When Is It Time to Stop Wearing Tights and Boots?


2017 Update: We still stand by this advice on when is it time to stop wearing tights to work — links have also been updated below. You may also want to check out our most recent roundup of Sleek Strappy Pumps for the Office if you are searching for the perfect shoes to wear with tights.

When is it time to stop wearing tights to work? What about ankle boots or knee-high boots? Is it determined by date (e.g., Memorial Day), weather, both, or something else? What do you do in the interim? Reader A wonders:

Will I begin to look ridiculous/weather inappropriate for wearing ankle boots to work? Same questions for tights/stockings with dresses and skirts?

I noted a similar conundrum on last weekend’s Open Thread: it’s almost May! It’s 60-70 degrees outside! So: it feels too warm for boots and tights — but it’s too cold for bare legs and peep toes. We’ve talked about summer tweed just recently, as well as bare legs in winter, but that was a while ago.

(Pictured: DKNY has these Light Opaque Control Top Tights in a number of different shades — I’ve pictured the chocolate, but I also like the flannel gray and the light beige “caramel.”) 

Tights: For my $.02 regarding tights, I would say that the key for me is whether the tights are dark and/or opaque — and I would probably put a red light around May 15, with a yellow light starting a few weeks after spring officially begins (this year it started March 20).  There are so many options beyond dark tights, such as pantyhose, semi-sheer tights, and tights with a wide knit, and skin-colored tights — as well as, you know, pants.  I would avoid character/cutesy/costumey tights for work (such as this, this, or this), but otherwise there are a ton of options.  The yellow light would turn to red (for me at least) if it were a warm day, a sunny day, or a humid day — as well as if it was a “big” day at the office.

Ankle boots: Ankle boots are an interesting question because right now ankle boots and skirts (and ankle boots and ankle pants) are so much more popular than they were a few years ago.  Assuming ankle boots are ok to wear with dresses for your office (a big assumption!), I suspect the ideal answer is to transition to “spring boots” in nude-for-you tones (here, here, here), perforations ( here, or for example), and more, but know your office!  I do think any boot would strike a traditionalist as odd in the middle of summer, even if it seems like everyone (at least everyone in the Forever 21 set) is wearing boots all summer long with shorts and sundresses. So — for “spring boots” only — I would put the yellow light on boots at May 15, and a red light on the first official day of summer (this year it’s June 21).  For winter boots I would probably put the red light on May 15, and a yellow light a few weeks after spring began, much like opaque tights.

Knee High Boots: Finally, Reader A didn’t ask about knee-high boots, but I threw them in because I’m curious to hear what readers say — I’ve been keeping mine out to wear in the evenings with bare legs and dresses, and I still see a ton of people wearing them on the street with skinny jeans and leggings.  I’d say knee high boots are closer to opaque tights for me in terms of red/yellow lights — even for nude-for-you boots, I’d put the yellow light around the first few weeks of spring (this year the season began March 20), and the red light at May 15.

Ladies, I’m really curious when do you stop wearing tights to work?  How about ankle boots and knee high boots? Do you agree or disagree with my rough red/yellow light estimates? 


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Picture below via Stencil.



  1. Sydney Bristow :

    I go strictly by the weather. I’m in NYC, wear skirts every day, and today is the first day I’ve gone without tights. I probably could have switched over last week but was on the fence about it. If the temp drops again, I’ll wear tights again but I’ll be pretty annoyed by it. Thank goodness it is finally spring!

    • SuziStockbroker :

      I go strictly by the weather too. Bare legs 2 weeks ago, then back to tights last week. Yesterday and twice last week I wore a pantsuit and booties, since it wasn’t really obvious whether tights or bare legs would be better.
      Back bare legged today, and looks like the next 10 days, yippee!!

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I think I was a little extra hesitant to switch this year because I commute at 6am and my office is freezing. I was overly warm on my commute yesterday so I knew it was time.

        And yippee for bare legs!

      • I, too, defer to pants when I can’t figure out what the weather is doing.

        • +1. When I can’t figure out if tights or bare legs would be more appropriate, considering the weather, I just wear pants.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I go by temperature too. But I personally like wearing sheer hose until it gets really warm (in the 80’s) so I usually wear sheer hose throughout most of the summer. I’d be wearing sheer hose today if I had remembered to buy sheer maternity hose. As it is, I’m 3 weeks away from giving birth, so I’m not buying any more maternity items!

    • Anonymous :

      Agree with using weather as the rule of thumb. I live in Texas and wearing colored/opaque tights past mid-March here would look really odd considering it’s 75+ in March and has been 80-90 for most of April. I’ve been bare-legged with no coat since the second week in March.

    • Agree on weather being the deciding factor. I’ve personally never been able to manage to be bothered by the calendar in terms of what people are wearing. Wear what is comfortable!

      Also, May 15th is flat out summer in my part of the country. :) And thank goodness for that – at 8 months preggo, I just cannot even stand putting even maternity tights on any longer!

    • +1. Also – aren’t we at a point where ankle boots are just fine for anywhere but court basically all the time?

  2. I didn’t realize this was a seasonal post, so when I first read the title, my inner voice just screamed, “never!”

    I’d say weather matters more than time of year, but it’s definitely a combination of both. As someone who wears mostly skirts/dresses, I tend to really struggle with this one. This year my two solutions are 1) to actually wear more pants (I bought the “skinny pants” at Loft and really like them!) and 2) to try subbing “nude” mini-fishnets for tights. Obviously neither solution is for very “important” days and I haven’t actually tried the nude fishnets, but I feel like they are just appropriate enough for work where I can get away with them because they don’t really look like you’re wearing fishnets.

    • Baconpancakes :

      I love the nude mini-fishnets, but after a day of walking in them, I get chafed.

      • Coach Laura :

        I like the nude fishnets but with some of my skirts (lined ponte) they don’t slide as much and are annoying. With some dresses, they are ok.

  3. Anonymous :

    I say do whatever makes you comfortable and appropriate for work. What happens if you put a red light on May 15th and it happens to rain/snow (big IFs, I know) on May 16th? Go bare legged to work and freeze? Probably not. I think we sometimes over analyze things and it gets in the way of living life and doing our jobs.

    • Anonymous :

      This, so much this. Can we stop analyzing every single thing we do and just wear whatever makes us most comfortable?

      • Wildkitten :

        I am usually on Team-Lets-Judge-Everyone but I agree with these Anons on this topic.

  4. I say do whatever makes you comfortable and appropriate for work. What happens if you put a red light on May 15th and it happens to rain/snow (big IFs, I know) on May 16th? Go bare legged to work and freeze? Probably not. I think we sometimes over analyze things and it gets in the way of living life and doing our jobs.

  5. To me, knee-high boots just look odd with bare legs or skin-coloured hose. Probably just a personal quirk, but I feel like if it’s cold enough to encase your calves in leather then it’s probably also cold enough to cover the rest of your legs too.

    • Anon in NYC :

      I agree. There is someone I work with who has been wearing knee high boots with bare legs/sheer hose and it looks strange to me.

      • (former) preg 3L :

        Likely ME because I love knee high boots with bare legs. I only wear knee high boots like that a few times a year, but I do it, because I wear skirts 100% of the time.

  6. Diana Barry :

    I put the kibosh on tights around tax day, so April 15. Sometimes earlier. Then I have to wait for it to warm up before I can wear bare legs, so I only wear pants. I get annoyed sometimes at not being able to wear skirts, but it’s all self-inflicted!

  7. la vie en bleu :

    It definitely depends on location, though. When I am working in DC I never wear high boots after April 1st.

    But in SF people wear boots year-round, of all heights, depending on the weather. But especially in the city, it is usually pretty chilly even in the middle of the summer. Knee high boots/riding boots, etc are year-round wear. Same with opaque tights.

  8. I live in Atlanta, and it’s pretty common to wear knee-high boots with bare legs here since it really just doesn’t get that cold. I think we actually wear our boots a little later than cold-weather climates — we think <70 is pretty chilly! I feel comfortable in knee-high boots on any day where the high's under 75 or so, which puts boot season somewhere in the range of late September to mid-May.

  9. Must be Tuesday :

    I go largely by weather. If it’s around 60 or if I know I’ll be somewhere that the air conditioning will be blasting, I’ll wear opaque tights and knee-high boots in the middle of July. In the summer, I wear lighter-colored tights (white, grey, ballet pink) paired with heels or lighter-colored boots more often than I wear black tights and boots, but I still wear black in the summer sometimes too.

  10. Here in the midwest, tax day seems to be my breaking point where I have done every outfit possible with my basic black, gray, and brown opaques. I start to mix in the sheer black and nudes there on out.
    I have the same funny feeling as other posters about the knee high boots and how they look funny when they are not worn with tights. Booties somehow get a pass.

  11. Travelanon :

    I wore nude-for-me hose yesterday in Seattle to my tech job, and I definitely felt like I was out of place, although it was sunny and nearly 70. This was partially because my dress was about 4 inches above the knee. The length doesn’t really catch my attention with black tights or darker hose, but I feel like it looks unprofessional with lighter legs. But it was also partially just that other women were still in leggings or black tights. Apparently I’m very much a Midwestern transplant: for me, 70 in April is almost uncomfortably hot! So I’d take into account the length of the skirt or dress. Beyond that — it’s either comfort or following the folks around you!m

    • Yup. Some of my dresses that look great with black tights look too short with bare legs or nude tights.

  12. Here in Chicago it is still below 50 every morning, so I will keep wearing tights until spring actually shows up!

  13. I live in the Northeast, and have been struggling with the whole date cutoff for opaque tights. A little wrinkle in my situation, I NEVER go bare legged. Dress pants, maxi skirts (solid/printed chiffon) or shorter skirts/tunics with knee-high boots. My conundrum is that I’ve been invited to a dinner at a very high end restaurant with the leadership. It’s going to be held in mid-September. I bought a really nice purple dress that hits the knees, but I can’t go with bare legs. Can I wear black opaque tights with black pumps? Will it look really odd?

  14. I feel like this is heavily dependent on geography/weather, as well as a particular office’s dress code. If it feels too hot for tights or boots, I stop wearing them. To go by a date on the calendar to me seems… odd. Ain’t nobody got time to worry about that ish.

  15. but I think I can not stop wearing tights.because I love them I wear them every where and every time even in sleeping.and even when the weather is not good.excuse me!