How to wear patterned tights

Q. I like the new trend for patterned tights but I’m not sure if I can wear them at 42 - am I too old?

A. Let’s face most of us dread the dark days of winter when you have to encase our legs in boring black tights. The cold weather dooms us to months of vacuum-packed legs and the daily misery of rummaging through all those gangly, stretched old sheaths, trying to avoid the worst of the ladders, faded ankles, saggy knees and disobliging crotches.

But this year is different. This year tights are not just tights. They are a fashion story, and they come in a myriad of amazing styles and patterns.

Bare legs are sliding down the cool list nearly as quickly as the temperature. If you want to get your pins out this autumn, there's only one way forward - in tights. But by Christmas we'll be sick of our plain old opaque. Prints charming to the rescue!!

From stars to tartan, this season's patterned tights are our fashion heroes. In fact, these tights are so exciting you will be trying to sneak them into every outfit. Cut the gusset out of yours, and then simply snip off the feet to create an Eighties-style top!

Striped tights, lace tights, bright colours, patterned florals, hearts, spots or houndstooth... this autumn, anything goes - as long as it's not plain. The best way to wear them is with a muted, block-coloured skirt or dress and simple heels or ballet pumps. Anything else will look cluttered.

This winter we will see a big trend for shaping tights that flatter the figure and velvet opaque tights that are soft to the touch and look stunning on legs. Patterned tights will still be popular, but we will see more fashionistas in opaque tights to complement the dresses that are a key fashion item this season.

Brightly coloured opaque tights can be surprisingly flattering when teamed with a jumper dress or shift, and will bring a drab outfit up-to-date for just a few euro. I think that you can wear them at, pretty much, any age but try to opt for solid block colours and elegant prints. Leave the leopard prints or brash tartan designs for those tiny teenage girls with uber slender legs.