Sam Barnett, one of the most experienced hosiery models in the business, has given us her top tips and advice for navigating the world of hosiery. Needless to say, she was a mine of handy information…
I’ve been a hosiery model for 25 years and have worked for all the major hosiery brands, including Wolford, Jonathan Aston and Charnos- amongst many others! My time is divided between shoots for hosiery packaging and websites, hosiery fashion shows, presentations to buyers and in store events. I’m constantly asked for tips and advice so I’ve written down some of my top tips…
1. Don’t be scared of patterns.
Ladies often tell me they don’t have the legs to wear patterned tights, but if you choose a vertical pattern or a smaller uniform pattern it can actually have a slimming and elongating effect on the leg- and going for black patterned tights is a safer and very flattering option. A plain tight with a pattern or stripe down the side will make the leg look slimmer (it has the same effect as an illusion dress but on the leg) and a plain tight with a pattern at the ankle will give the impression of slimmer ankles.
A great tip is to get the pattern to the same size all the way up the leg. The pattern will naturally spread out above the knee towards the thigh so I always pull them out more from my toes to knees so that there is more fabric to play with at the thighs and I can make the pattern uniform all the way up. This gives the illusion of a longer, slimmer leg. I usually stretch my tights when I remove them from their packaging, as that way you are not putting as much pressure on them when you’re putting them on. I hold them at either end and pull gently.
2. Opaques are a secret saviour.
I love opaque tights, they cover a multitude of sins when you have no time for shaving, tanning and faffing . Coloured opaques are a great way to wear a season’s colour trend without buying into a whole outfit.
I always pull the fabric out at the knees and let it ping back so that when you sit down you don’t have two white knees. Sometimes I’ll buy a size larger if I want more opacity.
3. Size DOES matter…
Speaking of sizing: in store I’m constantly asked about sizing as the charts can cause confusion. My advice is to bear in mind the size of trousers you would buy and think of your height and weight, as tights have to stretch both ways with you. Also, high end brands tend to be more generously sized- for example, I usually wear a size large, but in Wolford I wear a medium. If you are in between sizes, I would go up rather than down.
4. More Haste, less Speed
When I’m doing hosiery presentations to buyers, I have to get 40 pairs of patterned tights on and off as quickly as possible and looking good (vertical patterns and back seams need to be in straight lines); and I often don’t have spares so I have to be super fast and careful. Sometimes I can put on a hundred pairs in a day. I always hold the tights up in front of me as you would a pair of trousers to ensure the patterns are straight before I start to gather the tights from the waistband to toe (I always do right leg first, I find it easier). As I gather them, I make sure I don’t twist them so that when I pull them on , they go on straight first time.
Sometimes a pattern can spread or wiggle on the thigh so I put my hand in the tights, palm facing thigh, and smooth them upwards pressing against the inside of the tights – this instantly straightens the patterns. Turn rings inwards or ideally take them off (but don’t forget to put your diamonds back on – easily done in a hurry). Chipped nails and rough skin will also snag and ladder, I find clear nail varnish is still the best emergency ladder repair. For horizontal snags, which are particularly noticeable on black tights, I remove them by holding the fabric either side of the snag and pulling (you can do this when you’re wearing them or in the hand) – but don’t do this if there is a hole (even if it’s tiny) because it will quickly become a large hole.
5. SOS – Save Our Sheers
When you’ve got your tights on, pull the fabric out at the toes a little, this way you are less likely to put your toe through the end as the day goes on.
6. My Favourites
I’m often asked about my favourite hosiery. I’m very lucky to have been given some beautiful pieces over the years but for day to day, like any woman I have my ” go to” hosiery:
Opaques and leggings: they look good and are super practical.
Black lace hold-up stockings for a hot date.
A statement pattern tight – always gets noticed and a great talking point.
Sheer tights with tummy control for “fat days”.
Black semi sheer tights- my favourite are the Wolford Neon 40 Tights, they are beautiful and hard wearing.
Knee high flight socks for long haul travelling.
Twinkly tights – I can’t resist them for the evening with a little black dress, my favourite are black and covered in Swarovski crystals. I also love black lace tights for night time.
7. And how to get the pins?
Take the stairs. Look after those legs.
Happy Hosiery xx love Sam Barnett