Plus-sized petite tights or leggings for someone who hates tights
October 11, 2014 8:02 AM   Subscribe

I would like plus-sized petite tights or leggings for wearing with winter/fall dresses or skirts that A) Are opaque B) Stretch up enough that the crotch reaches my crotch so I'm not walking around like a penguin and C) Don't slide down and bunch up elephant style at the ankles. D) Are not delicate/likely to run. Also, I need advice on what to put on my feet when I wear these.

So I used to wear tights with my uniform in high school, so there's a long list of problems I know I have with them. I'm 5'0 and I carry all my weight in my lower half. Many of those little sizing charts on the back of tights/panty hose don't go down to 5'0 anyway and those that do assume that even the plusest size 5'0 person can't weight more than 140 lbs (which is only 5 lbs outside of "healthy" BMI range, so very odd that they don't acknowledge anyone weighs more).

When I buy tights I have found the following: They need to stretch wide at the thigh. Doing this, if they can do it, makes them shorter. Hence the penguin problem. In HS -- healthy BMI but same basic shape as now -- I used to buy "Tall" tights (seriously) because they were the only ones that would stretch out enough at the leg and still be long enough. Tall or not, tights frequently bunch up at my ankle, especially if the crotch has gone down half way to my knees. The whole thing is maddening. ANd of course, in my rage (ok, it's irrational, but I admit, they drive me crazy!), I frequently while trying to get them on or while pulling them up, put runs in them.

Now I would like to buy some fall/winter dresses and skirts, but that would require tights, and not only that but I'm sure that as my body has grown since HS, these problems will only be worse. However, I was thinking that now that these cotton type almost-fabric tights exist those might have a less awful feeling against my skin than the thick-pantyhose type tights and also be less likely to run. And I was thinking that leggings (no foot) might prevent the crotch half way at my knees and/or wrinkled ankle problem.

I would like them to 100% opaque, even when worn (i.e. stretched out).

The problem I see with leggings is that they appear to be worn without socks (and frequently with high heels). Obviously it's winter, so I will need something on my feet and winter or summer, it's never going to be heels. My usual winter show is something like this.


A) It it possible to wear skirts, leggings, socks, and shoes and not look ridiculous? (How - as in, can you show me any pics of this being done)

B) Can you point me to somewhere I can buy leggings or tights (I am open to tights so long as they really are for short with thick upper legs and can deal well with that).

I did a search on plus-sized petite tights and many where either one or the other, or others just had their little sizing chart covering places that might be considered both plus size and petite, but make no mention of having adjusted the basic shape/fit of the tight appropriately.

On preview, finding another question: I don't want them to wrinkle up at the knee either.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A) boots!!! Seriously, leggings + wool socks + cute boots + skirt = adorable and warm.

B) I'm not petite, but I know Loft (my current go-to for business wear) has a petite section and sells leggings. You could also try New York & Co, though I've been disappointed with their quality recently. I used to get my leggings at Express but I doubt they have petite.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

I'm 5'1" and a fat-bottomed plus size gal, so I feel your pain.

A) seconding DoubleLune on boots. Also Chucks (Converse All Stars) work well if that's your thing. I don't have pics, but I do this about 3 times a week.

B) My favorite tights and leggings are from two places:
--Target's house brand in the maroon packaging (it's not Xhilaration - it's the other one, whose name I can't remember). Their 1X/2X size, in both tights and leggings, fits me like a dream - it doesn't slide down my butt, the crotch doesn't drop, the ankles don't sag.
--Stretch Is Comfort (online) - I have their full-length and calf-length leggings, and they also fit really well.

Neither of these are specifically labeled as/made for petite sizes, so I've been really impressed with how well they fit.

I've heard good things about We Love Colors, but don't have first-hand experience there.
posted by okayokayigive at 8:29 AM on October 11, 2014

Best answer: I LOVE We Love Colors! I am not your shape, I'm 5'7" and chubby and curvy but not plus sized, but these standard-size tights fit my long legs and my butt with room to spare so I expect the plus sizes would also be similarly good at ACTUALLY FITTING asses. I used to be a Target tights devotee but ever since I put on a pair of We Love Colors tights I was like what am I even doing with my life, these are the best tights in the whole world. Here is a link. I also am kind of not careful with how I go through my daily life, including not sitting like a lady and climbing on things and letting my small be-clawed dog jump up on me, and these tights are tough.

Personally I like to combine my tights with loud socks and shoes, which ok may look ridiculous so this might not be an answer you're looking for, but here and here and here and here are pictures I have that feature the tights. (Adulthood is what you make it.) I agree with DoubleLune that thick socks and boots are the canonical answer.

Anyway, solid vote for you trying a pair of We Love Colors tights.
posted by phunniemee at 8:44 AM on October 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

I would love to wear boots but find it's not an option for many plus size women who carry weight in our legs, particularly with the added thickness of wool socks+leggings ("wide calf" indeed...). So I'm a tights enthusiast, and I can second the above recommendation for the Merona tights. They are really great, and go on clearance at the end of the season for $3.50-$5, so I stock up then.

I can also provide a first-hand endorsement of We Love Colors. Their tights are designed to come all the way up to the bra line, above the waist, rather than sitting at the lower waist/hip like some other tights. If you're petite, they might even come up too high, but they will not sag, I can tell you that much.

Both are really durable, I've found - and the Merona ones are sufficiently cheap that I don't feel too bad if they do snag or run.
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:46 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sock Dreams Signature Cotton Tights are the best! I'm not plus-size, but I love them, because they don't bind like regular tights, nor do they fall down so the crotch is around my knees. They are super-soft, stretchy, and come in a variety of colors.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:50 AM on October 11, 2014

Best answer: Yeah We Love Colors is the answer. You want the more expensive spandex/nylon blend and not the 100% nylon. Pricy, I know, but I've been wearing mine for 3 winters now so it's worth it. I have ripped a pair of them before, and I emailed customer service with an impassioned plea and they sent out a free replacement pair. I don't think that'd happen every time, of course, but it was still nice. Anyway, I used to think I hated tights for all the reasons you named and it was just that I hated shitty tights! I'm a size 22 and wear their size C/D, and I love them soooo muuuch.

And also yes, you want boots and leggings, too. I have found awesome leggings at this little cheap clothes store near me. The store is called It's Fashion Metro, in case you have one near you. I like the leggings they sell because they're thick, but they're not cotton so they don't bag up at my knees. Of course I can't remember the brand-name offhand. :(

Don't do Sock Dreams for tights, please. I LOVE their site, a lot, but their plus size stuff leaves much to be desired, for me. I know they try, but for their size options "plus" is juuuuust barely. And no shade to the above-commenter, just...non-plus-size people sometimes don't get how hard it is for us!

For wide-calf boots, if you need 'em, I've had the best outcome with boots from Avenue. They're pretty cheaply made and aren't real leather, but they actually fit my calves so I buy 'em anyway.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:54 AM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should discover the magic of teggings from Re/Dress. Sort of a legging/tight hybrid (hence the name). These meet all of your requirements, and fit a wide range of sizes.

I pretty much live in dresses and skirts all winter long. And like the above posters, I mostly wear boots with them. Ankle boots, midcalf boots, and knee boots... any of them look good.
posted by kimdog at 9:00 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, I should have mentioned two things:

1. I'm in Canada, so it will probably be online, which most suggestions have been, I know.

2. I don't find boots very comfortable for all day wear. It sounds like given this, the answer is that I need tights, not leggings. (I should add, given the comments above, my issue with boots isn't fit -- my weight is basically all between my knees and waist. It's that they're just not great for walking outside and inside my feet overheat. I also have super flat feet, and bunions, so finding shoes and boots is even worse than tights).

Thanks for all the suggestions so far.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:13 AM on October 11, 2014

Two super cute looks (just add a skirt to the first one): 1, 2

Stance has a lot of really fun socks.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:14 AM on October 11, 2014

OH! I was just in Canada visiting my parents and bought some AWESOME boots at Ronson's. They are Cobb Hill, which is made by New Balance. They're the Bethany, but all their styles are real cute, and they're soooo freakin' comfy, omg. Anyway I get if that still isn't your thing, but I was REALLY impressed by them.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 9:16 AM on October 11, 2014

Re: sock dreams. I have meaty calves (it's almost always the failure point for me for skinny pants sizing) and it is a struggle getting the sock dreams knee highs to reach actually up to my knees. I agree with the commenter above who has reservations about their plus sizing.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a couple pairs of really thick cotton tights and wool tights which I liked but that never quite pulled up all the way. So I slit the tights through the crotch, got a pair of bike shorts without a chamois and sewed the tights into the bike shorts. It's hard to describe in text, but I put on the split tights, pulled the shorts over them, pinned things in place (safety pins!), made marks with tailors chalk, stitched tights to shorts around the thigh with three rows of zig-zag stitch, made a binding stitch about 1/2 inch above the seam, then trimmed away all the un-needed tights bits. It's not the prettiest solution, but it works.

A formfitting pair of mid-thigh panties, longer boyshorts or tighter pettipants will do in place of bike shorts.

It's a lot more effort than simply buying tights and many types of tights won't survive the splitting and sewing to shorts step, but it's been helpful for me in salvaging some pairs I really liked but which just never fit properly. If you don't have access to a sewing machine, I would not recommend it, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2014

Check out Sonsee! I found out about them via a lovely Australian blogger and have been coveting my own pair for quite some time now.

Looks like they have free international shipping right now, too!
posted by miratime at 9:53 AM on October 11, 2014

We Love Colors is my go-to for tights. I wear skirts with tights to work pretty much daily from fall-spring, and the WLC ones have held up really well.

As to what to wear on your feet... I wear chunky Mary Jane flats. Either my trusty Keens (which are, alas, discontinued) or my Doc Marten mary janes. Skirt, tights, Mary Janes, and cardigan over black t-shirt = my happy librarian outfit.
posted by sarcasticah at 11:43 AM on October 11, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I think I'm going to try We Love Colours since it has sizing charts where I can actually be somewhere in the middle of a size rather than at the very edge or between sizes.

In browsing the various links, I realized that when I said 'cottony' what I meant was probably microfiber. I sort of imaging that those would have less of a gross panty-hose-my-skin-is-too-tight feel and also that they'd be warmer. Are there any sites that might have microfiber to fit plus petite?

Also, I can't tell from the pictures -- are the We Love Colours tights (nylon/lycra blend) opaque? Some pictures it looks like not, but that might be glare.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:19 PM on October 11, 2014

I have to wear some kind of tights/leggings every day for work, and I have similar proportion issues. I also live in a colder climate, though I am in the US.

I do wear leggings with boots, but when that is not an option, I go with the Spanx/ Sarah Blakely brand from Target. They are higher quality than the house brand, and I have never had a problem with them sliding down or doing that weird crotch thing that ruins your day. Target also makes some pretty decent fleece-lined tights, although those are seasonal and I am never sure if they are going to offer them again.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:20 PM on October 11, 2014

I'm 5'1" and a size 14/16. I love Spanx tights, the high-waisted kind. I hate the feeling of tight things around my waist, and these tuck right into the bottom of my bra. They're opaque. They don't creep down and wrinkle around my ankles or knees.

I also like these DKNY opaque tights, which I wear in the "Tall" size, but which apparently now come in a Petite Plus size.

I wear tights all winter long with all kinds of shoes, but I like ankle boots and socks that come just above the top of the boots for warmth and comfort.
posted by houseofdanie at 4:23 PM on October 11, 2014

Response by poster: sarcasticah I actually meant what socks to put on my feet, not shoes, but I'm curious about those Docs Mary Janes. I typically can't wear mary janes because my feet are so flat any shoe that isn't solid all the way to the part of my foot/leg that is vertical just flops open. Also, I am very hard on shoes -- like I bought a bear of Birkenstocks because everyone told me they were so durable and three months later they were literally crumbling.

So, A) How durable are these B) How solid are they...if I were stepping on the inner side (i.e. on the side wall of the shoe from the inside) of the shoe (which I would be) would it flop open?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:36 PM on October 11, 2014

Seconding teggings from Re/Dress, btw, which happens to be up the street from me and is GLORIOUS.
posted by at 5:11 PM on October 11, 2014

Re: We Love Colors tights, I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't like them. They creep down my legs as the day goes on, pooling around my ankles, while the waist stays put. Maybe they're too big? I don't know. I love that they're available in a million vivid colors, but I don't find them comfortable. Some colors are really fantastically opaque and others aren't as much.
posted by houseofdanie at 5:27 PM on October 11, 2014

I haaaaate tights. No matter how plus size they claim to be, I've never found a pair that fits right. Leggings are so much simpler, more comfortable, and more durable that I'm already stocking up on extras for when they go out of fashion again.

(I wish I could recommend you my favourite brand but they don't ship outside AU/NZ.)

As for Doc Martens maryjanes, I've been wearing them for several decades now. Excellent shoes! The chunkiness of the sole and thickness of the leather means they never stretch out (which happens to me with a lot of flats), and the visual weight of them is flattering for curvy gals. My current pair is about 18 months old and still looks great.

The only negative is that Docs take forever to break in.
posted by Georgina at 5:35 PM on October 11, 2014

Best answer: For me the WLC are pretty well opaque, yeah. Maybe not on my upper thighs where they stretch out more but they're definitely not translucent!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:12 PM on October 12, 2014

Do you have a Catherine's in Canada? They, and the Avenue, do offer tights and leggings in petite and plus simultaneously. I've been happy enough with quality, aside from that they only last one season before the elastic goes. Avenue has some fleece lined tights right now, although I haven't tried them to attest to comfort/quality.
posted by AliceBlue at 3:46 PM on October 12, 2014

The Docs are damn near indestructible. I can't imagine they would flop open, although I'm not entirely sure what you mean... the buckles don't open or anything. And my last pair I wore almost daily walking around Boston and they lasted AGES. They do take forever to break in, though. (Once they do, they're super-comfy, but they can be a little tough on the backs of your ankles for a little while.)
posted by sarcasticah at 5:06 PM on October 12, 2014

Response by poster: I ordered some tights from We Love Colors and just bought some from Target today to tide me over til they come. I haven't worn the Target tights all day yet, but I tried them on and they're great, even though according to the sizing chart, I should be at least 5'4 to wear the tights. Hopefully all-day wear won't result in knee wrinkles or low-hanging crotch. I am very happy with these and hope to be equally happy with the cheerier colours I've ordered from We Love Colors.

Here is a pic of two different kinds of shoes flopping open when I wear them, with my world's flattest feet. These are obviously relatively "soft-shelled" shoes that I borrowed for the pic (I could never wear shoes like these), but this happens even with much firmer leather with any shoe that isn't completely closed on top (basically up to where foot meets leg) and even with many that ARE that closed. I've never found a Mary Jane I can wear -- yes, you would think the strap holds it closed, but no: Inner side of shoe flops in, pulls strap, which pulls outer side of shoe. Obviously this destroys the shoes in a couple of weeks and is hell on my ankles and knees. The first time I went to a podiatrist he said "I'm surprised you're not in much more pain."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:47 PM on October 12, 2014

I realized that when I said 'cottony' what I meant was probably microfiber

FYI, microfiber is usually a synthetic.

If you don't want your legwear to be wrinkly look for some percentage lycra or spandex in the fiber content.

It it possible to wear skirts, leggings, socks, and shoes and not look ridiculous?

I hope so, but I'm not going to post pictures of myself for everyone to judge. Personally I think leggings and high heels with nothing else on the feet look kind of odd.

This is strictly a YMMV thing, and if you think leggings look ridiculous with socks you are going to feel ridiculous no matter if someone else likes that look.
posted by yohko at 1:52 PM on October 13, 2014

Oh, maybe you meant they look ridiculous with socks under the leggings. Yeah, they usually do, especially when people wear worn out old socks like this. You can wear fashion socks over the leggings. Here's some plus size socks. There are plainer colors hiding in there too.
posted by yohko at 2:01 PM on October 13, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, I've now had the chance to wear both the Target and We Love Colors. The clear winner is Target. Here's my analysis:

1. If you think of tights as a point along a continuum between pantyhose and leggings, the We Love Colors are closer to pantyhose and the Target are closer to leggings. This goes both to the fact that the WLC give more of that gross-panty-hose-against-skin feeling and that they seem like they could actually run if not treated carefully.
2. Neither does the annoying penguin crotch thing.
3. They both do the foot thing -- I'd forgotten this was a thing I hate about tights. The stupid seam at the toes always makes shoes too tight wherever it is and rubs against my foot and hurts. ARGH.
4. The target tights stay up. The WLC are all wrinkled around my ankles.
5. Though I bought the the smallest size, I think the WLC are too big. I think they're bunching up because they're practically baggy. OK, obviously not actually baggy, but much baggier than tights should be. They also reach up to just under my bra, well above my lowest ribs. I've been pulling the stupid things up all day.
6. The WLC are more translucent and the Target are more opaque.

So if you're petite and plus sized, I recommend the Target. EVEN THOUGH the target sizing chart starts at 5'4 and the WLC actually does go Petite, the Target seem to fit better in practice.

My only beef with the Target is that they don't sell many colours in Canada, it seems.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:47 PM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the update! I'm too fat for Target so WLC is my only option, waaaahhhH!!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 1:02 PM on November 15, 2014

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