Flashback Fashion: Should Women Wear Pantyhose?

Updated January 22, 2019

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collage of women's legs with pantyhose

Back in the early-2000s, old and young generations were clashing on the topic of pantyhose of the sheer nylon variety. Traditionalists argued for the light leg covering, while the up-and-coming fashion divas gasped in horror at the thought.

Budget Fashionista on Pantyhose in 2006

Our response to the debate in 20016 was this: Apply the common-sense rule. If it’s 100 degrees outside, it’s pretty stupid to wear pantyhose; however, if it’s 10 degrees outside, it’s stupid not to wear pantyhose or some sort of covering over your legs. Use common sense and make the decision for yourself.

Our 2017 Take on Pantyhose

I stand by our 2006 advice: like anything else, to wear or not wear pantyhose is a personal decision. Whatever your choice, follow through with it confidently and just disregard what other people say.

Having said that, you might still want some guidance to help you decide. Here are a few considerations:

Pantyhose for formal occasions

Nowadays, bare legs are A-OK at even the most formal occasions. Think about awards shows in the entertainment industry; how often do celebrities have pantyhose on underneath their gowns? You’re better off investing in a good fake tanning lotion. Your legs will glow and they won’t be in danger of catching and tearing when you walk by someone else’s sequined dress.

Remember that tights are an option also. A pair of tights is a stylish choice for ultra-conservative occasions, like funerals.

Pantyhose for job interviews

A job interview is the only situation I can think of where your choice of wearing or not wearing pantyhose is really important. Wear pantyhose under your power suit if you are interviewing for a non-creative role with a very conservative company (a credit analyst with a bank, for example). It helps if you know that the hiring manager is a status quo type, versus the rogue leader who wants fresh blood to shake things up.

Do not wear pantyhose if you are interviewing with a startup or any type of organization that values creativity and thinking outside the box. If it’s cold outside, wear tights instead. If it’s hot, make sure your legs are tidy and go bare.

I realize this all sounds sort of ridiculous — like wearing pantyhose or not determines whether you’re reliable and steadfast or a creative, go-getter. But consider this part of the general bucket of advice about how to dress for the job you want. The pantyhose are one component of your outfit, and your entire outfit makes an immediate impression about who you are.

Pantyhose and choice of shoe

Never wear pantyhose with open-toed shoes. This is one of those fashion rules you probably shouldn’t break. If you must wear pantyhose, reach for the closed-toe pumps.

I will say that, personally, I never wear nude pantyhose. I just don’t like the way they look. I have gone to job interviews, weddings, cocktail parties, work events, you name it, with bare legs. I have gotten offers from those bare-legged interviews, too. Plus, no one has ever commented, positive or negative, on my lack of hose.

Choosing pantyhose

If you are going to slip on sheer hose, find a pair that matches your skin tone. They should be almost undetectable when you’re wearing them.

What the Chatter Says

Lots of people have weighed in on the pantyhose topic over the years. Here is a sampling of what they’re saying online:

  • To What Events Should Women Wear Pantyhose? Leaf.tv says women should wear pantyhose to job interviews, church and formal ceremonies.
  • The Pantyhose Debate Continues… The Well Dressed Life says no to drugstore pantyhose brands because they look cheap. Invest in a good pair instead or use a self-tanner.
  • Pantyhose Coming Back in Style? Kate Middleton, Ariana Grande and Miley Cyrus have been spotted wearing nude pantyhose, which may signal a comeback for the flesh-toned leg wear.

Weigh in in the comments! Are you wearing pantyhose and, if so, where?

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By Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.