I think we have to go beyond deciding that particular types of dress are dictated by gender. When we look to our past, as an earlier posting noted, men wearingtights was considered the height of European style. Similarly, the skirt in Scotland becomes the unisex kilt, and in the Pacific Islands the men adopt the lavalava.
Fashions change according to time and place, and no item of clothing should be off limits. I reckon that there are a number of men who would benefit from a variation of the bra to support 'man-boobs' and keep comfortable...Tights can have a purpose of keeping warm (we just call them 'long Johns' to make them sound manly!). Perhaps - as with so many things - we need to give tights a new name and new identity to make the m more acceptable. It is amazing what marketing can do...
Is it really fair to say that anyone "should" or "should not" wear something? In my eyes, that's an oppressive vision of the world. Many young people get bullied or ridiculed for wearing what feels right to them, but I think we can all agree that this is ghastly and unjust. Some boys like to wear makeup and tight jeans. Some kids just don't care or can't afford clothes that are "in style." Some girls never break out of their t-shirt/ponytail routine. But who cares? If a person of any age is comfortable in what he or she is wearing and is prepared to handle any reactions to that attire (if it is shocking), I say go for it.
Underneath, we're all naked anyway.
P.s. One caveat--I do believe in decorum in situations where a high level of respect and tradition are required. For instance, I would not wear a neon pink mesh tanktop and patchwork bellbottoms to a wedding or an interview--that would border on the disrespectful. But if I really wanted to wear that unorthodox combo during my day to day life, I don't think anyone could tell me "I shouldn't."
It just depends on what you call things. Athletes wear spandex type compression underwear all the time. In colder weather, they wear long versions of that which could be called tights. So it's all in what you name something. There's nothing inherently unmasculine about wearing things like that.
I agree with #10: Joe Namath may have started it all: he was comfortable with his masculinity. The pants football players wear are pretty close to tights. Goes with the game. (Rosie Greer, a football player who tried to defined Bobby Kennedy from being assassinated was famous for doing needlework: it relaxed him.) In the ballet we expect it,—it also comes with the territory.
As a piece of everyday clothing???, I don't think I would like it. I'm prone to bleached out jeans or a nice pair of dress pants on a man. And, no offense, but why would a man want to wear tights? They are "tight." (And I secretly believe that it was a man who invented pantyhose who did not like women.) It is a garment I avoid as often as possible: it is painful and I never fail to put a finger through one leg or another. Give me a nice pair of dress pantsw anytime. Men...think twice about the tights!
[tongue in cheek here]
All I know is that Joe Namath, superstar of the University of Alabama, Hall of Famer and superstar of the NFL, wore pantyhose (he wore Beautymists) and the macho men of football accepted "this deviation from the norm" because "Broadway Joe" wore them so he could be warmer when he played for such teams as the New York Jets.
I think poster #7 hit it on the head.
There are times when a certain type/level of dress is expected if one wants to be respectful of those arranging the event (ie: weddings, business meetings, black tie dinners, etc.) During these times it is probably not appropriate for men to wear tights.
However, during one's down time, one should be able to wear anything he/she feels is appropriate (avoiding, in my opinion, T shirts with offensive references to certain groups and pornographic outfits in public).
In the theatre during certain time periods, it is more than just appropriate for men to wear tights...it would be inappropriate...because if they didn't, they would not properly reflect the dress of the culture of the time.
Styles of dress change. There have been periods of time in history when it was absolutely expected that men of a certain class would be wearing tights. (See 422px-Louis_XIV_of_France.jpg) Louis XIV had nice heels to go along with his tights!
In this day and age, I don't think it is appropriate for any one person to make an isolated, out-of-context statement that encompasses all men to say that they should or should not wear stockings/tights. As with all women, the answer depends on variables of type of dress, occasion for the dress, weather, local cultural style expectations, etc.
If you are referring to dancers and actors wearing tights, there are artistic reasons for doing so. Just because a man is an actor or dancer does not make him less masculine. Plays and ballets require costumes. In dance, there is also a practical reason for tights. They allow for more fluid movement, and benefit both the audience and dancer. Acrobats also wear tights for the same reason.
Men wearing types tend to suggest a certain homophobic stereotype which in my opinion is completely out of place. As was noted above, many men, myself including wear long stocking style socks as it is considered somewhat gauche for a man's bare leg to be visible when he is wearing business attire. I also wear long underwear during the winter, and find them quite comfortable.
There was a day when a woman wearing pants was considered a bit much. Obviously, that has changed. (Has anyone ever seen Hillary Clinton in a dress?) It is high time we get away from stereotypes and allow people to dress/express themselves as they see fit without attaching some ulterior design. If a man feels comfortable in tights or stockings, I say go for it.
Although I live in Florida, I have often worn long underwear during visits to colder climates. As a former theatre student, I have several times worn "tights" during on-stage performances (Camelot, Kiss Me Kate). I also have worn tights as a costume for Halloween (as the Burger King). Do I wear tights under any other circumstances? No!
Yes, men are physically able to wear stockings or tights if they choose to do so.
However your question asks if men should be able to wear stockings or tights. Of course there is no legal restriction that bans men from wearing these kinds of clothing so I think you are referring to social restrictions for men.
Stockings and tights are a "close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg". They were originally worn and designed for men as what we now call socks and as the longer hose type garment. Before 1920, women wore stockings for warmth, but as the hemlines shortened over the years, stockings and tights seem have become exclusively for women.
The wear of stockings/tights by men may be seen as homosexual or as a social stigma. But since there is no actual law prohibiting them to do so, yes men should wear tights.
What to wear and not to wear is not debatabale. It is a matter of choice where you like to and feel comfortable in it. It is our freedom of choice. Freedom comes with responsibility. If it makes other uncomfortable or culturally not appropriate then we should pay respect to the individuals.
If a man truly wanted to wear tights, I say go for it. People should be able to wear whatever they like in order to express themselves. Does a man wearing tights mean that he is homosexual? Of course not. Women who wear jeans are not all homosexual; women used to have to wear skirts and dresses, it was an absurd idea for a women to wear jeans. The same principle applies here. If a man feels comfortable wearing tights, let him. Who is he hurting? No one. That man wearing what he wants does not effect anyone but that man. If anyone else has a problem with it, they can not look at him. This is an issue with self expression and whatever they feel comfortable in wearing. No one should be able to dictate what other people wear. This is America, let people wear what they feel comfortable in without making it an issue of homosexuality. Most people do feel that if a man were to wear stockings or tights that he's gay, and that is a shame. To be judged on outward appearances is a huge issue in today's society, and that is not fair to anyone who is looked down upon or made fun of for the way that they prefer to dress.
I personally don't like it when men do just because I'm unfamiliar with it and I'm not as open-minded as others. But I understand that clothes are just clothes. And preferences are just preferences. If men want to wear stockings/tights, I won't go against them. Let them wear what they want. And I'll just stick to my opinion that I don't like it.
But I believe one can't answer this question saying "should" or "should not." It's all about the dudes' preferences. Let their decisions come from their preferences. And let no one else interfere with their decision. Freedom of choice.