Roisin Ingle on . . . the art of hoiking


Today I’m going to broach the tricky subject of hoiking your tights up in public. I’m betting that not everyone reading this will be a hoiker. There are certain people you just can’t ever see in hoiking mode, such as Anna Wintour. And there are other people, like Michelle Obama, you just know are no stranger to a good hoik.

It takes a certain kind of person to stand in an office/busy shopping centre/Moma in New York nonchalantly hoiking up their tights so they don’t fall down in front of the 300 people taking pictures of Munch’s The Scream on their iPads. There are hoikers and there are normal people who throw tights out when the elastic gets a bit loose. Guess which one I am?

I’m not ashamed to admit I am a serial hoiker. A pro-hoiker. I’ve hoiked with the very best of them since I threw on my first pair of opaques. That Moma incident is based on a real-life event.

The near daily rummage in the tights drawer is a bit of a gamble to be fair. I say tights drawer, but hoikers don’t have tights drawers, they just have places into which tights and other accoutrements, including random scarves and belts and – oh look, my passport – are stuffed.

It’s a Russian Roulette because there is no earthly way of knowing whether the tights we end up wearing will hold up for the day or whether at one point – probably when a group of attractive French rugby fans are passing – they will start the inexorable glide downwards until suddenly you are running into The Shelbourne with your tights around your knees and your dignity on the floor.

I have started to worry, though, about my lack of shame around hoiking. Lately I’ve heard myself actually announcing the hoik before it happens which is an interesting development. There I’ll be, regaling someone with my story of meeting Bono that everyone who knows me has heard 200 times, and I’ll stop at a crucial bit (Bono squeezing my shoulder in a friendly manner, Bono looking bemused when I gave him an Irish Times pen as a gift) and say: “Sorry, just have to have a bit of an old hoik for a mo.” It kind of kills the anecdote.

I had a job interview recently. And while I was worried about demonstrating my core competencies and wondering if the thriving pizza business I ran from my mother’s kitchen when was 15 counted towards my organisational skills, I was more concerned about the possibility of my standing up mid-interview and doing an involuntary hoik in front of the panel.

I mean, I wouldn’t trust anyone who hoiks in an interview situation. “She can’t even organise her own tights drawer. Probably doesn’t even have a tights drawer. We can’t let her loose on such an important task.” It’s a fair point.

There are some basic rules of hoiking. Always hoik from the ankles up to ensure maximum results. And always have a good hoik before a meeting, but not mid-meeting. I’ve a friend who says hoiking should only ever be done in front of women; that vast hoiking sisterhood being more understanding of a fellow hoiker’s needs. I have, when necessary, hoiked in front of men though, because I’m shameless and because, if the alternative is the tights around the ankles scenario, I’ll go for the emergency hoik every time.

In my, and possibly your, defence tights are not what they used to be. Whenever I say this to non-hoiker friends they shout “Wolford!” and I point them in the direction of my overdraft. I used to be able to get relatively cheap hoik-free tights in a well known tights dispensary of English extraction. Now, I wear them once and they completely lose their ping.

Thanks goodness for the internet. It turns out I am not the only one concerned with this. In her blog, one young women claims to have eradicated the need for hoiking. You simply take another pair of tights that have seen better days, cut them at the thigh and use them as a kind of stopper over your real tights. The result? No more hoiking, or so she says.

I’m not convinced. What happens if the stopper tights start to glide? What if you are so hot and sweaty wearing two pairs of tights that you end having to do a double hoik? You’re veering into nuclear hoik territory there. I think I’ll just stick with the one pair and try and do more of my hoiks in private. Sisters (and brothers?) in hoiking, I’m glad we had this little chat.

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