A Semi-Comprehensive 2012 Guide to Tights for Fat Asses

I'm utterly obsessed with tights from October through April. Now you can benefit by my fixation.
Publish date:
September 20, 2012
shoppables, plus sizes, tights

The other day I asked Twitter what I should write about, because when I’m not idly stumbling into wildly controversial topics because I’m all, “OOO THAT’S INTERESTING,” in my detached frigid intellectual way, I usually have at least one week every month where I have basically no ideas. When this happens, I turn to my friends on Twitter for assignments.

This time, the overwhelming response was, “WRITE ABOUT FAT TIGHTS!” At first I thought, wait, didn’t I do that last year? And I did. Except it was a really short post. And I have so much more to say about tights, the garment that literally keeps me alive in the winter as a non-wearer of pants. So here’s my semi-comprehensive guide to Fat Tights 2012.

Lycra Is Non-Negotiable

There is basically no reason to ever buy 100% nylon tights, because they are terrible. They’re not particularly soft, the weave often looks sort of uneven once it’s stretched out on your legs, and by the end of the day they’ll lose their shape and probably wind up pooling around your knees and ankles.

What you want in your fatass tights is a certain percentage of Lycra, a wonder fiber that takes nylon tights and makes them markedly more awesome, as well as softer and stretchier and less likely to require you to make regularly scheduled trips to the bathroom to bring the crotch back into union with the joining of your legs, where it should be.

My go-to source for plus size Lycra satisfaction is We Love Colors because they do love colors, they really do, and they have a lot of them. They also carry plus size tights in sizes to fit bodies up to six feet and/or 375 pounds, so odds are overwhelmingly in favor of them having a pair that will work for you.

And if solid colors are just too boring, they also offer a range of tie-dyed tights in the same sizes.

Another excellent option is Avenue’s Basic Microfiber Tight. I rely on these for my supply of affordable but comfortable basic-black tights, and they wear like iron in my experience -- an important factor as few things can ruin my sartorial day worse than pulling a run in my tights. I have Avenue microfiber tights that are five years old that I still wear. The only downside is that they tend to only come in kind of boring colors, but if you’re looking for a sturdy basic or are mostly into neutrals, these are a solid choice.

Slim Pickings for Cotton (oh, god, I can’t believe I made that pun, Jane is so going to fire me.)

Plus size cotton tights are a bit of a legwear unicorn: Pretty much everybody wants them, but they’re SO hard to find. Sternlein plus size cotton tights are the gold standard (unfortunately, they come only in black at this time) and are available up to a size 3X. At $34 a pop, they’re pricey, but I hear the quality is worth it.

Alternatively, the plus size hosiery stalwarts at Just My Size offer cotton-blend tights in five (neutral) colors for less than $10 each.

Foot Traffic also has a “signature” thick cotton tight that will fit bodies up to 225 pounds, and is available in a nice heather grey, as well as the usual brown and black.

In general though, if you’re looking to romp around in cotton, you’d do just as well to wear some leggings; they’re warmer, sturdier, and easier to find. (Aside: Should I also do a leggings-for-fats post? That’s a whole subject of its own.)

Textures and Nets

Once upon a time -- i.e., back when I REALLY REALLY wanted them -- textured and net tights for plus sizes were virtually impossible to find. Happily, this has changed, and now many sites offer a huge variety of patterned options. Yours Clothing has these excellent Art-Deco-ish net tights in sizes to fit up to a 32.

Torrid still sells the classic spider web jam I used to wear goth clubbing so many years ago, but also has some lovely floral crochet tights in sizes up to a 3X/4X that better suit my style today.

OK, I still kinda want the spider web ones too. Sue me.

If you’re after traditional fishnets, I’m going to send you back to We Love Colors again -- unlike a lot of plus-size fishnets, these are also a nylon/Lycra blend, which makes them far more comfortable and likely to retain their shape, AND they come in a million colors as a bonus.

In the fall and winter, I only ever wear net tights over another pair of (usually colored) tights -- alone, they do little in the way of providing warmth in the New England cold, and given that my tights dedication is mostly a result of my refusal to wear pants even in the most frigid weather, this is a practical consideration I always take into account. Plus, I think black lace over bright purple or green or whatever looks pretty awesome.

Of course, the best thing for winter wear is sweater-knit tights to wear in the winter, but these can be even harder to find than cotton tights. Luckily historic fat-lady catalog Roamans sells cable-knit sweater tights in sizes up to 5X, although be warned in my experience they run a little small.

Unexpected prints

Colors and textures are not enough for you, intrepid hosiery seeker! You require eye-searing patterns! Foot Traffic is the place for you, with a range of bizarre prints from flames to flowers to outer freaking space. If I’m honest, the quality on these is not always outstanding, but they’re still a fun option for bodies up to 200lbs.

Another option is scouring the vast array of Etsy sellers who dye, print, or otherwise customize plus size tights. I especially love Teja Jamilla’s Victorianesque printed tights featuring pocket watches and keys, and even a pirate print that includes narwhals (NARWHALS!!!), fitting up to a US size 28.

Tattoo Socks makes tights with more restrained prints, if having a peacock feather or jellyfish winding its way up your leg can be considered restrained. I guess it’s relative. These will stretch to 55 inches in the hips.

Finally, I just found these HAND-DYED OMBRE TIGHTS, sized to fit bodies up to 350lbs! They’re expensive, but I might have to indulge and just be real careful around wooden furniture whenever I wear them.

I won’t even pretend this list is fully comprehensive, as I’m sure many of you have tights sources I don’t even know about. So please tell me about them, because I always need more.