Pantyhose and Dresscodes

pantyhose dresscode.indexedDo any workplaces exist that still require pantyhose to be worn year-round in the summertime? Reader K wonders.

I love your site, but I need to call b.s. on something. Whenever the annual “should I wear pantyhose to the office” question comes up, invariably there are a few comments that go something like “my friend’s friend’s firm requires them even in the summer.”

I mean this is 2013, right? I have never actually met someone in real life who this is true about. I think it’s just anonymous urban legend.

Now, I am not talking about going to court in front of a judge. That’s totally possible. And I’m not talking about something that’s written into a dress code where the culture is that no one actually follows it. What I’m talking about is a bona fide, enforced pantyhose requirement in the office, year-round including in the summer.

Here’s the challenge: can you seriously name even one law or accounting or financial firm that enforces pantyhose in the office, even in the summer?

We’ve talked about when to wear pantyhose, how to wear pantyhose, and what color of pantyhose is best, but Reader K’s question is interesting:  does any dresscode actually require it?  (Pictured:  Spanx’s ’All the Way’ Sheer Support Pantyhose has 32 mostly positive reviews on Nordstrom (where the Anniversary Sale is coming soon, FYI)…)

I actually have heard of places that require pantyhose, albeit not in a few years — even worse, it’s often required even beneath pants.  (Dunh dunh dunh.)  Some professions (flight attendants, for example) have to wear hose as part of their uniform, as well.  Obviously, pantyhose continues to be a huge industry, so someone’s wearing it really regularly.  (Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, is one of the youngest self-made billionaires, and her early pitches to companies were all about how full-leg Spanx looked great beneath pants!)  Also, Evil HR Lady (via US News) recently tackled whether your boss can legally require you to wear pantyhose.

So, ladies, let’s hear from you — is anyone willing to name an office that does require pantyhose at all times?  Do any of you wear pantyhose daily (or work with women who do), whether it’s required or not — or is pantyhose really just a Big Event (interview, first day, court, big meeting) kind of thing these days?

 

Comments

  1. Kate Middleton is my style muse :

    I wear sheer, nude-for-me hose any time I wear a skirt or a dress to work. I never wear them under pants (???).

    My office does not require hose, nor is it the norm. But I dig ‘em.

    • Kate Middleton is my style muse :

      Oh, and I cannot name a single employer that I know who actually requires them.

      • Well, the manageing partner insists on me wearing skirt’s all year, and he does NOT like it when I do NOT wear pantihose, so my firm is therefore the execption! FOOEY, b/c in the summer, it get’s very hot. My onley concesion is that I can walk in to work and back WITHOUT wearing pantihose, and then CHANGE in the toilet into the pantihose, or OUT of them on the way home. On the way home, I also change to wearing short’s or sweat pant’s and sneaker’s, and on the way in, just sneaker’s and sweat pant’s. Alot of men will NOT look at me (but who care’s anyway) based on my clotheing, but I would rather be comforteable then sweattie. FOOEY on that!

        The manageing partner does NOT like it when I leave my sweattie stuff in the toilet, and he want’s me to use the public toilet in the hall, but I will NOT b/c the janitor like’s to come in there when I am in there and looke around. FOOEY on him for takeing cheap look’s at me. DOUBEL FOOEY!

    • AlaskaLaw :

      I wear Spanx and a skirt suit every day, because the male attorneys wear suit and tie every day. Also I cannot get away without pantyhose, my legs simply would look awful if left bare. That said, I”m over 50 and the younger women attorneys who aren’t in court as much as I am will not only not wear suits but will be bare legged as well. It doesn’t bother anyone here (govt prosecution) at all either way…
      I try to take care of my Spanx as much as possible b/c at $26 the pair, I have to get as much wear as possible out of each pair. And when one rips, there’s always a little mourning period.

  2. Pantyhose is a required policy and enforced within my group. I wear them with dresses and skirts, but not beneath pants. I’m Fortune 500/corporate overheard/finance-type role.

  3. I worked for a Fortune 1000 company from 2008-2012, and the dress code manual that was supplied to me when I was hired SPECIFICALLY mandated hose with skirts or hose/socks with pants at all times. After a wretchedly hot summer of wearing hose with my skirts every day (and sneaking out of them when I left the office for appointments), the company released new guidance in Fall 2008 that left out mention of hose/socks for women. THANK GOD.

  4. They’re optional for me, I don’t wear them in the summer in the absence of doing something mega important. Some women I work with do though. I’d say it’s about 1/3 do to 2/3 don’t, but my workplace is on the more conservative side.
    I can’t say I know of any specific place that currently requires them but a) I’m in generally liberal NY and b) if one has to wear them to court, I think it’s safe to assume that at least some courts require their employees (law clerks, court attorneys, interns, etc.) to wear them, no?

  5. ChicagoLit :

    I used to work for a law firm in Chicago where pantyhose were required year-round unless the temperature was 85+ degrees outside (and not with the humidity index, just straight 85 temp). I know quite a few people who still work at the office and the pantyhose rule is still enforced.

    • God, that just seems so… condescending. Your job can determine at what temperature wearing pantyhose will become too uncomfortable to justify wearing them but women cannot be trusted to determine that for themselves. It’s 2013!

  6. Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, IL (a Fortune 50 company) still requires pantyhose year-round. They are completely stuck in the 1950′s in every way, shape and form!

  7. Anonymous :

    UBS does. Their dress code is 43 pages long and dictates the colors you should wear, the amount of jewelry you can wear, and even tells you how to apply perfume. Their terms are “If you wear a skirt, wearing tights remains binding even in hot weather”. And they suggest you wear tights under trousers (but I think they mean the ones that only go up to your ankles/calves)

  8. I know of one employer (criminal defence firm) that does, but apparently they are generally quite formal (eg, no one ever wears jeans, even on non-court days – which is quite unusual for defence firms in this jurisdiction).

    I also hear that there are senior Crowns who have complained to the bosses of junior defence lawyers that said junior was not wearing hose to court.

    And I know that there are people in my office who think it is inapproriate to bare-legged, but would never complain about someone else without hose.

    I am team no-hose unless I will be in court all day, in which case I’d get too cold not to wear them. And I would definitely wear them if I were robed for our superior court.

    Some judges think hose are required, but it is not, at this point, a directive from the court. I don’t see how they can tell from up on the bench anyways!

    Aside: I might be pregnant! I will test tomorrow morning as I’m about a week late now. We have been not-not-trying. It would be earlier than expected (e.g. put a crimp in our plans to drive to New Orleans in the spring, as I don’t think we could do that road trip with a two month old!), but OMG I’m excited and hope I am! That being said, I quit smoking 6 weeks ago and apparently that can make your hormones and cycles all whackadoodle. So fingers crossed! Update to come tomorrow…And if not this time, hopefully sometime soon :)

    • Exciting – fingers crossed for you!

    • Yay! I hope you get the outcome you’re hoping for :)

    • just Karen :

      Fingers crossed for you – very exciting!

    • TO Lawyer :

      AHHHHHH soo exciting! I’ll keep my fingers crossed!

      And on topic – I’ll usually only wear hose in the summer if I’m wearing my court robes. (crazy humidity here – I can’t imagine how awful wearing pantyhose would be every day) I’ve seen women in their court robes without hose but don’t think I could do it.

  9. Not a requirement at my Biglaw office, but I wear them because I like them. In summer I actually feel *less* sweaty because my legs don’t stick to plastic seats, etc, and my shoes hold up very well b/c I’m not wearing them barefoot. They also make it easier to go an extra day (or two…) without shaving, they keep all the little lumps and bumps smoothed, and also allow me to skip wearing a slip (unless the skirt in question is a wrap style or otherwise sheer when back-lit).

    • HMSD, Esq. :

      I am with you. My firm doesn’t require them (Memorial Day to Labor Day are business casual) but they’re more comfortable in warm weather because you aren’t sticking to things, including yourself!
      That said, I think they make a summer dress look more work appropriate, and make me look less like a staff member and more like an attorney.
      Just my .02

    • Anonymous :

      I think I would be on this train if I didn’t snag my pantyhose on everything I touch. I feel like this problem is probably related to the quality that I’m buying, but the cycle just repeats itself over and over because I’m too cheap to buy higher quality if I’m just going to shred every pair!

      • I always wear Spanx or some kind of stretchy short under my skirts and dresses, no matter the time of year. I hate thigh rubbing. I’m in Texas, and I work at a pretty casual university, so hose would be weird (I also don’t care for hose), but I will never be without some kind of thigh rub protection.

    • Agreed

  10. NYLitatty :

    I don’t even wear them to court in the summer. Not with train/subway travel. In almost 20 years of practicing (in court at least 2x per week), I have never seen or heard of a judge/law secretary or other court personnel who has a rule on pantyhose. I will wear a suit and heels, but no hose once the temperature goes up.

    • Anonymous :

      Same. Then again, from some of the attire in Kings Supreme this morning, I was doing good to even be wearing a suit when it’s this hot.

  11. No requirement at my BigLaw firm, and our business casual is pretty formal compared to most other businesses that purport to be casual. I would wear hose for a job interview or to court, but that’s about it. Maybe in the winter, but I prefer tights or colored pantyhose to nude. I just don’t understand the point of wearing a transparent garment.

  12. Wildkitten :

    Does anyone have good black flats for wearing with suits? My nine west pair is getting creased and I’m looking to replace. TVMIA.

  13. My firm requires formal dress and that includes covering your legs at all times. So if anyone wants to wear a skirt he/she must wear either a long skirt or tights/hose. I’m a partner and I support this policy.

    • I’m asking not to be snarky, but because I’m genuinely curious – from your use of he/she, am I to understand that a man would be permitted to wear a skirt as long as it was long or he was wearing hose?

      I’ve seen plenty of men in skirts, but never in a business formal setting.

      • Personally, I don’t think office dress codes should be in the business of policing who gets to wear what type of gendered business wear.

  14. This seems like a good post to ask – I have an interview in Dallas at the end of July with an arts organization. Do I have to wear hose?

    • Nope – at least not at the arts organizations I worked for.

    • I worked for a firm in Dallas that was generally business dress. The older female partners wore hose, none of the women under 50 did. And none of my friends (lawyers and not) wear hose to work. So, while I don’t know anything about arts organizations, I’d say you don’t need to wear hose.

    • No – it will be over 100 degrees, too hot for pantyhose

    • Don’t do it. I’ve been to plenty of interviews at very conservative places where I wore a dress and no hose, and was just fine (and I got a job at the most conservative of those places). It’s waaaayyy too hot in Dallas to wear hose. I do recommend Spanx or something if your thighs rub, but it’s a lot cooler than full-on hose.

  15. I work at a big media company, and if I want to go to the exec floor, I better be wearing hose, or there will be a TALKING TO from the one woman who feels the need to enforce.

  16. OCAssociate :

    I’m a litigator in Southern California, and my firm does not require nylons at all. I never wear them – not to the office, not in court, not for client meetings, etc. That seems to hold true for most women in my situation, and certainly at my firm.

  17. Young Consultant :

    In any business professional attire clients I have been posted on for the last two years, it has been an unwritten rule that all women wear hose with dresses and skirts. I have never seen any women from my company not wearing hose on “suits only” client sites (which is 75% of my projects). I know that panty hose are not specified in the dress code, but I know it would be seriously frowned upon if you showed up without them.

  18. In high school I worked as a hostess in an upscale restaurant and was required to wear a dress or skirt everyday and nylons as well. Now as a lawyer, I only wear them to court or an interview if I have on a skirt suit.

  19. KS IT Chick :

    Small hospital in Kansas. Until September last year, the enforced dress code was that there were no bare legs allowed. We could wear scrub pants (if in a clinical department), slacks or skirts with pantyhose (or tights). When I say “enforced”, I mean “sent home, off the clock, to change clothes”.

    Last fall, that changed to “no bare feet, no open toes (peep toes are okay), no slingbacks; bare legs are now acceptable.”

  20. Business, Not Law :

    I have a very close friend who is an administrator at a competitor…and they do still require pantyhose (or something covering any part of exposed foot)–so yes, even with pants–in 2013. She recently relayed a story where she got called out/warned by her boss for violating the rules. She had badly snagged/tore her pantyhose and figured it would look better to take it off until she could run and get a replacement pair…and then the “lecture”.

    I really wish I was kidding!!

    As for my organization, nothing of the sorts. I wear tights in the winter but that’s b/c of function. Not even the biggest meeting would be cause for hose.

  21. I do not understand the comment “too hot for pantyhose.” Hot weather is hot weather, and wearing *anything* other than a bathing suit sucks. But pantyhose are so gossamer-thin that I cannot comprehend them causing additional discomfort on top of that caused by wearing clothing at all. I mean, do you skip wearing a shirt or a dress or whatever just because the weather is hot? There are other reasons I cannot imagine not liking pantyhose, but the “too hot” thing sound so, so silly to me. And I live / work in a very hot, muggy city.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I generally agree. I think that hose makes me perhaps slightly warmer, but not so dramatically warmer that I would be dying of heat stroke. And like someone said above, I actually find that I tend to feel less sweaty / gross when I wear hose in warm weather.

    • Along those lines, this may be a case where the males have it just as bad. I don’t care how tropical weight it is, undershirt/shirt/tie/suit jacket has to get pretty warm.

      In my mind, true business formal requires covered legs, be it with pantyhose or pants.

      • Just as bad? Try much worse! I’m sorry but compared to what men have to wear in a formal office in the heat, we have it easy. It might be the only area in the workplace where that is so, but, seriously, try wearing a full suit on a day like today in NYC.

        • I agree, we have it way easier then the men. That said, I’m sure most of us spend most of the day in climate controlled environments, so I don’t really understand the fuss in general.

          Hose make me marginally warmer, but definitely not to the extent that people make it seem. Though I do find layering them under pants in winter helps a lot with the cold. (I think it’s more the layering effect than the actual hose themselves, though.)

          • Of course, this does explain why offices are freezing if there are males in charge of the A/C. Thankfully my office is fairly lenient on both hose and suit jackets unless you have court.

      • Based on my informal survey of men’s wrinkled shirt backs at 5:00 pm any July afternoon – they are dying in those suits.

    • I disagree. It’s not the legs so much as the crotchal area that’s the issue. No airflow up there makes me WAY hotter and more uncomfortable.

      • I have to say that at least in my experience this really varies manufacturer to manufacturer. Drug store brands tend to be unbearable but nicer dep’t store brands are very breathable. You can also do thigh highs.

  22. I’m a 40 year old NYC attorney, and I have not worn “nude” pantyhose in over 10 years. I don’t currently own a pair. I either go without, or wear opaque tights during the appropriate season. In any case, for court/interviews/big meetings, I usually wear a pant suit. So I also call B.S. on the idea that a female attorney ever “has” to wear a skirt suit to be considered professional.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Same here, only substitute “50-something” for “40,” “LA” for “NYC,” and “nude microfishnets” for “opaque tights.”

    • Same, late 30s San Francisco lawyer. I’d think about it only if I was going to DC or the midwest/south for something formal, and only from reading this blog.

      • I’m not sure you need them in either of those circumstances, either. I’m friends with a female litigation partner at a major DC firm, and she almost never wears nude hose (except very occasionally to court). And I haven’t seen any women under 50 wear nude hose at any of the weddings I’ve attended in the past 10 years in the midwest and south (where my family lives). In fact, the last time I wore hose was to a formal wedding in the south about 10 years ago, and I was definitely the only woman under 50 wearing them. I felt very much out of place.

        • Excellent! Thanks Anne, I shall cross it off my list of things to worry about! :)

        • I wore hose to a late May wedding this year, but it was unseasonably cold and I was in the wedding party. The hose were definitely more for warmth than anything else.

  23. Hose Req'd :

    My friend is a sales manager at a Ritz Carlton on the East Coast. They require women to wear hose with dresses and skirts. She can’t wear open toe or peep toe shoes either. Even though she is usually in a back office (and not working the front desk interacting with guests all the time), same rules apply for all employees and managers.

    I, like PP said, usually wear hose with skirts and dresses because I prefer them. My big law firm does not require them.

  24. As much as I badly need a new job I would give long hard thought to taking a position at a company that required nylons through the summer. I sweat and the thought of nylon underwear sweat soup on my commute home is grossing me out even in my freezing office.

  25. Not a legal firm, but Disney requires employees to wear pantyhose. No bare legs allowed, no earrings bigger than a quarter, no more than one ring (unless it’s a wedding set) on each hand, no facial hair for me, until recently no polo shirts for men, etc. So yes, there are places out there that require hose/stockings.

    • SoCalAtty :

      Disney ok’d facial hair for men last year. I thought those very strict rules were only for castmembers that worked “onstage” or that might have interaction with park guests?

      I’m really interested to hear if that extends to, say, their legal counsel.

    • Former Castmember :

      I used to work at one of The Disney Stores. The dress code was crazy long — and included pantyhose under khaki shorts, WITH white socks & plain white leather shoes. Talk about stinky feet at the end of a long day…. They have relaxed the dress code quite a bit from what it used to be.

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