Why You Should Embrace Wearing Tights for Your Health, Performance & Style
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You clicked on this article because you were curious, weren’t you? Intrigued by whether we meant gym tights, long johns, or pantyhose. Well, the good news is we’ll be exploring all three, focusing heavily on the latter because it seems that there’s a trend that has recently resurfaced where people who identify as men are now visibly wearing a variation of tights in mainstream culture, including top catwalk shows and celebrities like Harry Styles, Idris Elba, Adam Levine, Zac Effron, Lil Nas X and Billy Porter.
So with demand comes supply and brands such as Tom Ford, Hugo Boss, DSquared2, Emilio Cavallini, Falke, GymShark, Adidas, Patagonia, Nike, HANRO, and now Threads are all getting in on the action by expanding their ranges to cater to the growing mainstream need.
RELATED: Best Workout Tights for Men
Experiencing deja-vu? Well, men wearing tights isn’t anything new. On the contrary. Just like everything in fashion, style goes round in cycles. According to the fashion history books, men have been wearing hosiery since 700 BCE and tights specifically since the 1500s in Tudor England, to keep themselves warm, comfortable, and fashionable. And since then, it has been incorporated in nearly every element of society from high society (Louis XVI and Henry VIII) to thespians and dancers in theatre, outdoor workers, athletes including basketballers (the late Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Vince Carter, and Dwayne Wade), footballers, wrestlers, boxers (Jack Dempsey), horseback riders, superheroes in comics and on-screen, cosplay enthusiasts, musicians (Boy George, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, and Pharrell Williams) and worn as part of a sexual fetish.
If you think wearing tights is emasculating, think again. As most of us are now fully embracing a gender-neutral world, we can wholeheartedly say that “yes,” men wearing tights is here to stay. But please let’s stop putting ‘m’ in front of terms like mantyhose to meggings.
What Type of Underwear to Wear
Before we get into the specifics of how to style tights, we need to address (or undress) one thing with you first. Depending on how attached you are to your preferred underwear style this could cause some friction. And hey, we get it — the thought of having to change may feel like a hard decision and may even make you second guess wearing tights in the first place — probably more hassle than it’s worth, you might think. Especially if you tend to gravitate towards wearing the same fabric or brand. On the other hand, if you get past this minor hurdle and decide to try something new, you could be opening yourself up to a whole new world of comfort and potential freedom.
For underwear, wearing breathable fabrics is a sure winner, no matter the duration of wear or the type of tights you end up layering on top because it goes without saying, lack of ventilation and increased body heat can cause sweat. We know it can feel like there is nothing worse than feeling like you are in a sauna down there but actually, there is, and that is the risk of a bacterial or fungal infection.
Fashion expert and stylist Miranda Holder, who’s worked with the likes of Boy George says “the best underwear to wear underneath your tights is the humble brief, as it covers enough butt to prevent it from riding up and lies under the lycra snugly.”
Does Fabric Matter?
In one word — yes! Just like underwear, tights fabric can make all the difference.
If you work in extreme climates or are simply looking to keep warm this fall, investing in long johns is a no-brainer. Thermals tend to be made from wool or mixed with a blend of synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, lycra, and nylon to help retain heat and remain moisture absorbent. Gym tights are usually a blend of elastane, lycra, and polyester to allow you to make strides quickly and freely. Pantyhose are often made from nylon which makes them feel lightweight but also prone to snagging easily.
Pro tip: Holder says “watch out for static — if you are layering a synthetic material over pantyhose this could become a really bad hair day, all day — invest in a good anti-static spray to avoid this or stick to natural fabrics.”
What Are the Best Brands for Men?
Earlier we mentioned the best brands for gym tights and long johns but as pantyhose are still a new territory for some, we spoke to two pantyhose enthusiasts.
John, 32, who has been wearing tights for over four years, wears them for comfort and warmth and recommends Primark and Amazon. Whilst Matt*, a heterosexual married man in his 40s who says he’s been wearing them for as long as he can remember and describes wearing them as a fetish that gives him comfort and excitement, recommends L’eggs Medium Support in either 20 deniers for pantyhose or 40 deniers for opaque tights.
How to Choose the One
If you are a novice or it’s been a while, wearing tights may feel weird or even a bit daunting but remember that just like everything in life, you need to give it a go to know if it’s right for you. So why not start small by investing in a neutral pair of long johns or dig out your trusty skiing set to wear underneath your pants (which you may need to size up in for comfort) to add some much-needed insulation.
Thinking of upping your workout game like a champ? Start by wearing a pair of gym tights underneath your workout shorts to help prevent chafing, absorb perspiration, and even add extra resistance like the Agogie with eight built-in resistance bands, which helps you to get the most out of any workout regardless of the duration.
Or if slipping into pantyhose is more your style, Holder says, try a men’s skirt or kilt, or cropped slightly wide trousers to show off your newly svelte ankles, teamed with chunkier footwear to keep the look less medieval and more modern.
Wearing tights is nothing to be embarrassed about and if anyone questions it, and you can voice your opinion safely, kindly remind them that we’re in 2022 and we all have better things to be worrying about than what you may or not be wearing on top of your underwear because at the end of the day, if you feel confident and own it, people are much more likely to respect you for it.
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Best Tights for Men
Fruit of the Loom Long Johns
With the temperatures dropping, it pays to own a comfy pair of long johns, and Fruit of the Loom delivers. Made from a cotton-polyester blend, these long johns are cozy, conforming without being restricting, and warm when you need them to be. We especially love the waffle fabric texture.
Willit Active Leggings
Made from a combination of nylon and spandex, these leggings are ideal for active men, whether you’re hitting a hot yoga class before work, racking up the miles as a runner, or stretching your limbs in an elaborate dance routine. They’re available in nine vibrant colors, so you should have no issue finding one that suits your style, while convenience features like the stretching side pockets and elastic waistband all make these easy to wear day to day as well.
Jomi Compression Leotard for Men
With a two-way stretch engineered into the fabric, a body-hugging fit, and the same breathable, comfortable CoolMax fabric that Jomi uses in their famous dress socks, this leotard is stylish enough and comfortable enough to wear out on the town, dressed up with a button-up shirt or down with a t-shirt. Make a bold style statement and enjoy some of the most comfortable men’s pants you can own.
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