At this point, it's not hyperbole to say TikTok has changed the trend cycle for good. Traditionally, fashion (and beauty to a lesser extent) moves on a 20-year trend cycle, but thanks to the app's quick pace, users are already revisiting looks from just a decade ago. That means mid-2000s trends like side bangs, messy eyeshadow, and of course, ballet flats are already making their comeback. The latest on the list? Bold, colorful tights.
Bold tights have been making runway appearances since Versace’s Spring 2022 collection last season—in particular, bright purple neon and lime green. Vibrant hot pink tights found their way to the Valentino runway for the house's Fall 2022 collection, which has largely been credited as the genesis of the Barbiecore takeover in fashion.
Polka-dotted patterned and vibrantly colored tights had a ready-to-wear moment at Raf Simons's Spring 2023 collection. Bold tights also walked the catwalk in Paris for Victoria Beckham’s Spring 2023 Fashion week debut. And, of course, we cannot discuss bold tights without heaven by Marc Jacobs's recent drop of nylons that come in bright florals and a mixture of tartan patterns.
Off the runway, the bold tights awakening is largely on the come up due to the ballet flat resurgence that has become a Gen Z favorite. Fashion creator and creative director, Brigitte Crisp, coined the Ballerina Sleaze aesthetic, which combines balletcore and the “indie sleaze” revival, to describe the edgy femme aesthetic that has started to rise in popularity over the past year. The bold tight trend meshes well with both niche aesthetic stylings, Crisp shares with Byrdie.
“A lot of looks within the Ballerina Sleaze world consist of wearing tights or over-the-knee socks. Considering the fact that actual ballerinas wear tights, and so do the grungy girls who participated in the indie sleaze wave, It seems like a natural progression that we are seeing more of an evolution with tights themselves.”
Crisp notes that what separates this round of attention-stealing tights from, say, Blair Waldorf's on Gossip Girl is the detailing like cutouts and bows—a lot of which can be done with DIY hacks popular on TikTok. She also cites several other fashion shows where bold tights made an appearance, Chopova Lowena Fall 2022, Louise Lyngh Bjerregaard, and most notably, red over-the-knee socks at y2k-revival favorite Blumarine's FW22 collection.
As for styling the tights, Crisp says, “Tights are playful to me. I feel mischievous when I wear a bold tight. It’s also a fun way to incorporate color or patterns without it overtaking the whole focus of the outfit. A peek of tights under a midi skirt with calf-high boots? Perfection.”
Content creator Camille Hovsepian shared her own styling method on TikTok: matching the color of her tights to her shoes for one continuous line. “Brands like Marine Serre and Saks Potts popularized the new wave of logo tights all over social media a few years back amid the anti-logomania movement," Hovsepian tells Byrdie. "Since trends are moving at breakneck speed like we’ve never seen before, runway looks are a direct reflection of what we see in street fashion, and that trickles down to TikTok. Those who love to experiment with their style are looking to incorporate more interesting patterns and colors into their wardrobe as a way to stand out and make a statement.”
Bold and vibrant colors correspond with the maximalism movement that has been gripping the fashion world as a form of escapism since the pandemic. The eccentric tight trend that is taking off also relates to the Twee callback. Twee initially emerged in the early 2000s as a feminine-prepster fashion style, most notably worn by Alexa Chung and Zooey Deschanel. Twee pays homage to fashion of the 1960s, with Hovsepian citing the rise of the mini-skirt giving way to colorful hosiery, a look that supermodel Twiggy made her signature.
Not only are bright tights a nod to the mid-aughts style fascinating Gen Z, but they're also plain old flattering. “Matching your tights and shoes is an easy way to instantly elongate your legs," says Hovsepian. "A fool-proof way [to style them] is taking a pair of shoes you already own and building around that. I suggest wearing closed-toe shoes like ballet flats, loafers, pumps, or boots. You can choose to go for a full monochromatic look or choose to go neutral for the rest of your outfit. I have a pair of red ballet flats, and they pair perfectly with red tights, a mini skirt, and cable knit cardigan.”
Whether your nylons are in vibrant neon, have eccentric designs and patterns, or are ripped and subverted, they are appearing everywhere this season.