+ Tips and Tricks

Lessons in Opacity

Lord knows that I love tights.  There one of my favorite things about cold weather attire.  Unfortunately, a growing number of women on the Hill seem to be unaware of The First Rule of Wearing Tights: Opacity matters.

For tights to achieve their maximum level of chic, they must be completely opaque or thisclose to be completely opaque.  Why?  Well, it has to do with the art of concealment.

For those of you who skipped physics class, allow me to be the first to tell you that nylon stretches.  And as it stretches, it becomes thinner.  Thus, even if your stems are practically perfect in every way, the tights will be stretched thinner over your widest parts (thighs, the mid-calf area) than it will be over the slimmer parts (ankles, knees).

When you wear tights that are less than completely opaque, this stretching become more pronounced causing your tights to look more like colored nylons than tights.  But worst of all, this stretching creates a halo effect around your thighs and calves, directing attention to your widest parts. 

This is the same effect that heavy distressing has on denim when the thighs are done in a lighter wash than the rest of the jean.

Thus, if you want your legs to look their slimmest and trimmest, you need opaque or very nearly opaque tights.  If you buy a nice thick tight (Spanx, Wolford, Hue) and they still halo around the thigh, you should think about going up a size.  The sizes are so fungible this won’t typically be a problem.

And on a related note, I think tights that are thin enough to see skin even when standing look cheap.  The opaque tight is just a more stylish, more pulled-together choice all around.  And for my money, Spanx makes the thickest, most durable tight out there ( I simply can’t afford Wolford on a Staffer’s budget).



  1. S says:

    Thank you for this. Last week I saw a staffer in hot pink tights that were completely sheer over her thighs. Had she not been wearing an innapropriate mini skirt to work, perhaps I wouldn't have noticed but it was a pretty terrible outfit all the way around.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  2. cia says:

    Wow — I was thinking “how expensive could tights be?” and then I clicked on the link for Wolford. Yikes!

    I do love Hue, though, and they're always available at Loehmann's or Nordstrom's Rack.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  3. AW says:

    Sadly, I used to be in love with Hue, given the price and the decent quality, but I just bought a few pairs this weekend and the brown ones are far more see-through than I'm used to. I even went up a size (they didn't have my usual in stock, for which I'm squarely in the middle of their height/weight ratio). Disappointing. I think I'll give Spanx a try.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  4. jackie says:

    I'm old enough to remember when Donna Karan came out with her first collection …she was (and is) always a proponent of the (competely) opaque tight. I have the Spanx ones but really want a pair of Wolford! Are they affordable on Ebay?

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  5. Norwegianette says:

    Funny, spanx are about the same price as wolford over here ­čÖü I have one pair from wolford that I love but I wear opaque black tights all. the. time. and I can't afford to get another pair of wolfords, so I'll usually just buy one pair 100 den from H&M and one pair matte opaque from this Norwegian (Swedish?) store called KappAhl, and wear them on top of each other – works just fine for now

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  6. Meg says:

    I'd like to add Simply Vera tights sold at Kohls (Belle, I actually think you've talked about these before, or maybe another commenter). Anyways, after I read about them here I bought a bunch and sale and they are great quality and have held up really well.. Even better, Kohls usually has them on-sale at 50% off.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  7. A says:

    My black tights from Target have held up VERY well and are quite opaque.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  8. Govvie says:

    just bought a pair from Target yesterday – xhilaration brand – will update ya'll on their opacity once I wear them!

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  9. VA says:

    I have a pair of black tights from We Love Colors (I think they're just online, never seen them in a store) that are suitably opaque for not too much money.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  10. Stacy says:

    I love the DKNY tights sold at Nordstrom. I think they're about $14 and come in many colors.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  11. missblissindc says:


    I second that emotion re: Simply Vera Vera Wang tights! The best time to buy them, scarily enough, is Black Friday. They're two for $3 on Black Friday!

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  12. M says:

    For Christmas, I got a pair of Plush brand fleece-lined tights and they are the most comfortable and warm things. They're so comfortable that it feel like I'm cheating, like I'm wearing cotton leggings to work. They are also completely opaque. Pricey, at $34, but so worth it.

    January 18, 2011/Reply
  13. Ash says:

    I have raved about these tights before, but it bears repeating. I am a huge fan of the SImply Vera by Vera Wang line at Kohls. I've been wearing the same pair for about a year and a half with no snags, and no fading. They are as black as they day I bought them. At $12 a pop (and usually on sale) you can't beat it!!


    January 18, 2011/Reply
  14. Nancy says:

    I absolutely LOVE the tights from UNIQLO. My favorite pair has lasted over 2 years. While they do have plain opaque black tights, they also have some fun patterns (like argyle or houndstooth, both all in black) that dont' do the weird stretchy thing. The only retail store in the US in in NYC, but they do call-in orders.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  15. Lauren says:

    I used to love Merona from Target tights, but lately they are too sheer. I went up a size and low and behold after a bit of walking they slide down. Talk about awkward. I guess I will have to give Spanx a try.

    January 19, 2011/Reply
  16. emily says:

    spanx has a line of reversible tights that are great for business travel and are SUPER opaque. sometimes i can find them at nordstrom rack for under $20 (you're getting two pairs of tights), otherwise order them. make sure to look at them in the light before you put them on, i have definitely gotten to a meeting with the wrong side out and had navy tights against my black skirt…

    January 22, 2011/Reply