In this edition of Office Hours, we answer the question “Do I Have to Wear Pantyhose in the Winter?” We also answer the questions “How sheer should they be” and “What color should I choose”. Never be confused by pantyhose again!
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 26 Office Hours “Do I have to wear pantyhose in the winter?”
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by you, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
Today’s question was asked by Mary P, who wanted to know: When wearing dresses/skirts in the winter should one wear hose or no hose? If yes, how sheer and what color?
In full disclosure, this question was originally asked in the Capsule Community–shoutout to my Community girls!–but this is a question I get asked a lot, especially in the colder months, so I thought it was important enough to answer here! The short answers are: that’s up to you, it depends, and that’s up to you.
Before we get into the long answers, there are a couple of terms we need to define. Namely, pantyhose vs tights. My American listeners will probably think of pantyhose as those sheer monstrosities that roll down, run, and could be purchased in an egg package at most drug stores. Tights, on the other hand, are traditionally thicker and more. However, in most of the world, both of these things are called tights–and it’s a term that’s gaining popularity here, especially with younger women. So, if you hear someone refer to tights, but what they’re talking about is sheer nylons, they’re not wrong, they’re just using another word.
The other word you need to know is Denier. This was my word of the week from episode 17, so if you need a refresher, listen to that episode. I’m not going super in-depth now, but basically, Denier is thread count for hosiery. Lower deniers are sheerer, higher deniers are more opaque. Now that you’ve got that down, let’s answer Mary’s questions.
First, should you wear hose or not? Well, that’s up to you! I think the question is really–do societal standards say I have to wear hosiery? And no, the current style norms do not say tights, or pantyhose, are required. They also don’t say they should be avoided, either. While I don’t know how old you are, Mary, you may have lived through a time where you didn’t go to a dressy event, or work, with bare legs. That was the deal for a long time. Then, in the early to mid-’90s things started to change…the pendulum swung the other way to where NO one was wearing traditional pantyhose anymore. Opaque tights, on the other hand, were gaining in popularity.
And then something happened that made wearing sheer hosiery acceptable again. That thing was Kate Middleton’s rise as a fashion icon. A fashion icon who was always wearing sheer tights, or sheer hose. Whatever you want to call them, she was wearing them. And millions of women said, “Thank god I can cover these pasty legs again!” While millions of other women said “Eh, looks good on the Duchess, but not for me” Which leaves us where we are now–Wear em, don’t wear em–it’s up to you. The question you have to ask yourself–and the only question that matters is “Do I feel better in hosiery, or not?” Now, I live in MN…so I’m not leaving the house in bare legs for like 5 months out of the year. If you live in a climate where you don’t need 1 millimeter of nylon covering your legs to keep them from freezing, go for it. Also, do you like the way your legs look without them? I know there are products like the airbrush legs and self-tanning lotion, but some women like the uh softening, blurring effects of hosiery. If that’s you, wear em. Finally, what’s everyone else doing? And I mean this more from a work perspective. Socially, who cares, you do you. But if you work in an office where every woman keeps a spare pair in her office drawer (I know I did back in the day) because they can’t go without ’em, you should probably wear them too–or just stick to pants. I do want to say that for a long time, pantyhose were miserable. They were scratchy, the colors were weird, and they ran if you even looked at them funny. However, they’ve come a long way baby. They’re a lot more durable and comfortable—and the colors are much more human skin toned. Don’t be afraid to try them again.
Next, Mary asks, If so, how sheer? My short answer was–it depends. But the full answer is, it depends on what you’re wearing, and the look you’re going for. Remember that denier thing? That’s where this comes in. The lower the denier, ie, the sheerer the hosiery is, the dressier they are. The higher the denier, the more opaque tights are, and the more casual they are. You wouldn’t wear 10 denier or ultra sheers with a sweatshirt dress, and you wouldn’t wear 100 deniers with a cocktail dress. You should match the sheerness of your hosiery to the level of formality of your dress. Again, episode 17 has a more in-depth explanation.
Finally, Mary wants to know what color should she go for, and again, it’s up to you! When we’re talking about sheer nylons and dressy occasions, you basically have two choices, sheer black, or sheer nude. If you’re choosing nude, make sure it’s NUDE TO YOU and closely matches your skin tone. Not bad 1980’s suntan hosiery allowed! On the other hand, if you’re talking about opaque tights, you have lots of color options–some women choose to stick to basic neutrals, while others want to add a pop of color–it really just depends on your style, and the look you’re going for. If you don’t love color, but want to add some interest to your outfit, you can look into textured, or patterned tights as well. I think the pattern works best with neutral hosiery, and medium to high deniers. You can be as subtle or bold as you like with the pattern to add something extra to your look.
Thank you to Mary for asking a question so many women struggle with.
If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org/blog. I’ve got links to my favorite tights and pantyhose. You can find my picks at hafsarana.co/blog/episode25. Finally, make sure you’re on my email list because every Monday, I send out one extra office hours tip–you won’t want to miss it! There’s also a link to sign up to get the free mini capsule guide above!
That’s all for today–see you next time!