Do you have a favorite pair of tights? Do you have many of the same brand/style in different colors? Have you tried that same pair lounging at home, but aren't impressed? You are not alone. When it comes to tights, there isn't one pair that is perfect all of the time. One pair may be perfect for your workout but uncomfortable at home.
Fabric content changes everything. In this blog post I clarify the fiber mystery to help you pick your favorite pair for each situation. The information below represents the fiber mixed with spandex. Other factors may be at play, like how the fabric is woven/knitted, but the fabric content is a great place to start.
First the science:
- Strength - The ability of the fabric to withstand rubbing before it creates a snag or hole (1=Delicate, 5=Strong)
- Moisture - (1=Holds Moisture - 5=Wicks Moisture)
- Stretch - (1=Low stretch - 5=High Stretch)
- Heat Transfer- How well does it transfer heat away from your body (1=Cools- 5=Warms)
- Air Flow - How well does the air flow through the tights when they are dry (1=Flow - 5=No Flow)
- Texture- (1=Soft - 5=Smooth)
- Static - (1=Static, 5=No Static)
Cotton is one of the most comfortable fibers, even when mixed with spandex. It is soft, air flows through it and it keeps you cozy and warm when it is dry. When wet it holds moisture and may harbor bacteria and cause chafing. This makes cotton the best for lounging or light activity when you won't be sweating.
Nylon spandex is the standard when it comes to stretch fabrics because of its ability to stretch and still be soft to the touch. This is the fiber content you remember from the 80's. It transfers moisture away from the body, but holds a small amount in the fibers (especially in black). It is a thicker fiber but lined up uniformly so it can be very soft if knitted for that purpose. It has a tendency to create a lot of static. Nylon traps some heat do it will keep you slightly warmer than other fabrics.
Polyester excels at moisture transfer and strength. It will withstand your rough workouts and is a great fabric if you don't take care of it diligently. Because of the strength it can be made very thin. Although air doesn't move through it, it transfers moisture and heat very well, making you feel cooler and dryer during sweaty workouts. Polyester fabrics don't stretch as much as other fabrics which tends to make sizing harder.
Bamboo spandex is a very light and delicate fabric. It has amazing stretch and works great as yoga or fashion tights. They snag easily and take some care to keep for years. Bamboo fibers have antimicrobial properties which makes these GREAT if you are are going to sweat in them. It is also a more sustainable fabric.
Rayon is popular with big brands. It is cheap to make, soft to touch and comes in many many colors. It feels like a cross between cotton and nylon. It holds a lot of moisture right next to your body, which harbors bacteria and can promote chafing. For this reason, I do not offer Rayon spandex fabrics in my brand.
Along with color and pattern, the fabric content should be a factor in which pair of tights you choose. There is a little trial-and-error when finding your favorite pair of tights. You will probably have different pairs for different situations. You may even have one pair for leg day and another for cardio day. Your FAVORITE pair may turn into your favorite pair for each situation.
Fiber content is listed on the product page of all of my gear. If you want a specific fiber, you can use my site's search function to retrieve products that are made of your fabric.