Monday, January 17, 2011

Does Your Man Wear Tights? (TightsPlease.co.uk)

The men's legwear trend has caught the attention of UK-based TightsPlease, the "no.1 destination on the internet for fashion tights, stockings, leggings..." etc. With more than 20,000 items in stock, they are a major web presence when it comes to what's happening in the world of legwear.  The website and blog are viewed by a very large number of people around the English-speaking world.  So, it was no insignificant occurence when they posted "Does Your Man Wear Tights?" on their blog last week (see Jan. 4th posting).  (BTW, I published an article with a similar title for the Examiner back in Nov. 2009, "Ladies, Does Your Guy Wear Pantyhose?... Maybe He Should")

The vast majority of TightsPlease readers are women, so the article and accompanying survey are primarily directed at guaging the attitude of the female customers towards the 'mantyhose' trend.  However, it's also evident from the article that they have a great many male customers, and they ask the question, "what are your men buying tights for?" 

I hope that some TightsPlease readers have made their way here to The Nylon Gene, where we can certainly shed some light on that question...

Having spent some time as director of marketing for the original seller of tights/pantyhose made especially for men (http://www.activskin.com/), I am very familiar with the reasons men are buying tights (BTW, 'tights' in British usage is synonomous with what we in the U.S. refer to as pantyhose, as well as opaque tights).  First, one needs to answer why men are buying so many pairs of tights/pantyhose from a website that sells women's tights/pantyhose?  The simple answer is that there are a great many men who wear them for mainstream, legitimate reasons (see below) who aren't aware that there are readily available brands of hosiery made especially for men--and what the differences from women's hosiery are.  This is most true when talking about mail-order hosiery, since there is no difference from ordering from ActivSkin or a website selling only women's hosiery.  Even the question of overseas shipping becomes moot, because there are British-based distributors of male tights such as Legwear4Men, and several European-based companies.  As awareness of existence of these companies has increased over the past 5-10 years, sales have also grown rapidly.  This trend will continue away from women's tights to men's as awareness continues to grow.

There will continue to be a certain percentage of male tights wearers who stick with those brands they've become accustomed to and loyal.  There are also a good deal of men who prefer to buy their legwear at retail outlets instead of mail-order.  Male legwear has not become pervasive enough yet to enter the retail market, so these men must either buy women's brands or spend the postage money and order from the web.  I mentioned the differences between men's and women's hosiery above.  These include sizing according to male body proportions, somewhat more durable material (men aren't tolerant of the wispy-thin styles that run/tear at the drop of a hat), etc.  However, those men who have not tried any of the men's brands before may not realize what they're missing by settling for women's brands.  They may think there's no real difference because they've never worn anything else. 

So what ARE the primary reasons men are buying tights (aka, mantyhose) in the first place?  They can be summed up in a few categories:

Leg support: Women have known for years of the benefits of support hosiery when they're bothered by the subtle effects of poor leg circulation.  One need not have gnarled up knots of varicose veins to benefit from a good pair of support pantyhose.  They mildly massage the legs and help move blood through the veins to keep it from pooling during the day when on your feet for extended periods or being sedentary for hours on end.  Somehow, 50% of the population has been left out when it comes to providing relief.  Men are as likely as women to suffer from this complaint.  A woman can wear a pair of sheer hose that keeps her legs feeling good at the end of the day and no one thinks a thing of it.  It's now becoming more acceptable and commonplace for men to recognize the value of support hosiery.  And, they need not wear thick black opaque tights--under long trousers--that are too hot in spring/summer, either.  As men's legwear becomes more commonplace in the public perception, men are wearing them with shorts when the weather permits. 

Warmth-Without-Bulk: In colder settings, hosiery provides a thin base layer under outer clothing that is much more comfortable than the long johns that were traditionally the only option available to men.  Thin tights trap a layer of air next to the skin that adds insulation.  When wind is blocked by an outer layer, hosiery is very effective at adding additional warmth without constricting movement.  This is usefule for hunters and fishermen, construction workers, and even office workers.  How many desk jockeys complain that their employer can't seem to find a way to regulate the climate control and sit shivering throughout the day? 

This benefit is also valuable to outdoor athletes.  For instance, runners or cyclists who exercise or comete on chilly mornings need to keep the chill off their legs to avoid cramping.  Hosiery provides just enough insulation to do that.  Yet, since most types of athletic tights are thicker than sheer pantyhose, they tend to cause the athlete to feel overheated after body temperature rises during exertion.  Some cycling tights have zip off legs, which is good, but zippers add expense and you still have to stop to remove them and find someplace to store them. 

Performance Enhancement: It's fairly well known in athletic circles that muscle compression helps improve stamina/endurance by holding the muscles in place better and minimizing bouncing against each other.  Support hosiery provides that same sort of muscle compression.  So in addition to the aforementioned warmth-without-bulk benefit mentioned above, they can also enhance a runner or cyclists ability to stay the course longer.  Also, since sheer hosiery wicks perspiration it's insulating effect transforms to cooling when this moisture evaporates from the legs.  Thus, they can also be worn in warmer weather if the benefit being sought is performance enhancement. 

Anti-chafing: When worn under trousers, tights or pantyhose are a great means of preventing chafing of the inner thighs in many circumstances.  It's been an open secret for many years that horsemen often wear women's pantyhose while riding to avoid 'saddle sores'.  Likewise, this same benefit applied for hikers on long marches.  An added benefit is protection against ticks.  They can't get attached to your legs when you're wearing nylon against your skin.  That's also why the military have used them overseas to help ward off sand fleas, etc. 

I've posted the text from the TightsPlease blog, along with a few inline comments that I think will help clarify a few misconceptions inherent in the article:
Does your man wear tights?
It’s come to our attention that more and more men are choosing to wear our tights!

They’re being worn for whole host of purposes, from meeting a basic need like our boys in Afghanistan – wearing tights to protect their legs from desert flies, or wearing tights to make a bold statement, like our cross dressing shoppers, who get a lot of enjoyment from wearing stylish, women’s tights! [As men become more comfortable with the idea of wearing tights, they will add them to their wardrobe for aesthetic, as well as practical, reasons.  However, cross dressing is a very small proportion of the number of guys wearing tights.]

Traditionally, men wearing tights has always been a taboo subject. The only time men in tights is acceptable, is at the pantomime or on our favourite superhero! With the sheer volume of male shoppers that we’ve seen visit the site, it’s unlikely that they’re all shopping for either of these purposes.  [As I've detailed above, men wearing tights is fast losing any of the former taboo. They're wearing them for very practical reasons, and the public is recognizing that fact by taking the sight of a guy wearing hosiery very much in stride]

So what are your men buying tights for? We’d like to find out more! For 5% discount off your next purchase with Tightsplease, fill in our Men In Tights survey now! We’d love to hear your views!! [Nylon Gene readers: Make sure to visit the blog or follow this link, and offer your input for the survey]

Lauren x

20 comments:

  1. Wow, fantastic post, Steve! Thank you!

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  2. What did you think to the tone of the survey? I thought that parts of it were a little sneery (if that's a real word).
    My wife filled it the survey, but I read the questions. I can't seem to get back to them, but I seem to remember that several of the choices involved the term "cross dresser" which I object to. I may wear tights, but do not consider myself a CD. Did you or your S.O. do the survey?
    Nick (cornish63)

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  3. Great artical! Over the past several years , I've been more and more less worried about others seeing me in pantyhose , and mainly knee hi's, when wearing dress clothes or formal wear.
    Many women have told me how great hose look on men.
    Reading your blog inspires me that much more!
    Thanks for being our advocate Steve.
    Sergio

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  4. Years ago,,I lived with a woman who always wore them under her pants. She had a few pairs lying round and she told me how warm they kept her in the winter. She wanted me to try on a pair, but I refused. I said that I wouldn`t be caught dead in them.Remember what your mother always told you about your underwear?

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  5. Social conventions usually change very slowly over time. But since the rapid production of technology and businesses transforming our lives, we are becoming accustomed to more quickly changing our minds and ways of doing things. Still, some conventions are much more rigid than others. One of them is masculinity. For the average man, being masculine is acutely important, because this is what has long attracted women to men. The weaker or effeminate man is shunned or ridiculed and doesn't "get the girl". Despite the fact that tights were invented by men and worn only by men back in the days of the Renaissance, fashion trends shifted in the 20th century and tights developed a strong feminine association. Even though men have always worn them in ballet, a male ballet dancer would be typically seen as gay or closet-gay (although there are plenty of heterosexual male ballet dancers).

    Finally there was a shift in social style acceptance, and now it's perfectly OK for men to don thick opaque tights for athletics. Heck, speed skaters and luge racers have donned skin tight full body spandex garments with nary a snicker. But for fashion? No, it's still widely perceived as effeminate. I do understand that there is a need for support tights for leg ailments, and that it should be OK for men with such problems to wear them. However, I think it best kept concealed under long pants.

    Personally, I find sheer tights to look effeminate on a guy's legs. I'm just too accustomed to seeing only women wear pantyhose, and besides, they look fabulous in them. Opaque tights are perfectly fine and they don't bother met at all, even when worn with shorts. The only exception might be skin tone matte semi-sheer tights, than draw less attention. If clothing designers could come up with a nicely tailored man's outfit with knickers and tights that still looks masculine, I think there might be a good shot at gaining public acceptance with the idea.

    Another key problem is the cross dressing and flamboyant gay communities, who can't help but want to not only wear tights but to shout out about it with glee. As long as this is happening, you're not going to see any straight male even thinking for a minute about donning the same kind of garment. It would be perceived as a threat to their masculinity.

    A very good friend of mine and I were talking one day about this subject of men wearing tights, and I could sense that there was something on his mind about it. Finally, he decided to confide in me about how tights have been a fetish for him since he was a little boy. He's quite straight and has always been a charmer of the ladies, but he can't help enjoying a kind of sexual response to wearing tights. I didn't judge him for it at all and remained completely objective. He said that the experience has changed over the years, once he allowed himself to accept that he likes wearing tights also for the other benefits they bring. After wearing them much more often, the fetish side of it began to subside for him. Anyway, there is probably a small community of men that have the same kind of association established back in their prepubescent days. I'm sure many would find this attraction alleviated if they wore tights much more often, reassigning the association to just being a unisex garment.

    I do believe one day we will see some social acceptance for men wearing tights in public, but it's going to take a long while, probably another decade.

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  6. Is it right that a straight man would be accepted to walk around in public wearing womans sheer nylon tights under jeans? Or is it wrong and men should not show therd legs in public?

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  7. yes men should wear tights cos my legs i has problems for some times as it feel like muscles gave it up and about to fall down that i has numbers of fall down due to weak muscle so wear tights under any shorts or skirts (doesnt matter which one to wear as it same) that help my legs to keep going on without problems. Tights is for unisex not just for women, people have to understand that legs are important for body system like blood flow, muscle and has one leg valve that keep blood clot out. i used my favour wolford tights cos it so softy as velvet as my size is small and usual wear denim or cord shorts/skirts :-)

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  8. I often wear opaque tights as i love the feel of them, they are really soft. I sometimes wear them to work also, i don't know if any of the women know that i do. If i was asked i wouldn't know what to say as i am 100% straight. I just find them comfortable to wear and i do find it a bit if a turn on if honest and I do find myself being turned on when i see women wearing tights or leggings. I do work in the healthcare sector and as said in the previous post that some people have to wear stockings/tights for health reasons. I have support tights as well and being on my feet all day, i do notice that my legs feel less tired at the end of the day

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  9. Leotards are an fantabulous way to amplify your sex quest and to neaten a stunning front symbol. Whether you're involved in overstrung style garment or office tights ... you've definitely uprise to the mitt square.
    tights

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  10. Tights are wonderful. Our uptight religious right society is the problem.

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  11. The survey is not well worded and has a satirical slant which is inappropriate to what is a sensitive topic. Wearing for warmth, in place of uncomfortable and badly fitting long johns, opaques are a perfectly rational and acceptable decision. The aesthetics in appearance are no different to long johns with matching socks, without being visibly typecase as feminine. The only difference is that the wearer has many comfort benefits.

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  12. I am a straight guy who wears sheer to waist pantyhose daily and sleep in them as well. If a guy wants to wear pantyhose that is his decision and who is going to stop you, no one. The last time I checked it is perfectly legal.

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  13. I am a straight guy who loves wearing sheer tan pantyhose, always worried about getting caught in them, my ex wife used to wear them 24/7 even in bed the feel of them, got me into them, What would you say if you got caught

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  14. Tights for men and women from around the world. web Information
    These are my photos. All summer dress tights under shorts and it's great !!! My colleagues and family surrounding me I dress and high heels fandia..ale health reasons.
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    Tights for men and women from around the world here ..
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    ReplyDelete
  15. Tights for men and women from around the world. web Information
    These are my photos. All summer dress tights under shorts and it's great !!! My colleagues and family surrounding me I dress and high heels fandia..ale health reasons.
    https://picasaweb.google.com/hkey22/JaNosimSilonkyVerejne?authkey=Gv1sRgCImV_f-eg56h-AE

    Tights for men and women from around the world here ..
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    ReplyDelete
  16. I always wear no color is off limits I do like the high gloss ones most of all I wear at home but if out under my pants just because of society don't need the ridicule I think pantyhose and tights are great many benefits in wearing am a straight male to not a crossdresser

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dressing stockings men has nothing to do with sexual orientation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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    Tights for men and women from around the world here .. (we INFORMATION WEB ONLY)
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    ReplyDelete
  18. Am a straight male also that wears either pantyhose or tights daily its a great fashion item for anyone that has legs plus the warmth , support , the feel the way them make your legs look to but if your a male please wear properly not to offend others by exposing areas in question after all we men want this fashion to be accepted by society for men to wear openly

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  19. I wear pantyhose or tights daily in a variety od deniers in all colors and styles. It's a great fashion do have to say I tend to lean towards the glossy look.

    ReplyDelete

 
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