If you’re the type who transitions into cold weather one step at a time, you should have already crossed over the bare legs bridge. It’s no longer acceptable to roll up bare-legged at 7:00 AM. So, pull out your tights, they’re about to be your wardrobe staple for the next three-four months.
I believe the poor fashion roaming our schools can be partially attributed to woman’s aversion to tights, limiting the wardrobe up to 50%. I grew up on tights and never stopped wearing them. When it came time for student teaching and interviewing, appropriate leg attire is what separated the amateurs from the professionAls. While I don’t sympathize with the “too restricting, too confining, too uncomfortable” arguments, I understand they exist. I wish I had an elaborate rebuttal outlining the benefits of tights. Instead I have a few simple words. Tights make you look thinner, sleeker, and taller. Suck it up, put ’em on, and learn how to dress appropriately for the season. I’m willing to try anything that buckles me in and bundles me up…the tighter, the better. Here are a few guidelines to get you on your way…
Quality: In one ear I’m hearing, “tights are nylon, why spend the money?”. In the other ear I’m hearing, “tights are worn multiple times per week, multiple weeks in a row, get a quality pair”. Hue, DKNY, and Simply Vera by Vera Wang for Kohls are my favorites. Check your discount stores before spending retail at a department store. Filene’s Basement usually has a great stock of the basic brands while Loehmann’s carries higher-end brands of leg ware. Purchase early in the season, or else you’ll be left with zebra print legs on Christmas Eve. Always have one or two back ups of a basic black opaque (more on this later). When you find a pair you like, buy in bulk.
Color & Texture: The rules are simple, match your tights to your bottom half (skirt or dress) or your shoes. No need to complicate things and add a rainbow into the mix, unless of course it’s Wacky Tacky Day. As far as texture goes, the smaller the weave, the more professional. Just like slacks and skirts, you need a few basic colors to build a well-rounded winter wardrobe:
Black — as opaque as you can find it. I like this pair from DKNY or this pair from Hue. Black opaques will go with black boots, pumps, flats, or booties…just about anything. I also recommend a textured pair to spruce up your basic black pieces. Choose a diamond print like this pair from Express. Stay away from floral prints and lace at work. A general guideline I follow, if my dress or skirt fabric is a thick wool, I can go lighter on the tights. If the dress or skirt is a lighter weight, I bring on the most opaque pair possible. This balance will keep you work-appropriate.
Grey — I prefer it in a texture and recommend a herringbone style alternating a light grey and dark grey. This pair by Hue offers the right amount of texture and opacity. Stay away from a sheer herringbone for the work environment. Grey tights work with black boots, grey pumps, and a snakeskin flat. These tights will pair nicely with a grey pencil skirt or any type of shift or sheath dress.
Neutral — My recommendation is a nude fishnet. Yes, fishnets are appropriate if the weave is fine and the holes are small. This pair from Simply Vera Wang at Kohl’s seem to fit the bill. “When in doubt, wear black” doesn’t really work with tights. Nude fishnets will fill those gaps in your wardrobe and allow you to wear the bright pencil skirts or prints throughout the winter months. Keep the nude fishnets away from black skirts and dresses, it looks a bit to risqué. Stay away from a print because it actually looks like veins or scarring.
Dark Brown — you need a dark brown for your warm colors and earthy neutrals. Since you will probably pair your brown tights with a cognac-colored boot, you’ll want to keep the tights solid and opaque like this Simply Vera Wang pair from Kohl’s.
Navy Blue — Although it’s difficult to match navy blue since not all are created the same, I do keep one pair for the items that it does work with in my closet. Here is an opaque pair from Kohl’s, although I do recommend bringing along the item you will most frequently wear so that you have a good match. Again, keep them opaque and solid. You can pair this with a denim pencil skirt or a navy skirt/dress.
Bright Colors — Unless you want to fit in with the teenage trendsetters, stay away from purples, teal blues, and reds. It’s just one more way you can be mistaken for a student.
Fit: Avoid frump in your mid-section by wearing a pair of tights that actually fit. Extra bunching at the top will only enhance your tummy. Read the back of the package, sizing may vary by brand. I prefer to be sucked in and only buy tights that are clearly marked “CONTROL TOP”. I don’t think Spanx are necessary for work. If you need to be sucked in that much, your outfit is probably too tight. Make sure there isn’t extra bunching at the knees or ankles. Twist your tights so that they are going in the same direction. Yes, there should be a front and back.
Care: I accidentally threw a pair in the washer and dryer and thought the shrinking would be minimal. Boy, was I wrong. I was walking around with a pair of tights halfway down my backside and it was probably the most uncomfortable day of work! Handwash your tights in a basin and hang them to dry. I wash my tights once a week at the same time for convenience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught some of my most fashionable savvy sistas wearing tights with tears, rips, and runs (above the hemline of course). Is it really necessary to walk around with a crotchless pair of tights? Get a new pair! If you find yourself with small holes in the toe area, repair them, you never know when you’ll have to take off your shoes. Lotion before wearing tights, they’re a trap for dead skin.
If you haven’t crossed this bridge yet, make it happen! Professional women don’t show up to work with naked legs!