Review: Fiora Marla 40 Den

Fiore Marla tights package

I received these tights from The Stylish Fox, a USA based hosiery retailer that specializes in European hosiery brands (such as Trasparenze, Cecilia de Rafael, Fiore, Marilyn, Silvia Grande, and Veneziana).

Fiore is a very nice quality Polish hosiery brand with a wide range of offerings from sheer to opaque and solid to patterned.  Their hosiery is divided into several tiers, with the Marla style as part of their Street line.  This is the fourth style of tights by Fiore that I have reviewed.

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Tights deliver a TKO to pantyhose

In the UK, the word “tights” refers to any hosiery covering the lower half of the body, no matter the denier or opacity.  The same is true in France and Italy, where they use the word “collants”, and in Germany, where they use the word “strumpfhose”.  But in the USA, “tights” commonly refers to opaque hosiery.  Once the hosiery denier is lighter and the appearance is much more sheer, they’re called “pantyhose”.

Lillian Bond 1950's

pantyhose vintage

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Review: Fiore Paula 40 DEN


If you saw my post titled “Polish Pattern Parade“, then you’re already aware that Poland has become a hotbed for hosiery production.  A number of brands have broken out of the local market and are now more commonly found internationally.  One of them is Fiore.  Here’s how they describe their company:

Fiore is one of the most dynamically developing hosiery manufacturers in Poland and Central Europe with over 120 different products for ladies and girls offered in a wide range of colours and sizes. Created in 1998, the company from the very beginning believes in the same strategy of combining the high quality of the products with prices that remain affordable to everyone.

The company was also one of the very first Polish hosiery producers to receive the ISO 9001 Quality Management Certificate. ISO 9001 is the most comprehensive of the ISO standards, covering product design, engineering, manufacturing, purchasing, marketing and sales. Commitment to quality has always been the basis for the company’s strategy and success. The receipt of the Certificate not only confirmed this, but also ensured that we continually strive for further improvement of quality and the full satisfaction of our customers’ needs.

In order to fully respond to the customers’ differentiated requirements the whole production has been divided into 6 lines:

  • Classic– Elegant and comfortable tights (pantyhose), knee-highs and socks for everyday and evening wear.
  • Medica– A variety of tights designed to correct the imperfections of woman’s figure.
  • Golden Line– Highly fashionable and sensuous patterned tights, hold-ups and stockings perfect to finish off any stylish ensemble.
  • Elite– Top quality hosiery products, made of the best materials in most advanced technologies.
  • Street– A range of tights and knee-highs trendily suited for the teenage market.
  • Young Lady– A line of cheerful and durable tights designed for girls of 110-146 cm height.

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Highly popular “We Love Colors” hosiery website sells to men too

If you search on the internet for tights with the keyword “color”, you’re bound to run into We Love Colors.  This is a American family run hosiery retailer based in Florida that has been in business on-line since 2003.  Their primary fashion statement is simply colors–a huge range of them, for socks, leggings, tights, and active wear, and for women, men, and children.  They are frequently featured in fashion and clothing style magazines, as well as a big hit with the younger female fashion crowd.

On their website, they have a link for “Men”, and curiously enough the topmost entry is “tights“.  Socks are at the bottom of the list!  I think that’s a first.  So, I took a look around their website and found that they offer a few tights styles for men, with the benefit of their enormous color range.  For footed tights, you essentially have two choices:  basic solid color nylon and “performance”.

The basic nylon is essentially just the women’s plus size nylon tights.  The size chart is exactly the same.  This means that for the taller athletic male, you’re left with basically one choice:  3X.  That’s because 2X may support up to 220lbs, but is capped at 5’9″.  In going to 3X, you gain a height maximum of 6′, but then the max weight is 260lbs.  So, they won’t provide a very snug fit for someone with a more slender build.

Their other offering is “performance” dance tights, made of thicker heavier nylon/lycra.  Lycra is important for good fit, much better than just plain 100% nylon.  The size chart on “performance” is much more in line with what the taller athletic male would look for.  The large size supports weight from 180-210lbs, and height is 5’11” to 6’4″.  Now you’re talking!  The male models shown on their web page look very much like my physical profile.  If you look closely, you will notice a seam pattern on these tights.  There is an angular seam construction at the feet, and a leg seam runs from the feet up the inside of the legs to the crotch.  You can get a clear view of this in their example photo.  The seam construction is remarkably similar to dance tights by M.Stevens (a very popular dance wear maker), as one of the foot seams runs a few inches up the outside of the calf (a signature of their design).  Price wise, you are paying about as much as you would for men’s ballet tights in size XL, but with a tremendous advantage of a large color range.  UPDATE: They are indeed by MStevens!

To get nylon/lycra tights with seam free legs, you’ll find these on the pages for women’s tights.  But for the taller male, you’ll find the largest regular size falls a little short.  Only two sizes are offered, and M/L has a size range of 5’5″-5’11” and weight of 135-168lbs.   Moving to the plus size, you’re again faced with more weight accommodated for the height.  However, a representative from their company told me the fabric is very stretchy, so they may be just fine.  I’ll have to try them at some point.

From reviews I’ve read, many women are giving a big thumbs up to We Love Colors for the fit, quality, and color range of their tights.  What I would like to see the company do is to extend the nylon/lycra blended tights range a little, adding the large size from their performance tights line for us taller men.  So what the heck, I’ll point them to my little write-up here and see if I can get them to muster up some consideration.  🙂

UPDATE:  I got a pair of their performance dance tights and posted a review, here.

Tights made for men and tights made for women

As most of you know, centuries ago, tights were invented by men and for wearing only by men.  It would be much later on when fashion trends would change and tights for fashion would be sent to the closet (they would continue to be worn by both men and women in ballet and in costumes, though).  Then, in the 20th century they came back out of the closet, but this time only on women’s legs as fashion limits were pulled back on full length dresses and skirts.  Tights, stockings, and pantyhose were all tailor made for the various proportions of women, and so they became strongly identified as a woman’s garment.  For a man to wear tights as fashion would instantly be considered silly and effeminate.

This trend is now changing, as tights are shifting into a more unisex role.  Certainly this is already the widely accepted case in athletics, as we see the legs of both men and women sheathed in Lycra, and nobody points to the men saying “cross-dresser!”.  But of course, running tights are made specifically for each gender, as there are different proportions to consider (very important when it comes to freedom of movement in sports).

And so… what about fashion tights made for women, worn by men?  It has been going on for years, clandestinely underneath the trousers of men.  They help keep the legs warm, increase the glide effect of pants across the leg to reduce binding, and with tighter fitting hosiery there is a circulation benefit.  For the average male up to 5’8″ and weighing 160lbs or less, the tights made for women will fit just fine.  That’s the advantage of stretchy synthetic fibers.  But for the taller male, that advantage is lost… because when moving to that higher size bracket, the “5” or “XL”, most women are not 6’/183cm tall.  They are shorter and more rotund.  It’s the overweight problem we’ve been seeing on the news, particularly in the USA.  And so hosiery companies had to adjust.  Thus, when the taller male looks to the larger size of women’s hosiery, it’s very difficult to find tights that will fit (but they are out there in small numbers, as I’m finding).

Some people would still object to the idea of a man wearing tights that are marketed for women, regardless of the circumstances.  Now, if the tights in question are in a bright pink color or have a frilly lace waist band then sure, that’s very effeminate and a straight guy really shouldn’t wear them (just as he shouldn’t go around wearing flamboyant colored jeans).  However, right now there are hosiery makers producing tights specifically for men, tailored for the male anatomy and in conservative colors.  Many of them are seriously well made, too.  But… this is the beginning of the trend.  The choices are rather limited at this point.  What about patterns, like argyle, pinstripes, and cable-knit?  We don’t see these yet, although I imagine we will down the road (maybe in another couple of years).

The fact is that women have a 50 year head start over men on tights for fashion and comfort.  As such, there is an enormous range of colors, styles and thicknesses available to women.  Plus, due to the huge volume of sales, the price per garment is going to be lower.  The tights available for men right now are like high end women’s hosiery.  They are very good quality, but they are also relatively expensive.  Sometimes you just want to wear a less expensive pair, or different pattern/color.  The good thing is that the opaque tights made for men are very durable, more so than the ones typically made for women.  At least this is what I’ve been reading about so far, and I plan to eventually experience this first hand.

I do realize that there are some men out there who aren’t wearing tights for just comfort and warmth… and it’s unfortunate that those people make a strong negative impression for men who are wearing them only for comfort and warmth.  I expect that in time the differences will become much more clear, and that we’ll see tights for general wear begin to take on a more unisex role.  The men wearing them will feel normal and be treated by the general public as such.  I’m confident it will happen in due time, but until then I’m just thankful we’ve gotten as far as we have right now.  🙂

Review: Gatta Rosalia 100 DEN

Gatta’s hosiery line is mostly patterned, but they do have some nice opaques of various deniers (40, 60, 100, 300).  I selected Gatta’s Rosalia 100, size 5 (XL).  NOTE:  This review is from the male wearer’s perspective, and comments on fit should be considered accordingly (meaning, fit for a woman will likely be better!).

Packaging:  Traditional card stock envelope with large photo on front and basic details on back.  The tights are tucked  inside a clear cellophane sleeve, wrapped around a smooth card stock support.

Gatta Rosalia Tights, 100 denier

First Impressions:  What’s that scent?  It’s kind of like a flowery perfumed soap.  I’ve never experienced scented hosiery before.  The cellophane sleeve isn’t sealed or taped shut, so it’s easy to get them out.  Letting them fall to full extension from my waist, the ends came down to the top of my feet–a good sign on length.

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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!

Picture of the Day

I’m going to try doing a “Picture of the Day” posting periodically.  It may not be every single day, but I’ll try to do it as often as I can.

I came across this one recently and it’s one of my favorites:


This is borrowed from Gatta, one of the leading Polish hosiery makers.  The style is “Liva 01”.  Visit their website and take a closer look.  You’ll be overwhelmed with the number of styles that Gatta features, and they’re all very tastefully done too.  I wouldn’t mind being their spokesperson to help get this brand recognized in the USA.  😉

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