With the figure skating qualifying season upon us, and holiday show season peeking out from the suddenly-appearing aisles of holiday decorations at Target, there are few things more annoying than getting a rip in newly-purchased tights. You know the drill: It’s right before the first competition and suddenly, you see a huge run creeping its way above the skate cuff. Over-the-boot tights are the worst because they are closer to those weapons of tight destruction commonly referred to as skate blades. Never fear, there are ways to help preserve the life of even OTB tights.
- Buy quality! Purchase opaque tights that list the denier count on the label. Denier measures the tight’s thickness so the higher the number, the better for resisting snags and runs. Keep in mind, though, that when you are purchasing tights for a competition, a denier number higher than 80, will add the appearance of weight and resemble medical compression socks.
- Purchase the correct size! There are size charts on most packages. Your young skater could be tall and skinny, but may still need an adult size just for the extra length in the legs.
- Wash before you wear! Use a mesh laundry bag containing tights ONLY; leave out the undergarments with hooks and clasps that may catch the fabric. Turn tights inside out, use cold water and a mild detergent (Ivory dish soap is awesome), hang to dry; no dryers allowed. There was a rumor going around that if you rinse tights in cold water, freeze them, then let them slowly come to room temperature, that it will pre-stretch the fabric. While this works with cotton, most competition tights are a blend of lycra, nylon, bamboo and microfiber, so fibers will get brittle and break easily. Taken out on the cold ice, pre-frozen tights are a recipe for a disintegrating disaster.
- Add a buffer! Toes poking through the tights when the boots are taken off? If the tight is footed, add an ultra-thin peds or low cuts before putting on the tights; it won’t add extra bulk that may affect the skate fit. Over-the-boots tights? Use a pair of the microfiber knee highs then pull the tops down over the top of the skates to cover the lace hooks before pulling the tights over the boots. Adding those extra layers makes a huge difference. Trimming nails to prevent snags helps too!
- Carry cosmetics! Keep a can of aerosol hairspray in your skate bag and give the tights a quick all-over spray before hitting the ice. It bonds the fibers and will reduce runs caused from blade nicks. The old standby, clear nail polish, works well to stop a run in progress.
These tips should add to tight longevity, but just in case a “holy” disaster strikes — there is no miracle way to stop tights from getting holes associated with a quick toe pick to the shin — keep an extra pair in the skate bag.