This is perhaps one of the terms that appear very often in my reviews and yet it is not well-defined. I would therefore like to spend a bit of time on it, to clarify and discuss its implications.
I use envelopment to describe “how close fit a pair of hosiery is in relation to the legs”. The idea came from my mother tongue “包覆性”, which literally means “the degree of being wrapped or hugged”. Yes may sound absurd but trust me, not all hosiery (tights, leggings, socks, etc.) hug the legs as they are supposed to.
As far as I know, there is no English equivalent of the word, but there are some that has a similar meaning. The most common being “fit” or “close-fit”. The reason that these word are not used is because I have already used them to for something else. I have been using fit to describe fitting in general and close-fit for tight-fit clothing. In order not to confuse you, I had to come up with a new word. I have also seen bloggers using the verb “hug”. I sometimes use it too.
Good and loose envelopment
The images below shows the difference between a good and a loose envelopment.
You can see on the the left image that the hose firmly hugs the leg. The tights actually dived in at the upper thigh/hip to fit the silhouette of my leg. Image of the right shows loose envelopment at the back of the ankle. Wrinkles formed just by pointing the foot. You can also see that the hose is only floating at the lower calf, above the wrinkles.
I usually use the words below to describe the envelopment: very good, fairly good or relatively good, moderate, loose.
Factors affecting envelopment
There are many factors that can affect one’s experience on envelopment. These include body shape, boarding, elasticity and fitting.
Perhaps the most obvious factor. Everyone is different; the same pair of hosiery can have very good envelopment on an individual but vice versa for another.
This is a process where hoses are fitted into a leg-shaped metal and undergo steaming. The result is that the hoses attain a silhouette that corresponds to the shape of the legs, thus a better fit. You can watch the process in the video below (from 4:30)
Hoses that don’t undergo boarding would have the same tension from thigh to foot. One would feel the looseness at the lower leg, especially the area just above the ankle, where the leg is leanest.
In general, the higher the amount of elastane, the better the envelopment. Such rule of thumb applies when they are in the same category (e.g., sheer vs. sheer, opaque vs. opaque). Sheer tights tend to have higher amount of elastane.
Like manufacturing a t-shirt, different makers use different measurements for sizing. The size and shape of the leg-shaped metal used for boarding can also be different. The result is you will find the majority of products from one brand has good/loose envelopment.
Envelopment in compression hosiery
Compression hosiery works by exerting pressure on various parts of the legs. This is usually done by adding significant amount of elastane to the desired area. Tights envelop these areas more firmly than those that have less elastane. In fact, the effect of compression is compromised if the envelopment is not good. This is why some hosiery makers give additional guidance for their compression products. An example is Falke Leg Energiser Invisible 15 Tights. You can see from their packaging that ankle and calf size is also listed for customer’s reference.
Envelopment in compression-free hosiery
These products very loosely hug the legs and thus lies on the other side of the envelopment spectrum. People who like the looseness feeling particularly favour this type of hosiery. Compression-free hosiery are also used for medical reasons. An example is people with diabetes. This is because pressure, even in small amounts, can have a negative impact on the already poor blood circulation. Kunert’s Take Care Collection is specially designed for this.
Brands and envelopment – my experiences
As mentioned earlier, body shape is one of the key factors for good envelopment. For this reason, I have listed below measurements of my body. These figures were taken in early evening, when the legs are somewhat swelled, and after meal.
- Waist: 77cm (30″)
- Hip: 87.5cm (34.5″)
- Thigh: 48.5cm (19″)
- Knee 35cm (14″)
- Calf 34cm (13.5″)
- Ankle: 19.5cm (7.5″)
- Foot: 10cm (in diameter)
From here you will have some idea how my descriptions below will relate to you.
I find Falke sheer tights to have a good envelopment. The Leg Energizer Invisible 15 compression tights have an especially high envelopment. I haven’t tried any of the opaque products from Falke yet.
Their sheer tights have the best envelopment I have encountered so far. The Opaque Tights (138N) also have a good envelopment. The Flair Tights I had however, was relatively loose.
(Sourced from www.fogal.com)
Their seamless tights all have good envelopment at the panty and moderate on the legs. Heist Studios will be introducing additional sizes this winter. Such would change the envelopment of the panty dramatically.
(Sourced from Heist Studios)
My experience with Kunert has been loose-moderate. Their products seem to made for people with a curvier body. Having said that, my samples are small. I have bought some more so I can get a better experience.
Generally speaking, envelopment of Wolford tights are moderate to good, regardless of denier. This applies to their Shape & Control tights as well. Leggings on the other hand, have bigger discrepancy. I often find the calf section and the opening of the leg to be quite loose. Like Kunert, Wolford products seem to be more suitable for taller and/or curvy people.