Oscar Quine wearing tights for men / Teri Pengilley

Oscar Quine spends 24 hours in a pair of tights designed specifically for men

There are no two ways about it, men’s tights are having a moment. Alexander McQueen, Dries Van Noten and Givenchy all featured them in recent menswear collections. They’re all over Wolf Hall and Russell Brand went on stage in a pair this week. Meanwhile, online hosiery retailer UKTights.com has reported that 40 per cent of its business comes from men.

In fine journalistic tradition, there’s only one thing for it: I agree to don a pair for 24 hours.

With around 15 brands offering pairs for men, I don’t know where to start. Luckily, the man behind the Hosiery for Men blog agrees to guide me through the process. We settle on a pair of Glamory Microman 100 at £15.99. They come with a fly and are “anatomically correct”.

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Two/fifths of UKTights.com's business comes from men (Teri Pengilley)

Tights purchased, I ask what he thinks is behind the trend. “There’s a number of high-profile designers using tights and leggings. It’s more visible. There’s more discussion about it and I guess with the internet it’s a lot easier to see what’s available,” he says.

UKTights.com is one such retailer. Managing director Dawn Barber says two-fifths of the site’s business comes from men – with 20-25 per cent buying for themselves. Her customers aren’t who you might expect. Cross-dressers, she says, will tend to go for a ladies’ pair.

“It’s policemen, milkmen, builders and mechanics – people out in the cold,” Barber says. “Tights are warmer than long johns because they’re closer to the skin. And they can be a tenth of the price.”

Thursday morning and my tights await. I head for the loos and slip them on. I’d seen online that tights should be pulled high. Unsure about these things, I stop at the nipple. Heading back to my desk, I notice I saunter slightly. I feel composed, contained.

At about 3pm, a tingling sensation spreads across both legs. I Google “can tights cause DVT?” The answer is no. I conclude it must be irritation caused by my leg hair.

At home that evening, my female confesses her love of tights. She uses words such as “comforting”, “secure” and “encompassing”, asking: “Don’t you feel like you’ve had a hug all day?” In a way, I do.

 

“Can you wear tights to bed?” I ask. “You can. But you might get thrush,” she says.

On Friday morning I’m keen to test out Barber’s theory about the builders. John Dove, a 48-year-old plumber, is on a cigarette break, in a hard hat and high-vis. He’s wearing base-wear but says he has known a few guys who wear their partners’ tights.

Heading back to the office, blow me down if I don’t bump into a bloke in tights. Gary Gates, 53, is down in London for a weekend from the Northeast. He’s combined his – £2 from Primark, 10 or 15 denier – with a bandana, knee-high boots, a biker jacket and a black kilt.

Does he ever get comments? “It’s quite rare. You can see what I look like... And I’ve got the ability to back it up.” Not even back home? “In Whitby, nobody would bat an eyelid.” He’s with his wife, Lisa who says she has no problem with it. “Women in supermarkets look at him and go ‘oh, very sexy’.

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