Honestly? My legs seem to have fewer nerve endings that most of my other bits. I mean, my hands are CONSTANTLY cold, if my neck isn’t covered I get pretty miserable, and my feet can feel frosty through two pairs of socks and a pair of boots. But my legs? They don’t care. I take a 45-minute walk every morning so long as it’s 10 degrees or above, and yeah, my legs get cold but never the miserable, unbearable, make-it-stop kind of cold that afflicts my other parts. So I feel relatively ill-equipped to handle this particular reader request, which I believe has been submitted by at least nine of you over the past few years.
Additionally, if I’m going to spend any length of time outside during the winter, I DON’T wear an outfit that includes tights. Tights outfits are for days when I’ll be heading from my house to the car and then into another building. If I’ll be walking far or doing a lot of in-and-out action, I wear ponte pants, leggings, slacks, or jeans. Even maxi skirts work better than tights in the leg-warming department. I’ve lived in wintry climates long enough to know that tights will not work if it’s very cold, very windy, or very wet outside.
So. Now that I’ve destroyed my own credibility, here’s what I know about warm tights:
Tights that are decidedly not-warm
I have bought a lot of tights from Target. They suck. I used to buy them because they’re cheap and easily accessible and come in a decent variety of colors and styles. But eventually I changed my ways because they are SO not-warm, and they snag the instant I remove them from their packaging. Target has created and sold a few “premium” styles over the years, and they seem to appear on shelves and then promptly sell out. In my experience, those are more expensive but also warmer and more durable. The standard-issue, every color of the rainbow ones? Thin, delicate, not-warm.
Hate to say it, but We Love Colors tights aren’t warm either. Their leggings are a different story, since they’re a much thicker weave, but the tights themselves are pretty thin. This vendor wins on color and size variety, but falls short in the warmth department.
Hue tights, though adorable, are fairly hit or miss, in my experience. Their standard opaques are good, but not super warm. Some of their thicker styles are fabulous deep-freeze options (see below), but a few of the fashion-y options are just too lightweight for winter wear. Check reviews when you can.
And, of course, common sense dictates that sheers and patterns will be less warm than opaques.
Tights I know to be warm
Express opaques – These are my secret bargain tights weapon and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. They hold up beautifully after several years of hard wear and laundering, they don’t run, and they’re marvelously warm. Stock often runs low online, but check your local mall for more options.
Sweater tights – These lose in the sleekness department, but win in the warmth department. While many pairs of tights offer a single, flimsy layer of colorful nylon to protect your gams, sweater tights are made from thicker, warmer fibers. Skip the openwork versions and go for something that offers solid coverage from toe to torso. Hue sweater tights are incredibly toasty.
Falke 100 denier – I’ve worn my Falke opaques many times, laundered them many times, and am madly, madly in love with them. They’re expensive, yes, but they are durable, virtually snag-proof, and marvelously cozy. They’re also a gorgeous matte black, in case shiny opaques bug ya. Go for the 100 denier. Worth it. (Wearing a pair in the above photo.)
SPANX – This is another brand that just doesn’t mess around when it comes to tights. My pairs of high-waisted tights are good and warm, but my reversible pair is AMAZING. Since two colors of fiber are needed, these tights are naturally denser and a bit thicker, but not to the point of bulk or discomfort. And they come in plus sizes!
Tights that Trusted Sources assure me are warm
Fleece-lined – I know it seems preposterous that someone living in Minnesota hasn’t yet sampled fleece-lined tights. But my legs! They just never get that cold! (See above.) Despite my lack of personal experience, I can tell you that many, many readers and fellow bloggers have assured me that fleece-lined tights are a wintry miracle. They’re not bulky, they cut the wind considerably, and they feel amazing. Another option here.
Smartwool – Since many stores sell these with their ski-related apparel, I’m inclined to believe that they’re the real deal. User reviews confirm that these tights are perfect for winter, even calling them the “warmest tights ever.” Intriguing, no? Available in basic neutrals: Black, brown, charcoal.
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