Wolford, Heist and Calvin Klein: Update

I went a bit quiet for a while. After buying a lot of tights to work out which is the best, I ended up with an overflowing drawer of tights. Him Indoors has repeatedly accused me of trying to make him homeless by filling the flat with so many tights that he can't get in. So I had to take a bit of a breather from buying more tights. But this has allowed me to see how some of the more expensive tights progress after several wearings. Not unrelated to the Pretty Polly post, for a large number of the tights, I'm not sure if they last, because they don't have a clear label on them. I know I'm not the only person who has a mixture of cheap and expensive tights, so I have to wonder what the manufacturers are thinking of here. 

Wolford

Ten years said the reviewers on the John Lewis website. Not even true if she meant it in Mercury Years. A little bit of catching, but not to the extent of ladders or holes. What is much worse is that something seems to have happened to the elasticity. The slight problem with the fit has turned into a major problem, as the top of the tights rolls down regularly, turning me into a human egg timer. These tights did also say that they could be machine washed, so there can be no accusations that I washed them inappropriately either. 

This is making them slide down the table from 6th to 19th.

Heist

Climbing up the table is Heist, our new breakthough tights. Everytime I put them on I feel like I am about to rip the bit where the waistband is connected to the legs, but I don't. And they remain as good as new. No ladders, catches, holes or anything. They also seem to be very happy with being machine washed. I do, however, have to take exception to the reviewer I saw who said they were a great gift for Valentine's day. I'm more interested in tights than most, and I would not be pleased with these as a Valentine's day gift. 

Moving these up from 11th to 5th. 

Calvin Klein

I bought some more Calvin Klein tights, which were in a two-pack and a little bit cheaper than the original one I reviewed, but a lot worse. And the original one has not worn very well. Not as bad as Wolford, but its become a little bit baggier. Though I will admit I haven't been as religious about good washing practices with Calvin Klein as I was with Heist and Wolford (that's the difference between paying £25 and paying £6). 

I think I'm going to move these down from 3rd to 6th. 

Pretty Polly

Tights are an important part of an outfit. They can make or break a line. When you have a big day, talking at a conference, or an important meeting, you need to be wearing your best tights. Unfortunately, of course, that now depends on how many crucial meetings I have in a week. One or two and I can wear my Heist tights. Any more than that, and its pot luck. My tights drawer is filled with specimens of variable quality. The other day I had a big meeting, and was wearing chafing tights. Probably why the meeting didn't go that well. 

My friend Iggy likes Pretty Polly because it has a pink tag which is easily spotted when you are going to be presenting at a conference. She thinks they Pretty Polly are good, and that plus the pink tags makes them a reliable Big Day pair. It is weird that more tight manufacturers have not caught onto the fact that you need to be able to identify their tights after you take them out of the packaging. I presume this is because they want them to be a one time only thing. The poor quality of tights really is a scandal. But hopefully this blog is a step on the way to fixing this pressing need. 

Rating

Iggy is right about most things but I don't think she is right about Pretty Polly. They are an alright pair of tights, but I don't think they are great. They do a good job of staying up, and have a good fit, but they are not as soft and comfortable as others.  Also, importantly, they don't last well once they have been washed (or at least this pair which was a Heat Cooling Pair don't). These were another great TK Maxx buy, for £3.99 but normally retailing at £10. Even at £3.99, I'm not sure about them. I will however, give them extra marks for being made in Derbyshire. All good things come from the Midlands after all. 

Calvin Klein

For me, Calvin Klein will always be the scene in Back to the Future where Lorraine assumes that Marty is called Calvin because Calvin is written on his underpants. Every time I put my tights on, I hope that one of the crazy older people I know will send me back in time to the point where my parents met. This would be alright, an enjoyable escapade, but the real excitement would be when the time travelling steam train arrived. Though for some reason no film would be made that heavily involves the time travelling train. 

Because something in my soul rejects the idea of wearing Calvin Klein underpants, tights are my only hope of this happening. I'm pretty certain I know which of my friends is experimenting with time travel though. Fortunately, when this happens I will be very comfortable. Calvin Klein tights are really good. So good, that this came up at my book group recently and the women all agreed and all the men were confused. Calvin Klein is on the waistband of the tights, so that anyone from the 50s will think I'm called Calvin. One day this is going to happen for me. I'm sure of it. 

Rating

I bought these at TK Maxx where they were £5.99 a pair, down from £13. These are good for £13 and very cheap at slightly less than half the price. A really good fit, and properly soft. Plus I think I have recently underplayed the importance of labelling. If you have a good pair of tights, you need to know which one it is. 

 

Debenhams - Jasper Conran

The British have a strange relationship with Health and Safety. Perhaps its because we live in a country where the environment isn't trying to kill us. In London building regs are the stupid bureaucracy that holds up your kitchen extension, in San Francisco its the thing that stops your apartment block collapsing in an earthquake. There have been many health and safety disasters in the UK: many of the big events of my childhood were health and safety disasters--the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster, the Kings Cross Fire and Hillsborough are some of my earliest memories. It must be one of the great successes of public policy that there hasn't been a big health and safety accident in ten years--and in that one take took place in 2005, Buncefield, no-one died. But is this celebrated? Is anyone pleased about the work of the HSE? A very definite no. It is one of the things that people resent the EU for, as if not being burnt alive really quashes our freedom. Someone I know, vaguely, voted to leave the EU because of all the red tape around health and safety. That for her was worth the economic risk. Even more inexplicable, three members of her family had died from Mesothelioma. You would have thought that she would want a tightening of regulations about the use of Asbestos, but instead she saw that as a impingement on her life.

It's not hypocritical that I recognise this attitude is madness, but also have it myself. Cognitive dissonance is necessary to operate in the world. The signs at St Pancras station telling people to hold the handrail when going up the escalator make me mad. The anger has now turned to sheepishness and embarrassment after I went sprawling on the escalator. With both hands firmly in my pockets. So with nothing to break my fall, there was nothing to stop my nice Jasper Conran tights being ripped. If only I had a more sensible attitude to health and safety advice. 

Scoring

Annoyingly, as I have ruined them on the second wear, the Jasper Conran tights are really good. They fit slightly better than the other Debenhams tights, and are nice and soft. They have a wide wasteband (nice) with Jasper Conran written all over them (weird). A very nice toe. They do cost £8.50 though.

Boots

Men patronise me a lot. Possibly people look at me and think 'Here's a woman who can't even find a pair of tights that fits her properly, I assume she knows nothing'. But then considering how they are dressed, I think that perhaps they just see a young woman who needs putting in her place. A trainer recently started off a training session by putting me down. You just wonder if the urge to be a twat was so overwhelming that he didn't even realise that was such a bad move. Or if he was just so used to putting women down, he didn't even realise he was doing it. 

I'm sure there's an inverse link between being successful and being patronising. The failed journalist mansplains his way to self-confidence. The FTSE 100 CEO doesn't need to put women down to have a sense of worth. Stefano Passina was the first billionaire I ever met, and maybe the nicest. I came back from my breakfast with him so happy about how interested he was in me. Especially as I really knew nothing, and he would have been well within his rights to sideline me. I therefore always have had a bit of a thing from Boots. Even though I don't really approve of him buying Boots in a MBO and then selling it to Walgreen, I still like Boots. I like everything about it--the store card, the promise of beauty and the hope of good health. I want it to be the place of great tights.

Scoring

Unfortunately, they are not great. They are not even good. The legs are too long and the waistband too tight, leading to saggy ankles and a lifebelt style look around the stomach. They do have a little label but it doesn't make up for the much bigger problem.

H&M

Halfway through the Harry Potter series, a truth becomes so clear that it can no longer be overlooked. There would be no need for the adventures and the books if Harry just listened to Hermione. At each point she gives sensible advice, mainly along the lines of 'let's talk to the grown-ups', that would result in them not getting into unnecessary trouble that results in people getting hurt or killed. I fear that there may be a parallel with me, this blog and my friend Laura. Fortunately, the consequences of me not listening to Laura are just wearing uncomfortable tights rather than my godfather being killed. 

Laura is right about almost everything, and just like Harry and Hermoine, I owe her my life. Well, I owe her the fact that she once arranged for me to get out of Nepal when I got stuck there, but at the time it felt like she could do magic. When told about the blog, Laura pointed me in the direction of H&M. I was put off by the fact what she actually said was that they did good maternity tights and didn't listen to her. 

Scoring

But as always Laura was right. H&M tights are very good. I got the 20 Denier (it is August after all) 4 Pack for £3.99. That actually makes them fractions of a penny cheaper than Walthamstow market. Think what I could spend that on. They fit really very well indeed. And actually stay in place nicely all day. No rolling down when you've been loafing a bit at your desk or after a big lunch. Only two problems with them. First there is no way of telling front from back, which as you know is important when you are wearing them often. Secondly, they did catch a bit. But that matters less when they cost less than a pound. Straight to the front of the queue. 

 

Next

I'm sorry it's been so long without a post. I got distracted by Brexit. Before the referendum I did my first political campaigning. Handing out leaflets to strangers is more time consuming and less fun than you think. It cuts into your tight reviewing time. And after the referendum, I've been too busy arguing with people about what the vote means. But six weeks since the referendum I think I can return to my blog.

This review is of Next. A shop that confuses me almost as much as Cornwall voting to leave. Come the Boxing Day Sales, come the stories of people camping outside overnight to go to the Next sales. And so follows my confusion. The clothes at Next aren't incredibly good or amazingly expensive. Why do people value their comfort and time so little that they are willing to queue in the cold for so long? Yes, almost everything is on sale in the Next sale. Yes, they do generally have larger discounts than other retailers. But people should have more going on in their life than that. While I would never do it, I can understand the people who queue for once in a lifetime events. Or if I was saving hundreds of pounds maybe. But £40 off a dress? I don't think so. But I guess what I've learnt recently is that I struggle with the decisions of many people in this country.

Scoring 

These tights were bought for me by my mummy who is much more of a Next fan than I am.  And I think they were the body shaping range (thanks Mum!). But they were too tight, and started to roll up and slip down. Definitely not the body shape that I want. 

Falke

Don't worry, I'm not just going to be testing expensive tights. My glamorous colleague Samantha has suggested Sainsburys; lovely Laura has suggested H&M. I promise to return to the high street soon. 

These Falke tights have been in the drawer for a while, waiting for that most horrible of events, a hot day spent in the office. Many fashion experts would have you believe that me, Kate Middleton and your gran are the only people who wear tights when its hot. They are intent on making me feel like a freak. Its a much more extreme take on the view that it is not socially acceptable to wear black tights. Because if you wear tights it gives away the fact that you can't afford to take taxis everywhere. And if you can't afford to take taxis everywhere you must be a complete nobody. But if it's not socially acceptable to wear black tights, let alone nude tights, why do so many places sell them? Could it be because your feet really hurt if you wear shoes without socks or tights on a hot day? And most people have better things to spend their money on than taxis? Although maybe if I stopped spending so much money on expensive tights, I would have more to spend on taxis. 

We met Falke last time when we were reviewing Burlington. Falke has a whole line in wedding socks and tights. What the fuck is a pair of wedding socks? Is someone saying, 'You know you've spent £15,000 on a massive event. But I'm sorry its not going to be a special day unless you have special socks. And not just a pair of really nice socks, but a pair that has been marketed as wedding socks.' Even I think that's mental, and I spend about 2/3rds of my awake time thinking about tights. Can't help but think that this is more of this fashion industry bullshit. 

Scoring

Falke's non-wedding tights are nothing special. I don't know if they save the comfort and fit aspects for the wedding line, but if I was wearing these at my wedding, I would worry about sagginess. As well as a tendency to roll down, which might lead my guests to speculate if this was a shotgun wedding. 

This pair was £12 (it was 20 denier - hence being worn in hot weather. Proper opaques are around £25). Doesn't meet cost effectiveness targets at all. 

Burlington

Recently I've mainly been watching Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, a programme about a 1930s Australian toff who investigates murders in between sleeping with gorgeous men.  The Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher (yes, Phyrne is a brilliant name choice for anyone looking for one) wears fabulous clothes and hunts down backstreet abortionists. The books go into even more detail about her hiding birth control from customs officials. Very unlike Miss Marple. 

Phryne (I believe after 3 series in two weeks, we are on first name terms) has a assistant called Dot who is often seen mending Phryne's stockings. It's actually a bit of a feature in the books - Dot finds that it calms her down while Miss Fisher is out chasing white slave traders. Which leads me to the question: How do you mend stockings? Are these nylon stockings? Doesn't that take enormous care and a very fine needle (Phryne wouldn't put up with obvious patches near her silk underwear)? Or are these the equivalent of my thick opaque tights? I fear this blog may be distracting me from bigger picture issues. 

This week we have been wearing Burlington tights, as we are unintentionally in the expensive tight section of the blog. I'm not actually entirely clear whether Burlington is a brand or a pattern. That sort of confusion is not going to win me Tights blogger of the year. I'm going to have to up my game if I'm going to get anything to go in the trophy cabinet. Its made by Falke, the people who make posh socks, but everything under the Burlington brand has that argyle pattern. But it does have a completely separate section on the website. I'm going to go with a brand specialising in argyle that has been bought by Falke. 

Scoring

The rule with luxury goods is always go really expensive. Brands that are entry-point luxury are never worth it - they don't have the high-quality ingredients and they haven't been hand-made. They are basically just a mark-up for a brand. Whereas, top of the range stuff is often made with much better stuff by much more skilled people, and often actually has a smaller profit margin than the cheaper stuff. I feel like this has happened with Burlington. At £18, its cheaper than Wolford and Heist, and boy is that clear. Nowhere near the quality or fit of the other two. So if you're into expensive tights, just pay a little bit more. 

I can however, wholeheartedly recommend Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It may be the most feminist programme I have watched in a long time. 

Heist

You can probably imagine that I have complained many a time about my tights. Never however, has my significant other decided to go into the tights business in order to bring me the tights I deserve. 

If only I was married to Edzard van der Wyck, who went into the tights business when he realised that his wife didn't much like her tights. According to the story, related here, his wife wasn't even really complaining about the tights. He had to really push her to get her to discuss all the things she didn't like. I don't really understand this. Ever since I've been doing this blog (a whole month now), people have been telling me their tales of things they don't like in their tights. Gussets (obviously), tights that get a hole in the toe because of flat feet, seams in general, laddering, and of course, the question about how to wash them.* I think Edzard van der Wyck and I would get on. He apparently did a lot of testing with 67 women (oh! To have been one of them) to see what they really wanted from tights. Turns out it's obvious. They want high quality, no seam tights, with different waistbands. Yes! You can choose the waistband--high, for those of us who want more support around our stomachs, and low for those crazy people who want a pair of tights resting on their hips. Why has no-one thought of this before? WHAT HAS BEEN WRONG WITH TIGHT MAKERS? WHAT HAVE THEY BEEN DOING? 

Scoring

These are good, good tights. Like really good. No, better than that. They come in a little black box, with not a bit of cellophane in sight. Already from the packaging they are much classier than any other pair. And they fit perfectly. All day they are in the perfect position. No sagging or rolling down or anything. They do cost £22 though. But unlike Wolford, we have no idea about whether they are long-lasting pairs of tights. There are no enthusiastic reviews saying that they last decades. Heist has only been going for a matter of months. They feel good quality though--on a par with Wolford, so if Wolford's can last years, I suspect that Heist's might do too. It's a big bet though. On effectiveness they are great, but on cost effectiveness not so good. I do reserve the right to move them up the league the longer they last. 

*Caitlin Moran thinks you should wash them in the shower when you are washing your hair. There's something icky about that to my mind.