Ask Belle: Good Tights and How to Wear Them

Aug 25, 2014

Hi!

I have a relatively high-level job and find pants my go-to staple in the autumn and winter primarily because I abhor shaving my legs when the weather gets too dry. However, I have recently come to accept that 1) pants, no matter how nice, always feel rather “Friday casual” to me. Do you have any tricks for incorporating tights into a professional ensemble? How does one wear booties (no severe heels for me) without feeling like they’re harkening back to the 80s? Basically, what types of dress shoes/tights/dresses go well for autumn and winter?

Thanks, Faye

To quote Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, “Always bet on black.”  If you want to incorporate tights into a professional wardrobe, an opaque, black tight is the only way to go.

I can recommend three different brands.  The first are Spanx.  The weave is thick, the fit is good and they wear well even with repeated washing.  The second are Donna Karan 70 denier tights.  They’re super thick and wear like iron.  For an inexpensive option, Dorothy Perkins sells two pairs of 60 denier tights for $11 and a pair of 100 denier tights for $14.

Plus-size? Try this pair from JCPenney or these Merona tights from Target (also in misses).

Once you choose a pair of dark tights, I believe in something that I call the two out of three rule.  Your tights should either be the same color as your shoes and/or the same color as your dress.  It’s just a cleaner, sleeker, more professional look.

I wear my tights with pencil skirts (this Halogen skirt is a favorite).  I also like them with sleek sheath dress.  This Cynthia Steffe half-sleeve sheath is my current obsession.  And if you want something a little flirtier, try a fit and flare style skirt.

I think the best thing you can do is keep it simple.  The sleeker the better.

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  1. jen says:

    DO NOT get the Target Merona tights. They are the worst. Strangely short in the leg and lose elasticity halfway through the day.

    • YouSaucyMinx says:

      Amen! Wholeheartedly agree. Merona=worst.

      I also just wear leggings with tall boots. Guaranteed opaque and super comfy.And extra warm in the winter.

      I love Hue leggings for this purpose.

    • Kelsey says:

      I agree with this. I bought a double pack and ended up throwing them away. Whenever I walk in them I feel like they are shimmying down my legs with every step. Nobody wants saggy tights

  2. Addie says:

    I’ve been really happy with Hue super opaque control top tights (I hate the way non control top tights work their way down if you walk a lot). Price-wise they fall between drugstore and designer brands and you can find them at Nordstrom Rack for even less than Macy’s or Hue’s website. Just make sure to size up if you have curvy legs for maximum opacity

  3. YouSaucyMinx says:

    I love a sleek wrap dress, tights, and knee boots for work. Depending on work environment though, knee boots might be pushing it (remember when Condaleeza Rice was called a dominatrix because of he rknee boots?)

    In my office, they’re considered chic.

    • Julia S. says:

      I’m a mid-level executive, and I LIVE in my black heeled boots (not knee boots!), black tights (of varying opaqueness depending on my dress or skirt) and … a million different combinations. I love to wear socks under my boots – so comfy. On more casual days or snowy days, I’ll wear a sweater dress. Sometimes a sweater dress with a jacket. Usually a pencil skirt (usually black – I have three – or tweed (2)) and dress blouse and/or jacket. I’ve found my sharpest look is black boots, tights, skirt and a cream blouse with a wide leather black belt.

      Last year I picked up a grey sweater dress from Athleta (not usually my style) for a New Years’ Eve party in Vermont. It became one of my fall/winter favorites with charcoal tights, high charcoal socks (just peeking from my boots) and brown boots. With the right accessories, it works for work quite well. And no, I don’t work in Vermont 🙂

      • Julia S. says:

        Oh, and ditto on Hue tights. I also have some footless tights that are great with the boots because they last longer (no big toe rips) and I’m fine with socks under the boots – even booties.

  4. nap says:

    Spanx tights are the best!!! I wear them every day in the winter. I wash on cold in a delicates bag and hang to dry. I have several pair that were purchased in 2011 and still look brand new.

    Sometimes you can find them at Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx on sale.

  5. Justine says:

    I wore Pretty Polly 200 Denier Fleecy Opaque Tights last winter. They haven’t pilled yet, but if this pair wears out, I’ll try Heat Holders Extra Warm Thermal Tights next.

  6. Joules says:

    Black tights and black shoes, that’s my recommendation. Those shoes can be flats, kitten heeled pumps, work-appropriate booties, or knee-high boots. Just keep it all black and you’re fine.

    Style by Joules

  7. Mags says:

    I like the Hue ones too- you can usually find them at TJ Maxx/Marshalls. I also like the DKNY ones from Costco- I have my mom grab a bunch when she goes and send them to me. Merona is absolutely the worst- they seem to stretch out at the thighs and bunch at my ankles by the end of the day.

    And if anyone from the Corporette comments section reads here, I’m sure someone will bring up FLEECE TIGHTS at some point.

  8. rar says:

    I second the Hue brand tights. They’re the best tights I’ve ever had. They look great and they last the entire season before I need to replace them (for reference, I usually wear my 2x and then throw them in the wash). I get them at Nordstrom Rack for a great price (something like $6?).

  9. Emily says:

    Another vote for spanx! They also have reversible options (black/grey, black/brown, black/navy) which are wonderful for work travel. Just rinse in the sink at night and flip inside out, ready by morning. They are the most opaque I’ve found and last 2-3 winters of constant use before losing their stretch. Worth it at full price, but not too hard to find on discount.

  10. The tights at Lane Bryant are amazing. I’m not plus size any more, but I still seek them out (I size up in tights any way because of a borderline height). They last forever and have excellent control top capabilities. Love the patterns, too.

  11. Pam says:

    They are not cheap, but the Wolford tights are wonderful! Very comfy!

    • Jennifer says:

      I totally agree! I almost exclusively wear skirts (I have yet to find a pair of pants where the crotch doesn’t look weird on me). I bought one pair of Wolford Velvet de Luxe tights a decade ago and will not wear anything else. They’re soft, not scratchy. They don’t pill, fade or stretch out. And they’re low maintenance: I just throw them into a lingerie bag and wash on cold delicate cycle. Yes, they cost about $50 per pair, but they last for years so consider them an investment piece.

  12. Allison says:

    Another tip on tights- walk around a bit in your skirt or dress with tights before going to work. I have a few unlined cotton pencil skirts that cling to tights and cause terrible twisting/riding up.

  13. B says:

    Spanx definitely Spanx

  14. bettyjoan says:

    I love Commando tights. Not cheap, but VERY comfy and long-lasting.

  15. MK says:

    Express tights. They’re the only thing I ever buy at Express. I love them. They’re opaque, soft, they stay up, and they wash well. I tried the Hue after reading about them on here, but I vastly prefer Express.

    Also, as far as skirts clinging to tights: rub lotion into your palms and rub your hands quickly over your tights. Somehow the lotion makes the tights practically repel the skirt. No more static.

  16. Jamie says:

    Leggs opaque tights from CVS are amazing. I’ve been wearing them for years and wash them in the machine.

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