1988: The Year We Were All Sporting Tightie Whities

Talk about pasty white.

This photo of my sister and I was taken sometime in 1988. Judging from my Pac-Man polka-dotted skirt suit and Deanna’s ever-so-fashionable drop-waisted mid-thigh bow dress, I’m guessing this was Easter Sunday. We are both sporting horrendous chalky-colored opaque tights and thinking to ourselves, “Damn! We look good! Let’s go to church!”

Apparently this “whitie tighties” trend became popular somewhere in the mid-to-late 1980s. My online research failed to pinpoint the actual originator of the trend, but I’m pretty sure this look – worn flawlessly by Princess Diana – could have started it all. The photo on the right is from a 1986 Harper’s Bazaar spread, when the equally offensive “prairie” look was in full effect. In 1988, the movie Heathers came out and white-out legs were everywhere.



Recently, I found this photo of my best friend Missy and me in high school at a state drama competition. There I am, showing off my tightie whities along with some epic eighties hair. The look must have worked, because we ended up winning the drama competition. And I’m proud to say that to this day, Missy is still my BFF. She’s stuck by me through many years of bad fashion choices.

James Dean is wondering what’s up with those white tights. And that hair.

Obviously, we all grew out of this trend, thank god. I don’t think I’ve worn a pair of pantyhose since I moved to New York in 2000. Growing up in the south, wearing a dress or skirt without pantyhose was a high-level offense in the same category as not sending out a proper thank-you card. It would drive my poor Mom insane to see my bare legs and she would constantly state that it was not “proper” for a southern lady to go without pantyhose.

I will admit, however, that as a New Yorker, I do wear black opaque tights religiously during the fall and winter months. They’re one of those fashion items I tend to buy in bulk. (I really should own stock in Spanx. I cannot tell you how many pairs of their tight-end tights I own.)

All fashion trends tend to recycle themselves, and I’m certain that white tights will resurface. But when they do, I won’t be participating. Been there. Done that.

Check out my 80s Trends Board on Pinterest to see more photos of the white tights trend.


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