How to buy black tights

SJ shares her impressive knowledge of tights, from denier to finishes

How to buy black tights

When I did my time at an all-girls school we used to sing a song about grey tights. If I recall correctly it used to go a little something like this:

Grey tights they never get dirty, the more that you wear them the stronger they get.
Sometimes I think I might wash them, but then a voice says to me don't do it yet.
Not yet. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.

You get the picture.

For anyone who used to wear grey tights you will agree they were in fact, nothing to sing about, but rather unflattering and about as exciting at the grey skies that usually accompanied them.

Recently I attended the Mumbrella 360 exhibition in Sydney. Aside from realizing that the lack of corporate style options for women is not necessarily a good thing, I was also struck by the power of black tights. Black tights are an unsung hero. They have the ability to take a near fashion disaster and make it look ok. They have secret powers of class and elegance that many do not realise.

Having worked for a while in a lingerie store (not as glamorous as it sounds), one thing I did learn was how tights work. So, in the hope of saving the world one black-tight-clad leg at a time, I'm going to share with you my impressive knowledge of tights.

On a scale of one to denier
Technically denier relates to the thickness of the tight, it's the weight of the yarn from which the hosiery is woven. For example; 1 denier means that 9,000 metres of the yarn weighs one gram. You can have any denier from one to 100 and beyond. The most common deniers are 15, 40, 60 & 80 but, technical hat back on, here's how they weigh in.

10–20 extremely sheer. Very delicate. Not for those with fingernails (most of the population).

21–40 considered semi opaque. Nice for having the illusion of bare legs minus the effort of actually having bare legs. Also nice if you are wearing black to not appear too all black. It's all about the shades of black.

41–69 opaque. The town bicycle of tights, this segment gets around the most. More coverage than it's younger sister, very forgiving as it will hide any imperfections.

70–99 thick opaque. No amount of bending will expose your true skin colour. Good if you are wearing a colour or pattern for the contrast factor. Also slightly warmer than opaque tights for those who care about practicality.

100 and beyond not quite a legging but well on the way. Nice and thick not to mention warm.

Personally my essentials are a 30 for when I want to show off my legs or are attending dressy evening events. 40 and 60 for everyday dressing and teaming with shorts. 80 for when I’m cold and 100 for the days it feels like we have drifted south and are new neighbors with Antarctica.

If that wasn't enough choice for you, tights also come in different finishes. You can have matte or shine amongst other options. My favorites are suede matte and velvet finish, as these guarantee a polished and flawless looking finish.

A few last words of wisdom

  • Cotton gloves pay for themselves by the second time you put your fingernail/ring/bracelet through a pair of new tights.
  • Unless you are attending the punk themed met ball (and you are most likely not) do not wear tights with holes in.
  • Should you happen to find yourself in tights with a hole in black marker is a godsend for colour-matching your leg to the tight.
  • You can get control tights for smoothing out any lumps should you so desire.
  • Ditto sandal toe options for wearing open toe shoes with sheer tights.

My favourite brands are Levante, Ambra and Jonathan Ashton. Yes, I'm a tights snob, but the quality is worth it for the sake of a few extra dollars. 


    To make a comment, please register or login
    2nd Aug 2013
    I've been wearing black tights for about 30 years. I didn't know there were deliberate deniers, I thought some were just a bit thinner than others. Now that I know, they should put it on the packet. I buy cheapies from the supermarket, always the same brand, I can be sure they fit. I do one thing you haven't mentioned above, in fact the ladies I used to work with, fell about laughing when I mentioned it. When I get a ladder in one leg, I cut it off and save it until I get a ladder in the leg of the next pair - then I can wear them together and have a newish pair. When stockings were in, I used to buy 10 matching pairs at a time and get more than 10 pairs out of them, so why not with tights?
    2nd Aug 2013
    The way I've worded the above makes it sound as if I save the hole-y leg but of course it's the good leg and the panty piece I save and subsequently wear together.
    4th Aug 2013
    I can remember always carrying a bottle of clear nail polish to 'mend' the ladder should it appear when I was out. OMG!! I loved stockings .. they really completed an outfit and looked classy. (I do mean stockings not tights. Stockings with a suspender belt )Stockings with the seam up the back ... ohhh I looked a $m and knew it :) And yes I do remember the sheer denier stockings. If one wasn't careful ones finger went straight through them! And yes I do remember wearing cotton gloves to put on my stockings. And I do remember wearing gloves because it was the proper way to dress :) Wearing a hat was before my time but my Mother always wore hat and gloves.

    I didn't know your trick K, but that was the good thing about stockings, if one had an unrepairable ladder, one just added the good stocking to a pair the same colour :)
    8th Aug 2013
    Memories! But you can't mean it about stockings and suspenders???? I hated them - if they ever come back, I shall go barelegged!!!!
    Re gloves, I've been thinking of wearing them again to see if it starts a trend. They looked nice, too. My Mother said a lady always wears a hat. I don't! She'd have a stroke to see girls in town wearing shorts.
    5th Aug 2015
    I’ve lived in a humid climate for so long and have not worn any type of stockings, that it’s hard for me to put on tights. I just hate the feeling. I love the look though. web development

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