2019 Update: We still stand by this advice for how and when to wear pantyhose for work — links have been updated below. You may also want to check out our free four-week challenge if you’re hunting for work outfit ideas for conservative offices!
If you were to write someone a guide to pantyhose for work, what would you say? Reader H wonders, and since pantyhose is one of the biggest topics we’ve talked about through the years, I thought I’d give it a go. Here’s H’s question:
Hi! I know you write a lot about pantyhose/tights/stockings–
sorry to bring it up again–but I am so confused about them. I grew up in Southern California where no one wears pantyhose, ever, and tights only as a fashion statement or on very rare cold days. I know you’re supposed to wear nude pantyhose to an interview and in very formal situations like court, but on a regular day in the office, is it okay to wear sheer or opaque black tights in the office? How about with a suit in the office? Or with a pencil skirt? Are there color rules e.g. no black tights with a black suit? I suppose what I really need is a Dummy’s Guide to Wearing Stockings. Thanks so much for any sort of information that could help sort me out
We have talked about this a lot, but I still see a lot of confusion about it. So let’s get into it — I’m curious to hear what readers say. (Pictured: these pantyhose are a reader favorite; they’re $14-$24 at Nordstrom.)
Wear nude pantyhose when: You’re interviewing, you’re in a formal situation (like court), or it’s a big day where you’ll see lots of big wigs. Another good time to wear nude pantyhose: when your legs don’t have any color yet (from sun or fake tan) and you want them to have a more even consistency. Also: wear them whenever you want to. (Here’s our last big guide to wearing pantyhose in the summer.)
Wear bare legs when: It is not a big day, AND you have seen a superior or mid-level do it at your office so you know it’s acceptable in your office. (See our general breakdown of workwear don’ts for the summer.) If you commute in flip-flops or other sandals, it’s good to get in the habit of changing into traditional pumps or flats as soon as you get to work. (If chafing is a concern, note that readers have loved both Jockey Slipshorts in the summer, or anti-chafing cream like Monistat or Bodyglide.)
Wear tights when: it’s the dead of winter and you need/want the warmth, or it’s a more casual day at the office. Yes, you can wear them with suits — however, know your office; note this is usually more of an “everyday” look, not an “I’m going to court today” look. (The most formal look is always going to be nude-for-you pantyhose plus a skirt suit.) Fleece-lined tights do exist. Do not wear dark tights when it is hot outside.
Wear sheer tights or pantyhose: when you want to, but particularly during spring/fall where opaque tights are too dark. Back when I started this blog, I always wore off-black hose when interviewing — and I did just fine in terms of callbacks and offers. Still, a lot of people equate this either as a more casual look, or a nighttime, almost sexy look — so know your office.
Color rules for pantyhose for work: I was going to say “there aren’t any!” and then I realized I meant “wear black, gray, or nude-for-you.” Some general rules of thumb beyond that:
- skip white stockings unless you are under 12
- skip colorful stockings unless it is the weekend (or you can do this monochromatic look, which I still think is awesome)
- note that tights with patterns (swiss dots, ribbed knits, fishnets, lace, etc) are always going to be more casual
- we had a whole post on what tights to wear with navy skirts
Ladies, would you agree with these guidelines on pantyhose for work? This all varies widely by region and office, of course, so while commenting, please leave a general, broad note about where you’re located and what type of office you work in. Thank you!
Social media picture credit: Shutterstock / ludmilafoto.
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