Real Shopping: Style Police - Walking back to happiness

Black opaque tights, the darlings of the Eighties wardrobe, are back in style. Sighs of relief all round, says JAMES SHERWOOD

When fashion gives you permission to go back to black, the feeling of elation is similar to winning the "phone a friend" question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? So the news that black opaque tights have been striding down the catwalks again will make a lot of women very happy.

Black can't look "wrong", in the same way that egg-yolk yellow or aquamarine can. So when fashion declared, some three years ago, that black opaques were out, women ignored the dictat in droves.

"No question, I can't get enough of black opaques," says Steph Stevens, fashion director of Minx magazine. "I think you'll find women don't take risks with tights in the same way they would with crucial accessories like the knee-high boot or the season's bag. When you've got a really thick black denier, it somehow seems to hold all the flesh in place."

Contrary to popular belief, it is not diamonds that are a girl's best friend. Lovers may come and go. You may have to hock your rocks. But a girl can always rely on a pair of 40-denier black opaque tights. Opaques are corsetry for the legs. They streamline even the chunkiest pins and make them look as endless as Ute Lemper's.

Sadly, fashion magazines tend to ignore hosiery. Even in winter, models are photographed with bare legs. As Alexandra Shulman, editor of British Vogue, said recently, "Almost every fashion shoot one sees dodges the question by sticking with naked skin." Shulman, however, is one who remains unconvinced about the return of black opaques. "This season, the best tights for the really fashion-conscious are brightly coloured," she writes. Bright tights look undeniably fabulous with the trash clash aesthetic this season: flaming orange opaques caught between a zebra-print ponyskin skirt and Gucci ruched velvet boots. But the notion that the future of hosiery is orange probably turns your stomach over. Resist the temptation to be Tangoed.

Remember two seasons ago when patterned tights reared their ugly heads? Style Police is still having flash-backs about that terrible trend. Patterned tights may look pretty in pictures but they don't translate into real life. Style Police saw the nastiest pair of brown crochet-effect tights last week on the prettiest girl. It didn't matter that she had the face of an angel because your eyes wandered to the tights and your mind wandered to the two old dears in Arsenic and Old Lace. Patterned tights are as granny as shopping trolleys and false teeth. If you want to go boho this season, better to plump for dark brown opaques instead.

How to wear it

You all know Style Police wouldn't let you wear an item that breaks the commandments of fashion for autumn/winter '99. So just to prove black opaques work this season, we've taken two directional stories that work equally well with black tights. Look at Dolce & Gabbana's use in its D&G collection. The skirt is a short, flirty punk tartan, the boots are rock chick and those black opaque tights take the worry out of wearing a skirt shorter than a fashion editor's attention span.

Now turn to Sixties Mia Farrow. She beats Ali MacGraw hands down as a muse for this season. Ali was just plain bland. Mia is an ingenue child- woman in touch with that whole college kid vibe that photographer Elaine Constantine has been pushing in her shoots for Vogue Italia. The black opaques with boots and a cute little rain mac make Mia's pins look deliciously fragile: as thin as a sparrow's claw. So black opaques work in between mid-calf boots and midi A-line skirts. They work - nay, they are essential - with the winter mini skirt.

Where to buy it

As Steph Stevens cleverly points out, the colour flash of bright opaques works when you only get a glimpse of tights between boots and skirt. Aristoc has dyed-up the season's colours in a blazing opaque range: hot tomato, olive green, mustard and orange. They are rare as hen's teeth but only pounds 6 a throw so get them while they're hot. As for the trusty black opaques, Aristoc does some very serviceable thick tights for under a fiver. If you don't mind paying double figures, Wolford will give you something altogether more luxurious from around the pounds 20 mark - and these are really built to last.

For those of you concerned about the lack of sex appeal of thick black tights, Aristoc has invented a saucy little number called the "Cabaret". This is actually a pair of tights, but woven to look like a pair of black stockings, complete with garter belt and sheer panels from the thigh upwards. Everyone can come to the Cabaret because Aristoc's opaque fake stockings are only pounds 5. The trompe l'oeil Aristoc black opaque is as big a turn-on for the boys as a smoky voice two octaves below laryngitis. Like sex appeal, a good pair of black opaque tights is beyond fashion.

Address book

Aristoc (tel: 01773 525520).

Wolford (tel: 0171 935 9202).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Case Handler - Probate

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Web / Graphic Designer

    £10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to rapid customer growth, a...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest private landlord ba...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn