Blog

How To/Techniques: Styling with tights

Want to try out some alternative styling ideas? Philip introduces us to the first of a series of fashion experiments.

 
One of a stylist’s main roles is to harness materials from the everyday and transform them into new ideas, silhouettes and proportions. The power of our imaginations and the art of play are crucial to this. Practically experimenting with physical things is at the very heart of what we do.

For this assignment, the aim is to transform an ordinary pair of tights into extraordinary and unexpected responses to the body. Your styling experiments may lead you to think about bigger ideas around gender, identity, representation and character.

Credit: (Left) Pretty Polly campaign image, courtesy of Pretty Polly. (Right) Sarah Lucas, Pauline Bunny, 1997. Tan tights, black stockings, wood and vinyl chair, kapok and wire, 103 x 89 x 79 cm / 40 ½ x 35 x 31 ⅛ in © Sarah Lucas, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

To begin take a look at these two examples above. Compare and contrast how the tights have been used differently. Feminist artists like Sarah Lucas have explored how classic materials like tights can be used as social commentary to question stereotypical ideas of beauty and the body.

What you will need:
Credit: Students’ experiments from the Insights Spring School 2018. All tights used in the project were kindly provided by Pretty Polly.
  1. A subject – ideally someone you know very well who likes to have fun and is happy to play dressing up. Consider using another person who is also interested in fashion and you can both take turns in the role of stylist and subject.
  2. A pair of tights: from sheer, opaque, fishnet or support tights, anything can be used. You can even try experimenting with different tights, colours and fabrics repeating the same assignment to see what different effects are possible.
  3. Gather up a pile of other objects, clothes and materials from around your house. Kitchen sponges, old magazines, makeup, fabric, hair weaves, newspaper, Christmas decorations etc can all be used to create fun tests.
  4. Credit: Students’ experiments from the Insights Spring School 2018. All tights used in the project were kindly provided by Pretty Polly.
    What to do:
    1. Set a timer for five minutes on your mobile phone. Now create a styling response using the tights as quickly as you can on your subject’s head and take a photo to remember it. Repeat this exercise five times using different techniques. Experiment with wrapping around the head, stuffing the tights, elongating, twisting, or customising them with makeup for instance.
    2. Now choose your favourite styled head outcome and add further clothes and materials to build a total look. Think about the shape, form, silhouette and proportion of your look.
    3. Finally write down who you imagine this character to be. Where are they from and where are they going? Try and make your story as imaginative as possible.
    Credit: Students’ experiments from the Insights Spring School 2018. All tights used in the project were kindly provided by Pretty Polly.

     
    Practically experimenting with basic materials like tights on the body can help you to develop your styling skills and also fuel your imagination. Have fun and keep on experimenting!

     
    Interested in fashion styling or creative direction?

    BA (Hons) Creative Direction for Fashion

    BA (Hons) Fashion Styling and Production