Wearing Thigh-High Stockings at Work

thigh high stockingsWhat if you like your legs covered when you wear skirts — or your office dress code doesn’t allow bare legs — but you don’t like wearing full pantyhose or tights? Are thigh-high stockings acceptable to wear to work? Are some more appropriate than others? Reader N wonders…

I was wondering if you might consider doing a post on thigh high pantyhose that are functional and work appropriate. I hate the feeling of full pantyhose, but can’t go without, so I want to try thigh highs but have no idea where to start. Thanks!

Great question! We’ve talked about how to care for pantyhose, whether you should wear them in the summer, how many workplaces still require them, the appropriateness of fishnets at the office, rounded up everyone’s favorite lingerie brands, but not this. (Blast from the past: this 20-year-old Chicago Tribune fashion Q-and-A actually recommends layering opaque tights under thigh-highs.)  I’m going to apologize in advance for the sure-to-be-interesting AdSense ads that will follow us all around the interwebs, but I do think this is an important and legitimate question for working women — I’ve had a number of friends who preferred thigh-highs for hygiene, comfort, or other reasons, and there’s no reason they should be stigmatized.

The good news: it seems like there’s a HUGE variety to choose from out right now, in part (perhaps) because over-the-knee boots are so popular. Thus, we’re seeing a ton of “over the knee” socks and tights. Some of the bestsellers that I’m seeing: [Read more…]

The Best Shoes to Wear with Tights

best shoes wear with tightsAre tights appropriate to wear to the office? What sort of shoes or boots look best paired with thicker tights?

Reader M wonders:

With winter coming on, I would love to see a post about what sort of footwear is appropriate to wear with tights in a conservative office. My current work shoe wardrobe consists entirely of your run-of-the-mill low-heel no-frill pumps. These work fine with hose, of course, and seem mostly OK with thinner tights (particularly if they are the same color) but they don’t look quite right with thicker tights, like sweater tights or fleece-lined tights. I think I might need a bootie, or maybe an oxford pump, but I’m unclear on the professional/conservative boundaries of these trendier styles. Or maybe the answer is that thicker tights are just generally inappropriate for the conservative office altogether?

Interesting question. I know fleece tights were hugely popular among the commenters last year, and I’ve always been a fan of sweater tights and the like. But: are they professional? And what shoes look best with them?

(Pictured: Nordstrom ‘Love’ Sweater Tights, available at Nordstrom for $28.)

[Read more…]

Summer Work Clothes: How to Look Professional When It’s Hot

Summer Work Clothes | CorporetteWhat should you wear — and not wear — to look professional (and stay cool) when it’s hot outside?  Which summer work clothes are the best?  We’ve recently gotten two reader questions on the issue.  First up, Reader M wonders:

Hi. I’m 30 years old. I am a rock and roller. Meaning that I work in the music industry. In the past my job was to chaperone the concert site. I was very good at my job. Got a new job in Orlando, FL, that has me now working at a desk. I am now a supervisor. I came into this job in the fall so I had some leftover black wool slacks, nice dark wash denim, and black sweaters to get me through. It’s now almost spring (feels like summer) and I don’t know how to do professional for summer. I work in a business casual environment, which helps. I like to keep all of my color in accents like purses, shoes, scarves, etc. I wear monochromatic. It’s my signature and super versatile when starting a new wardrobe. Can you advise cuts, fabrics, etc. of office appropriate summer wear for a newly professional, young lady like myself that’s trying to beat the heat without looking like a concertgoer?

Reader T also wonders:

I am heading to D.C. from California this summer for a legal externship, and am in need of advice on the dress code in the legal world when it’s 95 degrees. I worked on the Hill for several years and (sadly) recall a lot of flip flops and sundresses during the hotter months. I imagine that this won’t be the case in a legal setting/government agency, but I would love some basic outfit formulas, fabric suggestions (is tweed taboo?), and other ideas for a 30 yr. old to look like a lawyer while fighting the humidity and sticking to a budget.

In terms of outfit formulations, my go-to looks are boring, but they’re classic for a reason: think sheath dresses plus a blazer (to be added once you’re inside), and nice, lightweight trousers (look for cotton or cotton blends) with a nice tee and a classic pair of pumps (and ideally a matching blazer). (Pictured: Cole Haan Air Carma Open Toe Pump, on sale at Zappos for $169.99 (was $275).) As we’ve noted before, natural fabrics like cotton, silk, and linen are going to breathe a lot more than non-natural fabrics, so do pay attention to that when buying new pieces.  (Also: pay attention to the laundry instructions. That $20 pair of pants starts to look less appealing — and less of a deal — when they start to smell to high heaven after two wears and the only way to launder them is to get them drycleaned.)

We’ve talked about how to stay cool during a heatwave, but here are a few fast tips for cooling down quickly (or to stay cool enough to avoid completely wrecking your clothes):

  • a simple fan, carried in your purse or bag — yes, you’re expending more energy as you fan yourself, but the bit of a breeze can be amazing if you’re stuck on a hot subway platform
  • an ice-cold can of soda, held against the inside of your wrist, the back of your neck, or even the back of your knees
  • convenient ice packs — there are even necklaces designed to be iced and worn!

Otherwise: We’ve talked about what not to wear as a summer associate, what not to wear to work in general, and how to stay cool during a heatwave — but not in many moons.  So let’s revisit!

An opening caveat: As we’ve noted in previous discussions, this is very much a “know your office” situation.  If you’re working at a NEW office, though, or are still learning your office, you should wait until you see someone significantly more senior than you break these rules before you consider it “office culture.”  (For example: if you’re a summer associate at a law firm and see a first-year associate wearing sandals, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ok for everyone to wear sandals.)  It’s a bit of a spectrum, but here’s my list: [Read more…]

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?

[Read more…]

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…]