like the fat around my thighs was being forced down to my knees. They certainly did what they said they would but I was too conscious of them, I kept thinking people would be watching my bum as I walked down the street."

Janet, 51, tried Pretty Polly, Secret Slimmer, Luxury Satin, pounds 10.

"They're fantastic, they really, really work. They feel quite fragile when you're putting them on because the slimming panel is so controlled and the tights are so fine they feel like two separate garments. There's no real advantage to having control and sheerness all in one, because as soon as they ladder they're practically useless."