Hot weather and work attire just don't seem to mix. Closeted in offices, with windows that don't open and air conditioning that doesn't work, we try desperately to straddle that line between what's comfortable and what's professionally acceptable.
Strappy vests, flip-flops and micro-minis just don't cut it. But while a linen suit looks good at 8am, by lunchtime it's telling the world you don't own an iron and keep your clothes screwed up in little balls under your bed.
However, for us ladies, the killer is the huge expanse of flesh that is our legs.
Opting for a skirt means deciding whether the lesser of two huge evils is conservatively covering up with a pair of tights and risking certain heat exhaustion, or daring to bare a pair of pins that are inevitably either milk-bottle pale, or inexpertly streaked with fake tan?
(And no, however appealing it might sound, the half-and-half approach of stockings is not a good idea, due to the strange meteorological fact that dictates that a woman wearing stockings always attracts a micro-climate of ill-timed gusts of wind.)
Bare Cooling range from Marks & Spencer, from £4, styles include Oil Look, Toeless, Grip Sole, Matt and Hold-Ups
Fortunately, technology has come to our aid in the form of the M&S; Bare Tights range - with 'cooling finish'. The idea is that they're super-thin, super-strong tights that apparently 'make you feel and look as though you're not wearing any tights at all!' (The exclamation mark is theirs, not mine.) But thereal selling point is a special finish that 'releases little "cooling bubbles" as you move'.
Yes, I'm intrigued, and have visions of wandering around leaving a vapour trail of dry ice in my wake, like an Eighties pop video brought to life.
Or maybe it'll be more like swathing my legs in a very delicate form of bubble wrap that pops, showering my body in iced water. It's neither, of course. When I get the tights, they look like, well, tights.
Very thin tights - apparently, they have a sevendenier appearance but a 15- denier strength; but tights nonetheless. And, disappointingly, close inspection doesn't reveal any visible bubbles, although I will concede that they feel cool to the touch. I have to say the colour looks a bit odd.
It's like they've tried so hard to avoid that overlybronzed American Tan shadethat they've gone too far the other way. The idea is that they're 'Nude', and maybe for the average Brit in winter they are.
But straight out the packet, against skin that's had a glimpse of sunlight, they look decidedly anaemic - a strange sort of neutral shade that would cost hundreds were you to buy the paint version in Farrow & Ball, but is probably best described as chickpea meets mushroom. To be fair, once on, they lose their insipid hue and do look a bit more natural.
To the casual observer, from a distance, I might look bare-legged; although close up you'd either realise the truth or think I had very strange skin.
Looks aside, did they feel cool? Well yes, weirdly, they did. As I was putting them on, they felt cold, as if they'd been left in the fridge for a few minutes before I slipped into them. But it was while they were on that the cooling properties really started to make themselves felt. It's a very strange sensation.
If you've ever accidentally sat on your leg for too long, so it hasn't quite got to the pins and needles stage but still feels unexpectedly cold when you stop, you'll have a vague idea what's in store. It's not exactly an Arctic wind breezing across your flesh, but it's the sort of chill that menthol leaves on the skin. I'm not claiming that if you sat in the sun with these on you wouldn't feel the heat, but they certainly seem to work to some extent.
According to the science bit, each pair of tights incorporates millions of microcapsules that contain these cooling agents. Throughout the day, these are gradually broken down and released onto the skin.
The blurb reckons that friction and movement encourage these micro-capsules to break down, so I experiment, running my hands up and down my legs. It seems to work. Where my hands were, there's a slight trace of chill, almost as if I'd been stroked by a ghost. (Well, I imagine that's how it would feel, as I can't say that's ever actually happened to me.)
Anyway, other people in the office start giving me slightly strange looks, so I stop caressing my limbs and restrict myself to crossing and uncrossing my legs under my desk, which seems to have the same effect. As the day goes on, I forget I'm wearing the magic tights, and it's only when I get up from my desk that I get a gentle chilling reminder of their presence.
However, by the time I'm leaving the office for home, I've begun to wonder if they've lost their powers, as I'm not feeling their force quite as strongly. But I think I have just got used to them, because when I take them off that evening, they still feel cool to the touch.
M&S; reckon that the tights will retain their cooling potential for up to ten washes, but that they are at their strongest for the first three. Given that I count it as a bonus if I get more than one wear out of a pair of tights without snagging or laddering them, I'm not too concerned by this.
So, cooling tights, the best thing since sliced bread? The greatest new technology since the wheel?
Well, no, let's be honest, they're not exactly providing the solution to famines and fevers, but they make a hot day in the office an awful lot more chilled out.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1025866/These-tights-promise-cool-heat-Too-good-true-We-test.html#ixzz0p7MCRwjl