Toasty Legs: Recommendations for Warm Tights

warm tights brands

Honestly? My legs seem to have fewer nerve endings that most of my other bits. I mean, my hands are CONSTANTLY cold, if my neck isn’t covered I get pretty miserable, and my feet can feel frosty through two pairs of socks and a pair of boots. But my legs? They don’t care. I take a 45-minute walk every morning so long as it’s 10 degrees or above, and yeah, my legs get cold but never the miserable, unbearable, make-it-stop kind of cold that afflicts my other parts. So I feel relatively ill-equipped to handle this particular reader request, which I believe has been submitted by at least nine of you over the past few years.

Additionally, if I’m going to spend any length of time outside during the winter, I DON’T wear an outfit that includes tights. Tights outfits are for days when I’ll be heading from my house to the car and then into another building. If I’ll be walking far or doing a lot of in-and-out action, I wear ponte pants, leggings, slacks, or jeans. Even maxi skirts work better than tights in the leg-warming department. I’ve lived in wintry climates long enough to know that tights will not work if it’s very cold, very windy, or very wet outside.

So. Now that I’ve destroyed my own credibility, here’s what I know about warm tights:

Tights that are decidedly not-warm

I have bought a lot of tights from Target. They suck. I used to buy them because they’re cheap and easily accessible and come in a decent variety of colors and styles. But eventually I changed my ways because they are SO not-warm, and they snag the instant I remove them from their packaging. Target has created and sold a few “premium” styles over the years, and they seem to appear on shelves and then promptly sell out. In my experience, those are more expensive but also warmer and more durable. The standard-issue, every color of the rainbow ones? Thin, delicate, not-warm.

Hate to say it, but We Love Colors tights aren’t warm either. Their leggings are a different story, since they’re a much thicker weave, but the tights themselves are pretty thin. This vendor wins on color and size variety, but falls short in the warmth department.

Hue is fairly hit or miss, in my experience. Their standard opaques are good, but not super warm. Some of their thicker styles are fabulous deep-freeze options (see below), but a few of the fashion-y options are just too lightweight for winter wear. Check reviews when you can.

And, of course, common sense dictates that sheers and patterns will be less warm than opaques.

Tights I know to be warm

Express opaques – These are my secret bargain tights weapon and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. They hold up beautifully after several years of hard wear and laundering, they don’t run, and they’re marvelously warm. Stock often runs low online, but check your local mall for more options.

Sweater tights – These lose in the sleekness department, but win in the warmth department. While many pairs of tights offer a single, flimsy layer of colorful nylon to protect your gams, sweater tights are made from thicker, warmer fibers. Skip the openwork versions and go for something that offers solid coverage from toe to torso. Hue sweater tights are incredibly toasty.

Falke 100 denier – I’ve worn my Falke opaques many times, laundered them many times, and am madly, madly in love with them. They’re expensive, yes, but they are durable, virtually snag-proof, and marvelously cozy. They’re also a gorgeous matte black, in case shiny opaques bug ya. Go for the 100 denier. Worth it. (Wearing a pair in the above photo.)

SPANX This is another brand that just doesn’t mess around when it comes to tights. My pairs of high-waisted tights are good and warm, but my reversible pair is AMAZING. Since two colors of fiber are needed, these tights are naturally denser and a bit thicker, but not to the point of bulk or discomfort.

Tights that Trusted Sources assure me are warm

Fleece-lined I know it seems preposterous that someone living in Minnesota hasn’t yet sampled fleece-lined tights. But my legs! They just never get that cold! (See above.) Despite my lack of personal experience, I can tell you that many, many readers and fellow bloggers have assured me that fleece-lined tights are a wintry miracle. They’re not bulky, they cut the wind considerably, and they feel amazing. Another option here.

Smartwool – Since many stores sell these with their ski-related apparel, I’m inclined to believe that they’re the real deal. User reviews confirm that these tights are perfect for winter, even calling them the “warmest tights ever.” Intriguing, no? Available in basic neutrals: Black, brown, charcoal.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Originally posted 2012-01-27 06:01:46.

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62 Responses to “Toasty Legs: Recommendations for Warm Tights”

  1. Courtney

    Tip for your cold feet: the blood in your feet has to travel the length of your legs to get there. Keep the legs insulated, and the toes stay warm too, just like insulating your hot water pipes! I struggled with cold feet for years until I realized that.

    Another tip for warm tights: I layer tight fitting long underwear in a coordinating shade under my tights. It gives them a super opaque look and it toasty warm. The only sign of the long underwear is the seam running up the inside of my legs, but with tall boots, tall socks, and a skirt, there’s not much of the seam showing!

    • Sarah

      I can’t believe it took someone pointing out basic circulation for me to have the same epiphany.
      My frozen toes thank you!

  2. T.

    I will vouch for Smartwool tights. They are incredibly warm! However, avoid the galoon style by Smartwool. That cute pattern is not printed; it’s made with open holes in the tight. Brrrr!

  3. Patrice

    I find that any brand of tights plus tall boots plus longer length skirt = toasty, but I live in the Baltimore area, where it gets cold in the winter but rarely is it frigid for long periods of time.

  4. Bridget

    This year I ordered tights and leggings in matching colors from the same retailer (Silkies), a great way to have more warmth and still be able to wear pumps/flats without the very obvious difference where the leggings end and the tights cover your feet.

  5. QM

    I layer two pairs – a good way to use up those snagged or patterned pairs.

  6. Michelle

    I love smartwool! They’re probably more athletic-looking than most people will be going for (they’re basically long underwear), but they’re really freaking warm (to give you an idea, when I XC ski, I wear smartwool leggings and shorts)

    The other thing you can do is to layer tights. I often wear opaque black or white tights under my colored tights. This also works for pants! I usually have to wear tights under my dress pants, because they’re too cold on their own.

  7. Plop

    H&M has grey super-thick wool thighs <3
    I sometimes superpose two thighs to feel warmer but since today's jeans are super thin, it's warmer with thighs 😀

  8. Elizabeth Ann

    Yet another vote for layering tights. My go-to tights combo for cold days when I still need to look sharp: any old pair of black nylons with a pair of sweater-knit bamboo tights over them. The ones I have were purchased from Filene’s Basement and are made by Kensie. The bamboo is great because it’s environmentally friendly and it dries super fast (great for rainy/snowy days and puddles). I’ve had mine for well over 3 years and they still look pretty good.

    I haven’t tried Smartwool tights, but their socks are amazing and shockingly odor resistant. Not that I would ever test out their stink-resisting properties by wearing my favorite argyle smartwool socks two days in a row without washing them…

    • Anne

      I was at Fleet Feet (running store) the other day and a sales person was encouraging that very thing! She said they were anti microbial and really didn’t need to be washed every day.

  9. Lauren

    Great list! Another tip is to double-up tights for warmth and style. This has an especially great look if you put a color under a darker pair (something you’ve done recently, Sal).

    If anyone has recommendations for plus-size tights that are either fleece-lined or sweater material, please chime in! I’ve looked all over for them but have never found them. Most seem to come in only S/M and M/L like the ones Sal linked to above.

  10. mary

    I am always cold. If its below 50 degrees I layer tights over a pair of polyester or spandex type leggings. Works like a charm.

  11. Elin

    Fleece-lined tights – brilliant! I have a pair of fleece-lined running tights (different animal all together) but I LOVE them and would love to wear them more than my Southern climiate allows. But, I never knew that fleece-lined tights existed. That’s great to know for work trips! Thanks, Sal!

  12. Kate K

    I bought a pair of fleece tights this fall from QVC, and while the Wisconsin winter hasn’t caused me to wear them very often, I have worn them a few times and have had some interesting moments with them. They are very warm and they look very similar to regular tights. But, mine at least smell kind of chemical-y (I think it has something to do with the dye) and have stayed that way despite a few washings. Also, these tights don’t stretch as much as regular tights so what size you buy is more important. And even if you buy the right size, I’ve found that they fit sort of bizarrely in general. Mine are quite tight (ha, no pun intended!) in the upper thighs but they’re too big in the waist, which causes them to fall down a lot.

    I’m probably not making these seem all that appealing but honestly, there have been times where I’ve needed to wear tights on really cold days and when that happens, they’re warm enough that I don’t care about their issues 😀

  13. Jennifer M.

    Great post, and just in time, as I’ve had trouble shopping for tights in the past two days. I’m plus size and tall, so there often isn’t a sizing option for me in regular stores.

    I also layer tights, it’s a good way to work funkier patterns into a more conservative office-so if I wear black fishnets over black tights it adds more texture to an outfit.

    Looking into the Falke and the reversible(!) Spanx now. Thank you!

  14. Anne

    I don’t know if these still exist but a hundred years ago when I used to ice skate regularly, we have special tights for skating. They were nude and very thick. We also used to get a tight -style legwarmer. Not only was this combo super warm, it provided some cushion when we crashed.

  15. Jessica

    Great post! I am always throwing out pairs of tights that are getting saggy/snagged/just suck or don’t fit in general. I guess that’s what I get for trying to go the cheap route from Target. I had always layered tights, but I will have to try some of your suggestions.

    FWIW, I have a pair of fleece leggings and a pair of sweater tights from the website Classic Shapewear. They’re a little pricey, but they seem to have good sales pretty often and I especially looooove the fleece leggings.

  16. Jenn

    I have trouble finding tights that fit my apple figure so I generally wear thigh highs from Sock Dreams over long underwear. Next winter when I’m not pregnant I’ll go back to wooly tights from They’re a Canadian company who make lovely warm tights!

    • Dale

      Thank you so much for this link; they aren’t Canadian, but they will ship here, unlike Smartwool and Falke’s European sites.
      I love Falke’s Soft Merino Tights and have managed to order some through Figleaves, but Figleaves does not have Falke’s fun new colours (how spoiled am I?) I have also ordered some lovely wool lace tights from Sock Dreams.
      I find if I wear my wool tights with wool over-the-knee socks they keep me (and more importatnly the gap between the bottom of my skirt and the top of my boots) quite warm when I wear a long coat and tall boots. I can usually pull off this combination until about -30C. At that point I put the skirt in the backpack and wear longjohns under my fleece-and-wind pant combination and change at work.
      Great post Sal!
      Thank you.

  17. Rachel

    Smart Wool is a great brand all around. I’ve never tried their tights, but I have many pairs to knee-hi socks by them that are wonderful.

    I’m similar to you in that my legs seemingly don’t get cold. I usually go with a pair of tights and a pair of above mentioned wool socks. I also have the unfortunate situation where my school/work is insanely warm, and a walk a mile in the cold to class. So I wind up cold on the way there and then sweating in the office. Still haven’t quite figured that one out.

  18. LinB

    When we lived in Wisconsin and in northern Indiana, I dressed my infant/toddler/elementary school daughter in tights all the time. Never wore them myself. Then we moved to North Carolina and I became plump and middle-aged. I still don’t wear tights. Daughter still does, but for color, not warmth, as it rarely gets really cold here. She usually buys store brand, or what is cheapest, as even good quality tights don’t last any longer than pantyhose.

  19. Eliza

    J. Crew’s tights are often made of a wool/nylon mix, and are at least warmer than regular tights. I have had fit problems with them though, so beware if your hips are on the larger side like mine!

  20. Katharine

    I have a few merino wool tights that are lovely and warm, but they were random finds at Winners (I think both were Italian brands). Hue super-opaques are not bad, for everyday walking-across-the-parking-lot warmth. And the Hue cotton sweater tights are fine, but as you say, Sal, not sleek. I hate H&M tights; total waste of money. The regular ones bag, the wool ones itch.

    I have some cotton tights from… ED Smith? The ones who sell cotton tights through Sock Dreams. They are quite warm, but don’t fit me that well; they’re kind of tight in the waistband and baggy in the crotch.

    Mostly, though, when I need real warmth, my solution is to layer a pair of tights with like-coloured thigh-highs, usually my smooth cotton ones from Sock Dreams. Since the vast majority of my tights, and my outfits, are atonal, this works for me.

    Winners got a bunch of the fleece-lined tights in recently, but they seemed very bulky to me. If I want to wear something that chunky, I’ll just put on a pair of leggings, I think.

  21. Molly

    These really are warm:

    I got mine on an amazing sale a few years ago (in a little boutique, though I do love Sock Dreams) when I was a bit smaller, and as I wasn’t thinking I threw them in the dryer and they shrank. Now that I’m a bit bigger I can’t get them on, which is a real shame because they’re great tights. Worth a splurge if you’re the type who wants to own just a few, higher quality items.

  22. Sarah

    I get my mom to pick up Marks & Spencer tights for me whenever she goes to Britain. They are extremely durable (I had one pair last me more than 10 years, and I wore them a LOT!), they fit very well and the heavier ones are perfect for our climate here on the west coast. In fact, right now I’m wearing my 60 denier M&S merino wool tights and I’m pretty happy about that.

    • M.C.

      Second vote for merino wool Marks & Spencer tights! Worth every penny.

  23. poet

    I wear skirts nearly all the time and I usually get through winter wearing Falke or Montana tights with 80% cotton or more (I think they qualify as sweater tights but they’re not too bulky, and the high cotton percentage means they’re absolutely non-itchy). If it gets too cold I will put on two pairs of tights, or tights plus thigh-high socks (those that I have are from Target and H&M). Though when everything’s covered in snow I may capitulate and wear jeans 🙂

  24. Hannah K

    (1) Emilio Cavallini 200-denier tights. You have to buy them online and pay to have them shipped from Italy, but they have a lot of sales and also IT IS COMPLETELY WORTH IT (I live in Chicago!). You will not regret this. (And they have more moderately weighty pairs that are also amazing and nigh-snagless.)
    (2) When it’s *really* cold and I’m going to be outside more, I wear medium-weight Wintersilks interlock silk pants (p.s. they come in magenta! under my tights. Wearing even short boots hides the ankle seam and you’re good to go.

  25. Beth

    I agree with your assessment…smartwool socks are the best. I havent tried the tights, but they are amazing…and Nordstroms Rack quite often has them on sale.

    Express tights are insane. I had a friend who worked there in college and gave me 2 pairs of standard black tights. I’m 39 now and still wear them. Yes, 15 years later they are still fantastic!

    I also got some footless tights/leggings at Costco this spring that are fantastic. But as with all things Costco I havent seen them since. I would buy many, many more!

  26. Mrs.M in MI

    I received a pair of the SmartWool tights for Christmas and while they are wonderfully warm take heed of the reviews on Athleta – the sizing is horrendous! If you are over 5’5″ I don’t think they will work for you. I’m 5’8″ with short legs and the crotch of the tights is a good inch or two from mine when they are pulled up.

    Interestingly enough, because of this problem I have created a clever workaround for poorly-fitting tights, if I say so myself. Since these don’t stay up, I layer a pair of shapewear shorts over them, and the shorts keep the tights in place!

    And I don’t know if this it a total “duh” thing, but if it’s really cold and I’m wearing tights, I wear wool hiking socks over them inside my boots. You can get thinner ones that will fit in there and it makes a HUGE difference in warmth.

  27. Samantha (GlassCannon)

    I live in southern California, but my feet are *constantly* cold, and this fall I had to give up wearing jeans, pants, leggings, etc, because of my chronic joint pain. Tights are out now too, so most of my leg and feet warmth these days comes from They have a really great selection of tights, thigh-high socks (not just flimsy stockings), and every sock height down to teeny tiny ones to wear with ballet flats. They’re based in Portland Oregon and make sure all of their products are sourced from responsible factories, if that sort of thing matters to you. They also seem to be just the sweetest people, every time I’ve interacted with them.

    I’d love to hear your suggestions for warm boots to layer socks under, too — especially black flat boots that would look good with skirts (since as I said, all forms of pants are completely out for me), as that seems to be a pretty major hole in my wardrobe that I’m having trouble filling at the moment. ;P

  28. lisa

    For those on a budget, I’ve spotted 100 denier and 200 denier tights at H&M for around $13 Cdn a pop. They last quite a while too (my 100 denier H&M pair lasted for 3 winters) and the 200 denier ones feel very thick.

    If you’re wearing tall boots, another trick is to layer a pair of leggings and warm socks over a pair of not-so-warm tights. Your legs will be seriously toasty.

    • Christine

      I love the H&M 200 dernier tights! I was in downtown Boston for an interview on a very chilly day (yes, one of the few we’ve had this winter) and the wind was cutting through a very cheapo pair of black tights I threw on thinking that they’d be warm enough. Well, I ended up running to H&M, a few blocks from the interview, and purchasing a black pair of 200 dernier tights. That was the best thing I ever bought from there. My legs were so toasty and I couldn’t feel the wind.

      For a while, Gap was selling pairs of fleece-lined leggings (under the “Maximum Heat” collection, white paper label with red writing). I’m not sure if they’re still on the shelves, but I am waiting to go look for them when I have free time. Even though we’ve had a veeeery mild winter here in Boston, I fear that next year will be absolutely brutal.

  29. Jill

    SmartWool’s parent company, Timberland, was bought last year by VF Corp, a giant apparel corporation. I hear the quality and sizing of Smartwool products is now way off. Smartwool’s ex-owners have moved on to a new venture, Point6 (, which makes, as you might guess, merino wool socks. I hear they’re great. No tights yet, tho.

  30. The Waves

    Target and H&M tights suck, and in general I feel like I have very little to say about warm tights because I am always cold… I think I need to start thinking about SmartWool and Falke. I don’t know why I haven’t done it before. I guess I just feel antsy about splurging on tights. For any Scandinavians out there, Noa Noa’s cotton tights are amazing. Really warm, and they last forever!

  31. Saralyn

    Kohls sells toasty sweater tights. They fit nicely, too. I hate tights that make you bemoan the fact you wore them and encourage daydreaming about going home to take them off!

  32. Susan

    We’re in the south, so we don’t usually have freezing weather. Mostly I wear jeans to stay warm but at church we wear skirts and dresses only, so I need tights. The Hue opaque tights are fine for me. They’re on sale here…Dillard’s, marked down to $8 a pair and today was an extra 30% off so score on that!

    Sal, that outfit you’re wearing is darling!!!

  33. Angela

    I have a pair of SmartWool tights, and they are definitely the warmest, coziest tights I have ever owned. I am on my 3rd winter with them, and they have held up very well! I am absolutely kicking myself–REI’s website had a few colors on sale right before Christmas, and I couldn’t justify spending the money on them then, but now they are gone and I am so heartbroken. I’d fill my tights drawer with them if I had the dough!

    Twin Cities residents may be able to find some affordable fleece-lined tights at Ragstock. I found some there for $6.99 a pair this past fall, in several colors. They’re footless tights, which means I only really wear them with socks and boots, but for the price I’ve been very pleased with them! (I wore a pair yesterday, in fact!)

  34. Ann (@TheWellnessChick)

    Your style is so cute! I’m also in Minnesota but I’ve been braving this winter by mostly wearing tights — more specifically, the ones from Sports Authority. They’re a little bit thicker, but have some fun designs (the one I’m wearing right now, as I type this, are covered in multi-colored lightning bolts, lol).

  35. Jenna

    I’m with Bridget, Mary, and anyone else who’s said they layer tights over leggings. I buy the stirrup kind to make pulling the tights on easier without the leggings riding up my calf.

    The ultimate is stirrup, silk long underwear as a bottom layer. It’s the coziest ever.

  36. Thursday

    It doesn’t get quite so frigid here (Canberra, Australia), but winter nights will drop into the minus single digits celsius. I rely on tights to get me through winter but have found it nigh on impossible to find plus-size, warm ones in appealing colours. My favourites are the Cette Dublin ones (one retailer here:, They are only 60D but actually manage to keep me pretty comfortable, and come in some lovely subtle shades, fitting up to 58′ hips. I imagine double-layering in colder climes would work wonders for extra warmth!

  37. Rachel

    I agree with several other commenters that layering tights is a winner. Two pairs of cheap Target tights gives a decent amount of warmth. Also, if you want to wear your lacy patterned tights in the winter, layer them over another color tights. It can look really cool!

    My other tip for warmth when wearing skirts is to wear shorts under your skirts. I have several pairs of flannel shorts that are meant for pjs that I layer under my skirts. A slip is definitely a good idea on top of that, to smooth and prevent sticking.

  38. Celynne

    I looked at the sweater tights you linked to on Amazon and they got some really bad reviews :/ I was going to try a pair but not anymore! Ah well. I just wear wool tights in the deep of winter, with socks and tights layered over in changing orders.

  39. Rence

    I wear Foot Traffic long-combed cotton tights and I like them- they are thicker than the usual nylon ones so they’re warmer and come in a variety of colours too. They also have a bamboo fabric line but I am yet to try that 🙂

  40. theperfectnose

    Thanks for sharing. Please edit/ add the country of origin for the ones you recommend. I don’t buy stuff that’s Made in China (or any other trade-union-hating, child-labour spreading, environment-busting place Just want to make sure I’m not supporting any of the above.

  41. Joyce Stolberg

    Try Woman Within for both regular and plus sized sweater tights. I went to Silkies for plus sized fleece-lined tights this year. The only thing missing is WINTER!

  42. Peg Cheng

    I decided to start wearing tights and dresses more in the fall and winter. I did a search for “best womens tights” and I found your article. So, so helpful! Thank you (and love your outfit too, by the way)!

    And thanks to all the commenters who took the time to post. I love all the tips and advice on what brands are the best and where to shop. Thank you all so much. Gratefully yours, a gal with cold legs in Seattle

  43. Grace

    When I visited Rome for spring break a few yrs ago, it rained the WHOLE time. But b/c of the cold, dreary weather, I found Calzedonia! I bought a pair of footless leggings and LOVE them (very soft) I’ve worn them for warmth as well as for dance classes. Also, I picked up a pair of “cashmere” tights, which are not 100% cashmere, but I think have cashmere on them, and I save them for special days and for colder days. But I lived in Georgia for the whole time I’ve had them, and visited my parents up in Illinois with them. They are a very saturated black and are stretchy and yet soft. They are sweatery but I think they’re fashionable. I wish I could find cashmere-blend tights in the US of this thinness and warmth.

    • Grace

      Oh, and I saw my friend doing this in London once when I visited her. When wearing boots (or I guess booties, too!) she wears a pair of ankle socks over her nylons, says it prevents snags.
      But, (this might be a little gross for the more prissy, foot-care-interested person) in the winter my heels are sometimes dry and my toenails also seem to be drier and b/c they’re covered up more I don’t tend to them as often. I’m already not that great at taking care of every inch of my body. So, I have worn those ankle socks (I mean the ones that come only to your ankle bone) under tights for extra warmth and to keep thinner nylons from snagging and running, but often the zipper on the boots do that anyways.
      I’m also on the shorter side, so I sometimes buy footless tights/leggings and wear socks in the same color as the tights (usually black) and pull them over my heels and over my arch, and it provides extra warmth on my foot. If you do this w/out socks and w/ flats, kinda looks like a mod-style fashionable. Esp. w/ a 50’s dress-shaped trench.