At prep school I wore ankle socks all year round. I was a cathedral chorister and wore them under my cassock in the depths of winter, on Christmas Day and my birthday, and more happily in June with summer dresses. They were a joy, no fuss or fills or this terrible nonsense with parts falling down for they had nowhere to fall. I didn’t board the tights wagon at school until I was thirteen, when I discovered Boots’ black sixty deniers. That day, I imagine, was a miracle one. No more blue knees, scuffed ankles (from accidentally kicking yourself as you walked) and a protective nearly-grazeproof layer in times of slippery surfaces.
At sixteen, the sixty deniers were significant to going out (underage) – when getting dressed there was the ‘tights or no tights?’ discussion, usually ending in a quick dash to the specially assigned drawer for the black specimens, not being from Newcastle where I understand it is the norm to be tightless.
Leik Geordie lasses on a neet on the toon, certain ladies across two different bodies of water have a thing about tights. Namely, they don’t really wear them. New Yorkers are in the leg-wax-mani-pedi camp; the Parisiennes favour a bare leg for the purposes of chic. Never mind the cold, you’ll pull through is, I imagine, the French mindset.
But over here we’re quite content in a pair of black opaques. They are, as my colleagues have confirmed, a safety net. They protect against unshaven legs (don’t lie and tell me you keep on top of it every day during December), they act as a support for bad frock days and, most important go-with-everything. Which is naturally, key. And what’s another layer to add to winter’s brilliant layering, er, layer cake.
Now the autumn equinox has passed, it’s time to dig out your old friends again. While I’ve seen people with black shins since August, imaginable sweltering as I find myself a hot mess barelegged and sans coat, the time has finally come.
This season I’ve found myself almost exclusively going barelegged. It is, I grant, the result of having an unusually hot summer, or in fact having a summer at all, for I realise that most countries have the ability to allow their city dwellers a little more leg time. As liberating it might be, the constant maintenance of a shaving/waxing regime, regular trips to James Read (if you’re that kind of girl) and avoiding falling over for fear of bruises all must be considered.
The first official day of no tights began a long way back in April, and I am stunned, sitting here barelegged, that I’ve made it this far. As it goes, I haven’t been that chilly. But as tricky as the balance is when deciding upon the first day of leg-liberation is the autumn tipping scale. For ‘warm’ is relative; fifteen degrees is inconceivably hot to some (me, in March) and freezing to others. Humidity is a factor, not just for hair but also for legs, as is office air-conditioning. It’s not just about degrees Celsius, ladies.
But as with most fashionable or life-crunching decisions, I turn back to Anna. You’d be hard pushed to find Ms Wintour in a pair of black opaques, or her editrix friend in Paris Emmannuelle Alt. The ever useful question What Would Anna Do? is no more useful here than with a seasonal new coat buy. She’d bare it, for sure. Here’s to the last day of bare legs.