Pantyhose in the Summer

Wolford 'Fatal Lace 15' Seamless StockingsDo 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.

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?

Comments

  1. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 :-).

  7. 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!
        http://www.sockdreams.com/products/garter-belts

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

  8. Millicent :

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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

  14. 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!).

  15. 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.

  16. I just got back from London and I saw tons of stylish professional women wearing pantyhose (both nude and black). It seemed like much more of a thing over there so I would probably at least start out with them.

  17. londonlawyer :

    Having worked in a magic circle law firm, I can safely say that pant suits are absolutely fine. Feel free to wear one to work if its your best one! :) That said, a lot of women wore dresses to work because they’re easier to co-ordinate with cardigans (which, I’m sorry to say, are somewhat of a necessity in London, regardless of seasons – the weather is quite unpredictable!)

    Like someone above said, its about looking good, so don’t worry whether you’re in a skirt suit or a pant suit. Good luck – and enjoy yourself – the Olympics are a maddeningly good time to be there!

    P.S. On the pantyhose debate: I wore them all through winter in greys and blacks because of the weather, but I rarely do in summer. I’m brown skinned, and have a tough time finding hose that matches my exact skin shade!!! A lighter tone and I look pasty from the knee down, and brown from the waist up, a darker tone and I look like I’ve tanned just my legs – so I safely avoid one and it hasn’t affected me in the least in my work! :)

  18. Mousekeeper :

    Start out the first few days of the internship wearing pantyhose TO and of course in the office. After you’ve made your initial impression, carry your pantyhouse in your bag on the way to the office (yes, that means bare-legged in transit) and when you get to your building, put them on in the ladies room in the building before you actually go into the office. I’m assuming there’s a ladies room on the first floor of the building. To me, panyhose are the most uncomfortable during the commute when you’re actually out in the heat. I can also assume your office is air-conditioned, so it won’t be so bad once your in the office.

  19. Absquatulate :

    A good trick to putting on hose when it’s hot out: stick them in the freezer for a few minutes. Then they’re nice and cool at least while you’re pulling them on.

    Definitely go more formal, and then adjust once you get a feel for the corporate culture. Good luck.

  20. I don’t understand the pantyhose hate. I LOVE pantyhose. Totally serious.
    here are the reasons:
    -they provide a little control and shaping, making my skirt fit better
    -they even out the skin tone on my legs
    -they cover bruises/scrapes/scars (I’m a klutz!)
    -they mean I can go a few days longer without shaving my legs (not too long, obviously!)
    -they prevent that gross suctiony feeling when taking shoes off at the end of a long day.

    If you buy the right size they aren’t uncomfortable. For realz.

    My mother wears pantyhose every day. Even when she wears pants. I don’t go that far, but I’ve thought about it.

  21. I do not have a favorite brand for tights but there are a few websites that can give you more info on tights, stockings and panythose. I love mytights.com and hoseriee.com. Check it out! For summer tights, I recommend sheers or tights with a denier of 10 or less. You want the crotch to be cotton or cotton gusset. Wolford, which is luxury for legs, have tights called lux 9 tights for $30. It is an investment and last for a very long time. I have the same tights for 2 years now. Another brand similar to Wolford is Falke. They are very comfortable and it is a little bit cheaper than Wolford. The Shelina Falke ranges from very fair to dark skin tones. Calvin Klien and Pretty Polly tights are nice too. If you want cheap, Berkshire ($6-$7) is ok. Some women prefer tights closer to their skintone but most of the time I wear black.

  22. I wear pantyhose as a personal preference rather than an office requirement. I find it more comfortable in the summer. Unless someone has a better suggestion for keeping your legs from sticking together when you sit with your legs crossed?

    Once I was promoted 6 months ago, I DID start noticing that many of the most motivated younger women in the office look to me for fashion cues. Can I encourage the polished, professional look without passing along personal preferences (like hose and lack of anything but dainty jewelry)?

  23. My work requires all women to wear pantyhose with their skirts. It’s about professionalism and polish. If they weren’t required, I’d still wear them. Yes, even in the Texas heat! I want my legs to look nice and smooth. I prefer sheer nude hose with control tops. The Nononsence brand is my favorite for quality + price. I buy them at huge discounts on their website in bulk. If I cause a run with my nails, I have 30 other pairs in my drawer to take their place.

  24. Call me old fashioned, but I think not wearing stocking/pantyhose to work is like walking around in a store in a swimsuit. Too exposed and not at all put together. Appropriate hoisery makes a big difference between looking nice and looking truly polished and professional.

    • I agree Sabrina. My work requires all women to wear pantyhose and even high heels. Even if they didn’t, I’d still wear pantyhose. It’s proper and professional for a career woman to be dressed appropriately and that means exposed legs should be in pantyhose. Plus, it makes my legs look their best and offers some modesty as well. Companies I think are going to make a slow return to requiring pantyhose on their female employees and this is a good thing. The corporate dress code has become way too relaxed and sloppy. My job would send me home if they saw me come in without my hose on. Back when my mom was working in the 80′s & 90′s, she wore hose every single day even with her pants and open toed shoes. The dress code was super strict and pantyhose were not optional. The female employees couldn’t set foot in the office without their pantyhose on.

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