Fall Dresses That Won’t Melt Your Wallet (Also: I AM THE BLACK TIGHTS JEDI MASTER, SO LEARN AT MY FEET, GRASSHOPPERS!)

Here are some toasty warm dresses I’m considering purchasing for fall, plus my very favorite black tights.

Sep 19, 2012 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

I guess it’s the right time of year to talk about fall clothes, even though it was over 100 degrees for the past week here in Los Angeles. I spent the entire heat wave wearing my swimsuit inside the house 24/7.
 
I actually own exactly ZERO fall clothes, unless you count my collection of about 87 coats. My winter wardrobe formula is to take a dress I’ve been wearing all summer long and add pair of tights, some boots, a cardigan and a coat.
 
As a result, most of my winter looks aren’t exactly so winter-y. But I’m lucky I live somewhere that it doesn’t really get cold. I mean, we went to the beach after breakfast last Christmas! 
 
I am always looking at the news and seeing people who live in places that it snows and wondering “WHAT IN THE HELL DO THEY WEAR? HOW ARE THEY SURVIVING?” I would fall down and die. I went to Minnesota for a job in February during the mildest winter they’ve seen in almost 14 years. The following photo was taken during the 10 minutes total I spent outdoors while I was there:
 
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Mailbox licking is my Olympic sport.

 
I have 2 dresses and 3 pairs of tights on underneath that coat, and I was still freezing.
 
This fall I swear I am finally going to buy some winter-specific (read: long sleeve and/or sweater material) clothes. That still means dresses, as I am no big fan of pants.
 
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Bow shift dress, $44.90.
 
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I just bought this Kirna Zabete for Target dress last night. It's so Stevie Nicks meets Saturday Night Fever. I feel like the stuff that doesn't ever sell in the Target designer collaborations is always the really great, interesting stuff.
 
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Tiered ruffle dress, $75.00. Sizes 10-28.

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Denim dress, $49.00. Sizes 8-28.

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Here's what makes dresses in the winter work: A great pair of tights. Now, I am not a super braggadocios babe, BUT I KNOW ALL THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT BLACK TIGHTS. Do not attempt to dispute or disprove this fact. You will fail.
 
I currently own about 175 pairs of black tights, and I wear a pair every single day in the winter, without exception. I absolutely never wear colored tights -- I did have a small dalliance with some very dark magenta tights a few years ago, but I am back on the black tight tit.
 
To be specific: I am talking about the blackest of the black; the most opaque tights money can buy. I cannot and will not abide sheerness of any sort in my black tights. Edie Sedgwick would be proud.
 
This is my go to everyday black tight. I wear them everywhere, to work, to bed, on the airplane, at the gym. I buy them by the fistful. That is, when I can find them. 
 
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Merona Premium tights, about $10.
 
They are inexpensive (about $10) and it’s ridiculous that Target is constantly sold out of them! They aren’t even available online right now. I have been reduced to having my mom look for them at her local Target in Texas and shipping them to me.
 
They are very soft, very dense and very matte, with no sheen to them at all. Keep a lookout for them in stores, soon, I hope. If for some reason they have discontinued them, Target is to be held fully responsible for my death.
 
I think Target’s line of Merona Premium tights is in every way, shape and form equal to the more expensive Hue tights, which are what I admittedly always buy for actresses, because they like a little brand name recognition. 
 
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Hue's opaque tights come in a ton of colors, if you are into that sort of thing. Which I most certainly am not!
 
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Who is wearing all these crazy colored tights???

Then there are my very favorite "special occasion" black tights, made by H&M. I always wear them with party dresses during the holidays.
 
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Notice they call themselves 200 denier. A denier is a unit of measurement for the linear mass density of fibers. In short, that means these tights are super thick, super dark, and so very black. They have a slight sheen to them -- not L'eggs status, just silky and slightly shimmery and smooth to the touch. 
 
They are also somehow conveniently NOT available online, so if you find yourself in an H&M and they have ‘em in medium/tall, HIT ME UP. I’ll pay you double. The H&M 200 denier tights are a true thing of beauty, and I highly recommend them. 
 
The Holy Grail of all black tights is Wolford. If I could figure out a way to afford $52.00 for a pair of tights, I’d be all over these things. They feel like velvet going on and I swear they don’t snag, EVER.
 
I only know this because an actress gave me her castoff pair once. I was saving them for a rainy day and then decided to just wear them to work on a Tuesday when I wasn't feeling so hot about myself. They are straight magical, for real.
 
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Just for total hilarious-ity’s sake, can you imagine paying $240.00 for a single pair of tights? Yowza.
 
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Some other honorable tights worth mentioning:
 
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JC Penney Worthington opaque tights, 2 pair/$14.00.

All of these pictures of black tights look so completely identical. I don't even know why I'm bothering to dredge up the pictures of the actual tights I'm referring to each time. I could just copy paste the same photo over and over, and you'd never know.
 
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The hysterically named Berkshire "Cozy Hose" are super opaque and come sized up to a 4x.
 
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Berkshire Cozy hose, $14.00. Available at HerRoom.com.
 
HerRoom.com is a great spot for tights and lingerie. HerRoom is actually part of the reason I am writing here on xoJane -- I'd been silently lurking here for months until I saw the post where Cat went to get her lips injected while wearing those sick garter tights. I dove into the comments to ask where they were from, then just went ahead and found them myself on HerRoom.com.
 
Two days later, I opened up xoJane to see an entire post inspired by my comments! (Notice my nom de plume.) I was emboldened enough by that shout-out to send a writing sample to Emily, and here we are today. Good clothes open all doors, indeed.
 
Wayyyyy after my trip to frigid Minnesota, I found out about fleece-lined tights, which are God’s ultimate gift to humanity. Of course my favorite ones are Merona Premium from Target, for around $12.00, and you guessed it, THEY ARE NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE. Get it together, Target!
 
They are a very thin, very fine polar fleece material in the inside, but look exactly like regular tights on the outside. They are as warm as any pair of pants could ever hope to be.
 
When I can't get my hands on Target's fleece lined tights, I splurge on the Plush brand ones. They are markedly softer and warmer than the Target ones, and the price reflects it.
 
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I'm starting a new show in October, and I'm hoping it's cool enough on the first day of shooting to wear these:
 
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2-tone tights instantly and eloquently answer the question, "Is that girl weird or what!?"

(I'm on Twitter: @IveyAlison)