Black opaque tights are a mainstay of many wardrobes, and certainly so here at feelgoodwardrobe.com. So we decided to do our first test to discover the most durable brand of black tights with cotton and to discover whether more expensive means better quality. Rinna has been loyal to Vogue Luxe tights for years, but wonders if there are other as good brands, and Anna is willing to start spending a few euros more on her black tights if it helps to avoid pilling and ratty look after a few washes.
The Martindale test, in which pieces of fabric are subjected to abrasion by a rotating disc is the universally recognized standard for testing durability and resistance for pilling. But since it can’t be performed on whole tights, and cutting a 13 cm circle from a pair of tights pretty much ruins them, we decided to test our samples by 1) washing in a regular washing machine and tumble drying for half an hour, 2) abrading them for 10 minutes with a handheld electric mixer (looks and feels stupid, I assure you) and 3) rubbing them with a coat brush. This ensures we can wear them afterwards, or at least the ones which survived the test, we are thrifty like that! Oh, and also because we bought them totally with our own money, and it would have been painful to cut holes in tights that cost 39 euros…
Our contestants are
- Philippe Matignon Coton 100 Denier: 64% cotton, 32% polyamide, 4% elastan. 25,9 euros. Made in Serbia NOTE cotton inside, polyamide outside
- Wolford Cotton Velvet Tights: 49% cotton, 46% polyamide, 5% elastan. Made in Austria 39 euros
- Vogue finest cotton Cotton Luxe Pantyhose: 80% zero combed cotton, 15% polyamide, 5% elastan. 32,95 euros, made in Estonia (had to e-mail the manufacturer to find this out).
- Lindex Cotton mix tights, 77% cotton, 19% polyamide, 4% elastic. 9,95 euros. Made in Turkey NOTE tag “organic cotton blend”
- Esprit Basic Fine Cotton Tights: 58% cotton, 37% polyamide, 5% elastane. 14,95 euros
Here are the tights just out of the package
I have never before looked so carefully at tights. Who knew there were so many little variations. Philippe Matignon and Vogue tights have a panel gusset which extends to the backside – good news for those with curvy or just plain big bums. Only Vogue tights have sock-like, shaped ie. reciprocated heels, which make heel part fit better. Vogue also claims that the toes are hand-linked, and is the only tested pair whose toes are reinforced. Philippe Matignon and Esprit have some kind of reinforcing at inner thigh, great news for people whose tights get worn quickly when thighs rub together (that would be m… erm… a friend of mine).
Vogue has the highest cotton percentage and Wolford the lowest. Lindex and Vogue have more of a “cottony”, extremely matte appearance, while Esprit, Philippe Matignon and Wolford more “nylony” look with a little bit of sheen.
Philippe Matignol tights feel very substantial. After a lot of abuse with brush and the electric mixer they started to develop sort of proto-pills but hardly any fuzziness. Gusset and reinforced inner thighs are a plus. The only minimally irksome thing is that the overlock seams extend over the waistband – something which detracts from the overall feel of thought-out design and quality.
Wolford tights don’t look that impressive out of the package, but they do feel nice and most importantly, only exhibited very minor fuzziness and no pilling at all. I sort of wished they would fail, since I’m annoyed by the Wolford fanatics who pop out of bushes and start gushing about the superb quality of their favorite hosiery brand whenever one happens to so much as mention tights. But nope, I have to admit that these tights withstand wear and tear and look quite classy. Wolfords are also the only ones which state the country of origin on the tights: made in Austria.
Vogue tights feel pleasant against skin thanks to the high cotton percentage. After the regime with the mixer and brush lot of fibers stood up from the fabric, but even after extended period of rubbing did not pill (so when the package says “no pilling” they aren’t merely boasting). I love the shaped foot part and heel&toe reinforcements, but hope they would add thigh reinforcements as well. And, while you are at it, Vogue, change the washing tag material inside the tights to something less scratchy! As I dislike pilling, really quite obsessively hate it, I enjoy the combination of cotton-y feel and zero pills.
Esprit tights feel lighter than the others and are not as opaque, so if you want really really black tights these are not a good choice. Moreover, the test pair was more navy than black, I don’t know whether Anna accidentally bought the wrong colour or if they really just are bluish. They started to pill during the test, and the pills stuck quite tight. A weird detail is that these tights have more elegant woven size/brandname tag than the way more expensive Wolfords – if I were to judge quality based on just the tag, these would be definitely winners.
Lindex tights became lightly fuzzy during the washing and drying, and the brush and mixer treatment made it even more noticeable, with added proto-pills. They feel very soft and comfortable, so if you need tights just for lounging around the house, and are not annoyed by pilling and fuzziness, then these cheap tights might be a good budget choice. If you want to look neat and professional, invest in some of the more expensive ones since these will go shabby really quickly – and they gather dust for some reason. I appreciate the use of organic cotton, but feel that it is not very eco-friendly to make tights that don’t last good-looking even one wash.