Style + Ask The Edit

Ask Belle: Hosiery Rules, Part I

Hi Belle

I’ve just begun an internship on the Hill, and from hearing countless stories of intern mishaps, am trying to be extra cautious about dress. So far, I’ve stuck to pant suits, but while the weather is still warm, I’d like to break out a pencil skirt every once in a while. My question is, are pantyhose necessary on the Hill? I’d be wearing closed toe shoes, so the problem of visible “hose toe” wouldn’t apply.


The Great Nylon Debate. Whether or not women should wear hosiery has been a major point of contention on this blog for some time.  It is my belief that hose are not required, not even encouraged.  But if you choose to wear them, you should find the sheerest pair available.  

Either way, I only truly balk at those women who insist on wearing them with open-toed shoes.  

Other women, most of them over the age of thirty-five, insist that nylons are required at all times.  As Truvy from Steel Magnolias so eloquently put it, “I haven’t left the house without Lycra on these thighs since I was 14.”  Spoken like a true Southern lady.

It is true that there are some professions where going bare-legged isn’t option (lawyers).  It’s also true that some Congressional offices would prefer that you wear them.  If your office didn’t give you a dress code, just ask the Staff Asst. or LC for one, they’ll usually be willing to clue you in.

Tight Rope Walker. Luckily, Wednesday is the Fall Equinox so you can start wearing tights and the nylons discussion will become a moot point.  

I like to have at least five pairs of tights on hand.  Because I wear skirts or dresses almost every day, I need two black pairs, one grey pair, one navy pair and one patterned pair.  I also like to keep one pair of nude fishnets and one pair of black fishnets on hand.  

There is no argument that Wolford makes the best tights on the planet Earth.   In addition to their unmatched durability, Wolford tights come in the most interesting and varied patterns that you can find.

While the Aston tights are no suited for work, I also love the chevron tights and the  tights with the simple back seaming.  So vintage, so chic.  

Unfortunately, at more than $50 per pair, Wolford is a bit out of my price range.  

I’ve had good luck with the Hue brand (sold at Macy’s) and the DKNY brand.  In fact, Donna Karan makes the blackest, most opaque tights you can buy.  They’re basically lightweight leggings.

Lastly, if you can’t find good tights in your price range, Filene’s or Loehmann’s should be able to help you.  I usually take a trip to the downtown location in early October to stock up.  

For more hosiery rules, check in for Part II of Belle’s Hosiery Rules this afternoon.  See you then!


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  1. Andi Narvaez says:

    I'm not a fan of hosiery, whatsoever, but I understand that we all must comply with basic dress code rules sometimes — to go to clubs, to work in an office, etc.

    That being said, I had never heard of the Wolford brand (I finished undergrad relatively recently), but after clicking on the links to your recommendations I must say I have never been more tempted to spend $50 on thighs. They may be some of the first things I spend money on once I wrap up with grad school and land a job. I might even look for a job that requires hosiery…

    September 20, 2010/Reply
  2. Ash says:

    I want to give a shout out to the Vera Wang line – Simply Vera- at Kohls. These are by far my favorite tights. I own several pairs of black, grey and patterned and have yet to find anything that even closely compares. They wear wonderfully and at around $8 a pair it's amazing they'll last you all winter.

    September 20, 2010/Reply
  3. G says:

    Ash– thanks so much for that tip! I have been searching forever for brown tights (wouldn't think they'd be so hard to find!) and they have them in all their fabrics ­čÖé And all their tights are currently on sale for under $9.

    September 20, 2010/Reply
  4. Meg says:

    Thanks for this blog post! The weather this morning made my particularly wishful for fall weather clothing. Also, thanks Ash for the Simple Vera recommendation!

    September 20, 2010/Reply
  5. EAC says:

    Belle, I have to fight you on the age thing regarding panty hose. I am 47, I wear tights, fishnets and socks, but sheer flesh-tone pantyhose—–never. My boyfriend occasionally talks me into thigh highs, but those are for an altogether different type of “event”.

    September 21, 2010/Reply
  6. Belle says:

    EAC-I'm not saying you have to if you're older. Just that if you choose to, being over 35 is an okay reason.

    September 21, 2010/Reply