Tights can be your best friend or worst enemy. Every woman knows what it’s like to step into the office and immediately spot a ladder, or spend the day rearranging her undergarments because of sagging, itching or seams digging in. Conversely, the right pair of tights can make an outfit – adding a splash of colour, a dash of leopard print or a frisson of fishnet.
Yet many of us save money on hosiery in order to spend it elsewhere. We throw them into the washing machine without a second thought, hang them up by the radiator and generally underappreciate our hosiery. Considering they can be warming or flattering, supportive or a touch racy (though not usually all at the same time), tights are the unsung heroes of our wardrobes. But all that has been changing on the catwalks, from Molly Goddard to Chanel AW18, and innovative new companies are now challenging our traditional laissez-faire approach to hosiery.
The purveyors of these trendy new tights, such as Heist and Hēdoïne, say we must take better care of them. As Heist puts it: “Ideally, handwash. Realistically, machine wash with care.”
Many of the tights featured here came with similar advice and, while most of us simply don’t have the time for handwashing, it is worth choosing a cooler machine wash and avoiding the tumble dryer altogether. Instead, drape them over a clothes horse without using pegs. You can even buy bags for washing them in, if you’ve invested in a particularly expensive pair. In short, take care of your tights and your tights will take care of you.
The Fifty: £22, Heist
You might be thinking £22 is rather a lot to be spending on a pair of tights – well, it’s not if they’re the best pair you’ve ever worn. A few hours into the first day of wearing this Heist bestseller, our tester noticed there was something unusual going on. They had been not yanking them up, no fretting, no itching, the sensation was, in fact, entirely pleasant. Before long, she was raving them about to anyone who’d listen, though apparently the secret is already out and everyone from Meghan Markle to Meg Matthews is a fan.
Heist is a relatively new British company, founded in 2015, but they’ve revolutionised the approach to tights. Theirs look a bit different, too – they’re 3D-knitted in a single tube with no gusset and a separately made waistband, which you can buy “low” or “high”. As they’re seamless, nothing digs into your flesh, and with 5,000 spirals of nylon wrapped around each inch of elastane – ten times the industry average – they’re proud of their claim that their yarn is the softest in the industry.
The emphasis is on how it feels to wear the tights rather than how then they look – it’s not about the male gaze, as the joyful press images of women leaping up and down emphasise. What’s not to love? As it happens, the appearance of the tights is also rather velvety and gorgeous, too.
Autograph 60 Denier Secret Slimming™ Tights: £9.50, Marks & Spencer
For less than half the price of the Heist Fifty, Marks & Spencer offers a very appealing alternative. As the “Velvet Touch” tagline would suggest, these black opaque tights are gorgeously soft to the touch, as well as the most shaping and supportive pair we tried, thanks to their Secret Slimming technology.
With added stretch and flat seams, these 60-denier tights are a bit more expensive than the average pair at M&S, but they’re well worth the little extra. Both the supportive quality of the tights and velvety softness survived the washing machine, too.
The Nude: from £28, Hēdoïne
Even the packaging for Hēdoïne tights is lovely: they come in a satin drawstring bag that makes their arrival feel like a treat, which, at £28 and above, it is.
Lightweight 20-denier tights can be tricky to pull off, particularly in flesh-coloured tones, which have long been associated with dutiful royals, but this is a stereotype that luxury brand Hēdoïne has embraced with the mischievous marketing of its three pairs: The Bold in black, The Edgy (a mix) and The Nude (“All nude – acting like a good girl”).
Like Heist, Hēdoïne uses 3D-knitting techniques to make their tights seamless and each pair comes with a choice of high or low waistband. We tried The Nude, and particularly enjoyed its patterned feet, so you know exactly how to put them on, and the firmness of the waistband, which sat just so, without any need for rearranging.
Despite catching a nail in them, there was no laddering in this run-resistant pair. Our only regret was that we didn’t try The Edgy, which are flesh-coloured with elegant black detailing at the waistband and feet, adding a touch of naughtiness to something traditionally “nice”.
Boots Flawless Fit 15D High Waistband: £13, Boots
What’s noticeable about this pair of 15-denier tights is how enormous the high waistband looks when you take it out of the packet. Once it’s on, though, it sits comfortably and firmly on your waist and, as with Heist tights, it looks very much like this central piece was made separately from the legs.
That’s not where the resemblance to Heist ends – there is no gusset and no seams in the Flawless Fits tights, which boast “no digging”, “no sagging” and “no bunching” on the packet. We found this to be largely true, though they didn’t sit quite as firmly as the Heist Fifty.
That said, the Boots pair is significantly cheaper and also boasted a lovely silky quality, courtesy of the microfibres with which they are made. A touch of luxury, then, without breaking the bank.
Opaque Leopard Tights: £6, Accessorize
Animal print is everywhere this autumn, but if you’re still making up your mind about it, these leopard tights from Accessorize are a good way to dabble – and at a very reasonable price.
Designed and produced by Emilio Cavallini in Italy, they have a luxuriously soft feel when you put them and their bold burnout design makes quite a statement. Available in just one size, these tights are perfect for parties or enlivening staid black workwear.
80 Denier Microfibre Opaque Tights – Red: £9, Aristoc
British hosiery brand Aristoc has been going for nearly 100 years and their experience shows in this gorgeous range of 80-denier tights, which are knitted using smooth microfibre yarns, making for a lovely velvety softness.
Vibrant tights aren’t for everyone, but this range offers a very gentle way to play with colour with the deep, classy tones of navy, damson and wine (we went for the last), as well as black and charcoal. Flat-seamed with a cotton gusset, these very appealing winter tights come in three sizes: SM, ML and XL.
60D Yellow Coloured Opaque Tights: £5, Pretty Polly
Malvolio gave yellow stockings a bad name, but Pretty Polly’s Yellow Moon tights – one in a range of vibrant colours – are closer to mustard and look jaunty and fashionable, rather than loopy. Pretty Polly recommends pairing them with black or navy, but they’d also look smart with brown or other autumnal tones.
Owing to supportive panelling around the waist, it might be worth going up a size with this pair, which come in small, medium and large. The other colours in the range are worth a look, not least for the names – Blue Monday, Purple Lagoon and so on. And while you’re on the Pretty Polly website, their 200-denier fleecy tights
are a great choice for keeping cosy during cold winter nights.
Soft Touch Chevron Knitted Tights: £5, Matalan
With a chevron-effect ribbed design, this cosy pair of grey knitted tights epitomises comfort as the temperatures drop.
There’s something comforting and traditional about them – in a nostalgic, affectionate way they reminded us of school-uniform tights. Ours survived several washes in very good nick. At £5 for a pair they’re also excellent value, but we would advise buying a size above your usual, as the small was a little on the small size.
J by Jasper Conran – Black Sheer Diamond Pattern 10 Denier Tights: £7, Debenhams
Diamond-patterned tights always look sharp – they’re businesslike, but not boring. For a very reasonably priced choice, try this 10 denier pair from J by Jasper Conran at Debenhams.
With a sheer leg and classic diamond pattern, they’re smart enough for the office, but fitting, too, for festive drinks afterwards. As they’re only 10 denier, they’re less resilient than some of the other pairs featured here, though, so take care when putting them on.
20 Denier Glitter Tights: £8, Topshop
As Christmas is fast approaching, we couldn’t resist the evergreen appeal of this glittery silver pair from Topshop.
At 20 denier, they’re cool enough for hot parties but their texture feels tough enough to be ladder-resistant. They’re also low maintenance and machine-washable, hurrah!
The Verdict: Best winter tights
The Heist Fifty is an unbeatable pair of tights, but if you’re not prepared to spend more than £20 on hosiery, the M&S and Aristoc pairs felt and looked great on, too. And for the party season, the Accessorize leopard tights are a steal at just £6.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.