Fair Fashion

Best Tights and Stockings to Keep your Winter Legs Warm and Gorgeous

Wearing my Falke tights for my feature in Whole Living magazine’s “My Stylosophy” page.

Great tights do so many things at once: They can act as a figure-smoother, a haven’t-shaved-my-legs-in-a-week coverup, as a more comfortable option than pants after holiday overindulgence, a leg-warmer (depending on their thickness) and, oh yes! As an absolutely outfit-making accessory. (Also, they take up almost no space in a suitcase or overnight bag, meaning greater options for outfits while traveling.)

At this point in my life, I can say I’m the proud owner of a tights wardrobe, which I have no shame about since I wear dresses and skirts about 85% of the time—I just don’t love pants; they’re generally not very flattering on my curvy, pear-shaped figure, and because I have (wonderful for dresses and skirts, horrible for pants) combo of long legs, a not-small butt and a short-short waist, pants rarely fit comfortably. Since my grandmother had literally the same exact body type as me, from height to weight to shoe and hat size, and she rarely wore pants (unless she was working in the garden), I’m guessing she figured this out too.

As an inveterate tights-wearer for years now (RejuvaHealth stockings can increase blood flow in the legs while also being stylish), here’s what I’ve learned: Good tights are worth the investment. They are more of whatever you want from them – comfort, cover, warmth, texture, color – when you don’t buy cheapie versions. Also, cheap stuff gets thrown out more, costing you more money in the long run (not to mention multiple trips to the store, and more waste than is necessary). So, none of these pairs of tights are cheap (though of course some can be found on sale if you are diligent). Lastly, treat your tights gently when you wash them to help them last for years. I put them in net bags and wash them in the regular cycle with other clothes, but only when using cold water and natural laundry detergent. Or you can handwash in cold water in the bathroom sink.

Onto the tights!

These screen-printed beauties come in a bevy of colors and feature a pattern of paper airplanes. So. damn. cool.

Blueforet makes stockings in a class of their own. I’m so into these striped ones and there are Ali McGraw-style blue cotton ‘tweed’ ones and these pretty-pretty leaf-print versions available at Kaight. Blueforet is awesome because, as Kaight details on their site: Bleuforet is a French company based in the heart of the Vosges (Northern France). In addition to its commitment to 100% French manufacturing (the factory is located in Vagney), the company’s environmental commitments include: Half of the power source of the factory is produced by a water turbine, with no release of CO2, or waste of any kind; the use of natural raw materials, whose traceability is ensured by the spinners, and the exclusive use of dyed yarns avoid the release of polluting chemical treatments that is very noxious for the environment.

Falke makes my go-to tights, my tights of record, my “I fix the holes in the toes” tights (my big toe sticks up and makes holes in everything!) that I have worn on three continents and WILL NOT GIVE UP ON. They are five years old this winter and I bought them in Germany—that’s where the brand hails from—upon my then-living-in-Weisbaden Aunt’s recommendation (thanks Aunt Susan!).

They are so comfortable, never ride down, and have gotten softer over time. And they are super warm, really toasty, no joking around cozy (they are German, remember?), with a soft cotton lining and a soft merino exterior (well, these versions of them anyway, there are many varieties). When I’m an old lady, you will find me living in a Falke bodysuit that I have crafted out of their tights. I’m not kidding.

How are these tights green? Simply because they last forever.

The only Spanx I own are the tight-end tights in burgundy, which are smoothing, but not uncomfortably tight or as hard-core as their regular shapewear. They are long-wearing, resist pulls and tears, wash fast, and show no signs of weakness in year 2 of my wearing them. Everything Spanx is made in the USA, which is greener and means they weren’t sewn in a sweatshop by children (BONUS!?). I love to support companies that manufacture their stuff in America.

Hansel from Basel is an LA-based label that makes some gloriously unique prints (like these fab Deco print ones above); I haven’t worn theirs yet, but I’ve just ordered a pair! (They have a bunch on sale on their site.)

Other great sources for tights:

Maggie’s Organics

JoSa Naturally


Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.