Poll: Can Fishnets Be Worn at a Conservative Job?

can you wear fishnets to workA while back, someone commented that instead of nude hose they wore nude fishnets in the summer. This piqued our curiosity — we used to do this also, back in the days after college, but not in a long while — we stopped because it felt inappropriate. So we thought we’d take a poll… (Pictured: I Bought Fishnets! originally uploaded to Flickr by badlyricpolice.)

For our $.02, fishnet tights are generally inappropriate for the office environment. Let’s face it, they conjure up images of dancers (both professional and otherwise) and hookers — and that association is a little too much for bosses of either sex. Besides, the goal of a working wardrobe should be to avoid what we’ll call “the second look” — you don’t want any of your coworkers to look at you once casually in the hallway and then be forced to look a second time in order to answer the question, “Were my eyes deceiving me or is she really wearing that?” Even if they answer the question with a blase “ok, well, I guess that’s acceptable,” the second look in and of itself is something to be avoided. We would argue, though, that fishnet trouser socks could be appropriate as long as they’re in a neutral color. (Our reasoning here is that only perverts are staring at your ankles; otherwise, what you wear there is unlikely to elicit the dreaded second look.)

What are your thoughts, readers?


  1. Delta Sierra :


  2. Well, your poll options don’t state my opinion, so I’ll do it in the comments: fishnets are OK for work as long as the weave on the fishnets is very, very fine. So the open weave you’ve illustrated above is inappropriate and better kept to the nightclubs. But I think a tight weave on a fishnet creates a bit of texture and isn’t sleazy. However I wouldn’t wear them to court or a client meeting; just for the office.

  3. It depends on the weave! I would never wear wide-weave fishnets to the office, but a small weave is almost no different than some patterened tights. Futher, I think most “false fishnets” (i.e. tights or hose with a fishnet pattern woven into them) can pass if worn with a proper skirt, and/or boots that will cover up most of the pattern.

  4. Can someone post a link to a picture of fine weave fishnets? I’m having trouble imagining them.

    • This is the best example I know of a professional, and blogger I read who does wear close weave fishnets on occasion to work at her HR job.
      (Admittedly, her blog reflects the fact that she lives in LA, but I still think this type of fishnets are appropriate, as you can hardly see unless you’re very up close. Which should not be happening in an office, anyway!)

  5. nooo.

  6. nude-colored fishnets, small weave are appropriate. Givency makes some very good ones.

  7. Similar to the previous 2 commentaries – if the color is close to the skin tone and the pattern is tight, fishnets would not look different than any patterned hose – unless someone is looking at your feet from one foot distance, which is not appropriate office behavior, as you noticed earlier. The effect has nothing to do with the one in the posted picture.

  8. Just posted a link to the Givenchy tights mentioned by the above-commenter — click on the “nude fishnets” in the first paragraph — or this:


    We still say they’re inappropriate when worn with a skirt, unless the weave is so tight that they’re not actually fishnets but rather patterned tights.

  9. I agree with the commenters who have stated a tight weave and nude color are fine. I think the negative connotations are associated primarily with the really wide weave and black fishnets which I would say are inappropriate for the office. It is difficult to tell that the small knit nude ones are even fishnets until you are very close to the person’s legs.

  10. I’ve worn them before – with a conservative top, conservative shoes and long enough skirt to balance out the outfit. I think we’re all allowed one “pop” in an outfit so I thought it worked (received complements from other females as well).

    Also worn knee-high boots with conservative pairings – but never with the fishnets, that doesn’t leave enough to the imagination.

    Again, I dress for my day – if I know I’m going to be hanging out in a partner’s office or somewhere else with the bigwigs, I don’t chance it. But if it’s going to be a more girly day (and perhaps girly night out), then why not?

    Agree with the weave comments – the finer, the better.

  11. Alex in DC :

    looked at the Givenchy tights linked above …. and I can say I would actually consider wearing them to work with a pair of tailored wool trousers and very very nice boots – but only on Fridays

  12. I agree with the “as long as its nude” statements. I only wear them for socks, but I have seen nude colored stockings with a dress, and it looked fantastic, and not sleazy at all! I wish I had the gumption to pull off the look myself!

  13. I agree with the commenters above – nude and small weave is fine; i would even say black would be fine, as long as the weave in tiny.

  14. If you have to ask whether your outfit is appropriate for work, it isn’t.

  15. totally depends. i have extra tight weave wolford stockings in black and I think they are appropriate for more casual days at the office.

  16. I’ve worn a really tight weave in black. It is such a tight weave that even those that are sitting close to me can’t tell that they were fishnets. It was much smaller weave than the one in the link that C posted earlier. Also, I don’t know if it matters, but I am dark skinned. So, the weave on a light color would look much more obvious than the black one.

  17. Corpcounsel :

    I have done it and will continue to do so. Mine are very fine and a tight weave. I never wear a skirt that is above the knees. I would be shocked if anyone in my office noticed or cared.

  18. I studied in Paris back in college, and I noticed a lot of professional-looking women over there wore tight-weave black fishnets as trouser socks. I think that, the rest of the outfit being kept conservative, this was a cute look and not at all unprofessional. I’ve worn them a few times with dark pants and shoes and doubt anybody even noticed. It’s fun to wear something besides the same old boring hose once in awhile. That said, I can’t see myself wearing fishnets with a skirt, ever.

  19. OMG No. No socks no nothing!!!
    I just checked the date to see whether it was maybe april 1st again or something.

  20. Anonymous :

    I’d say patterned tights with boots and a knee length skirt (showing no more than say 8 inches of leg) would be ok in a more fashion forward office. I really can’t imagine wearing even very small, nude fishnets to work. Would that really be BETTER than going bare legged? It seems like the whole goal would be to draw additional attention to your legs.

    Would it be OK to wear stockings with a seam up the back? We know it’s not necessary and we know it only draws attention to the legs, right?

  21. I have seen the very tight nude fishnets on female attorneys and, while it does not look sleazy and in fact looks pretty fabulous, I don’t think it’s worth chancing it in a conservative work environment. I can see why some people think it can be pulled off, but it goes under teh category of “not worth the risk, no matter that it looks fabulous and not that inappropriate because of the tight wave/nude color etc etc.”

  22. I’ve seen women in Paris/London/Tokyo wear fishnets too
    I live in LA where the only professionals that wear fishnets work on Santa Monica Blvd.
    So, it’s probably a geographical thing. To me, fishnets scream “hooker”.

  23. Christine :

    Never at work. When I see women wearing items like this (fashionable, but not office appropriate) I always think they have no outside social life and therefore no where else to wear these fashions. They look sad and pathetic to me.

  24. Why risk it? Is the risk of putting the idea into someone’s mind that you are available for more than a professional engagement worth your devotion to the coolness that is fishnets? Just not worth it to me. Why even allow room for that kind of thinking?

  25. I always think they have no outside social life and therefore no where else to wear these fashions. They look sad and pathetic to me.

    Okay, I tend to agree it’s not worth the risk to wear them, but opinions like this (and I’m not trying to single you out; there are a lot of them in this thread) are a different ball park. It might also be worth spending some time thinking about whether you really want to be the kind of person who jumps to conclusions like that about people before you uncritically spout those opinions on the Internet. The fact that fishnets may not be the wisest fashion choice at work does not free you from your own burden of attempting to be a decent human being.

  26. I’ve seen grey tight-weave fishnets done well with a conservative outfit – longer skirt, pretty blouse, and cute pumps (midheel). The effect was actually quite stylish and not at all hookerish. It also helped that the wearer was slim and not curvy in the least, IMO reducing the “sex” factor.

    I second v’s comment above. The “sad and pathetic” is a little much.

  27. UK Associate :

    Ladies – calm down. It is largely about how you wear whatever you wear. If you are elegantly and simply dressed, whether your stockings are plain, patterned or net makes no difference other than from the perspective of what is stylish or not.

    It’s also about seniority. Partners can always get away with a more fashion-forward look, as they’ve less to prove. If you feel you need to blend in a little longer until you’re promoted etc – stick to middle of the road dressing.

    I’ve always worn a variety of stockings to work depending upon the outfit, shoe and occasion. I have never considered nets to be inappropriate as I wear them only with simple outfits not nightclub wear, i don’t display leg above the knee and always wear them with conservative shoes.

    However a girl wearing too much make-up, or with a skirt inches above the knee, or with a low-cut or tight top, or wearing generally tight-fitting clothing, would never look professional – even if she stuck to nude or black stockings only.

    Some posters are right – if you have to think about whether your outfit is passable, it isn’t. But if you never give it a second thought because you KNOW you look worthy of respect and never question your own professionalism, you’ll get that respect and others won’t question you either.

  28. I mostly agree with UK Associate, except that it doesn’t matter to me so much about senority.

    I have espresso colored fishnets on today in the office (I took a picture and sent it in). If I wear fishnets, wide weave = another pair of opaque or natural skin tone matching hose underneath. This also works really well in the wintertime, giving you an extra layer from the cold. Then they never look “see through”, and it subtracts from the overall hooker feel. They become a part of the overall outfit, adding texture to one of your best accessories, your legs.

    Small weave = small weave. I can add the underlayer hose or not, it just depends on how I feel and the overall look of the outfit.

    In my opinion, what always helps when wearing a pantyhose pattern that could be suggestive is to:
    keep it in your skin tone, i.e., no red, blue, green etc.
    keep the outfit length of the skirt bottom of kneecap to midcalve. No skirts hitting above the kneecap and
    keep the outfit professional

  29. Here in Australia I see women dressed up to go to work in corporate settings wearing fishnets all the time. I think it’s a cultural thing, as at home (in the States) I would never think to wear fishnets to work. Here, it seems like an acceptable norm. It’s not as if the women are dressed inappropriately (i.e. hooker gear). The attire is still professional to any standards.

  30. I am a lawyer and on days where I don’t have court I occasionally wear black fishnets, with a demure skirt and a blouse. I think if your suit/outfit is conservative enough, you can pull them off (they are a little bit sexy for sure, but sexy does not always = slutty, I mean, high heels are sexy and we love it,right??). Its all about balance. I agree, however, that they must be a tight weave.

  31. I see fishnet stockings in court all the time and it makes me cringe!!

    I think they’re acceptable if they’re a tight weave, and worn over a pair of opaque stockings in the same colour. That way, you can be a bit of a rebel, and no one will know!

    That said, I have to say, if you’re wearing trousers, they’re ok too. Just not in a gaudy colour.

  32. Fishnets are fine when worn with the proper business suit. Here is a photo of me that website has used for a number of years in promoting fishnet leg wear.

  33. Fishnets, professional dancer??? It is not what I think of. I think cute, texture, I guess it would be what they are put with and more importantly how a person carries/presents self. I never even knew anyone would think professional dancer…

  34. I find that with anything it can border sleezy… I wear fishnets with different patterns in them, black stockings and so on and I work in a very professional office. I hate regular ol panty hose! But i wear my fish nets and other tights with to the knee to midi pencil skirts or a line skirts and dresses. Always with a cardi and only in the winter. My heels are never over 3 inches and my shops are never too low. I am more conservative. But done right fishnets can be fierce and professional in the best way!