MANTYHOSE: In Defense of Men in Tights

A&E Editor Victor Fiorillo is finally warm, and he’s not giving it up!

A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of what AccuWeather has predicted will be the coldest winter in several years, I shocked a few of my co-workers by revealing my secret to staying toasty amidst these so-called Arctic blasts: $5 tights that I picked up at CVS. "You’re crazy," quipped our resident fashion doyenne, Carrie Denny. She stated the obvious: I am crazy. But not because I wear tights when the “real feel” is below 20. No, I explained, tights are warmer than long johns and a perfectly practical clothing option for shivering men — one that I predicted would be a near-future micro-trend. “I’m calling Matthew Izzo to see what he says,” I told her. “You do that,” she replied, casting another “Victor is crazy” look in my direction.

“You’re not crazy, you’re cool,” Matthew assured me via Facebook. “I’m wearing them now! Under my pants. I live in them all winter.” And, he added that he’s not the only one, explaining that he’s sold “very chic tights” to men out of his Old City shop.

I felt vindicated, but wasn’t sure that just one Philly fashion expert would convince Carrie, so I looked up Jimmy Contreras of Passyunk Avenue’s JimmyStyle boutique. “I say yes to mantyhose,” proclaimed Jimmy. “In the States, men are using them for keeping warm. Now in Europe, men are using them in their everyday fashion. In the last year, they’ve been showing up in Euro fashion spreads.” His prediction for the future of men in tights? “Mark my words. They’ll be uber chic in the next year, even for hipsters riding their bikes in the winter months. Let’s remember that men are wearing versions of Spanx to suck it in.”

SaVa’s Sarah Van Aken is intrigued with the idea and sees nothing wrong with the utilitarian use of tights for warmth, but she’s unconvinced that they’ll cross over into a visible men’s fashion like they’re starting to in Europe. “You know, I think that certain people can pull it off. But I highly doubt that most people in Philadelphia will do it. I don’t even think the hipsters will pick it up.” Still, she says she might include men’s tights in a line of clothing she’s working on for a D.C. rock band. “Ripped jeans with fashionable tights underneath. That will work on the right person, though there aren’t many of them.”

For the right person — a man who is ready to be at the forefront of this clothing revolution (or if you know one who is) — I offer the following tips: 

  • Italian hosiery company Emilio Cavallini recently launched a line of stylish men’s tights, which you can purchase here for $27 each.
  • For a less expensive option, you can visit a drug or department store, where you’ll only find women’s tights. They vary in size by brand, but as a general rule of thumb, you should buy one size above the size indicated for women on the package’s height and weight chart. Don’t be offended if you’re a, um, “queen.”
  • For maximum warmth, put your socks on first. The tight material will make your foot sweat, which will give you cold feet. The layer of socks in between your foot and the tight will prevent this. {Editor’s note: This is crazy talk, and obviously denotes something weird about the male foot sweat glands.}
  • Keep your toenails trimmed to avoid snags and runs.
  • Enlist a woman to show you the best way to get the tights on and off. They’ve been doing this for a lot longer than you have and their tight-wearing experience will make yours easier.
  • Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

    • Steve

      Excellent article. I’m glad to see more validation of the emerging men’s legwear trend. I’ve been involved in publicizing and advocating for men’s tights and sheer legwear for some time now. On my blog, The Nylon Gene (www.nylongene.com), I’ve written quite a few pieces on the utilitarian benefits of legwear for men. And, you don’t have to buy the $27 Emilio Cavallini tights either. ActivSkin (www.activskin.com) has been selling tights and pantyhose made especially for men for more than 10 years now. Right here in the US, too. The trend is starting to get some traction now, too. Hardly a month goes by anymore that I don’t get some word about another overseas company launching a men’s line of hose to go along with the women’s. I guess the U.S. hosiery makers are just too timid to take the plunge, though, which is great for ActivSkin.

    • Julianne

      This is very coincidental! When my husband & I dressed up as Justin Timberlake & Beyonce (SNL-Single Ladies)for Halloween 3 months ago in Chicago, he discovered that Pantyhose really do keep the legs warm in cold temps! (I got him Nude Queen size Leggs for the costume). He was amazed at how warm they kept him and considered using them, secretly, under his corporate business suits. I purchased a couple of black nylon knee highs (for under socks to keep the tootsies warm) and black pantyhose but he has yet to actually use them. He still comments on wanting to use them, maybe he’s afraid..but he truly admits they DO work! It’s like a wet suit, it’s tighter against the body and holds in body heat better than looser thermal underwear. Another factor of him not just yet jumping into them, is that the winter in Chicago so far, has been remarkably mild.

    • denise

      My boyfriend is a kilt wearing man and for Xmas I bought him long, thigh-high kilt socks for the cold weather chill, but tights my be a warmer solution.

    • run

      This is one of the stupidest neo-hipster things I have ever read. But do your skinny jeans look good with them? Really.

    • Dave

      My friends and I, outdoors-type hikers and campers, have been wearing them for ages to keep warm. We’re all happily married and our wives love them. Tip: footless tights.

    • Dave

      Victor, a “thank you” goes to you on many counts: 1)For being open-minded enough to try pantyhose in the first place; 2)For not being deterred in your wearing and enjoying by your close-minded colleague and 3)For checking around to see what those in the know fashion wise have to say about pantyhose for men. Most excellent, sir!

    • John

      if you’ve duly put on your socks first wouldn’t that eliminate the snag from a long toenail?

    • Nikolaus

      The comment that this is becoming a fashion in Europe is exaggerated. Tights have been worn by boys for a long time, but few men wear them except as an extra layer for cold-weather sports and so on, and never as a fashion choice. What is seen on the cat walk rarely makes it to the high street, and I think this will be the case for men’s tights in Europe. I can’t see men taking up wearing for precisely the same reasons that women have largely abandonned them.

    • Sandra

      It makes perfect sense. I convinced my husband to wear pantyhose under his pants instead of underwear when we went hiking in the Catskills in December to keep him warm (it was freezing!) and he was amazed at how great they worked (and felt). Not only that, but when he is just wearing a pair with nothing else on …let me just say, Wow! (now I’m getting hot!). Believe me, not only are they functional outside in the cold, but in the bedroom as well! (did I just say that?) Trust me, try it tonight, ladies, you’ll see what I mean!

    • Felicite

      I would lay odds that you are yet another example of a man pretending to be a women to make a plug for men wearing tights. Not possible to prove, but the move from wearing as a protection from the cold (how did men cope before the invention of nylon?) to praising their sensual feel and seeing them as ‘sexy’ raises my suspicions. The final sentence is exactly what a man desperate for female approval of tights wearing would say. Contrary to this, women seem on the whole to be against the feminisation of men, of which tights wearing is a classic example.

    • Joe

      Before we left to watch a football game this year, my girlfriend insisted I was going to freeze just wearing jeans. She insisted I put on her rights to keep warmer or she would not go. I wore them and she was right. Now she also like the look of me in them.

    • Jean

      I’m Jean from France and I can confirm that in France the trend of men’s tight is rising.
      Naturaly you will this trend where men can’t be agressed like city’s centers.
      But I can confirm that I’m not the only one since great fashion designers use it like Givenchy, JP Gaultier, and many other.
      I hate the fashion diktat that most of women’s impose to mens, we are free, not crossdressers, but we are free !
      thanks

    • Nick

      I would advise that anyone who advocates wearing tights for men is normal and not for wimps should never write a comment that his girl-friend ‘commanded’ him to wear tights. It doesn’t happen in real life except in the minds of those who fantasize about tights.

    • Who

      If anyone wears tights to keep warm, who cares? If a guy wears in it private, who cares? If a guy wears it with a skirt or dress in public, I’d barf. Other than that, who cares?

    • Nelly

      Any women who doesn’t want her husband to look like a pansy in public cares. Or in private. Who doesn’t want him to bring shame on the family, and ridicule among friends once his back is turned.

    • Kaidan

      During the recent cold spell here in the UK I found that trying to wear longjohns under my skinny jeans was just ridiculous to even consider. Instead I wore a pair of 40 denier black opaque tights which worked well with skinny jeans. They didn’t have a bulky feel underneath and I actually found them very comfortable to wear. I’ve also found wearing sheer tights exactly the same too, so I continue to wear them as long as this cold weather is here in the UK.

      If a guy wants to wear tights I don’t see a problem at all.

    • Kaidan

      Nelly……….shame on you and the other females who think like this. Never mind about what the neighbours think, you should be supporting your husbands, partners, male friends if they choose to wear tights.

      I wonder how many women who think like you wear jeans/trousers! Did you know that these were once a man’s item of clothing. Research your history and you will also find that tights were actually a man’s item of clothing too.

      Double standards seem to spring to mind here – being that it is OK for women to wear men’s clothes but not OK for a man to wear something that was once men’s clothing.

    • “Nelly”

      As pointed out above, it is not uncommon in these discussions for a man to pose as a women to plug tights wearing, so I thought I would to do the reverse!
      Now if you to wear tights as an alternative to long johns, I personally don’t have a great problem with that, especially as you intend to do this in cold weather and no-one sees it. Public wearing under shorts in warmer weather is different where I think this is seen as cross-dressing. Well it would be if you every really saw someone dressed like this!

      I don’t think what men wore 250 years ago is relevant to a garment only invented 50 years ago. OK, women now wear trousers/pants, but this is for practicality, and is analogous with men wearing tights for warmth or sport. But men cannot use this change in fashion to justify shaved legs and nylons while shopping, under the guise of exaggerated benefits. It’s not comparing like with like.

    • Anonymous

      “Enlist the help of a women to help put them on.” I can’t quite see Mrs. next door being very enamored at a request to pop round, see you in your knickers and help put on a pair of tights!! Better to get a man to help, there won’t be any difficulty finding one.

    • John

      If you need tights to stay warm, then you need to grow a pair between your legs. Men are called men for a reason, because they are stronger physically then women. We don’t need no stinkin tights!

    • John

      Jean from France, thanks for the confirmation that Parisian men wearing tights is on the rise. Like I said a “real” man can brave the elements because they should be physically stronger to not have to wear tights. If Parisian men are wearing them, then that confirms that “soft” men are wearing them more. GROW A FREAKIN PAIR!

    • Nick

      You are being a bit harsh on Parisian men. I doubt if one-tenth of one percent are actually wearing tights. You simply don’t see this in Europe, the idea that this is a fashion trend about to hit America is pie in the sky, and largely propagated by American men who want to wear in public.
      Other than that you are right: let men be man and pansies be flowers!!

    • Danny

      I am amazed that there is such a sexist attitude to men wearing tights. This isn’t about being a pansy or acting in a gay way – it’s about practicality and keeping warm. To even suggest a guy is gay or a pansy because he wears (or wants to wear) tights under his trousers is ridiculous. Men have to right to be warm too, if you don’t want to wear them because of the “pansy” issue, more fool you but don’t judge others. Personally, I think it’s cool and, clearly, have no problem with men wearing whatever they want, it’s 2010 !!!

    • Nick

      You haven’t thought this through. First you say tights are to keep warm, and then you say you think it’s cool …. :-)

      Under trousers may be fine, and those who wear tights for warmth are often the least pansy-like people you could ever meet. But a man in sheer black nylons under shorts in the shopping mall is going to be judged, and regardless of it being 2010 I maintain most will think this at best strange, and will wonder quite why this is necessary, as this is something women have never done.

    • Martin

      Yes men should wear tights all time to protect from health reason plus warm in cold weather also it would be good look in different type of fashion as trousers & socks are so boring so best to wear tights under shorts or skirt that normal clothes – I cannot wear men clothes cos of size problems as Im too slim as Im male wear tights and short skirt with gladiator sandal that quite comfortable I dont see any problems for men to wear :)

    • Kevin

      I am a guy who wears pantyhose for warmth, for support, AND for fashion. When I wear them with shorts, I usually select pantyhose in tan, taupe, or black, or black tights. They all go with my denim shorts and black shoes just fine, and I don’t feel like they negatively affect my masculine appearance in the least. When I am out and about, very few people, if any, actually notice. And if they do notice, I haven’t heard a negative comment or giggle yet. If they laugh or say something negative behind my back, that’s their opinion and that’s fine. Doesn’t affect me in the least.

      I personally applaud the trend and feel that men should enjoy some more fashion freedom, just like women have enjoyed for years.

      I would say to Anonymous who said “Grow a Pair”, I believe that it “takes a pair” for a guy to express himself outside the boundaries of “traditional masculinity” and admit he benefits from wearing pantyhose or tights. Instead of “grow a pair”, I’d say “try a pair” just once. If you do like them or don’t like them, that’s fine. At least you tried.

    • Sandoval

      I discovered the advantage of wearing tights at a necessary substitute for thermal underwear on a ski trip. Last minute packing, couldn’t find them, and my girlfriend had an extra tall pair in reserve. I hesitated at first, but went with it. Wow! Very comfortable. No binding sock bands and edges of underwear. I’m sold.

    • http://www.PaulDuane.net/blog Paul Duane

      I’m a normal straight guy, and I love to wear hosiery. I do it with high heels, and it creates a very unique look that is all my own. I seem do do fine with the ladies, too. I love to wear hosiery for 2 reasons: I love how it looks, and I love they way they feel. That’s it :-) All of this “warmth” stuff is just balogna.
      Check it out: http://www.PaulDuane.net/blog/fetish