Secondhand shopper’s guide to hold ups

Or rather, guide to hold ups for the curvier amongst us! Many of my more voluptuous friends regularly comment that they can’t wear hold ups. But this isn’t true! You just need to know what to look for…

As far as I’m concerned, there are two dealbreakers when it comes to buying hold ups for the wider thigh.


The most flattering and comfortable hold ups are the ones that come right up the leg. Anything that stops any lower has the double effect of creating bulge (a smooth line under your pencil skirt is a must!) and encouraging painful rubbing thighs. Therefore, the first rule of thumb is to find hold-ups that have sizing options. I pretty much always go for the largest option – unless dress sizes are specified, in which case I go for the correlating size 16. But it’s always better to have a bit of give rather than create the over-stuffed sausage effect.


The second dealbreaker is a narrow band. To create that smooth silhouette we were talking about you need as wide a band as possible. The very best of luxury hold-ups often include several inches of lace around the top, and more than one band of rubber.

All images from UK Tights.

You may need to spend a little more cash on these hold-ups, but they are worth it – if you’re not stretching the material too tightly over your legs, you’re less likely to ladder them: obvious, but true, nevertheless!

My favourite brands – all of which combine size variation with a decent width of band include: Marks & Spencer, Le Bourget, Charnos and Levante. Levante in particular combine great quality and stretch with ladder-resist material, a great band and wide, sturdy elastic. Their hold ups are a bit pricier, true, but last longer than any other I’ve tried – I could buy several £4.50 pairs in the time it takes me to wear through one £7.70 pair from Levante.

Levante Sheer Fantasy hold-ups – my personal reccomendation

One element of hold-ups which can only be discovered on a trial and error basis is the roll factor. If the rubber is too far down, or if the band is just cut slightly wrong, they can roll down at the top, making them uncomfortable to wear. Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict if a pair will do this, and I’ve had identical pairs, one of which rolls and one of which doesn’t. This can sometimes happen over time too, as your rubber starts to disintegrate.

A rule for all tights wearers who want to minimise the apparent girth of their legs, is to avoid high shine. I recently ordered a pair of Charnos sheer-lustre hold-ups, which are fine, for everyday, but not the most flattering I own. They do, however, have a sturdy band with elastic that runs right around the very top, so if shiny is your look of choice, these may be the best.

It’s also worth noting that tights are not the most flattering way to give yourself a fake tan: if your natural skin tone is porcelaine white, American tan tights are not going to give you a golden glow. They are going to make you look like an escaped ballroom dancer who has lost her sequins. The most flattering shade of summer tights is always the one closest to your true colouring.

Caring for hold-ups is simple, the main rule being don’t machine wash them: this can cause the rubber to lose its stick and stretch. I wash the feet of mine after every wear, rubbing the soap directly into the foot area to remove staining from shoes and rinsing with hand-hot water. I then immerse the whole hold-up in warm soapy water after every few wears for a more thorough clean.

I love hold-ups and wear them all year round. Gipsy do a decent range of lace-topped opaques for the colder months, Levante produce 50 denier seamless opaques in black or brown, and M&S fashion hold-ups come in a variety of winter-friendly designs, including patterned fishnets, lace and seamed. Jonathon Aston make fabulous coloured seamed hold-ups (see pink, below), but they are not the most generous of sizes, and do seem to give up on holding UP after just one wear, making a suspender belt a necessity.


6 thoughts on “Secondhand shopper’s guide to hold ups

  1. I hate tights as a rule, and for years opted for the suspender belt because I’ve not been able to find adequate hold-ups. Suspender belts aren’t the most comfortable daily wear, so I’ll be exploring some of your suggestions this Autumn.

    • I think it’s really about finding what suits you best. I find suspender belts a little unpredictable, and difficult to keep straight! But if they work for you…

      I’d be interested to know what you find as best suited to taller frames rather than wider ones! 😀

  2. Ha. Reminds me of the time I went to meet my husband at the airport as he returned from a business trip. With our reunion in mind, I wore new hold ups instead of my normal tights. As I walked from terminal to terminal trying to find where his small unlisted commuter flight would be, each step made the hold ups slip lower and lower. Unfortunately I was wearing a short skirt and had to resort to walking knock kneed to hold them up at all. They ended up in the trash before his flight even landed. So much for sexy allure!

    • Ahhh, yeah – I’ve had that happen. In fact, just last week, on holiday, I had to nip, knock-kneed into Tesco to buy some emergency tights as one of my previously perfectly adequate hold-ups had suddenly decided not to! But then, I often have to do that with tights too, either when the elastic has given up or I caught a pull – and at leat when you ladder a hold up, you can keep one for spare! 😀

  3. This is very very useful as you have addressed all my hold-up issues! I think I will give them a go more often rather than just the specialest of occasions! Thanks, sweetie!

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