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Today in WTF: What Are 'Arm Tights'? And Also... Why?

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | April 5, 2018 |

By Tori Preston | Miscellaneous | April 5, 2018 |


We here at Pajiba have, on occasion, been critical of some of the fashion world’s weirder faux pas (*coughcoughBOOBKNOTS*). But today we’re not here to snark. The garment I’m here to discuss isn’t exactly sartorially offensive or tasteless in any way. It’s just sort of confusing.

Today, we’re here to ask a single, sincere question: “But why, though?”

First, some background. SPANX, as you might be aware, is a big deal. The company — created to solve “wardrobe woes” and “to make the world a better place, one butt at a time” — made founder Sara Blakely one of the youngest self-made female billionaires over the course of about a dozen years. And she makes sure her company gives back by donating a portion of their profits to charities focused on women, amidst many other pursuits. Though SPANX first made its name through shapewear that compresses lumps and smooths out lines, the product range has since expanded into athletic wear, men’s undergarments, fancy velvet and faux leather leggings, and now… arm tights.

Like so:



At first, I naturally assumed that these are shapewear for arms. Because they’re SPANX! And look, I’m not gonna’ judge anyone on what they may or may not be comfortable with on their body. We all have our hangups. Like body hair or the fact that my wrist bones stick out like they’ve been broken 5 times before, even though they haven’t. OK? THAT’S JUST HOW THEY LOOK. I CAN’T HELP IT.

What I’m saying is, sometimes people want to have smooth arms to go along with their smooth butts and tummies. And that’s absolutely OK.

But see, these aren’t for compression. They aren’t made for hiding bra lines or holding in underarm flab. They’re specifically a “non-shaping garment” designed for layering. On the official product page, the “SPANX® Arm Tights™ Layering Piece” is described thusly:

Introducing a revolutionary product that will totally transform your wardrobe! 5 years in the making and hundreds of prototypes later, it’s finally here! Arm Tights™ are made entirely from hosiery to give you an incredibly lightweight, comfortable second-skin feeling. Unlike traditional layering shirts, this non-shaping garment has no seam up the arms for 360° of flawless coverage! It’s a wardrobe game-changer. #ArmYourWardrobe. Patent Pending.

- Unlike most bulky layering tops, Arm Tights™ have no uncomfortable seam up the arm and give you 360° of flawless arm coverage!
- Lightweight, second-skin layering piece
- Stay-put, soft band around body keeps garment in place
- Cropped for less bulk and a no-ride fit
- Now wear everything sleeveless, year round!
- Fun, fashion accessory adds a pop to any outfit

So what’s the practical use case for arm tights? First, let’s talk layering. Why do you do it? Is it for warmth? Well, bodysuits have been all the rage recently, but I can see how shirts-with-crotches might not be for everybody. Even when they have snaps, it’s still a whole process. Have you ever had one too many drinks and tried to re-snap your crotch in a filthy, cramped bar bathroom while simultaneously trying to keep your pants/skirt up off the wet floor? There aren’t enough hands in the world to pull all that off. That’s a next-level skill set. That’s Jumpsuit Plus.

But bodysuits aren’t the only option. There are undershirts on the market, in an array of thicknesses. And camisoles help, but mostly when paired with garments that already have sleeves. I guess the key here is: how often do you need an extra under-layer for warmth that covers your arms, but specifically leaves your belly exposed?



Besides which — tights aren’t that warm. Because these are literally TIGHTS. ON YOUR ARMS. They act like sleeves, but c’mon. I wouldn’t consider tights to be “pants” or even leggings. I wear tights when I haven’t shaved, or when I have to dress up but it’s so cold that literally anything will help. But see, here’s the thing. The entire point of dresses or skirts is that they don’t have legs. You NEED tights — that’s the only option if you gotta’ cover your legs and wear a dress at the same time. But you can buy shirts with sleeves. You can buy dresses with sleeves. If you need sleeves, don’t wear a fucking sleeveless dress. Or put on a sweater. Or a jacket. Or a shawl. Or any of the multiple, actually warm, pre-existing options for covering your arms up.

I know, I know — layers aren’t just for warmth. Sometimes they’re for modesty or comfort. But tights aren’t that comfortable. They don’t really breathe, and they dig in, and they can make things all static-y. And they’re kinda sheer, so are they really all that modest? I mean, I can see the bras through these things.

And forget about blending with your outfit. Tights don’t need to because we all know that they’re tights. That dress you’re wearing didn’t come with legs on it, you know? But if you’re wearing a sleeveless dress, and have tights on your arms, that’s gonna stick out. It’s not like this is the answer to pretending your outfit came with sleeves. Even if the colors match, it’s doubtful the material will (unless you wear a lot of thin nylon garments). So all this is going to do is make people wonder where you bought a shirt made of tights.

Basically the only situation in which arm tights make sense to me is if the color is something that really pops with your outfit, and/or you want a light layer just on your arms but don’t really need THAT much extra coverage, and/or you want something cropped because undershirts tend to bunch on you. All of which could be solved by other options on the market.

Is that… is that it? Can somebody explain this to me? What am I missing? Do any of you already own them, or have a specific need they would fill in your wardrobe? We spent a good portion of this morning trying to work this out on the Slack channel, and now we’re all baffled. Not opposed… just confused.

H/T to Roxana for bringing these to my attention. By the way, they’re only $30! Which makes them only slightly pricier than actual tights.

Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.