I hate tights.
Maybe it's because I'm tall and have been scarred by a lifetime of tights that sag around my crotch. Maybe it's because I spent many years in un-air conditioned ballet studios, where no matter how hot it got, you could NEVER remove your regulation white tights.
Whatever the reason, I've always believed that tights are garbage. Uncomfortable, vagina-wedgie, disappointing garbage.
But more than that — I believed that there was no difference in tights, no matter how much money you spend on them. Cheap tights? Cheap trash. Designer tights? Expensive trash. Tights suck, no matter what... or so I thought.
Challenged by my tights-loving coworkers, I put two pairs of black tights — one cheap, one expensive — to the ultimate test.
And honestly, my life has forever been changed.
These are the black tights that I put to the test: Expensive versus cheap.
I wanted to compare apples to apples as much as possible, so I made sure both pairs of tights were A) opaque, B) black, and C) had "control." Easy, right?
ALL those words mean completely different things from brand to brand (and sometimes style to style). You can buy "opaque black tights" and end up with sheer grayish pantyhose, and I really think the lack of consistency puts people off. Tights brands, you can do better.
Even though words mean nothing in Pantyhose Kingdom, these two pairs seemed to be as similar to one another as possible. It was time to compare and contrast.
First: SIZING. Which brand is best when it comes to figuring out your size?
Figuring out what size you wear in tights is a circle of hell. You might as well consult a troll that lives at the bottom of a well than half of the brand size guides online. Are you a small, medium, or queen? Are you a small (A), or small (B)? Are you a medium Queen, or a 2 (QT)?
Much of this complex algebra is not explained.
Tights sizing is supposed to be based on your height and weight, but there’s not much standardization between brands, so one generally has to spend a humiliating few minutes consulting charts and graphs on the back of the packet.
This is the fancy Wolford size guide. Per the chart — which took me MUCH longer to figure out than I'd like to admit — Wolford’s size range goes from XS through XXL. Per that size guide, Wolford’s 2XL tights will fit people up to 6’3” who weight 200lbs+.
That's not exactly size inclusive — the 2XL is about the equivalent of a US size 16-18 — but it's not the worst range ever.
No Nonsense's size guide is... much less fancy.
Here is the No Nonsense size guide. Above, it couldn't be more simple! Online it is... more complicated. No Nonsense is definitely cheap, but if I wanted to figure out my size across styles, I'd end up with MULTIPLE different answers.
Anyway. No Nonsense’s sizing goes from S - XXL. Per the size chart, No Nonsense’s XXL tight in this style is for people up to 6” who weigh up to 300lbs. Again — not SUPER inclusive, but not a terrible start.
According to both Wolford and No Nonsense, I’m right on the cusp of sizes S and M.
I ordered size medium in both, based on years of Tall Person experience.
Next, I asked myself "Which brand has the best packaging?" Because when it comes to tights, that matters.
Good packaging keeps the tights flat and stops creases and serious wrinkles from forming.
Bad packaging lets the tights get crushed up into an unattractive ball, which leaves you with lumpy-looking legs.
Even after laying flat for 48 hours, the difference cased by the packaging was clear. The crappy packaging left the No Nonsense tights (top) super-wrinkly and lumpy, while the Wolford tights (bottom) were smooth as a baby's butt.
I finally understand all those people who tell you not to tie the legs of your tights in knots to store them! I get it now!
Because those wrinkles in the No Nonsense cheap tights? They did NOT come out.
And that wasn't the only problem.
Unwrapped and laid out, there was already a BIG size difference between the expensive tights (up top) and the cheap tights (below). And it did NOT make my tall person heart very happy to see.
I immediately started sweating nervously, imaging trying to cram my legs into the doll-sized elastic tubes of the cheap tights. Visions of labial wedgies danced in my head.
Then it got worse.
The expensive tights felt absolutely glorious on the inside — and even with my hand shoved down into the toes, they were SUPER opaque.
This may seem silly, but I also really liked that the Wolford tights have a tag in the back (so you know which side IS the back) and built-in heels. Prevents a lot of confusion when you're getting dressed in the morning!
The cheap tights were slightly softer inside than outside, but were only reasonably opaque.
The material the No Nonsense tights was made of was much thinner and felt more breathable than the expensive version, too.
I was starting to realize that I had no idea what I liked in tights — do I like thick material or thin? Do I like super-soft, or a little rougher? WHO KNOWS.
It was time to try both pairs of tights on. God help me.
Because the expensive tights had a built-in heel, putting them on was easier than anything I'd ever done before. These are 100% struggle-less tights.
I'm used to jumping around, yanking the waistband towards my ears to get tights on. The Wolford tights ($85, Shopbop) were different — they were VERY snug, thanks to that "control" built in — they slid on easily, and I didn't need to do an interpretive dance to feel comfortable in them.
Once I pulled the $85 tights on, I was sold. I finally understood why people LIKE tights!
These tights ($85, Shopbop) were soft, yet provided firm support. They were like getting a really good hug, but all over my lower body.
They were opaque — perhaps a little transparent around the contours of my ass, but honestly, what wouldn't become see-through in the presence of my butt?
Most importantly, the Wolford tights had a flat matte black finish that I really liked. Finally, I thought. I see why people actually wear these things!
The Wolford tights were as black as my soul, and opaque enough to hide me from the eyes of God. They were also definitely warm enough for a New York winter.
(And yes, the tights DID match the other black items in my wardrobe. Fellow goth queens know how important this is!)
After my expensive Wolford tights experience, I felt like this:
But would I feel similarly high-kicky after trying the $6 cheap tights?
There was only one way to find out.
Then it got worse. Despite being thinner, the inexpensive tights were not very stretchy — and they were CLEARLY not made for tall people. I didn't even think I'd be able to get them on.
I finally got the cheap No Nonsense tights on, and readers, it was NOT GOOD.
These tights are why I hate tights ($6, Amazon). They were uncomfortable to wear and even WORSE to think about — I suffered the physical indignity of tights cutting into my waist and strangling my thighs, while also knowing that my legs had been smooshed into weird shapes. The waistband came up almost to my armpits, but the crotch kept sliding down towards my knees.
I was not in to these, is what I'm saying.
Seriously. You can see through these tights and into my soul.
These tights may look this sheer because I'm 5'10, and they're having to really WORK to cover my legs. But again — I ordered my size based on the arcane size guide provided by No Nonsense. They're meant to fit. Nobody should have to consult an oracle to get basic black tights that fit them!
As I tried to stop the crotch of these tights ($6) from sinking down to my knees (again), another run appeared — this time right by my knee.
MIRACULOUSLY, the No Nonsense tights also didn't make my dress stick to them. And from a distance, they looked pretty cute! It was only up close that you realized...
The "black" tights looked to have a STRONG gray-brown tint. I had committed the cardinal sin of wearing non-matching black clothing!
I peeled the $6 tights off, truly annoyed at my life, at clothing, and at elastic in general.
So, what's the verdict? What did I, a noted tights-hater, take away from the experience?
For starters, I've seen the light. I am IN LOVE with the opaque Wolford tights ($85, Shopbop). I have never in my life worn a pair of tights that's so comfortable, and looks so damn good. I will gladly spend my money on these expensive-ass tights, and feel proud while I do so.
I learned that, in these two instances, you do get what you pay for. I didn't like the super-cheap cheap No Nonsense tights ($6, Amazon), but I *did* learn that a lot of the issues I had with stockings were because I was trying to cram my hams into cheap things. Tall girls, go Wolford. You won't regret it.
That said, I can really see the benefit in having cheap tights on hand. If you need "emergency tights," or you don't live in a place that gets cold very often, or if you're not on the taller end of things, I can imagine that the No Nonsense tights would definitely work. They'll probably get you from A to B, with only a few runs in the process.
But if you need to wear opaque black tights to an event, to work, or if you just enjoy NOT feeling like a butternut pumpkin stuffed into a condom, go Wolford. If they've made me a believer, just think about the brave new world of actually awesome tights waiting for you.