Friday Fatshion: New tights!

In fall, a young girl’s fancy turns to thoughts of tights — especially those elusive cable-knit sweater tights, that I want and lots of people want and they just don’t seem to exist in a plus size. Sigh. Aside from this glaring omission, though, I often end up buying (or at least wanting) new tights in fall, no matter how many I already own. It’s like searching for the perfect shoes that go with skirts and pants and have enough of a heel to show off your calf muscles but are still easy to walk in for miles. Every summer I search for the sandal version of these Holy Grail shoes, and get disappointed when I can’t find them; every fall I get gloomy that I haven’t found the Holy Grail tights.

Anyway, about a month ago, The Rotund linked to a Fatshionista post on tights. If you didn’t see it then, you owe it to yourself to check it out now, because it is an amazing repository of resources on tights for fatties and inbetweenies (and presumably, by extension, non-fatties as well). A glowing review prompted me to check out Tights Online, specifically their Sternlein tights (after revamping the website, they’re now stocking other makers, but at the time of the review they primarily carried Sternlein).

Let’s start with the down sides: These tights are not cheap. They are an investment, as tights go. The tights labeled “plus size” only seem to come in black now, though I could swear there were a couple other colors before the redesign. Even the non-plus tights don’t come in a wide range of colors, though there’s a nice-looking wine color and a forest green. They have just a little bit of a spandex sheen to them when they’re on, whereas I prefer light to simply fall into my tights and disappear. They get a weeny bit of ankle sag, which is cute with chunky shoes but less so with pumps. And at 5’7″, I could use for them to be just an inch longer.

Now the good news: they are otherwise AWESOME. I typically wear an 18W in pants, and I ordered a straight XL that fits with basically no problems (though if I get another pair, I may try out the 1x, on the theory that it might be a smidge longer and stretch a little less, showing less shine). If you’re up to 5’6″ and up to an 18, you should be fine in their non-plus sizes; if you’re my height, you may find that when the waistband sits comfortably at your waist, the heels tend to rise up a little above your heels. (Once I get everything situated, the tights fit great and don’t budge for the rest of the day, but there’s some tugging when I first get dressed.) The tights are snug all the way up, rather than having a constrictive waistband — the top is actually more like the tops of leggings, with a covered waistband and extra room for your butt. They don’t pinch or twist, at least not that I’ve experienced. And they haven’t gotten crotch holes even after several wearings, which for me is kind of a coup.

I got a pair of the wool and a pair of the cotton, and I think I’ll be glad for the wool, but honestly even the cotton ones are quite cozy. If you wear tights in the summer, definitely opt for the lightweight cotton. The wool tights are not scratchy at all, and both pairs are well-made and seem extremely durable.

That’s really the miracle of this brand: the construction. If those tights you bought at LB where the waistband’s all stretched out so you have to pin them to your skirt are Kraft dinner, these tights are a New York strip, substantial and luxurious. I used to despair of wearing skirts in winter, because even my beloved E.G. Smiths would slink down so the crotch was nearly at my knees (I don’t know if that was a size mismatch, or if I was just too tall for those tights). I still kinda hate wearing skirts to work because I have to bring extra shoes instead of just keeping my Keens on and my boots don’t fit well in my gym bag because I need a new gym bag… but at least my legs will be reliably warm.

(Here’s how much I love the E.G. Smiths, by the way: I may get a new pair to replace my hopelessly greyed-out ones, even though I know they tend to be too short for me and get crotch holes. Why? Because they’re SO FREAKIN’ OPAQUE. Also, like the Sternleins, they have comfy waistbands and a butt panel.)

I also bought a pair of ribbed tights from Avenue that are the first tights ever to be truly long enough for my legs (and then some!). They will not keep me warm, but they’re nice-looking, and fairly well-made as stockings go. Plus they were cheap AND I had a coupon! The ribbed tights are now sold out, but I may get a pair of their microfiber tights or their chevron tights, which I assume will be similarly constructed — give them a shot if you’re freakishly tall like me. (I mean, 5’7″? Come on, people, I am NOT that tall. Make two lengths of tights if you can’t handle it.)

For once, I feel well-equipped in the tights department! And I may even have found Holy Grail shoes, though I don’t want to jinx it yet. My one pair of nice pants that fits is too short and shows my ankles if I cross my legs, and they’re unlined cotton so they won’t get me through the winter; I have two workable pairs of jeans, three with a belt; I only have one belt; and I don’t have a hat. But tights are really coming together for me.

32 thoughts on “Friday Fatshion: New tights!

  1. Yup, the “technical specs” at that link list the XL as being for 5′ 8″ – 6′ 2″, 170 – 220 lbs. And while I usually figure that that means the upper limit is 6’2″ and 220 lbs. (IOW, not that fat at all), I am close to 220 lbs. at 5’7″ and the XLs fit me fine.

  2. Kate I’ve spent years looking for the exact same thing! And I am also 5’7″ — which seems to be to be a perfectly normal height to me — I mean I don’t feel like I tower over other mortals, and yet tights inevitably land a few inches shy of my China…if you know what I mean (and I feel certain you do).

    I’ve never heard of Steinlein but I will order a pair immediately and tell them you sent me :)

    I love those Avenue tights. The first pair I have ever found to actually go the length of my legs without looking taut and thin. They actually reach my China and the waist band is comfy.

  3. Hah, Kate WISHES she were 5’7″. :)

    (I’m just kidding, Kate! And next time we hang out I will not wear platform boots.)

  4. I never exist on those size charts. At 5’1 and 175 pounds, would I fit better in an L or XL, do you think?

    And I want like, one in every colour, but I’m trying to get my online shopping under control!

  5. Becky, my experience was that they ran a little shorter than the size chart — I think you’d be fine in the L. (And I think the XL would be too big.)

    (Granted, they might have run shorter for me because I’m almost as wide as they’ll realistically accommodate — although I found the hips and belly to be pretty stretchy.)

  6. See, this is no good. I have sort of the opposite problem to you, Kate. I’m 175 and a leggy/short-waisted 5’5″ or 5’6″, carrying all my weight in my hips and butt. THERE ARE NO TIGHTS FOR THIS. I just got all psyched to go buy the Sternlein size L, which is for 145-195 lbs, and then I saw that size is also for 5’5″ to 6′. Right. Been there, done that, spent the day repeatedly yanking the tights up my legs to get rid of the puddles of anklewrinkles. And the M, sized for 120-165/5’3″-5’10”, is going to be exactly the right length but absolute way-too-tight hell around my pelvis — it may sound sort of close to plausible but there’s nothing size M about my midsection.

    What I want is tights for a size 14 that don’t assume all size 14 women are 5’10”. Not petite — just average fucking length. You’d think this would be easy, and yet, DEARTH.

  7. Lisa, the E.G. Smiths might work for you since they’re too short for me. (Though you might want to go for the regular ones, not the Bigger and Better.)

  8. oooh sorry Filly! I don’t always read the byline and since I have stood next to Kate and tower over her petite self I didn’t want to “out” her pretending to be tallish.

    Feeling silly now…

    And still searching for those comfy shoes that work with both pants and skirt. I like to use zappos because they offer free shipping both ways — I’ve got a bunch of shoes that I ordered coming to my house and I’ll let you know what I think of them. My foot is size 10w and I want pretty plus arch support.

    Yeah I’m a demanding consumer.

  9. Corinna, I don’t want to speak too soon, but I just got a pair of Dansko Nellys off eBay (at a substantial savings over the rather outrageous list price), and I’m really hoping they’re The Ones.

    And I’m very amused by the idea of Kate pretending to be 5’7″. “Doot doot doo, I’m very very tall now, please ignore the times I’ve talked about being petite, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

  10. Plus size and pregnant woes….
    I tend to *hate* shopping for tights. I’m usually an 18/20 and 5’7″, and inevitably, the stretch required wears holes in the toes far too soon (and thins out the heels), or the crotch rides down, or, if they’re too big, the waistband comes up to just under my breasts. What I want (and have trouble finding) are thick, cottony tights (not thin, spandexy and nylon ones) that feel like socks on my feet. I’d love to find real, wool cable tights that fit, but I’ve never been daring enough to risk the money on a pair that I’m worried would wear between my thighs or get holey toed *if* they fit at all.

    I’ve taken to wearing EG Smith’s heather over the knee socks with skirts, as they fit my calves and (at least until they’ve been washed dozens of times) don’t slide down my leg much below my knees.

    But at the moment, I’ve got a special problem with tights. I’m 27 weeks pregnant, and let me tell you, the selection of plus-size tights for pregnant women? Nada. And no, I have no interest in “compression” tights.

    Any tips? I’ve thought about trying to just buy something several sizes too big in plus size, but I’m not sure how the fit would be.

    When not pregnant, I have wide hips and an ass and a defined waist that’s clearly smaller than my hips. At the moment, though, I’m all belly (though still with hips and an ass). And I’m weighing something like 265 or 270 (last time the midwife checked).

    Anyone who’s naturally belly-ish/apple-shaped have any suggestions? If I buy according to my current “with fetus” weight, am I going to end up with tights that bag at my butt or around my thighs and calves?

    If I had money to burn, I’d just buy a variety of sizes and experiment, but really, I just have to get through three more months of winter in New Jersey (after which Spring will break, I will pop out another kid, and we’ll see what my body turns into).

  11. Miriam! I give you Sternlein maternity tights! It sounds like you’re normally about my size, so I bet the XL maternity would work for you. (They don’t provide separate size charts for maternity tights, but my understanding is that you buy maternity clothes according to your normal size, not your mit-belly size.)

  12. Yay for new tights! That is completely awesome. We are just hitting two-pairs-of-tights weather here in Chicago (the sartorial equivalent of a three-dog night), so I’ve been looking for newbies too.

  13. Corinna, you must try Danskos. They are the most wonderful dress shoes. I have a pair of heels, Rose style I think, that I wear every single day and am totally comfortable. I rarely wore heels before my mom got me these as a gift. I’m an 11 and need good arch support.

  14. I recently threw out an entire overflowing drawer of ill-fitting black tights that I had collected and hoarded because I thought, despite their crotch sag, waist pinch, and assorted runs and snags, that they were the best I could do.

    Then I followed the Fatshionista rec I got for the Opaque Tights from HUE.

    I accidentally ordered two pairs in charcoal, rather than black, but the fit was so good that I ordered SIX MORE PAIRS and stuffed that horrible drawer of bad tights straight into the trash. YAY.

  15. I guess wearing tights is a northern thing?

    Having lived in central Texas my whole life, I’ve never heard or seen a discussion about tights. Although, I’d like to find a pair of really long socks to wear in cold weather when I’m waiting for the bus.

  16. Crystal: Get yourself to sockdreams.com, stat! And/or visit our lady Rotund’s blog for reviews…

    I’m loving my long socks in various styles –here in the weirdness of weather hell that is Alabama. 80 on Tuesday, 50 today, and a hard freeze by Sunday morning… wheeeeee…

  17. I was loving the idea of those Sternleins, until I got to the part that they’re almost too short for a 5’7″.

    I’m 5’10” and LEGGY. 34″ inseam and size 10 feet, and a size 16/18. Does anyone else here have experience with those sizes, and tights that fit them?

  18. Erm…you mean tights aren’t supposed to have the crotch between your knees? I don’t think I’ve ever owned non-knee-crotch tights in my life.

  19. Hah, Kate WISHES she were 5′7″. :)

    (I’m just kidding, Kate! And next time we hang out I will not wear platform boots.)

    No, I totally do wish I were 5’7″. But you can still wear platform boots around me. :)

    As for tights, I just bought a pair of Land’s End matte tights, which go up to 3X (in theory — they only seem to have up to 2X in stock) and come in a few different colors, at $18.50 for 2 pairs. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH MORE THAN I EVER EXPECTED. Not too long, no crotch sag, they fit over my thighs, don’t cut into my waist, and can go in the washing machine without falling apart.

    I got the 1X and they’re like, the best-fitting tights I’ve ever had. So I can recommend them to anyone who’s short and pear shaped with big thighs.

  20. *waves at Crystal* I’m a Southerner too! And I wear tights…and have had a discussion about them, as it were.

    Only because I hate socks, yo. And pants annoy me. So, the only way I’m gonna stay warm in my skirts is a good pair of tights. :-D

  21. So I can recommend them to anyone who’s short and pear shaped with big thighs.

    I have the problem where I’m too short to get anything other than tights that are realistically a size too small (regarding my butt and thighs). (I’m only 5’3, but somehow, in grocery-store nylons, that translates to ’95 lbs or so’. The size-up nylons bag around my ankles even more and have a waistband that ends around my bra strap.) I usually end up with tights that have a crotch between my knees, ankle-wrinkles, and a waistband that’s rolled over for about 2 inches and is now either stuck on my navel piercing or cutting into my gut just above my hips.

    Seeing you write that, though, Kate, and knowing that we’re roughly the same height, gives me hope. :)

  22. Kate, if tights are too short for you, cut the crotch off and attatch the legs to a lovely garter belt. It gives you sooo much more range of motion and in my experience anyway, the cut tops will roll over so you don’t have to worry about fraying (I’ve tried this with stockings and nylon tights, but not wooly ones, so not sure.) Plus, so much sexier!

  23. Nah, I got sort of sick of doing this. Partly because my garter belt doesn’t fit anymore, partly because when you have two stockings that’s two things to keep track of when they go through the wash. If I had a better garter belt I’d consider it, though, especially since I’m handwashing these tights anyway.

  24. You mean pants aren’t supposed to show your ankle bones? Huh.

    Of course, I’m from a family which, when we match the normal torso to the normal leg length for us, results in these great amazon goddess women who stand six foot one and weigh two hundred minimum. I got the short torso with long legs, so I’m five seven.

    It wasn’t tall when I was growing up, but I swear the demographics here changed while I spent lots of time inside being sick. I feel like King Kong now at the grocery store.

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