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. Anonymous Girl :

    I haven’t worn hose in years. I don’t know anyone under 50 he wears hose either. Are there any workplaces that this is expected? Sometimes I think people have these expectations when they haven’t been in the corporate world that simply aren’t accurate at all.

    • Yes, there are places/occasions where hose are expected. I would never ever go to an interview without hose in my industry. There are also meetings that must be attended in hose if one is wearing a skirt (though pants are acceptable.)

    • You know virtual people who wear them!!!!!! oh hai!

      (Go team hose!!)

    • Hi, I’m 1L-1, and I wear hose. Also, I’m 20. Nice to meet you, TCFKAG!

      • I am transgendered and enjoy wearing hose with pumps at my legal workplace–very super comfortable!

    • West Coast here, in a multi-national insurance office – we’ve been told that if we are headed up to the executive floor for any reason or meeting face-to-face with the foreign divisions, we’d better be wearing hose if we’re wearing a skirt suit. Comments have been made and circulated about women with bare legs.

      Interestingly, this is less true on our departmental floors – it’s still commented upon if you’re in a suit with bare legs, but not if you’re wearing a more summery skirt with heeled sandals. I think it’s because it’s eye-catching in a suit (I know I wonder if her hose sprang a run and she had to take them off) whereas with a summery skirt and sandals, it’s more to be expected.

      This is, by the way, regardless of age, fashion forwardness, and leg attractiveness (however that is to be determined). As the palest of the pale, with blue veins visible, I’d rather my knees/calves/foot *not* be the first thing that catches the eyes of my colleagues – and in a darker suit skirt, it would be garishly visible.

      • I totally have this attitude! That is, a summer skirt/dress with bare legs is fine, but a suit with bare legs looks kind of of odd/out of place to me. (And I say this as someone who works in a very casual state, where skirt suits are definitely not required and I see people in suits with bare legs all the time. But I grew up on the east coast, and am old enough that I grew up when hose were de rigeur.) Maybe if you’re wearing a linen or seersucker suit or something… it’s just most suit fabrics seem to scream hose to me.

  2. FitnessKat :

    Hanes Silk Reflections, non-control top with sheer toe are my regular pantyhose. They’re pretty comfortable and I don’t have any problems with them staying up. They feel light enough on the leg, so really not a problem when the weather warms up since pantyhose are expected year-round in my office.

  3. How do you ladies select what color works for you in hose? I can’t seem to find a place that has the open samples out, except for the more expensive brands ($25+).

    • err… if the department store doesn’t have the little sample racks out, I open a likely candidate and pull it over my hand (carefully).

    • Trial & error. Not the most efficient method, but I scavenged Marshalls/TJMaxx/etc, so if I ended up with a dud color, it only cost me $3-4 and then wore them under pants. Also, at those places, some of the packages were already open. I never opened a new package but didn’t feel bad about checking out the ones that were half hanging out.

      • & the Marshalls by my house has Silk Reflections, Donna Karan, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, etc., pretty often, all in the $3 – $7 range.

      • I have a separate box in my closet of dud colored hose (and ones with minor runs) that I’ve specifically set aside to wear under pants when it gets really cold out. No point in wasting them.

    • I just bought a few pairs of Silk Reflections at Macy’s, for when I absolutely positively have to wear them, and Macy’s had samples of all the colors in that brand and the others that were in the same price range ($8.50 a pair, I think). At least at my local Macy’s, pantyhose is no longer in its own large section in the accessories department but tucked away at the back of “intimate apparel,” a clear sign of the trend away from stockings.

  4. First, I would ask what the dress code is. If the company requires hose, it should be stated in the dress code—and you will get other details about what is expected in dress. I really like Calvin Klein hose. I think they are fairly unobtrusive i.e., they are not thick nor are the colors funny. They last a surprisingly long time. I have worn DK or Donna Karan (can’t remember hte exact name) based on a recommendtion that they are nearly invisible. They do look good but are very prone to runs. Nothing like putting on a $20 pair of hose and not making it out of your bedroom with the hose intact. $20 in the trash.

    • While the dress code may not require hose, the company culture may. My global dress code says that khakis and polo shirts are acceptable, but in my NYC office in the group focusing on the banking industry they are most definitely NOT. Hose or tights are expected in the winter, but in the warmer months people don’t care.

  5. Three words for you: Marks and Spencer. All your hosiery needs catered for, and affordable. Don’t forget to get a washing bag as well because you do need to wash hosiery after each wear.
    And an important London tip – put them on at work, after the tube ride to get there.

    • Agree on M&S, but intrigued by the tube comment. I’ve never had an issue with stockings on the tube. I’m now wondering why I would

      • My guess is that it’s because it can be super hot on the tube, both in the summer and even more so in the winter when it’s crowded and everyone is bundled up. I passed out twice on the jam packed district line during the morning commute due to the heat and claustrophobia.

        • River Song :

          The tube is extremely crowded, especially at rush hour. It’s even worse, I think, than NYC, because the subway cars in London are smaller.

  6. I don’t work in a formal office environment, I am under 50, and I LOVE hose. When the weather is cool enough (and in the Mid-Atlantic states in the US, that’s about 9 months out of the year), I wear them often to work. I know that younger women nowadays think it’s okay to wear a slinky dress with all of your cellulite and panty lines showing, but believe me, it’s not attractive, and the rest of us don’t need or want to see that. Also, the average woman is usually a size 10-12 and can probably use the support. It’s like wearing spanx anyway. Lastly, do you really want to have stinky feet all the time by wearing shoes without socks? Not to mention the blisters you can get breaking in new shoes.

    • Romans et al. :

      this! (And I live in Texas and my office is cold, year round.)

    • long time lurker :

      I am size 10 and honestly, I do not need the “support”and there are tons of seamless panty and thong options to deal with lines. Of course it depends on height, body shape and fitness, but a size 10 doesn’t equal a gut/cellulite. Some of us just have larger frames. Something about the idea that if you are not a size 2 you need to bolt down/hide your natural shape peeves me. I do not find pantyhose or control top anything comfortable, to the point of being distracted at work by it, so I either wear thigh highs or barelegs if I can help it. I do wear non-control top tights in the winter.

      • Small and large :

        This. I’m a whole 135 lbs at average height and yet somehow I need an 8-10 in pants. I am a small or a 4-6 on top. People are just shaped differently.

        • Same. Frustrating.

        • Word. I am on the taller side, and my 10-12 is roughly equivalent to an average gal’s 8, and I have shorter size 6-8 friends who have pronounced bellies. GTFO with that size-ist garbage. Otherwise, I have to agree with the OP that many women should put more thought into their underpinnings and that hose can help with blisters (I have one pair of pumps that absolutely tear my feet up if I wear them without hose).

    • Who cares if you ‘want to see’ it or not? I don’t think whether someone is decent or not depends on their size or the presence of cellulite. Being dressed neatly and formally is the goal, whether someone appears ‘attractive’ in your opinion, is not.

    • A sad comment about the young being so uptight.. Showing your prejudices is what’s really unattractive. Perhaps you could keep your eyes off your colleague’s panty lines (what’s that about anyway?) and spare the world your thoughts about it?

    • Yeah Kathy–I agree with you on wearing the hose in the workplace (I too, live in the Mid-Atlantic and am in recent years transgendered. Proud of my feminimity)

  7. I am not a fan of wearing hose at all. But my fashion idol from law school always looked so put together wearing skirt suits, thigh highs, and Hermes scarves. One day I shall look like her, scarves included. Until then, I just wear the hose and sometimes a slip. Sometimes I feel like I am being way overpowering and it took some building up to it to not feel like I was playing dress up, but dress for the job you want.

  8. Agree w/ KB regarding putting on stockings after the tube ride is over. Nothing can ruin a good pair of stockings like a crowded subway car. Also, if you’re a newbie to stockings, make sure to have a dryer sheet or two tucked away in your desk drawer. Static from stockings can cause skirts to cling to your skin. A quick once over on your stockings with the dryer sheet and the static is dispelled.

    • BigLaw Optimist :

      I did not know this — I like the look of hose and tights but couldn’t stand the cling! Thanks for the tip. I am going to feel like a new woman tomorrow.

    • I’m going to try this…I have several dresses that seem not to work with hose unless they are thigh highs (which somehow avoid the static cling issue by not covering my butt? I don’t understand it, but that’s the deal).

  9. IMHO, location is the most important factor here. I’m in SF, but was in London for a vacation last spring and walked through the City one afternoon around 5-6pm — and every single woman I saw was in a skirt suit (and 90% of those were black skirt suits). I didn’t think to look for hose/no-hose, but to me, this said London — at least the City — is a *lot* more formal than SF or even Manhattan. If I were Reader N, I’d definitely wear a skirt suit and hose the first day/week until I got a decent sense of what my peers in the office were wearing.

  10. For my two cents, pantyhose are terrible, awful, uncomfortable things. I wear stockings and a garter belt. Summer in London is hot, and in my opinion a garter belt and stockings are much cooler than pantyhose.

  11. do thigh highs really stay up? i am intrigued…

    • Good ones do. Bad ones don’t. Test them for an hour around your house before you head to court (don’t ask how I learned that tidbit!)

      They are much cooler in summer than regular pantyhose, and I live in the deep south where July and August temps often do not get below 80 even at night, and humidity is close to 100 percent every morning.

    • Don’t count on it too much :-).

  12. Millicent :

    I am a 25 associate in NYC big law and I typically wear stockings. To me they are like socks and are very comfortable. I wear a garter belt with stockings, so this alleviates the stuffy feeling (plus you get to buy lovely lingerie). Mostly I like them because they protect my shoes, keep my feet from sweating, protect my pedicure/feet and generally make me feel pulled together and chic. A good stocking should be invisible (right color, delicate/thin,etc.), so I am surprised this is always such a hot topic.

    • Where do you get garter belts that are functional rather than… erm… “decorative”?

      • I did have trouble finding one that wasn’t either annoyingly bridal or more decorative than functional. I ended up getting mine at Fredrick’s of Hollywood. It’s not the best quality, but I was tired of looking and it serves. I’d love to hear where other people have gotten theirs.

        • On a similar note, if you go to a shop that specializes in “couples” gear, but especially in things for strippers, you can get nice-looking garter belts that stay up through anything. Mine have lasted for years. Advantages of this over ordering online are that you can try a few on and the saleswomen are likely to really know their mechandise. You just have to not let your gaze be drawn to the dildos.

          • PS I live in Tampa. With all the strip joints in town, we have several shops to choose from, but I got most of my garter belts (and the stripper heels I wore one Halloween) in staid little Lexington KY. I think you can find them everywhere, not just alIng the interstate.

      • Sock Dreams has the best garter belts. Check out their “industrial” ones. They also have more feminine ones. Don’t forget to wear a slip so you have fewer lines!

    • I’ve always thought that garters would a) show under everything and/or b) be extremely uncomfortable to sit in. No?

  13. Millicent :

    Wolford makes a plain one…La Perla also makes nice basic lace and silk ones…

    • Millicent…I like above replies…Wolfords are great and liberating to wear

  14. Hose comfort tip: cut off about half an inch of the top and they are exponentially less restrictive and itchy. This works with both control top and regular hose. Just make sure not to get rid of the whole elasticky part. I find hose wearable since someone told me about this trick. LIFESAVER.

    I would not do this if I owned $50 hose, but for the <$10 pairs that I don't expect to last more than 5-8 wears (and that's generous), it works like a charm.

    • You can instead just do a couple vertical slashes into the waistband. Less likely to fall down.

  15. The only reason I ever wear pantyhose is because I have scars on my legs from eczema. If I had scar free legs, I would never wear them. Not even in court.

  16. summer associate :

    Does anyone else find that their feet sometimes slip out of pumps when you are wearing hose? Is there a brand that doesn’t do that. I don’t have the wrong shoe size because if I’m not wearing hose, they fit fine and I never slip out of them, but when I put hose on, I am sliding around. For reference, my work shoes are Cole Haan 3.5 inch pumps. Last year, I put one of those foot petal things to make my shoes tighter… but any thoughts?

    • no longer "job hunting" :

      I have this problem too! I also have a problem of shoes fitting me in the summer and being too big in the winter, or shoes fitting me in the morning but not the afternoon, because my feet change sizes depending on the temperature. I have not come across a solution other than just buying more shoes :)

    • It’s perfectly normal. Hose always has less friction than skin, ergo slipping out occurs more. Try shoes on with hose if you intend to wear them that way, they often have to be a bit smaller, albeit less comfortable.

    • When was the last time you had a professional shoe fitting? It sounds like you might have narrow feet. You shouldn’t have to wear t00-small shoes just to accommodate hose.

  17. Congrats on the internship!
    I like the advice. Pack the hose just in case. Even if you don’t wear them in the office, I’m sure you’ll be out to dinner with a client or at a formal event during your time abroad. You’ll be glad you had them.
    I prefer Hanes Silk Reflections. They come in bunch of shades.
    Good luck and enjoy your time in London!

  18. And Reader N, I know we’ve all said this a million times before, but it bears repeating… when you observe your office fashion, remember to look to your superiors, and not to your fellow interns! Sometimes, if one intern got away with something out of the office culture norm, often the other interns will also think it is ok if she wasn’t “talked to” about it. It ends up reflecting poorly on the interns or causing the bosses to come down harder on the group later on.

    (When really it should end up reflecting poorly on the bosses who didn’t quietly correct the problem out of the gate and instead let it snowball…)

    This particular issue may be specific to me personally: I think that hose should always be worn with skirt suits. Dresses and non-suit skirts can be worn without hose if the office culture allows it, but I think skirt suits look weird without hose. It may have to do with the style of the skirt suit?

  19. English Rose :

    As a Brit who worked in big law there for 6 years, I would never consider going to work with bare legs, it just wouldn’t feel formal enough. Plus, as others have pointed out, the fact that it’s July doesn’t mean it will be hot (or even warm!).

  20. Marks and Spencer pantyhose is the best and very affordable. They have a summer version that is only 7 Denier but still strong. Since I left London I buy my M&S pantyhose online and have it delivered to my home in California. Still cheaper than most comparable brands here. As for wearing panties with pantyhose – why bother? It’s much hotter, and you get a double line. Buy pantyhose with cotton gussets and toss the panties. I have never got a yeast infection from wearing pantyhose without panties.