Pantyhose in the Summer

pantyhose-summerDo you have to wear pantyhose in the summer? The pantyhose-at-the-office question comes up so often, but I don’t think we’ve addressed it in a while — and Reader N wonders…

I had a question about wearing pantyhose. I’m about to start my first internship in finance (a mid-sized hedge fund) this summer and I’m really confused as to what to wear. It’ll be in London, so I don’t know if that changes business formal guidelines. Anyway, I’m 20 years old and a southern girl, and I’ve never worn pantyhose in my life. Is it really necessary to wear pantyhose with a skirt suit, even in the middle of July? I’m tempted to just wear a pant suit the first day and see what everyone else is wearing, but then I’ve heard people say that pantsuits aren’t conservative enough and I should wear a skirtsuit the first day just in case.

Obviously, I have no idea what I’m doing. Oh dear.

Congratulations on your summer internship — it sounds excellent. There is a really big range in what’s acceptable at conservative offices, and so — for my $.02 — it’s always best to get started on the right foot, which is to say the safest foot. You don’t want people’s first impression of you to be of your clothes — you want it to be of your work, your accomplishments. So for the first day — probably even the first week — I would suggest wearing:

You may realize pretty quickly that your female bosses all wear skirts without hose, and after that point you have my go ahead to ball up your pantyhose and pack ’em away until interview season. Similarly, after a few days of observation, you may feel confident in bringing out your peep-toes and your sleeveless dresses. But the point is that you have to know your office.

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Now, if you do get stuck in a firm where you have to wear pantyhose all summer… there are a few things you can do to make the summer go more comfortably.

– If there’s a problem with your hose (they fall down, they run, they cling to your skirt), odds are that you just haven’t found a great pair of hose for you yet. Readers have sung the praises of everything from Jockey to Wolford, so you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money; you just have to find a great pair that works for you. Personally I’ve always been a fan of control tops (even when I didn’t need the control) because the hose stayed up better, but that’s me — Spanx even has a higher-waisted version to prevent rollover.

– If you constantly feel sweaty while wearing your hose, first switch to all cotton underwear. (A reader asked me once if you needed to wear underwear with hose, and my answer there is yes — I’m not an expert but going commando in hose sounds like a recipe for a yeast infection.) If that still doesn’t work, you may want to look into thigh-high hose — a lot of women prefer those, particularly in the summertime.

– You may want to review my older advice on how to care for your pantyhose (as well as how to put them on).

Readers, which are your favorite pantyhose brands? For those of you who wear it even on the hottest days, what is your advice for Reader N?

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  1. K in... Transition :

    I’m one who tries to avoid hose whenever possible… hate things on my feet and the seam on hose makes me batty… I end up turning the hose inside out to avoid the seam but it’s still never comfortable. Kinda wish we lived in a world where this was too old fashioned to be expected!

    Random other thought; I was talking to a friend today and mentioned that I just feel better in the world when I’m in a relationship… I could be an 8 (out of 10) at my best when solo but I only hit the 9-10 level when I’m in a relationship. Considering I’m an almost 30 yr old woman with a Master’s and a big ole resume, I’m not quite sure if that sets women’s lib back. Anyone else this way?

    • I think this isn’t unusual. I mean, most people do get married. The “norm” in our society is to get married. It wouldn’t be that way if the majority of people were happier alone. I don’t think it has anything to do with women’s lib.

      • Meh, I’m not sure the norm is stay married. Or that most people spend the majority of their lives married.

      • I agree. I don’t think it has much to do with “women’s lib.” (What an old fashioned way of referring to “feminism.”)

        Human beings are social animals and most, or many people enjoy some kind of companionship. The easiest way to get it is to have an S.O. Marriage isn’t for everyone.

    • Gooseberry :

      Don’t knock yourself. Seems normal. Also, it might help your “set women’s lib back” concern if you can think about whether it applies outside of the romantic relationship/man-woman context. For example, I like dessert just fine, but if I were by myself, I’d never order it. Sharing it with a friend makes it delicious and fun. I like movies just fine, but I don’t really love them, so wouldn’t sit through one on my own. Watching with a friend (male/female/romantic/not) always makes it more enjoyable. For some, life is better when shared. For others, life is the same whether or not shared. It may just be that you shine when you’re sharing, and not that you punching women’s lib in the gut. :)

      • I’ve written several various responses to your post, all of which I then deleted because they seemed like oversharing, so I’ll just chime in to say I think the desire for a relationship seems perfectly normal – and I don’t think it takes anything away from your Master’s or your big ol’ resume to admit that. :)

    • I’m kind of the opposite. I’m pretty much at 10 out of 10 when I’m single, and haven’t found a relationship where I am at 9-10 for very long past the initial infatuation stage … (and thus have never gotten married …). I don’t think it’s a women’s lib issue, just different personalities.

    • Seattleite :

      I think it matters whether you’re at 9-10 when you’re in a *good* relationship, or whether it’s *any* relationship. If the former, I agree with the other posters. If the latter, self-reflection would be in order.

      • Agreed!

      • Good call, Seattleite. I’ll also add that I know a number of men who are like this, which instantly takes the “women’s lib” significance out of it. These are guys who make a point always to have a girlfriend (or wife), and simply know that they do better while in a relationship. Some of these guys do settle for unhealthy relationships rather than being single. I think regardless of gender this can be a problem, or not, based on your motivations.

        I do think that some things about yourself you can only learn on your own, and some you can only learn from intimacy with someone else.

    • I don’t think it’s a women’s lib thing at all. I don’t read your statement as I need a man to be fully happy, it’s I need a relationship to be fully happy.

      I really enjoy being by myself and don’t like to be constantly surrounded by people, even people I call my friends, all the time. When I find someone that I prefer to be with over spending time by myself (so far I put one friend and my SO in this category), my happiness potential increases.

    • I know I am happier as a married lady than I was when single, even though I had a kickin’ singledom.

      Happy things are happier when you can share it; sad things are easier to take when you have a partner. Plus, you can’t help but feel good about yourself when you have someone that’s consistently glad to see you walk in the room.

      • “Plus, you can’t help but feel good about yourself when you have someone that’s consistently glad to see you walk in the room.”

        So true! It also goes the other way; every time my SO walks in, it makes my day that much brighter.

      • I am sad that I am married but don’t have this. Sad that I made such a bad choice in a mate.

    • Going Solo :

      I heard a really interesting interview on our local NPR station yesterday with the author of a new book called “Going Solo.” Was his last name Kleinberg? It was a sociological history of living alone in the US and a description, based on 300 interviews with people who live alone now, of how it has changed in the last several decades. It made me want to read the book.


      Lived alone for 13 years, now cohabitating with my soulmate and his daughter.

      • Anonymous :

        the new yorker recently had a bit about living single. More people live single now than at any other time – oldies and youngsters and middle-aged professionals.

        I think it is normal to want to have love and support, but like others have noted the key is “a good”relationship or on your own.

    • I agree… nothing to be alarmed at and nothing to do with women’s lib. You just want a relationship and feel better in one.

    • I feel like I have the best of both worlds, in a way. I’m in a relationship but he doesn’t live here so I have a lot of independence while in a very supportive and loving relationship. My job kicks my butt at times and he’s really supportive about all of that and I sure miss that support when he’s not around. That said, I’ve gotten so independent and so used to being alone (and liking it!) that I wonder how I would do in a relationship where we wanted to live together. I like my schedule and my alone time. If I want to leave work and go to the gym then come home and get on the treadmill, I can. I struggled to make the transition after my divorce but now I am fully on the other side. So maybe it’s good that you want that!

    • I don’t think your desire for companionship sets back women’s lib at all!

      Looking back through history, lots of accomplished men have been in relationships. Whether a man was married or not didn’t seem to factor into his success in the least.

      I’m pretty thrilled we’ve reached a point where women don’t need to choose between a relationship and a career. Wishing to be in a relationship, or wishing to remain single, should be a non-issue.

      FWIW, I think the biggest factor in a relationship’s impact on one’s mental health is — of course — who you’re in the relationship with!

      • Loose weight when I’m n a relationship. Hmm, maybe I should go looking. I’ve been inexplicably putting on pounds.

  2. Former MidLevel :

    I think most of Kat’s advice is excellent, but if you are a pantyhose newbie, I would *not* recommend control top. I hate that constricted feel and you do *not* need it to keep your hose up – just make sure you buy quality and get the right size. Hanes Silk Reflections, Style 716 (non-control top, reinforced toe) is my favorite.

    • Love Hanes Silk Reflections. That’s my go-to (but with control top).

    • Silk Reflections also come in thigh high, which could solve some of those constricted feelings and wouldn’t be as hot in the summer.

    • control top gives me muffin top.

    • If you are going to buy Hanes, go to One Hanes Place –it’s their overstock and things are much cheaper there! But first try the sizes and colors you like from a department store!

    • FitnessKat :

      I agree with ADL, love Hanes Silk Reflections for work, with non-control top.

  3. while I don’t have to wear hose, I prefer the way some of my summer dresses/skirts look when I have them on. I actually think wearing hose can be counterintuitively cooling – when your skin is slightly damp/sticky, the hose provides a barrier that keeps you from sticking to yourself or to the seat on the train or what have you. So if you’ve never tried it…. who knows, you may be a convert!

    in any event, I generally agree with Kat’s advice for day 1 / observing older women. However, do be mindful that the ladies who have worked for awhile have more leeway in dress than you do as an intern, so I’d stay one “step up” in formality / coverage to be sure. For example, if they wear sleeveless shifts, I’d always have a cardi hanging open over my shoulders, at least.

    • Also take into account that older women may be more prudent and may not necessarily reflect the dress code. I’d look to see what all women are wearing and go with the majority.

    • Completely agree with the cooling factor. The stockings/hose/whatever you call them keep the skin a little further away from sweatiness. Although, I haven’t figured out what to do about sweaty toes, except to let my shoes dangle off my feet a bit while I’m sitting down. Anyone familiar with this problem? My feet aren’t smelly, just sweaty.

      • Are you wearing all-leather shoes? This sounds like a synthetic-shoe problem..

      • Spritz a little spray deodorant on your feet before putting your shoes on and you’ll be good to go!

      • WOW! I betcha your pumps gotta smell “SURLTY” not stinky.. Not wearing nylons would make them SURLTY……

  4. Regular, Anon for This :

    Ok, here’s another deep question… how do you get your “mojo” back? I feel like now that I have kids I’ve lost that spark that got me to where I am today… I really feel like I’m no where near my ceiling… but get so distracted between family and home. UGH. UGH. UGH. I’m not an attorney, but still afraid of getting mommy-tracked; or worse yet, be given the opportunity to shine and being… average. What say you, ‘rettes? I want my focus and drive back! But I don’t want to abandon my kids!

    • How old are your children? Are you at all sleep-deprived? And what’s your time commitment for any daycare / school runs and breakfast / dinner? You may be more productive through more hours of the day, it’s just that that productivity isn’t all work anymore. Throw in a sick child here and there and I’m surprised some days that anything gets done once the small people arrive.

  5. I think Kat’s first day attire advice is solid, and it’s what I’ve worn at every single job I’ve had on the first day. In fact, I’d be sort of surprised if someone new showed up at my office and didn’t wear a suit on the first day. You can’t really go wrong in a skirt suit with closed-toed shoes, hose, and a shirt with some sort of sleeve and a highish neckline.

    I like Hue No Waistband hose. The waist is really comfy, almost like leggings.

  6. HippieEsq :

    My doctor has warned me that I should start wearing support hose now to avoid varicose veins (I have had an issue with them before) during my pregnancy.

    I guess I am going to have to, because I don’t want my legs to look terrible for the rest of my life because I didn’t want to wear hose, but I have a question:

    Do most pregnant women wear the support hose under their bellies, or pay extra for the fancy “maternity pantyhose?”

    Your advice is appreciated!

    • wore maternity tights a ton because I preferred dresses but I was preggers in the winter …regular tights rolled down were way too uncomfortable or they would sag and I had to hike them up constantly.

    • Check with your doctors, but maybe compression socks that can be worn under pants would work, depending on the location of the veins?

      • HippieEsq :

        She said I could wear compression socks, but I have three maternity dresses that I love, and the socks won’t work with those. Because I am tall, I have had a hard time with finding pants that are long enough in maternity sizing. Pregnant + tall + size 18 = clothing h*ll!

        • Dr said same thing to me and I wear the compression hose. They make my legs feel so much better!

        • I’m tall too and had a baby 8 months ago. I got my maternity work pants from JC Penneys. A quick search shows they come in plus sizes in talls and in black, brown, and gray. And they’re only $30. Check these out:

          One of my biggest fears about being pregnant was being able to find clothes (pants) that would fit! Hope this helps.

    • Not pregnant, but I had a DVT a few years ago and became all too familiar with support hose. Depending on where your varicose veins appear and your doctor’s opinion, of course, you can buy thigh-high support hose. They even put lace at the top in a sad attempt to sexify them.

    • I wore support hose all through my last two pregnancies (which ended in August and September respectively). The hose were Rx hose and were covered by my insurance, so paying for them wasn’t a big deal. They had lots of belly room which made them much more comfortable. I don’t think non-maternity hose would have fit me. Check with your insurance and find a good medical supply store that carries what you need (in Boston it was Compass Healthcare on Longwood Ave).

    • I also wore support hose almost all the way through my pregnancy. My mom has horrible varicose veins and I’m hoping to avoid them…

      Anyway, I never sprung for the maternity ones. I bought the cheapies and cut some slits in the top to make them grow a little with me. I realize this sounds like it would just make the hose horribly unravel, but they actually fared just fine. Cut some slits, wear them under the belly, good to go.

  7. Georgiana Starlington :

    $50 pantyhose? Excuse me while I die laughing.

    • Romans et al. :

      Filodoro pantyhose – Aurora 15, I buy for about $7-8 US from a place in Canada…I”m not related, just a loyal customer. Shapings (dot com). They have tons of styles and lines I have tried some of the Spanish and Eastern European brands and come back to Filodoro every time. Wear like iron.

    • Seriously. I have managed to put a finger straight through a new pair of pantyhose on more than one occasion. Ticks me off. If I had paid $50 for the pantyhose and I did that, I think I might start crying.

  8. What kind of question is: “Should you wear underwear with…”

    Why would you even think it’s a good idea not to wear underwear at work?
    Or am I just prude without know it?

    • knowing*
      dang it!

      • Don’t worry about the typo….no need to get your panties in a bunch. :)

      • Some stockings / hose come with a gusset or something inside, like a cotton area. I know that Spanx, for instance, say “no need to wear panties!” or something to that effect, on the packaging. I wonder if this is what everyone is referring to?

    • Hmm. I never wear underwear with hose. Never had an issue.

    • Because pantyhose have a built in panty in them. That’s why pantyhose have a panel lining the crotch area. Reasonable minds can disagree on this, but until I started reading this blog I thought most other women did not wear a separate panty underneath their pantyhose.

      • I wear underwear, but only because I don’t want to wash my pantyhose after each wearing. I agree that it’s not required.

        • I can’t imagine not washing them after each wearing regardless. It’s like socks. You can’t wear 2 days in a row.

          • Congratulations, you have an opinion!

            What the heck is with all the snarky commenters lately?

          • You WASH your hose after every wearing????

            Holy CRAP I’m the dirtiest person in the world to you. You don’t want to know how long I go without washing my socks. Sing it with me “Black socks they never get dirty, the longer you wear them the stronger they get.”

      • Good point. I never thought about that.

        When I hear going commando I just immediately picture certain celebrities flashing the camera.

        Well, it’s settled, I am prude ;D

        • I’m also a prude, so don’t feel that you are alone! Until this thread, I never imagined that other women did not wear underwear under hose (not that I’m scandalized – it just hadn’t occurred to me).

        • I don’t think you’re a prude. I would never think to wear no underwear with pantyhose and I have actually worn no underwear, on occasion, without pantyhose.

        • momentsofabsurdity :

          Well hey, Kate Middleton did that once!

        • Well… it might be that you’re a prude, but for me personally, cleanliness alone requires wearing underwear (and maybe something else, depending on the time of the month) with my pantyhose. I can’t really imagine being comfortable without it.

          • I wear cotton underwear under pantyhose every day. And I wash the pantyhose after each wearing – 7 pairs, 7 days, wash & repeat. I carry an extra pair in my laptop bag, carry-on luggage, garment bag, and have a couple extra pairs at work in case of tears in the hose.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I’ve never worn pantyhose without underwear… I’m concerned with the seams…

    • A bit off topic, but as a former dancer, I would never wear underwear when wearing tights. You get underwear lines (versus clean lines). Sometimes with pantyhose I wear underwear, sometimes I don’t. Depends on how I’m feeling.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Same here. And I figure if “panty” is part of the name of the garment, it must be okay to let it function as, you know, panties!

      • Former dancer also! *Waves. And I fully concur – I’d never wear underwear with tights / hose / etc.

    • Most panty hose have a built in, reinforced panty with cotton gusset, I don’t wear anything with those. I have some that don’t have anything, more of a sheer to the waist, no gusset, and I wear underwear with those.

    • Panty + Hose :

      I often don’t wear underwear with pantyhose. I guess I always thought of them as panties with legs. :)

    • I can’t imagine skipping underwear either… but in part, it’s because I don’t much like the texture of hose, even on my legs, and can’t quite imagine it against, well, more sensitive bits of my body…

  9. TurtleWexler :

    I’ve always done skirt suit with hose the first day and adjusted from there, except at my current job where I wore a pantsuit the first day (it was January and pouring rain, and I already knew that it’s a casual office — have only worn a suit twice since then, but it’s best to make a good first impression). Anyway, my favorite first day was where one of the mentor attorneys took one look at me and said “Pantyhose are not necessary in this office. Go take them off RIGHT NOW and be comfortable!” I guess it could have been weird if I really liked wearing hose, but I was more than happy to comply.

    When I do have to wear them, I vastly prefer thigh-highs, but they seem to be getting harder to find. Also, you have to find really good ones — the cheap ones stretch out and fall down pretty quickly, and I have gotten welts from the sticky part that holds them up in a couple brands (but no problem with other brands). It’s been so long since I bought any that I don’t remember which ones are good, though.

    • I love thigh highs, if I can find some that stay up. The best ones I had were the Target store brand, they stayed up really well, but they haven’t had them the last couple of times I looked. I’ve tried the Hanes Silk Reflections with the wide lace band at the top, they immediately rolled down, couldn’t even wear them.

    • Thigh highs with garter belts! I find them a good compromise for summers

  10. UK based- yes hose. Be aware some white shoe equivalent types have very strict dress codes including brand preferences and will send you home to change if you don’t meet those standards.

    • Gooseberry :

      Whoa, BRAND preference? Brand of what? Wow — this is so interesting. Please tell us more!

      • To clarify clothing brands not hose.

        My most recent bit of gossip was a chap sent home for wearing a brown suit, so it’s gender neutral

        • I find this hilarious because on my last trip to London was struck by how many men wore suits with pinstripes that were so thick and bright that they would look clownish in most U.S. offices. Bright pinstripes, fine; dull brown, not fine?

    • I have worked in investment banking in London (and was just there last week, perchance). The City is very formal. No hose will likely be frowned upon if you are meeting clients or clients come to your office. Hose (known as tights, even if they are hose) are expected in the City if you’re wearing skirts, period. If you work at a very cheeky hedge fund, where folks are rich as he(( and totally “over it”, there’s a chance your office will be less formal. Also, many of the hedge funds are actually located outside of the City (more Mayfair/Berkeley Square/Green Park) area. However, that still does not change the fact that London is VERY formal and you would get raised eyebrows regarding no hose.

      As an aside, don’t wait to buy hose in the UK. That was actually one of the only things I had my mother ship over from the US (and I paid customs!). Tights in the UK come in two forms only–SHINY and SHINIER. Yes, for some reason, the UK just loves the 80’s Jazzercise look. If that’s not your look, bring some from home.

      Summer in the UK can be really hot and muggy, or downright rainy and cold. Some days you’ll be quite glad to be wearing “tights.”

  11. I must be the only 25 year old left who believes in pantyhose and slips.

    They just always look more professional to me because they even out the skin tone on your legs and smooth any less-than-smooth skin (cellulite, anyone?). I’ve seen women at my office try to wear really professional outfits sans hose and unless the woman is in perfect shape, the lack of pantyhose can make things look really sloppy. I prefer the smooth, polished look I get from the pantyhose and have just started getting comfortable wearing some skirts (usually a-line) to the office without pantyhose.

    Slips because some fabrics really show more than they should. Nothing is worse than wearing a thong to avoid pantylines under an unlined skirt, only to present your coworkers with a mould of your buttcheeks. A slip keeps everything under wraps. I love them especially with shirt-dresses because the fabric is often thinner than it should be for a skirt.

    • Okay, so now I’m worrying. I avoid pantyhose when possible (but live in tights in the winter) and I wear suits with bare legs in warm weather (except, in something like a jury trial). I am middle-aged and carry a good 15-20 pounds too much, but I can say that I have a great pair of legs and still can rock a short skirt. Last week in my trial before an ALJ (the one where the young lead counsel had a hair-elastic-as-bracelet) I wore a black suit with tiny white dots, a pale pink shell, rose quartz chunky jewelry and red patent slingbacks with, yes, bare legs. I thought I looked pretty darn good, but maybe my youg colleague — in pantyhose — was secretly thinking that I really should have put on stockings.

      • Jules, don’t worry. I am sure you looked great. Some people have great legs, it sounds like you’re one of them. For the rest of us, there are stockings ;)

        To ning – I am also a big fan of old fashioned slips. I think 9/10, they make a dress drape better, not to mention that I somehow feel cooler on hot days if I have one on.

        • Thanks, AIMS; one less thing to stress out about!

          • Lawyer in Theory :

            This . I’ve always been jealous of the women with racehorse legs. I’m lithe on top but cankly an hippy. Pantyhose are a must, I don’t care if it’s 90* out.

    • Question – what brand of slips do you purchase? I have been considering the Spanx slip but it ain’t cheap and I’d love some feedback on other great brands.

      • I tend to wear half slips more than full slips; I bought a spanx half slip and only wore it once; it felt very constricting and not like the nice cushy fabric of regular spanx, which I wear fairly often. Maybe the half-slip was one of the more high-powered spanx varieties? IDK, but I didn’t like it.

      • Totally hate my Spanx slip. Constantly requires adjustment. But…I love my Spanx “bicycle short looking” shapewear. And, for a lot of my skirts & dresses, it serves the purpose of a slip.

      • I totally just get what’s at Target. Does the trick for me.

        • I have a variety of half slips in different colors and lengths and the one I got at Target is by far the best. The material is very comfortable yet it is thicker so it hides more.

    • I always wear slips, but I don’t wear pantyhose unless I’m going to court or something. Sorry, but I just don’t buy the “legs are sloppy” argument.

    • I hate pantyhose, but will do a slip. Once you’re no longer stick thin (and I don’t even mean overweight, I mean average), weird lines or bulges can show up. And in maternity-land, nothing is lined, so you need a slip. And since slips double as sexy-lingerie, I kill two birds with one stone.

      • I’m in my mid-thirties, and looking back on the days when I used to wear skirt suits without pantyhose, I cringe a little. I do think that pantyhose always make you look more put together, and if it imbues you with just a bit more confidence, it’s worth the slight additional discomfort (at least in my book).

    • Nah, not the only one – I’m 28 and I love the way my legs look in hose. I also like the idea that if my skirt flies up in the wind (our downtown is a big wind tunnel) there is less to flash. The only problem I have it that my big toes point up a bit so I tend to poke holes in the bottom.

      And to reassure everyone who hates hose – I’m not looking at your legs and judging you.

      • I’m 28 and I always wear hose for skirt suits and often for non-work skirts too if I’m wearing anything but sandals. The problem I find with going bare legged is that my feet feel incredibly uncomfortable. They stick to the shoes, become sweaty, and wear down my shoes faster. And just to preempt certain comments–yes, I wear nice leather shoes, like Cole Haan, etc. I also like that in hot weather my thighs don’t get as sweaty and I don’t stick to seats!

        I also completely agree with the point that hose make your legs look nicer and are more forgiving when your legs aren’t fantastic looking already. While many think of hose as old-fashioned and constricting and going bare-legged as the thing modern women do, I think there is definite room for disagreement. When I don’t wear hose I feel immense pressure to make my legs look as perfect as possible. With hose, I don’t need to worry that I didn’t shave that morning or that my calves jiggle a little bit. They actually empower me to not spend ungodly amounts of time and money on perfecting my legs.

        Nonetheless, I try really hard not to judge other people who choose not to wear hose, because just since wearing hose is the safest bet for a young career doesn’t mean I want to be a participant in perpetuating norms that can be used to deem some women as unprofessional. It’s just like with the skirt-pants debate. I may wear a skirt suit the first day and for meeting clients because I don’t want the choice to affect my own career, but I still think it’s ridiculous and I refuse to judge other women when they choose differently.

  12. Not a commercial, just an endorsement…

    In the summer, I swear by Aristoc Pantyhose. Remember that the higher the denier number, the thicker the pantyhose/tights. They’re about $18 so not too expensive either.
    They’re not as cheap as L’eggs or whatever, but they last longer and look better too.
    Aristoc has hose that are 5 or 10 denier which are very light and sheer. It’s a british brand and I buy them here:

  13. I guess I’m in the minority, but I would wear a pants suit my first day and see what the more senior ladies were doing with the skirt situation. I just don’t believe that a skirt is required for a woman to look business formal in an office setting. Otherwise, agree with Kat re closed-toe pumps and sleeves.

    • I completely agree! I like skirt suits and sometimes feel like I “present” better in them, but I don’t buy that there are really any situations where a pants suit is not “formal” enough.

      • southanon :

        Right or wrong, there are situations where a pant suit is not formal enough. I attended oral argument before the Georiga Supreme Court a few years ago and a small group of lawyers was being admitted at the start of the session. All but one of the women being sworn in were wearing skirt suits. The one who did not was wearing a pant suit and dreadlocks. The entire courtroom began buzzing and the attorneys on either side of me debated whether the attorney in question would be thrown out of the courtroom. She was not, but the looks she received from the bench were less than welcoming.

        • But didn’t somebody post a week or so ago about being in court in a skirt suit and having a judge decide that her legs were too distracting? I seem to remember that the skirt was appropriate length, but I don’t remember about pantyhose. But these types of stories make me feel like we can’t win.

          FWIW, I see no reason why a pants suit would not be formal enough. I have also had female colleagues in the past who for religious reasons would not wear skirts, but their pants suits were perfectly formal and did not affect their ability to represent their clients.

        • The US secretary of state (a lawyer) and Germnay’s chancellor disagree with you. Could it have been the dreads and not the suit? Were they properly oiled and. Early pulled back or natty and straggly? I often think fine dreads look nicer than fat ones. And straight hair does NOT dread, no matter what some folk want to call the clumpy hair sticking out of their heads.

        • Most likely the problem was dreads, not pants. Actually both say the same thing: I’m a woman, and black, and I don’t care what you think about it, I’m not ashamed of either. Definitely not a popular attitude in the South, but good for her :-)!

          • The attorney was white. Her hair was pulled back. The comments were addressed directly to the pant suit. One of the attorneys next to me named a specific justice who was no longer on the bench and said that 5 years before the justice would have thrown her out of the courtroom for being underdressed.

        • ROFL! A pants suit not formal enough? They are good enough for Hillary Clinton.

          Really, the kind of people who need to make pronouncements that “women should only be in skirted suits” are completely out of date, and not in the least “powerful” at all. So incredibly behind the times. Especially in a world in which the most powerful and the richest people wear whatever the heck it is that they want. As a non-lawyer, I laugh at the idea of these judges thinking that they are All That in their coutrooms. Pathetic. Get with the times. Women wear pants. Move on.

    • Same here. Skirts aren’t required, nor are real high heels. A polished suit with good quality shoes will do in any environment.

      But fundamentally my advice is to wear whichever makes you more comfortable and feeling more competent. Personally I don’t like skirts, and I would be distracted wearing a skirt suit and pantyhose, I do it so rarely. So I’d definitely wear a pantsuit. On the other hand, if wearing a skirt & hose makes you feel more “professional,” I’d definitely advise you to do that.

  14. The fact that it’s in London will change things. I’m from Dublin, and the weather there, even in summer, is rarely warm enough that one finds pantyhose too hot. London can be a few degrees warmer, and can have heatwaves, but it’s not the case that for all of June, July and August, you’ll be sweltering. (Conversely, your office may well not have air conditioning, unless it’s in a large office block, so you might be warmer at work than you would be in the South, but colder outside.)

    It’s more than likely that it will be around 70 when you start your job, and you can easily go conservatively in pantyhose (or tights, as we call ’em; and you won’t always find the same brands there that people might be recommending here) for your first week or so till you see how the land lies.

    But can you talk to someone there and ask them in advance? Even if you called and asked the receptionist for her take, she might have some helpful advice.

    • Maybe she is used to it, being from the South, but the humidity in the UK made tights/hose a disgusting affair for myself.

  15. Luckily I don’t work at anywhere super-formal and have to wear hose…but I usually DO wear hose with dresses/skirts (or tights in the winter), because I hate having bare feet in shoes that aren’t sandals.

    Plus there’s the chub-rub issue for those of us who aren’t tiny.

  16. Just a quick note to Reader N, July in London is (usually) not July in the south, its more like January in the south. Hose will probably not be as oppressive as you expect.

  17. You can wear a suit with pants on your first day at this job. Wear your best one with a button down shirt.

    As for the hose, you will need to wait to get a feel for the office. Do not necessarily take the lead from women who are much more senior than you; they have paid dues that you have not. There may be older men who will ‘tolerate’ no hose from them but not from you (an unfortunate reality).

  18. Yes to the pantyhose, closed toe shoes and the skirt suit on the first day. I’ve just relocated to London from NYC (after two years of commuing between the two cities) and find that business attire is MUCH more formal here, at least within the insurance/financial services sector. I’ve not noticed a single woman here with bare legs when wearing professional attire, but have seen a wide variety of tights and pantyhose.

  19. LinLondon :

    I see a fair mix of hose and non-hose in the City and Canary Wharf, so I don’t think you’d be out of place either way. I will say that none of my friends who work in finance wear a suit every day, so you will probably not have to. My impression is that City/CW finance people are much more businessy and West End funds-type people are a bit more fashion forward. That’s purely anecdotal, though :)

    • LinLondon :

      Ahem, admission of bias – I absolutely loathe hose and will not be caught dead in them unless I’m wearing them to a formal evening event.

      • TJ – LinLondon, did I see you saying you were an Olympic volunteer? Are you getting a ‘Boris’ uniform and how do you feel about them?

  20. silk reflections is 25% off at bare necessities, and a popup applied an extra 20% with promo code BPOP2012 if anyone’s looking to stock up. it might be for new customers only, since the popup didn’t appear the next time i went to the site with the same browser.
    side rant: building a summer associate wardrobe on a student budget is really putting my problem-solving skills and patience to the the test! not that i’m not uber grateful to have a summer job to be shopping for…

    • I like H&M’s pantyhose, though very hard to find.. comfortable and neutral looking.