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Walk the “Tights” Rope with the Alice + Olivia by Pretty Polly Fashion Tights Collection

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Once upon a time, hosiery was a strictly functional realm, with women mainly using flesh-toned pantyhose for the purpose of covering up exposed skin in so as to make any ensembles involving skirts and dresses more palatable for the office or for formal affairs. But because they concealed the forbidden, if you will — a woman’s bare flesh — men began to see stockings as having an innate sex appeal, and the act of putting on or removing a pair of pantyhose became the subject of many a young lad’s fantasy. Think of the movie poster for The Graduate in which a fresh-faced Benjamin Braddock (played by Dustin Hoffman) stands behind a closed door, hands in his trouser pockets, staring intently at Mrs. Robinson’s outstretched leg, as she rolls up her pantyhose, presumably while sitting in her lingerie on her bed. That image has been synonymous with seduction for over 45 years.

And yet pantyhose largely lost its appeal in the ’80s and ’90s, when it began to be viewed as a dated garment, one used only by older women who hadn’t yet adapted to the changing times, to post female liberation America. Interestingly enough, the terms used to refer to different types of hosiery — tights, stockings, and pantyhose — were themselves a reflection of the predominant tastes. The word “pantyhose” was practically forbidden, as much a taboo as “lederhosen” or “scrunchie.” A distinction was made between different categories of hosiery: opaque and printed tights were perfectly in vogue, especially in autumn and winter when they were layered under skirts and sweater dresses; stockings of any other kind were acceptable only if they were a sheer black tone, had a lace or fishnet pattern for a sex kitten vibe, or if they were grunge-y, hole-y, and distressed. And, as for nude panty hose (or tights, if you should prefer to call them that), they were simply a no-no.

In the last couple of years, however, the tide has began to shift again, with young fashionistas continuing to sport opaque and graphic tights, along with fishnet styles, but beginning to embrace the thinner, sheerer black and nude stocking styles they’d once so rabidly eschewed. The controversy regarding semi-sheer nude pantyhose rages on (though some argue that Kate Middleton has made these outré garments cool again), but sheer and semi sheer pantyhose in other shades has soared in popularity — particularly when boasting cheeky prints and trompe l’oeil designs. But, of course, one thing remains the same: no one dares to call them “pantyhose.” Sheer or not, thick or thin, textured or matte, nude or black, printed or plain, they are to be dubbed “tights.”

With that in mind, downtown cool fashion brand Alice + Olivia just unveiled a new collection of tights produced as part of a collaboration with Pretty Polly, the British brand that has almost single-handedly made fashion tights as covetable an accessory as a pair of earrings or handbag. Their “suspender tights,” featuring a trompe l’oeil pattern that makes it appear as if women are wearing over-the-knee stockings held up by suspenders attached to garter belts, have been spotted on such celebrities as Rihanna, Jessie J, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez. Their star print tights, meanwhile, have been worn by Katy Perry and other trendy pop tarts.

The Alice + Olivia by Pretty Polly tights collection consists of 11 styles, nearly all of them semi-sheer black designs. The collection includes some wardrobe staples like a pair of Basic Opaque Tights ($44 at AliceandOlivia.com) and a pair of Basic Thigh Highs ($32 at AliceandOlivia.com), but the standouts are, of course, the printed styles. Options include: the Polka Dot Tights ($48 at AliceandOlivia.com), shown third above, a semi-sheer black style with medium-sized black polka dots; the semi-sheer Argyle Tights ($48 at AliceandOlivia.com), pictured first above, which turn a classic preppy pattern into a sexpot accessory; and the Glitter Horizontal Stripes Tights ($48 at AliceandOlivia.com), shown second above, which feature an alternating pattern of sheer black stripes with darker, more opaque black stripes featuring scattered golden glitter.

And, for those who think nude tights could never be trendy and youthful again, there’s the Swirl Tights ($48 at AliceandOlivia.com), shown next to last above, a pair of semi sheer nude stockings with an undulating vertical seam in a contrasting black shade along the back of each leg.

And, if patterns aren’t really your thing but you want a pair of stockings with a bit of razzle-dazzle to them then there’s the Crystal Covered Tights ($98 at AliceandOlivia.com), shown last above. These semi-sheer black tights are embellished with scattered glittering crystals all around the shins, the knees, and the upper thighs, for a look worthy of Roxy in Chicago.

To check out all available styles and buy a pair of sexy stockings of your own, visit AliceandOlivia.com

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