Tights Repair 101

Sometimes your tights get damaged and there’s nothing you can do about it.  No hope for the patient.  Either you toss them out, or cut them up into cleaning rags (which by the way, can be terrific for all kinds of things where minimal scratching is essential, like an LCD screen).  Yep, I’ve cut up the leg of some microfiber tights and used a swatch as a laptop screen cleaning rag, with nobody the wiser as to what the material’s previous life was.

But what if the damage is minor and there’s some hope left for the patient?  Certainly you’ll want to do what you can to save your tights, especially if you spent a relatively small fortune on them (like a $59 pair of Falke or Wolford tights).

There is hope.  I’ve had a little experience in this matter, so I’ll share with you some of my tips.  I don’t guarantee that they’ll work for every situation, and longevity is always subjective.  However, if 15 minutes of repair work extends your tights for at least a few more wearings, that’s time well spent.

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The Lycra Spandex factor

Just as people are aware of the electronics brand named “Apple”, so are most people familiar with the material called Lycra (spandex).  Lycra was invented by Dupont as a stretchable synthetic fiber, made by a more complex technique than nylon.  The most common brand neutral references to the material is spandex or elastane.  While similar to nylon, it is much more stretchable.  However, it is not as durable as nylon.  A garment made completely of spandex would be prone to tears and have difficulty keeping form.  This is why spandex is frequently blended with nylon, so that you get the benefits of both materials.  I should point out that spandex is made in four different ways, and each method may result in some characteristic differences.

The percentage of spandex versus nylon results in different benefits and drawbacks that are important to be aware of when buying hosiery.

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Making your tights last

Putting on tights

How do you make your tights last as long as possible?  A good question, especially if you’re planning to buy some very expensive hosiery.  Here is an extensive list of some tips to help:

  • Get the right size
  • Wash before wearing
  • Smooth fingernail rough spots and edges
  • Smooth rough skin
  • Moisturize your legs and feet
  • Take off rings, bracelets, and wrist watch
  • Use glove liners
  • Put on hosiery the safe way
  • Wear slippers or socks
  • Mind your shoes
  • Mind clothes
  • Mind your venue
  • Repair any holes
  • Give them a rest
  • Beware of your romantic partner

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How do you clean your tights?

Do you just toss your tights in the wash along with the rest of your synthetics or cold wash garments?  That’s not a good idea, actually.  Although a good pair of tights can survive such a washing repeatedly, the odds are that they will eventually get snagged or torn.  But much more likely is that they will suffer microscopic surface abrasions, which appears in the form of “pilling”.  That’s where you see these very small raised specs on the material.  You can usually just pull them off without incident.  But what is actually happening is that the material is weakened at those spots, increasing the likeliness of a tear.  And before even a tear appears, you get that unsightly pilled look.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Washing Techniques
  • Hosiery Cleaning Products
  • Drying Tights
  • Washing Between Wearing?
  • Extending the life of your tights
  • Got a hole?

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How is hosiery manufactured?

The process behind the manufacturing of hosiery is a rather complicated one.  I once saw a television documentary on it and I found it fascinating.  Of course, later on I couldn’t remember all of the details, just the overall concepts.  One can find this kind of information on the Internet, if enough time is spent searching around. You can find some informative videos up on You Tube, like this one:  “How It’s Made: Pantyhose“.

Italian hosiery company Filodoro decided to post a section on their website that goes into reasonable detail on hosiery making.  The process is broken down into five stages:

• Texturisation
• Weaving
• Assembling
• Dyeing
• Fixing
• Packaging

They also have a Hosiery World section that touches briefly on the history of hosiery, how to put on tights, how to care for your hosiery, figuring out sizing for the various types, etc. Rather nice of them to provide this information, wouldn’t you agree?  I’ve not found any other hosiery company that has taken the time to do it, only tips on wear and caring but usually quite brief.  Thank you, Filodoro!

Russian Business Magazine “Lingerie & Tights”

I was researching the brand “Cecilia de Rafael” and discovered that they had a link to a publication that reviewed them.  This lead me to a website called “Biko-Info“.  That’s the domain name for the publisher of Russian Business Magazine “Lingerie & Tights”.  From their website, you can download the latest issue and also a “Top 100” active brands on the Russian market.  The current #32 2011 issue is enormous, weighing in at 50Mb!  But it is worth taking the time to download it.  The Adobe PDF document contains mostly photo ads for lingerie and hosiery companies with reviews/assessments throughout written in Russian.  So for us English speaking folks, it’s a “pictures only” experience.  This is a “business to business” e-magazine, specializing in the hosiery, lingerie, and active wear industries.  They also have previous issues available for download from their archive (averaging around 12Mb each).  Take a moment to check it out.

A Tights Company Directory

Colored Hosiery

Anyone acquainted with buying tights and/or pantyhose for themselves or another person will be aware of a few brands.  Of course, there are some that are very well known in the media for various countries (by advertising through various channels).  How many can you name off the top of your head?  For me, it would be Wolford, Falke, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Hanes, Hue, L’eggs and Spanx (before I started this blog, obviously!).  If you asked me how many there are worldwide, I’d say perhaps 40 to 50 at most.  Later, I discovered to find that my guesstimate was WAY off.

A UK organization endeavored to create a Tights (Pantyhose) Directory, from A to Z.  The page for letter “A” has 31 entries.  Thirty one!  There are over 370 hosiery brands worldwide.  It is quite impressive and appears comprehensive with few omissions.  You can find it here: UK Tights Directory

Pretty Polly  Stairway to heaven

Tights For Men
Of those companies, here is the small portion that produces tights specifically for men:  Adrian, Aries, Astral Legxperience, Atsugi, Collanto, Activskin (Comfilon), Comfort4Men, DoYeah, ela, Emilio Cavallini, Evona, Fibrotex, Gerbe, Legwear4Men, Levee, Lida, Shivers Wear, Polarhose, Tim Legwear, and Trumpf.

Lida Opaque Tights

Lida Man's World Opaques (photo courtesy of Shapings.com)