Which Patterned Tights Are The Most Flattering?

Patterned tights: Which are the most flattering?
Patterned tights: just how flattering are they? And which patterns are the best ones to buy? As the owner of a pair of what I’d call “okay” legs (they certainly won’t rival Blake Lively’s, but with the right hosiery and heels, they look presentable with a short skirt), I thought it would be interesting to compare several pairs and find out what flatters a pair of average legs the most.

Over the last 12 months I’ve gathered together a bit of a collection of patterned tights and have been wearing them on the blog with various outfits, as seen below (yes I seem to have a thing for black and pink…?!)

Patterned tights outfits

See the original posts here: Pink Mulberry dress, Leather midi skirt, Black and magenta

So using the tights that I already own, I’ve simply photographed them all with me wearing a neutral dress and heels to see how the various patterns compare. I have them in other colours too, but I stuck to black for the purposes of this experiment. Read on for my scientific analysis* of what the different patterns do for my legs – and see which pair I crowned the overall winner at the end.

*it wasn’t scientific at all, but I think you already knew that…!

Patterned tights

Fishnets / swirly dots

1. Standard fishnets (), 2. Swirling dot fishnets (, sort of a reverse of mine)

Starting with the classic patterned tights: fishnets. I have to admit, I haven’t worn fishnets in a very long time. They were very popular in the 90s and 00s, and although they haven’t gone completely out of style, they have been replaced by the fancier patterns of recent years. They do the same job as sheers but are infinitely more flattering – you get that dark outline but your legs don’t go that unflattering flat greyish colour.

The ones on the right – the swirling dots – are much more flattering again, as my less-than-perfect knees have been effectively hidden by the pattern. I haven’t got those gorgeous “triangle” knees as I call them, and my calves aren’t the slimmest, but the way the dots swirl round and down give the impression my legs are much more shapely than they actually are.

Patterned tights

Crochet pattern herringbone stripes

3. Crochet pattern fishnets (I love ), 4. Herringbone stripes ()

I’ve worn these crochet pattern fishnets a few times on the blog now (here, here and here), and I’ve always considered them my favourites. You have to make sure the pattern is perfectly in place down the front of your leg when you put them on, and what I love most is that they give the illusion of a shapely kneecap if you place the pattern right on top of your knee (I missed it a bit here – the top oval shape should have been a little further down).

Even better is the herringbone stripe pattern – these work like go-faster stripes! Vertical stripes alone wouldn’t look as good; the zigzag of the herringbone breaks up the stripes and makes my legs look slimmer and more toned (they appear slightly darker than number 3).

Patterned tights

Gipsy fan / animal print

5. Gipsy fan net (I love ), 6. Animal print ()
The final two are the boldest patterns here; starting with the fan net on the left, my legs are widened somewhat by the large pattern (it looks a bit like lots of smiling faces)! So I think I prefer to wear this bolder pattern with a longer skirt as worn with the leather midi skirt at the beginning of the post, then you get a hint of pattern rather than a whole great smack-in-the-face pattern.

The same goes for the animal print, though I think these are more flattering than the fan net. They actually make my legs look flatter (i.e. less three-dimensional) with more of a dark outline. I haven’t actually worn these out before – they were a freebie from a blogger event and I didn’t think they did my legs any favours. But now having seen them in the photos with an objective eye and in comparison to the other tights, I think I may just venture out in them. 

So that’s my tights put to the test and compared – which pattern is the winner? Well you may have a totally different opinion to me (which is fine!), but my preference for the tights that flatter my average legs the most is…

Patterned tights

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The swirling dot fishnets!

As I said they’re my choice for most flattering – the way the dots go down and round like a helter skelter seems to slim and shape my legs at the same time. But I think they’re all fun and I still want to wear them all, plus it’s great to have lots of choice for different outfits.

I’d love to know what you think: do you agree with my choice? Do you have a favourite pattern, and do you think (honestly) that they’re the most flattering? It will be interesting to hear your opinions…!

Catherine x

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As none of my tights are still available to buy (sorry!), here’s my pick of the best patterned tights out there on the interwebs…

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  1. 19 December 2013 / 2:10 am

    All of the tights are fun, but I agree with your pick – those are the ones I think look the best, too!

  2. 18 December 2013 / 8:35 pm

    I am partial to crazy tights – currently sat in a bright pink textured pair 🙂 I like the animal ones the best. The only ones I don't like are the fishnet, especially with an above-knee skirt. To me, they feel dated now and I have chucked all of mine out recently!!

    You also need some gold tights for Christmas 🙂

  3. 18 December 2013 / 10:53 am

    Oh I love this! So fun that you have so many! I need to stock up I think!

  4. 17 December 2013 / 12:45 am

    I like the herringbone! That dress is super cute. This is a great post because I never know how to wear patterned tights. Thank You!!

  5. 16 December 2013 / 8:10 pm

    You look incredible in them all, although I am probably less keen on the pair with the pattern down the front. I think my favourites are your number one, plus the plain fishnets and animal print. I love patterned tights, but they are not always flattering, I treat fishnets as a staple, but so much depends on the net size. I know they are not to everyone's taste but I also love wearing seams – sheer and occasionally micronet – and think (and am told!) that they flatter me too

  6. 16 December 2013 / 6:17 pm

    I'm old-school, Catherine…I think that fishnets are the most flattering of all patterned tights!! They provide a bit of "hold" and help diffuse imperfections, but still let enough skin show to give an almost bare look. Have you noticed how some performers (Beyoncé and Britney Spears for example) often wear the nude variety on stage?!


  7. 16 December 2013 / 4:57 pm

    Fun post! My personal faves are the herringbone stripes 🙂

    Jen @ Librarian for Life & Style

  8. 16 December 2013 / 4:22 am

    My preference was the herringbone, but your choice was probably a close second

  9. 15 December 2013 / 8:43 pm

    I agree with all the comments you have made and I like your choice. I have a slight preference for number 4 the herringbone ones. With this dress, as they repeat the going down stripes.
    PS nice post, nice feature

  10. 15 December 2013 / 6:31 pm

    I agree with your pick. Generally I like them all. What pops out for me is that I much prefer the stockings with the shoe that does not contrast. For me I think there is a limit to how much contrast to pair with the pattern.

  11. 15 December 2013 / 3:56 pm

    I'd say that your legs are better than average – I'm not trying to flatter you, it's just that my legs are similar though a bit chunkier and I like to think that my legs are pretty ok even though I'm short!!!

    My favourites are the swirling dots, followed by the herringbones and animal prints. I think they make your (better than average!) legs look slimmer than the other pairs. I bought some dotted tights recently and will look out for the other designs.

  12. 15 December 2013 / 11:41 am

    Thanks for all the lovely comments, everyone…! I just want to make the point that although several of you have been very sweet and said I have great legs, I think the post would have been a bit pointless if I had amazing legs – the point was to show how to make the best of a pair of average legs.

    And yes, I mean average!!!!! I do NOT have long, coltish legs like Blake Lively or Cameron Diaz or a hosiery model. The reason all these patterned tights look so great on the models is because of their long slim legs, even though a lot of the patterns are hideous or unflattering for 95% of legs out there. My legs are "average" because they are not endlessly long and slim, but they are not short and wide either. So – average. I wanted to see what the different patterns did for an average pair of legs, rather than showing the images from the brand's website which wouldn't give a true representation of an average/okay pair of legs in the tights.

    So please, no more comments about my legs not being average – they are! I am in no way saying I have awful legs.

    (But you know I am very flattered and appreciate you saying otherwise – but I'm not looking for compliments about my legs!)

    Catherine x

  13. 15 December 2013 / 6:35 am

    Catherine, your legs are way above and beyond "OK"!
    I love the sophisticated crochet and the herringbone patterns – I bet they are more difficult to wear because the vertical front line always has to be adjusted to sit right in the middle. The dot fishnets are really cute and you inspired me and I bought a pair of black patterned tights this week!

    Fingers crossed for your competition!!
    Annette | Lady of Style

  14. 15 December 2013 / 2:55 am

    I agree with your choice for #1, but honestly… you rock them all!

  15. 14 December 2013 / 10:13 pm

    What a great post!! I'm always wondering which tights go best with what, which ones are most flattering, etc.
    My favourite pair would have to be a toss up between the herringbone and the swirling dot fishnets – I love a good dotted tight, and I think vertical stripes are super flattering.
    Loved this!

  16. 14 December 2013 / 10:08 pm

    I think they are all really brilliant, and outfit enhancing – If I had to choose one as being more flattering that the other I would say it was the herringbone. I think this is because of the horizontal lines. I think they emphasis the shape of your legs and appear to lengthen the leg. From a "looks nice" perspective I think the crotchet ones are brill – its an unusual pattern and I have not seen those anywhere before ( apart from in one of your previous posts, obviously!)

    • 15 December 2013 / 5:27 am

      haha meant vertical lines not horizontal – doh!

  17. 14 December 2013 / 9:28 pm

    Wow, no bad choices here! I think the herringbones are my personal favorites. And no way your legs are "average", my friend. xo

  18. 14 December 2013 / 8:49 pm

    "Average" legs?? You have fab legs. The fan print and animal print ones are not very flattering I don't think :/


  19. 14 December 2013 / 8:36 pm

    I agree with your assessment, the swirling dots are the most flattering. But give those animal tights a whirl. Maybe as part of an all-black party outfit so they aren't screaming "Hey people! Crazy tights over here!"
    Isn't it interesting how much easier it is to evaluate the look of garments when looking at a photo vs the mirror. Much better — thank goodness for fashion blogging and ootd photos!

    ps: Your legs look nice. I like a more muscular leg vs waif sticks with no calves.

  20. 14 December 2013 / 8:12 pm

    It's a tough choice between your winner and the herringbone stripes. The crochet are my fav though even if not most flattering still gorgeous

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