Tights + Hosiery. What to Buy and What to Wear With Them.

 Out From Under Spotty Tight. Urban Outfitters. $14. 

Out From Under Spotty Tight. Urban Outfitters. $14. 

This is going to be a keeper, for sure. Many years ago the decision between a bare leg and nylons would determine whether or not I sat next to Johnny Cochran on an airplane. It sounds creepy, but it wasn't. In fact, it was all about airline dress codes and I was forced to choose between putting on my nylons and potentially missing a flight but also having a chance to sit next to Johnny Cochran OR not putting them on, most likely getting on the flight and certainly not sitting near the legal giant. Why am I telling you this? Well, in real life, it's pretty hilarious. But mostly it's because leg-wear matters, people. 

Moving on, I get tons of questions about choosing the proper accoutrement to go with skirts and dresses. Should I do sheer hose? Opaque tights? Textured tights? A bare leg? What color? Truly, this is one of the most frequently asked questions I hear from clients. Inspired by one client in particular, I've opted to put together this one sheet that tells you what you need to know when putting the finishing touches on your outfit.

Let's get to it. 

P.S. I'm THRILLED to include Swedish Stockings which are all sustainable. That's right, ladies. The first hosiery not made from petroleum products. Amazing. 

Tights + Hosiery: What to

Buy and When

to Wear Them

1. Opaque Tights. 

Definition: Not able to be seen through; not transparent. 
How to Pair: Opaque tights work especially well with a sturdy boot or shoe. If you are going with black opaque tights and black boots you will elongate your legs as your leg and the boot blend into one another. If black seems too harsh with your look, try navy, brown or grey opaque tights with a brown, grey, navy, metallic or colored boot. These also work well with a sturdy open toed clog (shoe with a wooden heel) for a very stylized look. (Locally, think Capitol Hill versus Downtown.) Opaque tights also work well with with velvet or suede boots. 
 

Functionality: These tend to be warmer than sheer hosiery and fleece lined options are available if you are especially cold. 

Style message: Opaque tights are generally casual. If you are wearing a monochromatic outfit or something that feels very high end (leather skirt) and sophisticated (heels), they can feel more sophisticated.

 ALICE CASHMERE. Swedish Stockings. $47. Sustainable! 

ALICE CASHMERE. Swedish Stockings. $47. Sustainable! 

 1. Premium Opaque Tights. Available in navy, charcoal. Eloquii. $19. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3.

1. Premium Opaque Tights. Available in navy, charcoal. Eloquii. $19. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3.

 2. Pure + Good Opaque Essential Tights. Available in multiple colors. Anthropologie. $19. 

2. Pure + Good Opaque Essential Tights. Available in multiple colors. Anthropologie. $19. 

2. Sheer Hose. 

Definition: Able to be seen through; transparent. Called sheer tights in the United Kingdom and a few other countries.
How to Pair: Sheer hose are generally best suited for a more delicate shoe. Whether it is a sleek boot (ankle or higher), this provides a more elegant look. Depending on your outfit, you'll be likely to communicate sophistication and/or sex appeal. With a conservative skirt, for instance, think sophistication, with something shorter or racier, it's all about sex appeal. These can also work with open toe heels for cocktail or formal occasions. Remember that there is a range of "blacks" so some will be more like a grey and others will be dark black. Pay attention to the details when you purchase. Also, navy or grey are options with black is too harsh or doesn't work with the color scheme of your outfit. 
 

Functionality: Warmer than a bare leg, but not much. These can run, so keep a small bottle of hairspray or clear nail polish in your bag to tackle runs. Otherwise, a second pair isn't a bad idea. 

Style message: Sheer black (or navy) hosiery are sexier and more sophisticated than opaque tights or a simple bare leg. This is when you are owning the fact that you are at least one of the adults in the room.

 Sheer Tights. Available in nude, black. Eloquii. $16. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3. 

Sheer Tights. Available in nude, black. Eloquii. $16. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3. 

 1. Out From Under Basic Sheer Tight. Urban Outfitters. $14 + an additional 50% off. 

1. Out From Under Basic Sheer Tight. Urban Outfitters. $14 + an additional 50% off. 

   Berkshire Butt Booster Ultra Shimmer Tummy Control Sheers. Available in three colors, plus and straight sizes.  "Designed to firm, lift and shape bottom and flatten stomach." Macy's. $11. 

 BerkshireButt Booster Ultra Shimmer Tummy Control Sheers. Available in three colors, plus and straight sizes.  "Designed to firm, lift and shape bottom and flatten stomach." Macy's. $11. 

3. Textured Hosiery. 

Definition: The feel, appearance, or consistency of a surface or a substance. 
How to Pair: We're talking about textured sheer hosiery, as opposed to sweater tights. These are a great way to draw attention to your legs. (Best for women with inverted triangle, rectangle or diamond body types). If you keep them in the same color scheme as your outfit, they won't break up your vertical flow as much; but in general, they will not elongate you as much as a plain pair of hosiery, whether opaque or sheer. Try a sheer pair with a seem down the back a la WWII for the best of both worlds. Textured hosiery are a great way to communicate your personal style through interesting patters and add that extra something to a look that is riding the line between classic and boring. It's likely a textured tight will add more va va va voom to your overall look so they might feel inappropriate for more conservative events. 
 

Functionality: Generally, these are warmer than sheer hose, but it depends on the pair. Also, depending on the pattern, a snag may just disappear into the pattern or be very obvious, so keep this in mind when you are heading out and if necessary, toss a second pair of plain tights or hosiery in your bag. 

Style message: If you stick with sheer black with a print that is true to your style, you'll communicate that you are sophisticated and fun. The crazier the colors and/or prints, the more fun, less sophisticated your message. It's all about finding the balance that is right for you.

 Wolford Pat Floral Lace Tights. Nordstrom. $67. 

Wolford Pat Floral Lace Tights. Nordstrom. $67. 

 Small Chevron Detail Tights. Eloquii. $22. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3. 

Small Chevron Detail Tights. Eloquii. $22. Additional 40% off with code: DAY3. 

 Pretty Polly Square Net Tights. Nordstrom. $25. 

Pretty Polly Square Net Tights. Nordstrom. $25. 

4. "Nude" or Nude Fishnets. 

Definition: Denoting or relating to clothing or makeup that is of a color resembling that of the wearer’s skin.
How to Pair: I'm a big fan of nude fishnets when the seasons are changing, especially during the transition from winter to spring. If your legs feel like they need a tan, but the spring dress you want to wear doesn't work well with tights or dark hosiery. I am not super enthusiastic about "nude" as that doesn't take into account the range of skin colors. There is a small range of different "nudes" when it comes to fishnets, so be mindful when you make your purchase to get a color that works well for you. It doesn't need to actually match your skin tone. You just want to be sure it isn't significantly more fair than you are. Try nude fishnets with ankle boots (especially light colored boots), pumps, clogs or open toe heels. When wearing with a higher boot they can skew a little sexier, depending on your outfit. As for nude hosiery, if your style skews more alternative to the norm, they can feel more fashion forward. If you prefer more classic looks, they can either be conservative or a bit outdated, depending on your look. Tread lightly.  
One more thing: High gloss has sort of a spandex vibe that works well if you like channeling the 80's as part of your personal style. For everyone else, be aware of the shimmer of this type of hosiery. 
 

Functionality: Warmer than a bare leg, but not as warm as opaque tights. Textured options/ fishnets don't show snags as much as traditional nude nylons. 

Style message: Your fashion forward as in you are comfortable as an early adopter if your outfit is current. If not, these have the potential of looking dated. 

 1.  DKNY  Fishnet Thigh Highs. Available in nude, black. Macy's. $18

1. DKNY Fishnet Thigh Highs. Available in nude, black. Macy's. $18

 A Pea in the Pod Maternity Compression Pantyhose. Macy's. $25. 

A Pea in the Pod Maternity Compression Pantyhose. Macy's. $25. 

  Berkshire  Sheer Sexy Hose. Macy's. $9. 

Berkshire Sheer Sexy Hose. Macy's. $9. 

5. Bare Legs, Please and Thank You.

Definition: wearing no clothes; naked.
How to Pair: Opt for a bare leg with sandals, ankle boots, an open toe heel, clogs, mules, etc. This works best during warm weather. If you are sporting an ankle boot and you aren't sure whether your socks should be showing, check out this blog poston styling ankle boots. 
Functionality: On the plus side, bare legs don't snag when they hit the wrong chair and they keep you nice and cool in warm weather. In contrast, if the temperature drops, you'll be cold. Try keeping your feet warm to help with that. 

Style message: Bare legs are a casual option, to be sure. If you'd like be especially dressy or sophisticated, go for sheer black or navy. If that's too dressy, try a bare leg or opaque tight. Your shoe style will have a big impact on the final result. 

And, while we're on the subject, I feel compelled to let you know that stirrup tights and toeless hosiery exist. I'd recommend these on very rare occasions and for the over the top ironic fashionista. Otherwise, don't be afraid to wear tights or sheer black (or navy) hosiery with open-toed ankle boots. As long as you don't see a seam or a reinforced toe, you are good to go. 

5. Leggings. 

Definition: tight-fitting stretch pants, typically worn by women or girls.
How to Pair: The debate about whether leggings are pants or not is surely going to last for years. Here's what you need to know when you are considering whether to wear tights or leggings with your outfit. First, leather or vegan leather leggings are cool. Traditional leggings general feel like you've given up. Of course, there are exceptions. But, really, don't be afraid to go for pants rather than leggings when you are putting together your outfit. However, if we are styling a dress, it's best to go with hosiery or tights if the dress is too short to bend over without things getting problematic. If it is too short, it's now a tunic. Pair it over skinny jeans or with culottes. If it isn't too short, opt for opaque tights or sheer hosiery. If it could go either way, try opaque tights as they'll feel more appropriate. 
Functionality: Faux leather and leather leggings are super warm. Traditional leggings are nice and toasty for your loungewear. You can do this. 

Style message: Simply by opting for tights or hosiery if your dress is long enough or skinnies or culottes if it is not, will significantly up your game. It's these small choices that really elevate your style. 

   Polo Ralph Lauren  Leather-Patch Leggings. Available in navy, black. Macy's. $125. 

 Polo Ralph Lauren Leather-Patch Leggings. Available in navy, black. Macy's. $125. 

 Faux Leather Leggings. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $98. 

Faux Leather Leggings. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $98. 

 Alo Airbrush High Waist Leggings. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $82. 

Alo Airbrush High Waist Leggings. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $82. 

7. Control Top. 

Definition: tight-fitting stretch pants, typically worn by women or girls.
How to Pair: The debate about whether leggings are pants or not is surely going to last for years. Here's what you need to know when you are considering whether to wear tights or leggings with your outfit. First, leather or vegan leather leggings are cool. Traditional leggings general feel like you've given up. Of course, there are exceptions. But, really, don't be afraid to go for pants rather than leggings when you are putting together your outfit. However, if we are styling a dress, it's best to go with hosiery or tights if the dress is too short to bend over without things getting problematic. If it is too short, it's now a tunic. Pair it over skinny jeans or with culottes. If it isn't too short, opt for opaque tights or sheer hosiery. If it could go either way, try opaque tights as they'll feel more appropriate. 
Functionality: Faux leather and leather leggings are super warm. Traditional leggings are nice and toasty for your loungewear. You can do this. 

Style message: Simply by opting for tights or hosiery if your dress is long enough or skinnies or culottes if it is not, will significantly up your game. It's these small choices that really elevate your style. 

 Matte Control Top Tights. Available in multiple colors. Lands' End. $11. 

Matte Control Top Tights. Available in multiple colors. Lands' End. $11. 

   Hanes Perfect Nudes Girl-Short Tummy-Control Micro Net Sheers. Available in multiple shades of nude. FINALLY:) Macy's. $12 or 3 for $30.

 HanesPerfect Nudes Girl-Short Tummy-Control Micro Net Sheers. Available in multiple shades of nude. FINALLY:) Macy's. $12 or 3 for $30.

 DKNY Light Opaque Control Top Tights. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $14. 

DKNY Light Opaque Control Top Tights. Available in multiple colors. Nordstrom. $14. 

And there you have it. Tights and hosiery 101. Need more help? That's what I'm here for. And, as always, thanks for subscribing. Poplin 2.0 launches March 1st. Get ready!