How to wear tights

by Sylvia

how to wear tights
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I received a request from Martha S. recently to write an article on how to wear tights for fall and winter. This is a very good topic so here are some of my thoughts.

Why you should show off your beautiful legs

For many women over 40 their legs are true assets. Apart from the knees they are not prone to aging so quickly and it can add a lot of sex appeal to your outfit. Therefore, the general advice for many women over 40 is to show some leg for a hip and youthful appearance.  Although this is easy in the summer, it can be challenging for women like me who easily get cold. Tights are a perfect solution, but how can you wear them and still look hip and youthful?


I really like opaque tights and you can get them in any colour these days. With the colour blocking trend still going strong, you can really play with the colour of your tights and make it fun. If you want a more conservative look than go with the colour of your shoes or skirt. Wolford Velvet Deluxe are good ones and so are Spanx Tight End Reversible Tights, which have a different colour at the back. Great neutral colours to own would be black, grey, brown and navy. Great fall 2012 trend colours would be burgundy and cobalt blue (both would look fantastic with either black or winter white). Do not wear opaques in nude and make sure you create a nice balance with the colours in your outfit.

black opaque tights

I like how Jessica Quirk from What I Wore creates a very graphical look with the colours of her clothes and black tights. You can do this with different coloured tights as well so long as they are not too see-through. Although Jessica matches her shoes to her tights on this occasion, this kind of look can look equally great with shoes in a different colour that comes back in the outfit.

wearing tights with colour

If you like to use pattern or colour, you can do so as long as your tights are in balance with the rest of your outfits. See how the tights don’t stand out in the image on the left? It blends in nicely with the rest of the outfit. Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb also creates a colourful graphical look with this outfit and her tights fit right into it.

Sheer tights

Sheer tights look best in (bearly) black or very see through nude. I feel that this, together with fishnets, is the only way to wear nude tights if you want to create a modern look. Sheer nude tights that are frequently recommended are the Donna Karen nudes. In the below picture sheer black tights look very chic with the yellow dress. The Duchess of Cambridge has been credited for bringing nude tights back into favour.

sheer tights


If you want to up the sex appeal even more then this is always a consideration, but be sure to keep the rest of your outfit very classy. I would stick to black or nude only for fishnets.

pattern and fishnet tights

Catherine from Not Dressed as Lamb uses colour and tights to create a completely different look with this dress. the dotted tights create a quirky creative look, while the fishnets are chic for the office.


Flower patterns and printed pants are very much the trend right now and you may want to incorporate this trend with your tights. However, do so with care. Using patterned tights can very quickly look wrong or trashy or just draw too much attention on your legs and away from your face. If you like to use pattern, I would stick to a subtle pattern in one colour. Make sure that the pattern blends in with your outfit and it can look great.

Knee highs

Knee highs can be great under trousers and some long skirts. Follow the same guidelines as for tights. Of course you should never be able to see the end of your knee-highs.

What to avoid?

  • Flesh coloured opaque tights. These are very aging and generally don’t give you a flattering look. Some designers feel that you should avoid flesh coloured tights altogether, although I believe that very thin and natural sheer tights can look very nice with the right clothes.
  • Never show your reinforced toes of tights and knee highs in shoes.
  • In fact avoid wearing tights with sandals altogether.
  • Don’t wear socks over tights. That should be left to the teenagers.
  • 2 hue tights, too bold patterns, too bright tights.
  • Any runs and holes.
  • Also be sure to shave your legs before wearing tights.

These were my guidelines on how to wear tights in a nutshell. Use them as rough guidelines only and use your own creative flair to create a great look! Below are a few tights that you can buy online now.

Did I cover everything? What are your tips for wearing tights?

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }


I’ve lived in a humid climate for so long and have not worn any type of stockings, that it’s hard for me to put on tights. I just hate the feeling. I love the look though.



Yes, it’s been a while for me too. But it’s definitely a look I would sport often if I lived in a colder climate… Although not featured here, I really love the look of skirts with opaque tights and booties!



This is sooooooooooooooooo timely for me!! I’ve been tiring of just wearing pants/jeans in colder weather and love the look of tights/skirts (either dressy or casual) and have actually bought both, but haven’t stepped out of my box to wear them yet. I’m thinking today is the day, though!! Thanks for the excellent tips!



Great that this was helpful for you Rita. It’s such a pity that I can’t show you more looks with tights myself, but they are just never necessary here…. Good luck with finding some great combinations!



Opaque tights are the only ones I wear with a dress. Coloured ones as well, but always in a colour that matches the dress,. I have a grey jumper like dress and then a grey cardigan and I wear it with yellow opaque tights and a scarf in the same yellow[ochre]. And it doesn’t look ridiculous, I hope.



Sounds great Marianne!



I am not very good with opaque coloured tights. I bought 3 colours this season but have not worn them yet. In the past I wore red tartan tights with a black dress. That was fun, but I threw them out this year. Not my thing anymore. Too wild.
Anja and I discussed yesterday, that it might be really nice to wear a red dress (check) with a black and white polka dot scarf / cumberband around the waist (check), black boots (check) and black opaque tights with a polka dot (to be bought).
I agree with your suggestion Sylvia, to go for a black dot on black tights. Not a white dot on black tights. Too much probably. But then again, it might be nice.
The thing is…. I really always wear hold-ups (you know, those stockings with a rubber band at the top). Much more comfortable and much more elegant. Unfortunately there is not much choice in hold-ups.
I have plain black opaque hold-ups and found out that they are much nicer than sheer stockings when there is a bit of leg showing between boots and skirt. If I wear shoes, I wear sheer hold-ups. It might just be a habit. I always thought my legs would look nicer with vaguely black or really thin see-through nude stockings. But perhaps that is just habit.



Really thin tights really show off your legs and very often look very good. Opaque tights are warmer and can often create a hipper look. You can play with colours as well, which is fun.



I must own between 50 to 100 pairs of tights and maillots. Some sheer in black or color, but most are opaque in every color of the rainbow. Further, some fishnets in black, red, purple, glitter, etc. And opaque tights with patterns, prints and with a lace pattern.
I also have a dozen pair of hold ups, in color and fishnet, but they don’t ‘stick’ on my skinny thighs, so I stopped wearing them. I find them very handy, with skirts and dresses from all lengths and with pumps and boots alike.



Yes, you should show off some nice fall looks with them Anja!


Heather Fonseca

I wore opaque tights the other day and my husband said it reminded him of when we were dating. I wore black tights with everything in the late 80’s and early 90’s. the skirts got longer and I stopped. Now I’ve started wearing them again. They’re very flattering in black as they make the legs look slim and long.



Yes, I wore them lots too with shorts!



Thank you for the suggestions. I do have a question, how to wear tights when one is 5’2″ and plus size?



I would choose tights in the same colour as your skirt or dress. Then also match with the same colour boots. This will have an elongating and slimming effect.



I disagree with the “not wearing with sandals” theory. If done right, that can look good. just not flip flops — unless you’re wearing sheer pantyhose with them. :) We should encourage more men to wear hose and tights with shorts, also.


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