The Working Woman’s Guide to Wearing Tights to the Office

In Accessories, Fall & Winter Trends by Melanie Shaw

Chilly fall and winter temperatures tend to limit what a woman can wear to work. Indeed, freezing weather is a compelling reason to stick to options that keep the extremities covered and help the wearer stay warm, such as trousers or women’s tights. However, there is much debate around exactly how to style tights to make them suitable for professional environments. In this guide, we’ll help you cut through the confusion so that you can wear tights to work with confidence. Here’s how:

Consult Your Workplace’s Dress Code

Before you break the tights out, it’s best to first find out if your workplace will be okay with you wearing them. Standards can differ from office to office, and yours may have a different definition of what specifically constitutes some of the more confusing dress codes such as business professional or smart casual.

Information on your workplace’s official dress code and what you can and can’t wear should be available in your employee handbook. If you don’t happen to have that handy, you can always ask someone from HR for general guidelines or observe what your colleagues and superiors wear to work. 

Always Err on the Side of Caution, Color-Wise

Though you can find tights in a wide variety of colors, you may not be able to pull them off in professional settings that impose a business formal dress code. In general, you’re better off sticking to neutral and monochrome colors such as nude, tan, black, and grey. The further away you get from this palette, the more casual the tights will appear to be.

Nude tights are the safest and most traditional choice, regardless of dress code and time of year. They’re meant to create the illusion that you aren’t wearing any legwear, so look for matte pairs that are color-matched to your skin tone. When wearing black, grey, navy, or any neutral-colored tights, you’ll want to match them with your outfit. Colored tights, on the other hand, should only be reserved for creative office environments governed by a casual dress code, casual Fridays, or the weekends. 

Stick to Dainty, Traditional Patterns

In recent years, patterned tights have emerged as a popular choice among women who love legwear but don’t want to limit themselves to the usual solid color options. They’ve even become more acceptable to wear in the office, so long as the environment isn’t too conservative. If you love patterned tights and want to wear them to work, though, it’s better to stick with low-contrast and tone-on-tone options. 

You’ll also want to choose subtler designs over bold ones. Regular geometric shapes such as small dots and basket weaves can add visual interest to any outfit without being too garish or taking too much attention away from your ensemble. Diamonds and chevrons are also a good choice for more adventurous dressers. Still hesitant about giving patterns a try? Back seam tights are a great alternative to your usual sheer tights, offering drama and sophistication without all the unwanted attention.

The only pattern that you shouldn’t wear to the office is fishnets. They give off a risqué impression and are usually considered inappropriate to wear for work. 

Pair Them with the Right Shoes

As a general rule, the heavier and more opaque-looking a pair of tights is, the chunkier the shoe that should be worn with it. Far too many women shove feet clad in thick tights into slender stiletto heels, giving off an unsightly, overstuffed look. Instead, try pairing your favorite pair of wool or knit tights with ankle booties or shoes with platform soles to create a classic, office-appropriate fall or winter silhouette. Another pro tip is to match the color of your tights to the color of your footwear. It’s an easy way to make your legs look longer. 

Maintain a Sense of Balance

Balance is a key fashion concept that helps your ensemble look more polished and complete. For example, pairing a printed top with solid-colored bottoms is an example of balancing color. Another way to balance an outfit is by pairing fitted clothing (such as tights) with voluminous clothing.

When it comes to wearing tights, you can achieve balance by taking note of fabric weights. Sheer tights should be paired with heavier fabrics, while opaque tights go well with lighter fabrics. 

Know How to Take Care of Them

Accidents can happen, no matter how careful you are with your tights. Many women have experienced snagging their tights against a chair and getting runs in them. It’s also possible to accidentally spill coffee or tea on your favorite pair, too. 

Fortunately, remedying runs is easy. Just use a bit of clear nail polish at the edges of the tear, which will prevent the hole from getting any bigger. As for coffee or tea stains, you can remove them in a pinch by using a stain remover pen. If you have more time, you can lift them out with a clean cloth and some rubbing alcohol. 

Just because it’s getting colder out doesn’t mean that you have to stop wearing cute dresses and skirts to work. With our tips, you should be able to easily rock them at the workplace.

About Melanie Shaw

Melanie Shaw is a fashion and lifestyle writer who has worked in the fashion industry in PR and communications, helping brands launch their latest products and collections.

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