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.
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