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)…) [Read more...]

The Hunt: Simple Sheath Dresses

sheath-dresses-2 Sure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

I’m the kind of person who wears sheath dresses year round — with tights and sweaters in colder seasons, and usually with bare legs and pumps in warmer seasons.  To me, the perfect sheath dress: a) is sleeveless (so I can throw a blazer or cardigan on top without feeling like the sleeves are bunch), b) requires zero consideration of which bra I’m wearing with it because it has wide enough straps and a high (if not entirely covered) back, c) is a bit fitted, but not skin-tight like a “body con” dress (body conscious) or boxyish like a shift, and d) has a high enough neckline that I can wear it by itself.  No beading/sparkles/bows/artistic folds, please, and the plainer the color, the more versatile the dress.  Of course, I should note: although you see “professional” women everywhere on television with bare legs and bare arms, you really must know your office — if you’re still learning the culture, prepare to wear pantyhose, as well as a blazer or cardigan if you’re walking around the office/attending meetings.  Readers, what does your perfect sheath dress look like?  Have you gotten any amazing sheath dresses recently?

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Slips, Camisoles, and More: What Are Your Go-To Pieces?

what-to-wear-beneath-wrap-dressesWhat do you wear under wrap dresses? Are there camisole-slips? Reader V has an interesting question about what to wear beneath clothes that I think leads us to a great larger question: what are your favorite brands and pieces in slips, camisoles, support garments, pantyhose, and more?

I have a question re slips. I understand that people wear them (even the non-control ones) to even out the lumpy-squishies, make things less sheer, improve drape, etc. But for an unlined v-neck or wrap dress, where one might want help with smoothing out lumps and VPL and sheerness, what if you also want to raise the neckline. Are there camisole-type slips that are designed to be seen (so maybe in white or black, depending on the color of dress; not nude-for-you)? I’m not sure what to do for something like a DVF wrap dress — I want to wear a slip, but don’t want to slip up. Thoughts? Suggestions? Thank you!

This is a great question. We’ve talked about how to keep wrap dresses closed, but not what to wear beneath them. While reading her answer I found myself going through the things that I would wear beneath a wrap dress:

  • Spanx Higher Power (either shaper or tights, because I wear them with every dress)
  •  camisole (here’s our last roundup of great camisoles — based on reader suggestions I might upgrade my collection to a half-camisole, such as this one)
  • half-slip on the bottom (similar to this)

Now that’s a lot of undergarments. [Read more...]

Navy Skirts… and Tights?

1What color tights do you wear with a navy suit? Reader B wonders…

I’m a skirt suit kinda girl, in part because I prefer to commute in flats and then switch to heels at the office. (Since I’m short, most of my suit pants are hemmed for heels.) Winter isn’t a problem for my black and grey suits; I just trade the hose for black tights. (Side note: the Commando tights you recommended are now my absolute favorites.)

Here’s the issue: two of my favorite skirt suits are navy or navy pinstripe (similar to this J. Crew and this Banana Republic). Pairing navy tights with a navy suit seems crazy monochromatic, and most of the heather or grey tights I’ve seen feel a bit casual for the office. So I end up wearing plain old hose, and my legs freeze on the way to work.

Hmmn.  Great question — this is actually the combo that led me, many moons ago, to wear purple fishnets to work (pictured, in a random picture I happened to take that day – navy sweater, navy wool skirt, purple fishnets, purple shoes), although the last time we took a poll on fishnets at the office readers were really against ‘em.  (Although, if you want, you can get a pair of purple fishnets here, or a crochet set here.) Poking around a bit online, here are a few more ideas: [Read more...]

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: [Read more...]

What’s Off Limits in the Winter?

Up to my ankles in snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by Lollyman.Reader A wonders if and when it’s appropriate to have bare legs in the winter…

With the crazy weather in DC and other east coast cities this winter – windy and 35 degrees one day, 65 degrees and sunny another, and raining yet another, how do you suggest approaching the issue of tights or pantyhose? I work in a fairly conservative office, with a dress or skirt and blouse dresscode for women with no casual days and no jeans, ever. In February, is it ok to go to work sans tights or pantyhose if its particularly warm or very muggy? Is there a temperature guideline that you or others follow?

I’m curious to see what others say here. For my $.02: even though I don’t have a problem with bare legs from spring to fall (know your office, though!), something about bare legs in winter — even if it is 60 degrees — bugs me. Are tights or pantyhose really that “heavy” that you can’t wear them with a lighter-weight jacket? The problem with looking “out of season” is that it is a judgment call — as in, if someone thinks your outfit looks weird, they may think your judgment is out of whack, which may affect how you’re perceived at work.  It kind of reminds me of stories I’ve heard about little kids who refuse to dress seasonally, refusing to wear anything but shorts in the wintertime or corduroy pants in the summertime.  (Pictured: Up to my ankles in snow, originally uploaded to Flickr by Lollyman.)

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