‘I’ve been wearing them since August’ – Lucy Mangan in defence of black tights

Fashion Updates
Alexa Chung, Rihanna and Kate Moss in black opaques
Alexa Chung, Rihanna and Kate Moss in black opaques Photograph: REX/Getty Images

Not for the first time a memo issuing from the bowels of the industrial femininity complex appears to have got lost somewhere in the labyrinthine corridors before it reached me. Apparently, black tights are a vexed issue; there is a question mark over when exactly it is socially appropriate to don them.

Not in this house there isn’t. In this house, I ask a series of simple questions to determine whether or not today is a 60-denier day.

1. Do I have to wear a dress or skirt today? If yes, mutter a swearword and go to question 2.

2. Have I shaved and fake-tanned my legs? (The answer to this is always no, but in the event of a yes ever occurring, proceed to question 3.)

3. Is there a nip in the air?

According to the insight provided by Jess Cartner-Morley’s piece, this will be decoded by anyone of a fashionable bent to mean that I am lazy, unable or unwilling to part with daily taxi fares and un peu declasse. To which I can only reply: yes, sounds about right.

I am unwilling to suffer for my appearance. I prefer to be comfortable and let others have to suffer my appearance. But I still believe fashionistas and I are sisters under the skin, be mine ever so unexfoliated.

Haute or not? A woman wearing black tights and a summer dress
Haute or not? A woman wearing black tights and a summer dress Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

Why? Because we are both doing our best with the tools to hand. To explain: fashion folk are fashion folk because they have style. You can’t learn it, you can’t fake it – like any talent, you’ve either got it or you haven’t. They see clothes as art, a means of expression, a palette of options to be combined and recombined in various aesthetically pleasing ways that we could no more produce than we could produce the Mona Lisa from a palette of oils. They also, generally speaking, have the bodies upon which to display this art to proper advantage, though this is a chicken-and-egg conundrum I have not yet solved (does being the right shape for clothes fuel an interest in them or does an interest in clothes fuel a desire to keep yourself the right shape for them – discuss animatedly. I would recommend, over a pie.)

Those of us who don’t have style and whose bodies embraced this fact years ago simply have fewer tools. We need to play safe to look our best. Nothing nude nowhere, y’understand? It’s easier, it’s kinder, it frees us from attendant doubts and anxieties and enables us to channel our energies into something likely to bring us reward rather than failure.

Black tights are the perfect embodiment in ordinary life of Jeremy Bentham’s famous principle – they bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people every day. Because the greatest number of people have imperfect knees and are a bit chilly. Pull on your opaques, people! You have nothing to lose but your gooseflesh.

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