Ready To Wear: The death of practicality

Bad news, ladies. We have all been basking in the ease and practicality of opaque tights for too long. From henceforward they are no longer acceptable (well, it is the spring/ summer season, I suppose) and sheer tights and their even less obviously glamorous little sister, the popsock, have been declared indomitable once more.

It all started at the ready-to-wear collections last September. Miuccia Prada showed sheer tights - black, about 20 denier, if I'm not mistaken - throughout her collection for Miu Miu, worn with ultra-short skirts and equally extreme high heels. Not content with this, Giles Deacon put models into knee-high sheer socks - they looked, whisper it, almost like support hose - that were a shade paler than their own skin. Oh, and then he insisted they be worn with strappy sandals. This, dear reader, I entreat you, is not actually something that should be tried at home should home be anywhere other than Hoxton.

At the haute couture collections which took place in Paris last week, Karl Lagerfeld, couturier at Chanel, drove home this brave new fashion message. In this instance, every last model wore skirts that barely grazed the thigh, paper-flat shoes and, yes, sheer black tights (more like 10 denier this time).

Oh, cruel world. There can, of course, be no more difficult look to pull off for those less than Bambi-like of limb, not to mention 100 per cent blemish free. There's nothing much worse than the sight of an ingrowing hair seen through a pair of sheer tights, unless it is accompanied by a halo of fine blond re-growth making its way through the mesh alongside. These are not nice things by anyone's reckoning.

Still, fortune favours the bold and there is no question that anyone wearing sheer tights from henceforward, or, come the sun, popsocks instead, and not looking like either Nora Batty or Les Dawson and his cohort at the launderette, must be applauded. Bare in mind that American tan tights, designed to disappear when worn, are not on the agenda here - nude legs should be just that, as our American cousins know only too well. Also be aware that short skirts, sheer tights and high heels might not instantly attract undying admiration from fully signed-up members of the sisterhood.

In the best of all possible worlds, sheer tights worn with low-cut flat pumps - they must be low cut to avoid oak-tree effect, even for those with the finest legs - may turn out to be the most elegant interpretation of this particular theme. Or, failing that, there's always trousers.

s.frankel@independent.co.uk

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