Reader Mail: How to Wear Stockings

how-to-wear-stockingsMore reader mail to catch up on… we thought this one was particularly relevant given some of yesterday’s questions in comments about when/how to wear nylons. Pictured: Calvin Klein Hosiery Perfectly Sheer Invisible Control Top Pantyhose, available at for $12.

First, while you’ve discussed whether or not to wear stockings, I could really use some advice on HOW to wear them once one decides that they’re appropriate. I rip stockings to shreds whenever I wear them, so I would really appreciate tips on finding a durable brand, as well as how to properly care for them.

We would agree with most of the commenters in yesterday’s post that stockings/nylons aren’t necessary for most day-to-day activities. If you’re interviewing? Nylons for you. If you’re going to court or to a big meeting? Ditto.

As for which brand, we got a ton of great suggestions when we ran a poll on whether black hose or nude hose was better (the readers overwhelmingly contradicted us, saying nude hose was the way to go); check those out in comments.

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In terms of other tips for wearing stockings… it sounds crazy, but a pedicure is almost more important when you’re wearing hose than when you’re barefooted because it stops your toenails from shredding the hose. Secondly, you may want to look for various bells and whistles, such as reinforced toes (although this will limit your shoe choices if you have any shoes with a very low vamp). Also, maybe it’s just us, but we feel like control-top hose last longer than hose without; this may be because they stay put better and we’re not constantly yanking them up. If that isn’t enough, there are gloves that you can buy to wear while putting on your pantyhose (although, unless you carry them with you, they won’t help when you have to go to the bathroom.)

Otherwise, in terms of technique, we’ve found it’s best to put them on slowly — take the leg opening and gather the fabric until all you’ve got is 3-4 inches of hose to put over your toes. As you step into the hose and pull them up your leg, un-bunch the fabric as you go, trying to pull the hose tight enough as you go.

As far as caring for pantyhose, the best advice is to hand-wash them, particularly if you shell out for a very nice pair (Wolford, La Perla, etc). We are (generally) far too lazy to hand-wash anything, however, and we’ve had success with the delicate cycle of our shared industrial washer in our apartment building. Our method: get a lingerie bag or hosiery bag to put your hose in. Keep bras (or anything with hooks) out of this load if you can. Add sweaters, workout clothes, etc, and wash it on the delicate cycle, in cold, with Woolite. We would guess it would probably even be okay if you followed those steps but threw it in a regular cycle with regular detergent. Whatever you do (for the love of God!) airdry your pantyhose.

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  1. It sounds weird, but I’ve been told by a friend who used to sell them that soaking them in ice water or sticking them in the freezer before wearing really prevents runs.

  2. This might sound crazy, but a trick my mom passed on to me a very long time ago is to put lotion on your hands when you put them on – it really works, btw. I wear hose rarely (very much a pantsuit gal) but when I do, I put them on right after lotioning my legs while I still have some leftover lotion on my hands. Works like a charam.

    • Angela Starks :

      I totally with putting lotion on your legs before you put nylons on your legs. I always wear nylons and plus it makes your legs look more beautiful and gorgeous.

  3. any recs for nude pantyhose for the very pale? I hate the ones that make me look like a Hooters waitress.

  4. Nothing could make me happier than to see this posting on wearing pantyhose! Here’s what you need to know: many professionals over 50 (i.e., hiring partners both male and female), see a bare legged woman as too casual and underdressed. I have spoken to partners who decided against hiring someone because they left their pantyhose at home. Yes, of course it shouldn’t matter, but it does. Give yourself every advantage in this market and put on those big girl pantyhose, at least when you start, and see what’s what.

  5. anon– just never wear ones with “shimmer”. That is what the Hooters girls wear, as well as tap-dancing kids in their ballet school recital.

    Stick with dull and you should be fine. However, if you are pale, never go white or eggshell as you will look way too pale.

    • Peg, I also have the same problem as Anon. I have something for which I must wear panty hose no darker than my skin tone, so simply not wearing sparkly hose will not always work.

  6. Anonymous :

    Donna Karen makes great nude pantyhose – they make my legs look flawless. If you’re short, she also make a petite line. This is great because I hate when the top of the hose reaches my armpits – these are well proportioned to hit right where they should on your torso.

    The nude collection of hose is called just that, and you can buy it at Nordstroms:

  7. Donna Karen makes great nude pantyhose – they make my legs look flawless.

    Careful with those, though; I’ve found the ones in the black package are fantastic, whereas the ones in the white package self-destruct within one or two wearings.

  8. Anonymous :

    If you get a small run, esp. around the toe area where they won’t be seen, you can put clear nail polish on it to prevent the run from going any farther. It won’t work forever, but nylons are an expensive habit. Also, I always, always keep an extra pair in my purse or desk.

  9. Anon – I am also very pale and I wear Hanes Silk Reflections in Travel Buff. It is a super pale nude but not white/washed out looking.

  10. I’m a big fan of the Assets line available at Target for about $10-12 per pair. They’re by the same company that makes Spanx, but less than half the price. They hold up remarkably well. I wash mine in a lingerie bag in my regular wash and tumble dry on low too, with no problems. I work in a conservative office so I wear hose almost every day and I get many, many wears out of the Assets hose without getting runs.

    • Im a 30 year male and I have been wearing sheer energy control top pantyhose for 10 yrs and find them great under shorts or just sandals now men can wear pantyhose because they or offered everywhere

  11. How about wearing black hose, daily?

  12. my granny told me to put pantyhose in the freezer too! I always did, but I haven’t worn hose for years – I wear pants suits all the time

  13. Excellent article and well done. Ladies get your lingerie drawer stocked up on every kind of style of pantyhose….the fashion trend is returning.

  14. I wear black opaque tights everyday- does anyone else do that? I prefer that instead of the weird pale colors they have for those with brown skin.

    Also, for anyone that is interested there is a Christian Louboutin sample sale on Gilt Groupe today. It starts at noon…not sure if theyll have anything suitable for work but may be worth checking out!

  15. Pageant Patty :

    A trick from the land of tiaras and evening gowns (aka Pageants) is to freeze your hose. It prevents runs and extends their life. I ended up with only one pair of stocking for my wedding and thanks to freezing they survived three days of events without a snag.

  16. anon with the pale legs :

    Thanks for the tips! I really meant the Hooters Orange Leg but you bring up a good point about the shimmer. No one should look all “Flashdance” in the office! :)

  17. I’ve had two pairs of Wolford stockings (that I wear on almost a weekly basis, except at the height of summer) since I started working almost three years ago. Still no runs. Granted, they are not sheer (black, semi-opaque), and they are expensive – but I think they might be the single most valuable work wardrobe purchase I have made.

  18. Delta Sierra :

    I’m 57 and no longer working in corporate, but I’m finding this website fascinating. Quite a few things have changed since my boardroom days, but a lot of stuff is still the same. Since I currently live in a southern CA beach town, and wear flip-flops all years, I was surprised to see that pantyhose was no longer being used. Don’t your poor feet hurt? In those excruciating heels? Do give p.h. a try. Find a brand and a color you like. We used to curse them, for the cost, and the fact that they run if you look at them crosswise (feet and hands and nails must be totally snag-free). But they do give skirts, and pants, a nice sleek line. Control-top ones are like Spanx-pants without the lines. I’m also liking this website because I do occasionally have to put on a suit and do business in an office setting. I want to look avoid looking dated, but not look age-inappropriate, but not look frumpy… it’s a challenge. Thanks for the help.

    • WishfulSpirit :

      Hose do help with cutting down on friction, that’s for sure, but they seem to increase heel slip. I love “fab feet” spot cushions and heel grips. Or I think you can buy sock-style hose very similiar to those hose socks they have in the shoe store if you need something between the foot and the shoe but don’t want to wear hose all the way up.

  19. Yay for pantyhose! I’m 45 and look much better in skirts than pants so I wear them a lot. They smooth everything out and cover up imperfections, giving you a polished, finished look. Love the Assets line at Target, and I also stock up at the Hanes outlet online.

  20. Charlotte :

    Thank you! I’m 26 and am constantly surprised by how few of my peers wear stockings. I wouldn’t think of walking into a courtroom with bare legs, but I feel like I am definitely in the minority. I even wear knee highs with my pantsuits, as geeky as that sounds, to keep from getting blisters and/or smelly feet in heels.

  21. I am not usually an Ann Taylor girl, but Ann Taylor pantyhose are my favorites and they are inexpensive (3 for $20, I believe). They also come in petite for short/small frames. “Buff” is a great shade for fair skin– a much better match for me than Donna Karan or Calvin Klien hose. I tested black hose this past winter, but haven’t had much success– they show snags too easily.

    • I also love the Ann Taylor nylons for their comfort and have been wearing them for years, but now their inexpensive brand that used to come in Buff and Champagne has apparently been discontinued. The salesgirls in the store where I’ve bought these for years looked at me blankly when I asked what happened to their nylons. There is no sign of the old brand on the Ann Taylor website. Does anyone know anything about this or where I can still find the discontinued line?

      • I am so disappointed that this line in buff has been discontinued. I searched online and called Ann Taylor but cannot find any pairs. I guess I will have to find a replacement. Let me know if you find a place to buy them- thanks!

  22. I wear knee highs too. Love them for making my shoes more comfortable and less smelly.

  23. One thing I hate about panty hose is that they really don’t look right with open-toed shoes, but I recently found toeless panty house and wore them for the first time a couple of weeks ago. They worked out great! The ones I bought are Berkshire Ultra Sheer Hose without Toes and I purchased them from Only $6.95! Not sure how many wears one would get out of them, but they are so cheap and I have worn them once and had not a single snag or run. Since many snags/runs begin in the toe area, the fact that there is already a hole for your toes should prevent most snags/runs.

  24. I’m 27 and also wear knee-highs. Can’t imagine wearing pumps without them.

  25. SouthernGal :

    Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I’ve been an attorney for several years now in a large firm in the South and have YET to wear hose to anything. Not to Court, not to interviews, not to church. The bottom line is nude pantyhose are gross. Try self-tanner instead. I would guess that if you use the ST regularly no one will know whether or not you have on hose to begin with. In the winter, I wear black or brown opaque tights depending on the suit I’m wearing (only with skirts), and I believe the hard-core fashionista rule is that your hose should match your shoes – If you must wear them and they aren’t opaque, wear black sheer hose with a black suit/ heels, and brown sheer hose with a brown suit/ heels. The only women that I have seen in nude pantyhose around here are old-school US Attorneys or horribly un-fashionable out-dated women who need a serious style-updated. But, like I said, it may be a regional thing. It’s too darn hot to wear hose here for most of the year anyway.

    • SouthernGal~
      I am a new attorney in North Carolina and am headed to federal court on a case. I went to this site to determine if I should wear hose. I was confused until I read your post ~ is your advice the same for federal court as well?

  26. I also love the Silk Reflections Travel Buff – it is the most natural-looking with my fair skin. I buy them from One Hanes Place online, $17 for 3 pairs.

    I would just warn against the Silk Reflections “Transparent Sheer” model – I bought some of those thinking they would be a little dressier for evening, and found they were a totally different fabric without nearly as much of the stretchy stuff – so they were baggy and uncomfortable.

  27. I’m surprised at people who say places are “too hot” for hose. I started wearing hose specifically because it was too hot not to – my bare legs stuck together and stuck to leather seat cushions, my feet were sweaty and caused blisters in my shoes.
    I’m also relatively young, so the references to pantyhose being dowdy are new to me. Good nude hose should be so sheer as to be nearly invisible, completely invisible to anyone who isn’t looking for them, should not have visible saggy spots, and should barely feel like you’re wearing anything on your legs. Maybe the objection to “old fashioned” hose is that dowdy hose are poorly made with visible weave patterns and baggy areas around the knees and ankles? Or is this an objection that skips a generation, like boxers and briefs for guys?

  28. Yay for pantyhose! I am 34 and wear them daily – even under pantsuits – because I like how the control top sucks in my post-baby belly and gives my back end a smoother look.
    I too, am in the camp that would view bare legs as too casual (or something the secretary might do), though I’m in the Great Lakes area, so maybe it’s a regional thing?

  29. Sally Hansen Airbrush for Legs. This stuff looks totally natural in the right shade and you would swear you had on great hose, not a phony tan.

  30. Jacqueline :

    I think the dress code regarding hosiery is definitely regional. I am Canadian and a lawyer. In cooler weather, we wear opaque black tights. In hot weather (yes, we get hot weather too!) it becomes tricky. Nude hosiery here is seen as being somewhat dated. I have also read a lot of European blogs where women say that wearing nude hosiery is not fashionable at all. However, with a light summer suit obviously black tights are not going to work. Then I will wear very sheer nude hosiery, as close to my natural skin colour as possible. In summer, I find myself wearing more pant suits to avoid this problem. I don’t feel comfortable going to court with bare legs. To me, that is just wrong. I see some women do it, but I would not. And I agree with the idea of wearing knee highs under pants to avoid sweaty/smelly shoes. I like to keep the leather in my shoes dry and feeling nice. Once I wear them barefoot in the summer, they never feel the same.

  31. Reginald Williams III :

    I really do not understand the complaints about pantyhose from women. Wearing formal clothing has always been associated with a bit of discomfort – for example, we men put up with neckties, don’t we? And why didn’t women complain about this garment 25 or 30 years ago when there were far fewer choices and styles? I wish women should appreciate the fact that their bare legs look absolutely appalling in a formal setting! Would you like men to wear a suit and tie and leave our hairy ankles showing? Come on! Your legs look so much more dressy and sensuous in a sheer pair of nude or suntan pantyhose/tights. There are also many different colors, styles and textures to choose from, so stop complaining if you want to join men in the professional world where fashion (for better or worse) is ALWAYS important.

  32. One way to increase the life of hosiery is proper cleaning. Wash them in batches and separate light and dark colors. Use Hosiery Mate which is formulated to coat the fibers. You add a little warm water and a capful of Hosiery Mate in a sink. Swish the stockings around then gently squeeze the water from them and lay them on a towel. Some people dry them using a drying tree but I just take them and the towel and lay them on the bed. They dry nice and flat. My website has many more help hints on wearing stockings.

  33. Mostly women doesn’t know how to wear stocking. It’s the great post for those. I wear because I know I look sexy in it and I think every woman look sexy in stocking.

  34. im 27 knee his/pantyhose actulley make my feet stink just as bad as heels without them. i wear knee his basicly every day im an accountant & when i get home my feet reek :/

    • When i was young i really did not know how to wear stockings and why to wear stockings.
      But when i grow up then I understand the true use of stockings and since then I always wear stockings. And I suggest every women should wear it also because they look more pretty and glamorous.

      • This is mostly for Alisa . Hi Ali i love the name so soft and pretty like pantyhose and stockings . The females i know wear both and do they look hot in spikes especially dancing . I love a soft dress with slip to close dance next to the sheerness , woman wear hosei sheers pantyless i know because i can feel the slipperiness then ‘ spike heels help because the dress and hips cause the shrieking noises under her dress to throttle dance pretty rubbing her legs as you dance they quiver as she pretty girlly girrl dances her body feels so pretty as we tighten it up,sometimes i wear pantyhose so we can rubdance so the silk is so soft with a slipidress ewww yesss sheer bliss as she will say she feels next to naked isay ohyess so pretty as e kiss and sniff her perfume andtaste her lipstick\\drawing her neerer almost wearing her cloths too as we cuddle with her chest next to mine . write me Alisa it is ok !! am just funloveing

  35. My daughter is 16 and two years ago when she was 14 we finially had her baptized at easter vigil and then made her first communion in may.For her baptism,she wore the traditional,white,poofy,above the knees baptism dress with a matching bonnet,white tights and white mary janes.our parish does not alow the girls to wear a disposable diaper under the tights,they all wear the cloth diaper and white plastic pants under them.when she put the tights on over the diaper and plastic pants,i pinned the waist of the tights to the waist band of the plastic pants with tiny safety pins.For her first communion,all the girls had to wear their baptism diaper,plastic pants and tights under their communion dresses,so i did the same thing.She is being confirmed this may and per the requirements,has to wear a formal.white floor length dress with the veil,gloves,the mary jane shoes,the white tights and the cloth diaper and plastic pants again so i will pin the tights to the plastic pants again,

  36. I am 18 and just getting into wearing stockings with a suspenders or I have a pair of stay ups too. I think I like stockings better than panty hose but they seem more expensive. What do people think. I am not sure.
    My mum says stockings are slutty but I dont understand that. I mean only if I wear a really short skirt.

  37. Shelley Jo :

    I’m a thirty seven year old woman and I agree that and have found that putting my stockings in the freezer really works and whatever you do hand wash your stockings. But as for stinky feet to me that just sounds like you need to bathe better you know good hygiene. But as for brands of stockings no one will know of your grooming is on point of your wearing Wolford or any other brand but you. Be confident walk with confidence and give confidence and you’ll look fantastic trust me.