Looking for tights that feel more like leggings - essentially I want "footed leggings."
October 17, 2011 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Looking for tights that feel more like leggings - essentially I want "footed leggings."

I have always hated, hated, hated pantyhose. I love wearing dresses and skirts, so in the summer I go bare-legged - luckily my office is "business casual" and there are no restrictions on having bare legs.

However, when I want to wear skirts/dresses in winter, I have to wear tights or I will freeze (I'm in Buffalo and have low tolerance for cold). The problem is, I find tights only marginally less uncomfortable than pantyhose.

I have absolutely no problem with leggings. Since leggings have made something of a comeback, I bought a few pairs last year. I got the idea that maybe I could wear them under a skirt, paired with black trouser socks, and if you didn't look too carefully it might look like I was wearing tights. I actually wore this to work a few times, even though I'm sure people could tell what it really was.

So then I got to thinking, what makes leggings different from tights? It's not just the feet - I've seen things advertised as "footless tights" and the material is definitely more like actual tights, just minus the feet.

Looking at the material, it seems that leggings are mostly cotton (with a bit of spandex for stretch) and tights are mostly nylon (with a bit of spandex). So I thought the solution was to look for cotton tights. After Googling I ended up buying these. But when I tried them on, they didn't feel comfortable at all. They were just like regular tights but with less stretch, making them feel more constricting.

So, hive mind, can anyone offer suggestions on just what it is that makes leggings feel so different, and more comfortable to me? Are there any tights out there that are more "legging-like" in feel?

In case it matters: specifically, my problem with tights is that they feel very, well, "tight" around the thigh. Maybe it's because I'm pear-shaped? I've found that just wearing a larger size of tights tends to get baggy and bunched up around the calves/ankles. Another possible solution for this is that I bought a basic functional garter belt (and I mean, functional, as opposed to lingerie that's just for show) to use with thigh highs - the kind without the elastic bands at the top. But I'm still interested in the possibility of a more legging-like pair of tights.
posted by LaurenIpsum to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
I wear dresses and skirts with leggings all winter - the secret is to wear boots. The extra awesome thing is that you can wear super duper wool socks under them and no one is the wiser. Super warm! You can do a motorcycle boot (I have a pair of Fryes that I love in black and brown) or something a little dressier, but you can't go ultra dressy because the cotton leggings are by default slightly more casual. But totally fine for a business casual office, I would think. I think tights are less comfortable because they're more tight.
posted by robinpME at 6:50 PM on October 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

You want dance tights! I love danskin tights during the winter. Mine are 90% cotton, 10% lycra spandex.
posted by quodlibet at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

What you want to look for are knit or sweater tights. I have several pairs, mostly Hue brand, and they are all AWESOME. I pretty much live in them in the winter. I am amply thighed myself, and I haven't encountered the too-tight-thigh problem; YMMV.

Also, I am on team Go Ahead And Wear Leggings. OK, some people (very few, I assure you) might notice that they're leggings and not tights. So what? You're comfy and warm.
posted by phunniemee at 6:52 PM on October 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

Yeah, phunniemee is right, knit tights are awesome, too! I have a couple of Hue pairs myself that I wear. I do think leggings are more comfortable and my Hue pairs showed wear pretty quickly.
posted by robinpME at 6:54 PM on October 17, 2011

Seconding leggings with boots. I have a pair of rib-knit leggings that I love for this. The ribbed texture looks a little nicer than a plain cotton legging, too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:03 PM on October 17, 2011

I've had the same issie as you and I've found infinite relief with Commando Dig Free Tights. They're incredibly comfortable, provides plenty of warmth on chilly days, and not to a pain to slip into on damp skin (say, perhaps after you've moisturized or had a shower.) They may be pricey at $34 but these babies last and practically pay for itself. Not to mention they're also slimming.
posted by xbeautychicx at 7:04 PM on October 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I find most tights itchy myself. I wear leggings in the winter with shirts all the time, because it allows me to wear very very thick socks. If you are wearing boots it looks great. But mostly cotton tights do exist, they are just hard to find. I've found them at H&M, but my most recent purchase was from modcloth and I'm quite happy with the texture of these.
posted by melissam at 7:05 PM on October 17, 2011

Knit tights are nice enough, but my favorite are fleece-lined tights. I've even worn them as pajamas once or twice, they are seriously that comfortable.
posted by susanvance at 7:06 PM on October 17, 2011

Also, I'm glad I read this because I was going to hit Uniqlo for some tights, but then I remembered they mostly have the itchy kind, so I searched Amazon and found these and I'm excited because they look like my fav tights. I'm getting them on Thurs so I'll post about them.
posted by melissam at 7:09 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have had good luck with tights from Express because they are thicker and have been good at keeping me warm. The only issue is that some of them are too long for me - Express tends to run on the tall side. So I'd only suggest if you are not short. Otherwise, I have found them comfortable around the thighs and middle.

However, I'd say go with leggings and boots. Done right, its a very cute look and will keep you warmer than any tights.
posted by DoubleLune at 7:14 PM on October 17, 2011

I like sockdreams for tights. I've gotten totally non-itchy merino wool ones there as well as cotton ones. Maggies' Organics has nice tights too - my luck with their leggings has been less good. Am unthrilled with brand new Gap tights - they run really small.
posted by leslies at 7:15 PM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Nthing what everyone else says about leggings and boots. I wear them all winter. It's really hard to find comfortable tights and if you're tall like I am, forget the Hue knit tights or pretty much any knit tights for that matter. They're never long enough. I have only ever found maybe one pair that didn't end up with the crotch at my knees. A few winters back, I bought a couple of pairs of warm thigh high socks from sockdreams - kind of like these - and they were great. I wore them like crazy. They stay up, look like tights with a skirt but don't constrict you in the middle like tights. Unfortunately, mine shrank in the wash. Learn from my mistakes: if you get some, wash them by hand and line dry.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:27 PM on October 17, 2011

I love these combed cotton tights from Foot Traffic. They have a similar weight as leggings and they're not as constricting as regular tights.

They are sweater tights, but not bulky. They are just heavier and less stretchy than regular opaque tights, and feel more organic. They are soft and really warm, but they fit looser than normal tights. They don't compress as much as normal tights, and they are more comfortable.

I can't speak to whether they would fit you well, but I'm not small of hip or butt and I'm pretty pleased with them. They also last forever and I have not had any snags or runs in the pairs I've had for literally years. (And I do not treat them well- I throw them straight into the wash and they've even run through the dryer.)

I think another thing I do that helps with fit and wearing tights is that I wear boyshorts over the top of my tights. This really helps keep things in place.

I also bought knee-high boots for the first time a couple of years ago, and they are so warm! You really should find some to pair with your leggings.
posted by aabbbiee at 7:29 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

email SockDreams. they'll have great advice. they probably have the best customer service i've run into in years.
posted by nadawi at 7:48 PM on October 17, 2011

Here is another vote for Danskin tights!

I find knit or sweater tights completely annoying. I'm pretty short and they are always too short in the legs for me, or at least the crotch is always too low. That is super uncomfortable.

The high cotton content of Danksins makes them durable and comfortable, and they're nice and thick.

Really though, just wear leggings and boots like everyone else says! Now that I live in Massachusetts I can't imagine doing anything else, and it doesn't get nearly as cold as Buffalo!
posted by apricot at 7:51 PM on October 17, 2011

Another option is leggings and a cute pair of flats, no socks, around the office. The flats live in the office for the winter, and Serious Winter Boots go on before venturing outdoors.

So far as tights go, I've found DKNY tights to be very stretchy across as well as up and down. They might be more comfortable across your thighs.
posted by psycheslamp at 9:17 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think what you have to figure out first is what you don't like about tights. Personally I hate non-cotton tights because the synthetic fabric feels gross. But it sounds like you're more concerned that they're too tight or constricting, in which case wool or knit tights won't solve your problem.

I suggest searching for footed leggings - such a thing does exist if Google is to be trusted. Or you could just wear boots.
posted by vanitas at 10:05 PM on October 17, 2011

Wrt: length of tights. I'm 5'7, not soooooo tall, but definitely not short.

The only way I can get tights that fit is to buy them one size bigger than the crazy chart on the back.

For me, at least, they don't itch if they fit.
posted by bilabial at 4:32 AM on October 18, 2011

thigh high tights
posted by maggieb at 8:16 AM on October 18, 2011

I had really good luck with Smartwool's tights although they're expensive enough that I wouldn't go for it unless you can find then on sale (mine are from Sierra Trading Post) or somewhere with a good return policy.

They're super-comfy, don't slouch, and they're much warmer than typical tights. I've also had good luck with the wool-blend tights at J Crew. Their other tights are mediocre, but the wool ones are comfortable.

Also, make sure you're buying them big enough. I'm hear the border between S/M and M/L on might tights, and sometimes even the larger ones feel too small.
posted by duien at 9:12 AM on October 18, 2011

These dance tights are supposed to be comfy. A bunch of my (non-nylon wearing) friends wear them and love them.

Smartwool tights are amazing. I have a pair of their leggings and they are great - and my friends wear them with dresses and skirts all winter. Expensive, but since they're wool, they don't run in the same way. I just wash mine on gentle and hang to dry.

Sockdreams has a ton of options. Wool, cotton, bamboo.

No personal experience, but these matte cotton tights are supposed to be nice and very well fitting.
posted by barnone at 9:57 PM on October 18, 2011

I have a pair of "sweater" tights that are just as comfortable as any of my leggings. I think I got them from kohls.
posted by audacity at 3:39 PM on October 19, 2011

Since you're in Buffalo, I can recommend checking out the selection at Zeller's in Fort Erie, next time you cross the Peace Bridge. They have nice winter tights which aren't fooling around.

I also second all recommendations of Sock Dreams. I have some of their $20 wool tights and wear them constantly in winter--warmer than pants any day.
posted by Riverine at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2011

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