Designers ditch dowdy, embrace the functional.
Byline: Shivani Vora
Even though she wears granny tights, Jamie Rubin, 43, fits no one's definition of dowdy.
As the director of U.S. sales for French designer Isabel Marant, Rubin travels to Paris at least four times a year on business. The many hours spent sitting in a cramped airplane seat often leave her legs and ankles swollen and puffy.
In preparation for her most recent sojourn to France, in September for Paris Fashion Week, Rubin decided to try compression tights -- the thick hose and socks often favored by older people or those trying to address circulation problems.
Not wanting to be the victim of swollen ankles or poor style, Rubin searched the Internet for alternatives to frumpy tights and found Item m6, a maker of fashion-forward compression wear. She bought a pair of tights for $88.
"I got a super-chic charcoal gray pair, and now that I know what they do, I will never go back to not wearing compression when I travel,'' she said.
Until recently, compression tights were sold mostly at pharmacies as well as retailers catering to older men and women. The tights and socks are snug-fitting hosiery made from tightly woven materials. They are meant to help increase circulation in the legs and minimize the swelling that can result from prolonged sedentariness.
Long a medical necessity for some pregnant women and others who are at risk for deep-vein thrombosis or blood clots, the tights are now beginning to come into vogue among stylish women during long-haul travel.
Dr. David L. Green, a hematologist at NYU Langone Medical Center who specializes in clotting, says that compression wear can significantly reduce the chances of clots because it applies external pressure to the veins, increases circulation and prevents blood from pooling. There are aesthetic benefits too.
"Legs can look puffy after flying, and it takes at least a few days for that to go away, but with the socks, they might not swell at all,'' he said.
Functional accessories like binding tights have made their way onto the runway and into store windows. At the Spring 2015 shows this fall, models for Jil Sander, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana sported knee-high socks in leather, print and lace. British designer Mark Fast dressed models in Item m6 black pique striped ankle socks in his Fall/Winter 2014 London runway show in February.
"Those deep-v cardigans, plaid pants and plain collared shirts -- stuff that your grandpa might have worn in the 1970s -- have been in vogue for a while now for men, and now this senior citizen style is finally spilling over to women,'' said Hitha Prabhakar, the founder of AitchPe Retail Advisory. "The socks and tights might have dowdy roots, but the look is actually very chic casual.''