To wear or skip pantyhose is the most hotly debated topic I cover in professional dress. It’s human nature to want to be ultimately comfortable and to also follow what others are doing; however, this is an area where you should really stop to think about your environment, superiors/peers and your goals.
Something you may not know is that study after study shows that women who wear hosiery are viewed as more capable than their bare legged peers. They also typically earn more money.
Why, you may ask? A couple of reasons…Hosiery gives a more finished look to professional clothes; they give you a barrier so that you’re showing less skin (another pro dress guideline,) and they send out a non-verbal (subconscious) message that you take care of the details.
Those are pretty darn good arguments for pantyhose! The cons? Of course, they uncomfortable and especially hot in warm weather. (I probably didn’t need to point this out, right?) The other con to wearing pantyhose is that a lot of people view them as frumpy and old fashioned—No one has ever told me they’d like to be perceived as either of those! I think this may have a lot to do with the type of pantyhose one is wearing. Nothing is worse than semi-opaque “suntan” or “nude” pantyhose.
So here are some guidelines for you to consider when you’re deciding whether to don or skip hosiery:
-If your company dress code says to wear hosiery, do it! About a million years ago, I managed the Jr. department of a major department store, where the dress code required pantyhose. I had a few younger employees who always came to work without them, and I always called them on it. Once I overheard one of them say, “All Dana cares about is whether we wear pantyhose. She never notices when we do a good job.”
-If you work in a business casual environment where pantyhose aren’t required or the company standard, and your legs are smooth, vein free, and blemish free, consider skipping them. This guideline holds true especially if you work with people who are mostly younger than you.
-Self tanner is miraculous!
-If you’re wearing a formal skirt suit, especially for a presentation, go for the pantyhose. I think it looks rather silly to wear a suit with bare legs.
-Look for really good pantyhose to avoid the “frump factor.” You may need to invest in a few pairs to find out what really works for you, but it will be worth it to find ones that make your legs look absolutely fabulous.
-Try nude fishnet pantyhose, dotted or other patterned hose for more of a style statement…definitely not old fashioned. (Look for the fishnets with a solid back to them, so your skin isn’t poking out.)
So now you may be wondering whether I wear pantyhose. In the winter I wear tights of all sorts. Most of the time in warm weather I skip them, but I use self tanner and sometimes a little concealer on a pesky scar. I wear really nice, sheer hosiery when I’m wearing a skirt suit in warm weather. Now, as I mentioned this is a pretty hotly debated topic. Many people have pretty strong thoughts. I’d love to learn yours!