How to Wear Stockings to Work Without Getting Runs and Rips

how to wear stockings without ripping them2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to wear stockings without ripping them — we’ve also updated links below. You may also want to check out our guide for how to wear pantyhose for work!

More reader mail to catch up on… I thought this reader Q was particularly relevant given some of yesterday’s questions in comments about when/how to wear nylons.

First, while you’ve discussed whether or not to wear stockings, I could really use some advice on HOW to wear them once one decides that they’re appropriate. I rip stockings to shreds whenever I wear them, so I would really appreciate tips on finding a durable brand, as well as how to properly care for them.

I would agree with most of the commenters in yesterday’s post that stockings/nylons/pantyhose aren’t necessary for most day-to-day activities. If you’re interviewing? Nylons for you. If you’re going to court or to a big meeting? Ditto.

As for which brand, we got a ton of great suggestions when we ran a poll on whether black hose or nude hose was better for an August interview (the readers overwhelmingly contradicted me, saying nude hose was the way to go for an August interview); check out those pantyhose brand suggestions in comments. 2017 Update: People seem to really love the Donna Karan Nudes line of pantyhose*, available at Nordstrom — you can also check out our latest discussion on the best lingerie for office looks

*This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!

In terms of other tips for wearing stockings… it sounds crazy, but a pedicure is almost more important when you’re wearing hose than when you’re barefooted because it stops your toenails from shredding the hose. Secondly, you may want to look for various bells and whistles, such as reinforced toes (although this will limit your shoe choices if you have any shoes with a very low vamp). Also, maybe it’s just me, but I feel like control-top hose last longer than hose without; this may be because they stay put better and I’m not constantly yanking them up. If that isn’t enough, there are gloves* that you can buy to wear while putting on your pantyhose (although, unless you carry them with you, they won’t help when you have to go to the bathroom.)

Otherwise, in terms of technique, I’ve found it’s best to put them on slowly — take the leg opening and gather the fabric until all you’ve got is 3-4 inches of hose to put over your toes. As you step into the hose and pull them up your leg, un-bunch the fabric as you go, trying to pull the hose tight enough as you go.

As far as caring for pantyhose, the best advice is to hand-wash them, particularly if you shell out for a very nice pair (Wolford, La Perla, etc). I am (generally) far too lazy to hand-wash anything, however, and I’ve had success with the delicate cycle of my shared industrial washer in my apartment building. My method: get a lingerie bag or hosiery bag to put your hose in. Keep bras (or anything with hooks) out of this load if you can. Add sweaters, workout clothes, etc, and wash it on the delicate cycle, in cold, with Woolite. Whatever you do (for the love of God!) airdry your pantyhose.

Readers, what are your tips on how to wear stockings to work? What are your best tips for how to put on pantyhose without ripping them accidentally, or getting runs in your nylons?

Picture credit: Deposit Photos / firstblood.how to wear stockings for work without getting runs in them

A reader wanted advice on how to wear stockings to work without ripping them—so we rounded up our best tips on preventing rips and runs. (Updated 2017!)

Comments

  1. It sounds weird, but I’ve been told by a friend who used to sell them that soaking them in ice water or sticking them in the freezer before wearing really prevents runs.

  2. City Girl :

    This might sound crazy, but a trick my mom passed on to me a very long time ago is to put lotion on your hands when you put them on – it really works, btw. I wear hose rarely (very much a pantsuit gal) but when I do, I put them on right after lotioning my legs while I still have some leftover lotion on my hands. Works like a charam.

  3. any recs for nude pantyhose for the very pale? I hate the ones that make me look like a Hooters waitress.

  4. Gretchen Neels :

    Nothing could make me happier than to see this posting on wearing pantyhose! Here’s what you need to know: many professionals over 50 (i.e., hiring partners both male and female), see a bare legged woman as too casual and underdressed. I have spoken to partners who decided against hiring someone because they left their pantyhose at home. Yes, of course it shouldn’t matter, but it does. Give yourself every advantage in this market and put on those big girl pantyhose, at least when you start, and see what’s what.

  5. anon– just never wear ones with “shimmer”. That is what the Hooters girls wear, as well as tap-dancing kids in their ballet school recital.

    Stick with dull and you should be fine. However, if you are pale, never go white or eggshell as you will look way too pale.

    • Peg, I also have the same problem as Anon. I have something for which I must wear panty hose no darker than my skin tone, so simply not wearing sparkly hose will not always work.

  6. Anonymous :

    Donna Karen makes great nude pantyhose – they make my legs look flawless. If you’re short, she also make a petite line. This is great because I hate when the top of the hose reaches my armpits – these are well proportioned to hit right where they should on your torso.

    The nude collection of hose is called just that, and you can buy it at Nordstroms:

    http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/2888970?Category=&Search=True&SearchType=keywordsearch&keyword=donna+karan+hosiery+in+All+Categories&origin=searchresults

  7. Donna Karen makes great nude pantyhose – they make my legs look flawless.

    Careful with those, though; I’ve found the ones in the black package are fantastic, whereas the ones in the white package self-destruct within one or two wearings.

  8. Anonymous :

    If you get a small run, esp. around the toe area where they won’t be seen, you can put clear nail polish on it to prevent the run from going any farther. It won’t work forever, but nylons are an expensive habit. Also, I always, always keep an extra pair in my purse or desk.

  9. Anon – I am also very pale and I wear Hanes Silk Reflections in Travel Buff. It is a super pale nude but not white/washed out looking.

  10. I’m a big fan of the Assets line available at Target for about $10-12 per pair. They’re by the same company that makes Spanx, but less than half the price. They hold up remarkably well. I wash mine in a lingerie bag in my regular wash and tumble dry on low too, with no problems. I work in a conservative office so I wear hose almost every day and I get many, many wears out of the Assets hose without getting runs.

  11. How about wearing black hose, daily?

  12. my granny told me to put pantyhose in the freezer too! I always did, but I haven’t worn hose for years – I wear pants suits all the time

  13. I wear black opaque tights everyday- does anyone else do that? I prefer that instead of the weird pale colors they have for those with brown skin.

    Also, for anyone that is interested there is a Christian Louboutin sample sale on Gilt Groupe today. It starts at noon…not sure if theyll have anything suitable for work but may be worth checking out!

  14. Pageant Patty :

    A trick from the land of tiaras and evening gowns (aka Pageants) is to freeze your hose. It prevents runs and extends their life. I ended up with only one pair of stocking for my wedding and thanks to freezing they survived three days of events without a snag.

  15. anon with the pale legs :

    Thanks for the tips! I really meant the Hooters Orange Leg but you bring up a good point about the shimmer. No one should look all “Flashdance” in the office! :)

  16. I’ve had two pairs of Wolford stockings (that I wear on almost a weekly basis, except at the height of summer) since I started working almost three years ago. Still no runs. Granted, they are not sheer (black, semi-opaque), and they are expensive – but I think they might be the single most valuable work wardrobe purchase I have made.

  17. Delta Sierra :

    I’m 57 and no longer working in corporate, but I’m finding this website fascinating. Quite a few things have changed since my boardroom days, but a lot of stuff is still the same. Since I currently live in a southern CA beach town, and wear flip-flops all years, I was surprised to see that pantyhose was no longer being used. Don’t your poor feet hurt? In those excruciating heels? Do give p.h. a try. Find a brand and a color you like. We used to curse them, for the cost, and the fact that they run if you look at them crosswise (feet and hands and nails must be totally snag-free). But they do give skirts, and pants, a nice sleek line. Control-top ones are like Spanx-pants without the lines. I’m also liking this website because I do occasionally have to put on a suit and do business in an office setting. I want to look avoid looking dated, but not look age-inappropriate, but not look frumpy… it’s a challenge. Thanks for the help.

    • WishfulSpirit :

      Hose do help with cutting down on friction, that’s for sure, but they seem to increase heel slip. I love “fab feet” spot cushions and heel grips. Or I think you can buy sock-style hose very similiar to those hose socks they have in the shoe store if you need something between the foot and the shoe but don’t want to wear hose all the way up.

  18. Yay for pantyhose! I’m 45 and look much better in skirts than pants so I wear them a lot. They smooth everything out and cover up imperfections, giving you a polished, finished look. Love the Assets line at Target, and I also stock up at the Hanes outlet online.

  19. Charlotte :

    Thank you! I’m 26 and am constantly surprised by how few of my peers wear stockings. I wouldn’t think of walking into a courtroom with bare legs, but I feel like I am definitely in the minority. I even wear knee highs with my pantsuits, as geeky as that sounds, to keep from getting blisters and/or smelly feet in heels.

  20. I am not usually an Ann Taylor girl, but Ann Taylor pantyhose are my favorites and they are inexpensive (3 for $20, I believe). They also come in petite for short/small frames. “Buff” is a great shade for fair skin– a much better match for me than Donna Karan or Calvin Klien hose. I tested black hose this past winter, but haven’t had much success– they show snags too easily.

    • I also love the Ann Taylor nylons for their comfort and have been wearing them for years, but now their inexpensive brand that used to come in Buff and Champagne has apparently been discontinued. The salesgirls in the store where I’ve bought these for years looked at me blankly when I asked what happened to their nylons. There is no sign of the old brand on the Ann Taylor website. Does anyone know anything about this or where I can still find the discontinued line?

      • I am so disappointed that this line in buff has been discontinued. I searched online and called Ann Taylor but cannot find any pairs. I guess I will have to find a replacement. Let me know if you find a place to buy them- thanks!

  21. I wear knee highs too. Love them for making my shoes more comfortable and less smelly.

  22. One thing I hate about panty hose is that they really don’t look right with open-toed shoes, but I recently found toeless panty house and wore them for the first time a couple of weeks ago. They worked out great! The ones I bought are Berkshire Ultra Sheer Hose without Toes and I purchased them from www.BareNecessities.com. Only $6.95! Not sure how many wears one would get out of them, but they are so cheap and I have worn them once and had not a single snag or run. Since many snags/runs begin in the toe area, the fact that there is already a hole for your toes should prevent most snags/runs.

  23. I’m 27 and also wear knee-highs. Can’t imagine wearing pumps without them.

  24. SouthernGal :

    Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I’ve been an attorney for several years now in a large firm in the South and have YET to wear hose to anything. Not to Court, not to interviews, not to church. The bottom line is nude pantyhose are gross. Try self-tanner instead. I would guess that if you use the ST regularly no one will know whether or not you have on hose to begin with. In the winter, I wear black or brown opaque tights depending on the suit I’m wearing (only with skirts), and I believe the hard-core fashionista rule is that your hose should match your shoes – If you must wear them and they aren’t opaque, wear black sheer hose with a black suit/ heels, and brown sheer hose with a brown suit/ heels. The only women that I have seen in nude pantyhose around here are old-school US Attorneys or horribly un-fashionable out-dated women who need a serious style-updated. But, like I said, it may be a regional thing. It’s too darn hot to wear hose here for most of the year anyway.

    • SouthernGal~
      I am a new attorney in North Carolina and am headed to federal court on a case. I went to this site to determine if I should wear hose. I was confused until I read your post ~ is your advice the same for federal court as well?

  25. I also love the Silk Reflections Travel Buff – it is the most natural-looking with my fair skin. I buy them from One Hanes Place online, $17 for 3 pairs.

    I would just warn against the Silk Reflections “Transparent Sheer” model – I bought some of those thinking they would be a little dressier for evening, and found they were a totally different fabric without nearly as much of the stretchy stuff – so they were baggy and uncomfortable.

  26. I’m surprised at people who say places are “too hot” for hose. I started wearing hose specifically because it was too hot not to – my bare legs stuck together and stuck to leather seat cushions, my feet were sweaty and caused blisters in my shoes.
    I’m also relatively young, so the references to pantyhose being dowdy are new to me. Good nude hose should be so sheer as to be nearly invisible, completely invisible to anyone who isn’t looking for them, should not have visible saggy spots, and should barely feel like you’re wearing anything on your legs. Maybe the objection to “old fashioned” hose is that dowdy hose are poorly made with visible weave patterns and baggy areas around the knees and ankles? Or is this an objection that skips a generation, like boxers and briefs for guys?

  27. Yay for pantyhose! I am 34 and wear them daily – even under pantsuits – because I like how the control top sucks in my post-baby belly and gives my back end a smoother look.
    I too, am in the camp that would view bare legs as too casual (or something the secretary might do), though I’m in the Great Lakes area, so maybe it’s a regional thing?

  28. Sally Hansen Airbrush for Legs. This stuff looks totally natural in the right shade and you would swear you had on great hose, not a phony tan.

  29. Jacqueline :

    I think the dress code regarding hosiery is definitely regional. I am Canadian and a lawyer. In cooler weather, we wear opaque black tights. In hot weather (yes, we get hot weather too!) it becomes tricky. Nude hosiery here is seen as being somewhat dated. I have also read a lot of European blogs where women say that wearing nude hosiery is not fashionable at all. However, with a light summer suit obviously black tights are not going to work. Then I will wear very sheer nude hosiery, as close to my natural skin colour as possible. In summer, I find myself wearing more pant suits to avoid this problem. I don’t feel comfortable going to court with bare legs. To me, that is just wrong. I see some women do it, but I would not. And I agree with the idea of wearing knee highs under pants to avoid sweaty/smelly shoes. I like to keep the leather in my shoes dry and feeling nice. Once I wear them barefoot in the summer, they never feel the same.

  30. One way to increase the life of hosiery is proper cleaning. Wash them in batches and separate light and dark colors. Use Hosiery Mate which is formulated to coat the fibers. You add a little warm water and a capful of Hosiery Mate in a sink. Swish the stockings around then gently squeeze the water from them and lay them on a towel. Some people dry them using a drying tree but I just take them and the towel and lay them on the bed. They dry nice and flat. My website has many more help hints on wearing stockings.

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