'American Tan' Tights: Are They Ever OK?

When your legs are not quite ready to see the light of day just yet, what do you do? You reach for the American tan tights, my friend, and I for one am not judging you.
Publish date:
March 18, 2013
shoppables, fashion, american tan tights, fashion faux pas

I adore fashion, but I have a few minor gripes with the industry, such as the relentless use of bare legs in catwalk shows, advertising and editorial shoots. Half the time these tight-free legs appear below heavy cashmere coats and chunky knitwear ie. WINTER clothes.

What are we, the humble consumers, supposed to take from these visual cues? That we're meant to wait for the bus in January in sub zero temperatures with our numb, goose-pimpled bare legs contrasting prettily with our work coats? That we should frolic in the park on the weekend, or strut out to a party in a skimpy cocktail frock and BARE LEGS? Don't make me laugh.

There are times when you need to go bare-legged for an outfit to make sense, and the occasion I’m thinking about specifically is the Spring wedding. It’s cold, but you want to wear a light, maybe pastel-coloured dress which will look stupid with black tights. But… legs are not quite ready to see the light of day just yet – so what do you do? You reach for the American tan tights, my friend, and I for one am not judging you.

I had a wedding to attend at the weekend so last week I ventured into my local M&S for a pair of tights to stop my legs from freezing. I fell down the rabbit hole that was the hosiery aisle, where I encountered two equally bemused women on their lunch break perusing row upon row of seemingly identical (but apparently totally different) pairs of skin-coloured tights.

In the end, I panicked, grabbed a packet at random and got the hell out of there.

Here they are at the wedding (plus my friend Katie's American-tan-tighted legs) - they don't look too bad, do they?

The Rules:American tan tights must not be: too shiny (look like a shop mannequin), too matte (look like a corpse), too orange or too pale. You should not wear them in the summer (just bite the bullet and slap on a bit of Holiday Skin) or OBVIOUSLY with open-toed shoes.

I have a soft spot for the Middleton sisters and their undying devotion to Americna tan tights (although I don't think I'll ever be ok with those nude patent courts Kate, jus' sayin').

However, there's one great dame who has been sporting flesh-coloured hosiery for more than 60 years and that is our very own Queen Elizabeth II, who is my personal tight icon (what? everyone needs one).

It's weird that stockings or hold-ups in the exact same material and colour both look and feel sexy, while flesh-coloured tights never will. Is it something to do with the gusset? (what a word, honestly...) I don't know, this area is a minefield. Oh and also, what do they call American tan tights in America? I really want to know (and if anyone can tell me what 'half and half' is that would be super helpful too! Thank you!)

So what do you think? Are American tan tights ever acceptable, or are you tougher than me and prefer to grit your teeth and go bare legged rather than wear them?