Ask Belle: Your Fall 2016 Office Legwear Guide

Sep 20, 2016

Belle,
I love all the new blog features!  I hope you’ll still do “Ask Belle.”  If so, can you please do a post on when it is okay to start wearing tights (and maybe boots)? 

I saw a woman wearing horribly scuffed, brown knee high boots to an evening event two weeks ago, and I shuddered.  No tights, but definitely a mess.  But now it is starting to get cold, especially in the mornings!  Is it a faux pas to bust out the opaque tights in September?

MK

The weather is crisp, the leaves are falling, it must be time for me to post my annual guide to wearing tights.  I love to wear dresses, so tights are the only way to do so while avoiding frostbite.  I think I’ve tried every brand and style.  So here is a wrap up of what I like, what I think looks good, and other tips.

When can I wear tights? My general rule is if the daytime high is going to be below 65 degrees, tights are okay.  If you live in a place where the weather is too fractious to control your decisions, October 1 is as good a line of demarcation as any.

Denier Matters.  Denier is a measure of the density of the fibers in a fabric.  Larger numbers mean a thicker, more opaque tight.  I like a higher denier, but there is a limit.  A few years ago, I tried on a 150 denier tight and it was like wearing a sweater on my legs.  No thank you.  Leg warmers went out in the 1980s.

Best High Denier Tights. The 110 Denier Ultimate Opaque Tights from Commando are beloved for their comfort waistband.  However, Spanx are my favorite.  They make a nice 70 denier tight.  And their Luxe Leg Blackout Tights are super opaque with 100 denier.  I also own their reversible tights in black/navy.

Looking for something more affordable?  Topshop’s 80 denier tight is a good buy.  Plus-size?  ASOS makes an 80 denier tight that they sell in a $17 pack of three.  Petite?  Merona probably makes the best selection of affordable tights for your size.  Tall?  Berkshire makes longer lengths.

The Wolford Debate. Wolford tights are the choice of fashion girls everywhere.  But, honey, are they pricey.  Devotees swear that they wear like iron and are worth it.  I’m just not there yet.

Sheer black nylons are a no for me.  I know some women love them, but I find them to be matronly.  To make them less church lady, I would recommend a pair with a seam back.  It adds just the right amount of sex appeal, but may be too risqué for conservative offices.

Colored Tights. If you want to wear a colored tight (navy, grey, burgundy, etc.), the sleekest way to wear them is to follow Belle’s Two-Out-of-Three-Rule.

Basically, match your tights to either your skirt/dress or to your shoes.  So if you have a navy skirt, wear navy tights.  If you have grey shoes, wear grey tights.  The continuous block of color gives you a look that is sleek and chic, and keeps your outfit from looking disjointed.  I always have black, navy, and grey on hand.

Leggings at work? Sweater dresses are my casual Friday go-to.  And when I want to be comfortable, I wear a pair of Zella Live-In leggings under them.  Why Zella?  Because they’re soft and super opaque.  Lululemon is for the gym.

Patterned Tights. Not as popular as they once were, patterned tights are still the subject of debate.  Patterned tights are not appropriate for a conservative or professional office.  Also, there may be an upper age limit on these.  I’m 34, and I think I’m past it.  Your mileage may vary.

What to do when tights won’t work?  We’ve all been there you have a great skirt or dress you want to wear and tights would just look weird.  It’s winter, you don’t want to wear bare legs, what do you do?

I like micro-fishnets in a flesh-tone.  Spanx makes a nice pair.  I’m intrigued by Commando’s ‘very fine’ fishnets.  Halogen makes a pair for $19.  Plus-size?  ASOS Curve makes a pair.  Not caucasian?  A friend bought a good quality new pair and a bottle of RIT dye and darkened them.  Sad that no one makes a flesh-tone pair in other flesh tones.

Nylons are also an option.  I like to keep mine super sheer to avoid that Hooters-waitress look.  Donna Karan Nudes are the best.

I’m also a believer that you can go bare-legged when need be.  I don’t do it often between November and March, but it sometimes is a necessity.  If you’re worried about being too pale, there’s always a moisturizer with a hint of self-tanner.

Questions, concerns, or suggestions should be left in the comments.  xo, Belle

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  1. Cait says:

    Do you have any tips on avoiding static that makes your dress/skirt stick to your tights? Half the time when I wear tights I end up with my skirt bunched between my legs and spend all day twisting and pulling it around.

    • Jen says:

      Most of the time I default to wearing a slip to avoid this. The gap has really nice lightweight slips that work. If you’re not into adding an extra layer, wipe the insides of your skirt and your tights with a dryer sheet. I keep a couple in my desk at work.

      • Anna says:

        Just be sure to wash your hands before you eat anything. I did this right before going to a Lebanese restaurant with lots of pita and I got super nauseous after. Pretty sure it was all the dryer sheet residue on my hands that transferred to the pita I then ate.

    • Karen says:

      I live by Static Guard. You can buy it at Target, and you simply spray your dress/skirt before wearing. I also keep a travel size can in my desk just in case!

    • Belle says:

      Statiguard.

  2. Anna says:

    Are the Spanx tights control top? I tend to end up with cramps by the end of the day after sitting all day with the waistband digging in, but have trouble finding tights that stay up otherwise.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Why leggings with sweater dresses instead of tights?

  4. Erica says:

    Re the Zella leggings – I’m between a Small & Medium (4-6), would you say they stretch out? would you recommend going up or down in the sizing? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      I find that Zella leggings are true to size and don’t stretch out. I would recommend going for the bigger size (if you are truly between sizes).

    • Clarissa says:

      I’m an 8 and wear a Medium, so I would go for the small unless you like them kind of loose.

    • Belle says:

      I’m in the same boat. I bought mediums. Then, after like 6 weeks and a couple of washes, they started to fall down. So I’d go with the smalls. The good news is it’s Nordy’s, so you can return even worn merch.

    • Molly says:

      This is a little delayed but I’m also a 4-6. They both fit; I’d do a small if you want to use them for working out, but personally opted for mediums since I’m wearing them for comfort on nights/weekends.

    • Cecile says:

      I’d suggest Lularoe leggings vs the Zella. Way better price point and I’d say the quality is the same if not better, PLUS they are the softest things you will ever wear!

  5. Clarissa says:

    What’s the difference between Lululemon and Zella leggings? Mine are basically identical, unless I’m missing something.

  6. KRF says:

    I have a hard time matching my grey boots to my grey tights because the shades of grey are different. Should the shades of grey match? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

  7. LS says:

    Re: Wolford – The first two pairs of their stockings I bought ran putting them on, and I know how to properly put on stockings. So, no.

  8. I believe in wearing tights all year round. I love Hue super opaque tights. They are amazing and I survived a 16 hour election day last week wearing them. I don’t like shear hose, because I have a difficult time shaving due to having vision loss. Tights are awesome. Great post Belle.

  9. Gabby says:

    I literally never wear tights or nylons, ever. And no one has ever said anything. I work in state-level politics, so it’s pretty conservative. If you like tights, go for it, but I’m with you, Belle- you don’t actually need to wear them (I do get occasional comments wondering if my legs aren’t cold, but not in the snide judgey way)

  10. MsMaryMary says:

    Any reccomendations for super opaque colored tights? Nothing crazy, I’m thinking navy, burgundy, plum, maybe a deep green. I’m tall and verging on plus size, colored tights always go sheerish on me. And I’d like to stay more in the Spanx price range than Commando. Wolford is a no go on my budget.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Personally I think not wearing tights or stockings with a skirt/dress in the winter (in a cold climate) looks terrible and is just crazy. It is like a man showing up to work in shorts and dress shoes with no socks – you would be wondering if he took his medication that day. Not to mention that I cannot understand how someone can wear closed-toe dress shoes without anything on her feet.

    Also, wearing no stockings with a skirt suit at any time of the year is a no no.

    If you don’t like stocking or tights, just wear pants!

    • Anna says:

      Ummm, what century are you living in? I work on Capitol Hill and rarely see anyone below the age of 55 wearing stockings in the warmer months. And it’s completely different than a man showing up in shorts, because shorts are inappropriate in any office environment. If someone is wearing winter weight/style clothing and isn’t wearing tights, I think it can look fine. And I for one would rather wear closed toed pumps without tights. When I wear tights, there’s less friction, so my foot moves around more in the shoe causing more rubbing and ultimately hurting my feet.

      • LB says:

        “… wearing no stockings with a skirt suit at any time of the year is a no no.”

        This is a seriously dated rule. And I’m an attorney who appears regularly in court.

    • Molly says:

      I hate wearing dress shoes with tights or stockings – my feet slide around all day and just walking around becomes exhausting and uncomfortable. And my shoes fit.

  12. AL says:

    Does anyone have recommendations for maternity tights or leggings?

    • Belle says:

      I know another blogger, Cheetah is the New Black, is obsessed with Hatch leggings. As for tights, I think Spanx makes some.

  13. KRF says:

    For AL: Congrats to you! I wore Gap mat leggings in both black and grey colors and they have held up. I washed in cold water delicate, no dryer. ASOS maternity has leggings online. I think H&M may have mat leggings online as well and a splurge wpuld be yo check out Seraphine–online UK shop.

  14. Fifty50 says:

    I’m starting to wonder if I have the wrong Zella tights (purchased during the annual sale recently). They’re not cotton like at all, and feel more like gym tights.

    • Belle says:

      Maybe they’ve made some changes since I bought my last pair two years ago. They hold up so well, I haven’t replaced them in a while. That’s concerning.

  15. erin says:

    BOOTIGHTS! I swear by them. They have a built-in sock at the bottom and are specially made for boot wearing. I’m on year 3 of one pair and I wear them weekly in the winter. https://www.bootights.com/collections/tights-1/products/chelan-shaper-jet-black

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