New York Daily News

How to style coloured tights

20th January 2015

Women always wind up wearing all black, all the time in the winter. But colored tights solve the cold weather style rut.

It turns out, dark blue is the new black.

A complete absence of color is a New York woman’s typical winter aesthetic — but ever so slowly, fashion houses are trying to get a leg up on a bright new trend.

As the temperatures have dropped this season, celebrities such as Taylor Swift have added colored hosiery into their street style, and designers like Ruffian, Michael van der Ham, Betsey Johnson and Marc Jacobs all sent out variations on the trend down their most recent runways.

“If you’re one of those people that is mostly, if not only, comfortable wearing black tights, it’s fun to try other neutrals like gray, cream, dark blues,” says Kate Bosworth’s stylist Kris Zero.

Instagram has overtaken Facebook among the 25-and-under set, and the opportunity to showcase personal style on a visual platform is one of the reasons for the color infusion. But no one will care about, let alone “like”, a photo of yet another all-black outfit. There’s a much better way to get noticed on your followers’ feed, and it has to do with colorful, unexpected ensembles.

DKNY has embraced the “new hue” with a spring collection completely decked out in sherbert-style pastels such as “smashing pink,” “cabana” and “force.”

They’re optimistic and daring at the same time.

“Your look suddenly goes from anonymous to noticed,” says LeAnn Nealz, global chief creative officer of Uniqlo. “It gives you a spark, a standout, a spring in your step on a cold dreary day.”

Of course, falling in love with non-black legwear is easy. It’s wearing it that becomes challenging.

Most women instinctively think they should default to black clothing when wearing bright tights. But that just makes the colored tights function as a kind of shock therapy to your whole look – not a good idea.

“Don’t be tacky,” says E! host Alicia Quarles, 33, from the Upper West Side. “I remember a few years ago wearing these crazy electric blue tights with a black mini-dress and boots. At the time I thought it so cute, but based on the looks I was getting, it was so wrong.”

Instead, the goal is to look long and lean by maintaining a consistent tone.

“Color can be worn monochromatic for one fluid silhouette,” says Cathy Volker, a vice president at Donna Koran.

Wolford’s most popular non-black color is anthracite, a pretty gray shade. Keeping your dress and shoes in the gray family will go a long way toward achieving that same lengthy and seamless effect as all-black everything.

That’s why the company’s Wolford style and fit expert Jenny Altman loves pairing a cream dress, in any winter white shade, with a mocha-colored leg and chocolate brown shoes.

“It keeps you tonal but still really rich and luxe-looking,” says Altman.

If you’re determined to wear prints, such as herringbone or plaid, pick out one color from the print to inspire your tights. Or, give new life to your warm-weather wardrobe.

“I love wearing shades of plum and berry tights,” says Walker Smith, 31, an operations manager. “I can wear my printed sundresses through winter. Just need to pop on tights and a blazer.”

If you’re wearing a black dress with blue polka dots, for example, accessorize with blue and black shoes.

When it comes to the brighter shades, however, it’s important to choose the right texture.

“Pick something with an open weave where you can see a little skin through it,” says Altman. “It’s not as jarring because it’s not opaque.”

Of course, if you’re still too nervous to go with a full-on color, patterns are the perfect stepping stone.

“I prefer to see a black texture like a sixties sparkle or a boho style to break up solid black,” says stylist Cher Coulter, who works with Sienna Miller. “They add some fun and sophistication rather than a contrast color.”

Once you’ve mastered the tights game, it’s time to move on to knee socks. But that’s another story.

Sidebar: The do’s and don’ts of colored tights

DON’T dress around your tights. Instead, wear tights that best accessorize your outfit.

DON’T wear bright tights with an all-black outfit.

DON’T match your tights to your dress exactly. You’ll get noticed for all the wrong reasons.

DO keep your outfit monochromatic and stay within the same color scheme. Pale blue tights with a navy dress, or gray tights with a darker pinstripe dress.

DO start with patterned tights. Try a pair with a large print patter, like vertical stripes or polka dots.

DO cover your legs with a matte finish. Sheer fabrics don’t work as well when playing color.

– Molly Friedman