Black tights.

Tights are a kind of cloth leg garment, most often sheathing the body from about the waist to the feet with a more or less tight fit, hence the name.

Wearing of tights has a long history going back several centuries, when they were worn by men. Today, they are worn primarily by women and girls and some men and boys, as well as infants and toddlers of both sexes. In recent years, they have been sometimes offered as men's fashion. Athletic tights are already considered unisex.

In American English, the difference between pantyhose and tights is determined in the weight of the yarn used and the thickness to which the garment is knitted. Generally, anything up to 40 denier is known as pantyhose and anything over can be classified as tights. In the United Kingdom, the word "tights" is used in all cases when referring to pantyhose.

There are many sub-classifications of tights/pantyhose that describe the precise construction (such as control top, seamless, support and sheer). Although most tights are mainly nylon or cotton, lycra is normally included in modern blends to improve fit.

Unfooted tights are usually called leggings. Athletic tights are often unfooted, although they may have a "stirrup" that goes under the foot to hold the cuff down near the ankle.


Historical background

Renaissance-era costume

Originally derived from the hose worn by European men several centuries ago, tights were made as close fitting as possible for practical reasons when riding horseback. For men of nobility, the material would be made of silk or fine wool rather than the coarser fabrics used by the lower classes. At the time of King Henry VIII of England, such was the male fashion for displaying a well turned leg that even the king padded the calf area under his hose.

Examples of current use

Tights are common in the world of theater, especially in Renaissance-era costumes, and dance, particularly in ballet.

The term "tights" has been used to try to ridicule certain traditional British uniform. Most famously the Serjeant-at-Arms at the Palace of Westminster, after a protester got past the security, were described in the media as "middle aged men in tights." [1]

Athletic use

For horseback riding, tights refers to light jodhpurs (riding pants that extend to the ankle) that are worn in summer or as an undergarment in winter. These pants, or "riding tights", are cheaper to buy than jodhpurs or breeches (riding pants that extend to mid calf intended for use with tall riding boots). In warm climates they can be worn all year round.

Tights can also describe the leg coverings worn in cycling and other athletics, especially by runners and wrestlers. These tights are usually a thicker spandex-blend, and are usually footless. It has also been proven by sport scientists that the use of tights can also reduce muscle strain and other injury.

Athletic tights received some publicity during the 2005–2006 basketball season, when players started wearing the ankle-length tights under their uniform shorts. A prominent NBA player, Kobe Bryant, was one of the first to wear tights, and the style was subsequently adopted by several other NBA players, as well as some college and high school players. The style sparked controversy, leading to proposals to prohibit wearing tights with basketball uniforms.[2]

Health and beauty use

Because the fabric used in tights is made of interwoven fabric such as nylon or cotton, there are pores in the fabric where modern manufacturers have been able to place other items which benefit the skin. They can use microencapsulation techniques to place substances such as moisturizers and other skin creams in the tights. These creams are said to act against the skin to create a health and/or beauty benefit for the wearer. Some manufacturers have even put caffeine in tights which they claim can reduce cellulite for the wearer.[3]

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tights — Tights, n. pl. Close fitting garments, especially for the lower part of the body and the legs. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tights — S3 [taıts] n [plural] 1.) BrE a piece of women s clothing made of very thin material that fits tightly over the feet and legs and goes up to the waist American Equivalent: pantyhose 2.) a piece of clothing similar to women s tights but too thick… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • tights — (n.) 1827, tight fitting breeches, from TIGHT (Cf. tight). Meaning skin tights worn by dancers, acrobats, etc. is attested from 1836 …   Etymology dictionary

  • tights — [ taıts ] noun plural a piece of women s clothing that tightly covers the feet and legs up to the waist a. a similar piece of clothing that dancers or actors wear …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • tights — sb. pl., ene (tætsiddende bukser) …   Dansk ordbog

  • tights — ► PLURAL NOUN ▪ a close fitting garment made of a knitted yarn, covering the legs, hips, and bottom …   English terms dictionary

  • tights — [tīts] pl.n. a tightly fitting garment, with separate legs, for the lower half of the body, worn by acrobats, dancers, etc …   English World dictionary

  • tights — noun ⇨ See also ↑pantyhose ADJECTIVE ▪ opaque, thick ▪ ribbed ▪ sheer (BrE) ▪ black, flesh coloured (BrE) …   Collocations dictionary

  • tights — [[t]ta͟ɪts[/t]] 1) N PLURAL: also a pair of N Tights are a piece of clothing, usually worn by women and girls. They are usually made of nylon and cover the hips, legs and feet. [BRIT] ...a new pair of tights. (in AM, use pantyhose) 2) N PLURAL:… …   English dictionary

  • Tights — In diesem Artikel oder Abschnitt fehlen folgende wichtige Informationen: Einseitige Behandlung von Lycrahosen. Historische Leggings, z. B. die der Ureinwohner Nordamerikas, werden nicht erwähnt. Vgl. dazu auch en:Leggings. Du kannst Wikipedia… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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