Are Nude Stockings Really a Fashion Crime?


Hi Imogen–I just found your blog recently and I really enjoy it.  I have learned some great tips and recently bought a shirt in a style that you recommended.  My question is about hosiery.  I do not wear hose often but as I am 51 now I am trying to keep “current”.  I have read that sheer nude hose is a big NO-NO.  I live in the northern US and in the winter my legs are very pale and would look awfully bare.  I would love to hear your thoughts/opinions on this topic.  My thanks in advance for your answer!    Michelle
Thanks Michelle for your question.  
The reason you may read that sheer nude hosiery is a bit NO-NO is that way too many fashion crimes are committed using a version of them, but there will always be a place for them in the wardrobe.  Kate Middleton brought the sheer nude tight right back into fashion.
What are the fashion crimes perpetrated using nude hosiery?
Well, often they are not really nude, but instead, some strange ‘suntan’ look,  overly white, or way too opaque, rather than a sheer nude that matches your skin tone.
Nude hosiery is meant to be just that, nude, not obvious. 
They are also considered to be very conservative, so for the funky young 20-year-old, are not cutting edge, but for a 51-year-old, when done well (the right nude), can improve the look of your legs.
Choosing Hosiery
  1. If choosing nude hosiery, look for one that is sheer, not shiny, and a colour that blends with your skin tone.
  2. If you want to wear hosiery and look more modern, try sheer charcoal or black, or an opaque black if wearing heavier winter clothing.   
  3. The sheerness of the hosiery relates to the weight of the fabric of your dress or skirt.  This is one of the principles of co-ordinationthe level of refinement.
  4. Sheer hosiery goes with lighter weight fabrics, opaque hosiery works well with heavier weight fabrics.
  5. Blending a dark skirt with black or charcoal stockings and then black shoes or boots is a great way to elongate your legs, whilst keeping them warm.
  6. Nude hosiery works best with lighter colours, and coloured shoes rather than a dark neutral shoe.
  7. And never, ever wear pop socks (knee-high stockings) under dresses or skirts, even if you think they can’t be seen. 

More Hosiery Tips

How to Choose Hosiery to Go with Coloured Shoes

How to Stop Static Cling with Hosiery

Open Toes and Hosiery – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

6 Quick Tips for Choosing Patterned Tights


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  • I always wear nude hosery, but I think in Australia it has never gone out of vogue (or am I just way behind?). Looking at mine now, I think they are a bit too shiny but when I asked the lady in Myers she said that was the current fashion…hmm. Imogen, as I am fairer colouring and black is not on my list of best colours, what do you suggest for winter leg wear? Brown is hard to find and looks daggy. I have used a sheer cross between charcoal and brown – can't remember what it is called. BTW, I am 51 too.

  • Vicki – always remember – shiny draws attention – depends how much you love your legs!

    A sheer charcoal/brown/taupe colour would be great for you.

    I do have some lovely brown opaques, which work great with brown boots in winter.

  • I liked that last remark about the pop funny, and yet you still see them around , even on elderly women. My favorites are Wolford 66d. black tights.Also the 80d´s are great. Many women don´t like to wear tights, and I don´t know why. I like them under my jeans much more than knee high socks, which roll down.

  • Thank you for addressing this question. I've nver quite understood why sheer stockings were such (and suddenly)getting such bad press. There are times where I live that bare legs just won't work and though I love the look of sheer black stockings they're not always the appropriate color. So, I've opted for pants when I wanted to wear a skirt….
    This was so very helpful.

  • Oh!I love hoses but don't wear them anymore cause still looking for a brand that doesn'nt make them with this strong elastic at the waist? Few years ago I could find some in the low waist category, that had a wide lace band, but it isn't available anymore. The other ones just sofocate me and cutting my figure in two. For the color: I once tried two pairs of sheer ones, one on top of the other, diferent colours,(complementary)red under a dark green I think: Amazing effect!!!

  • Great post, Imogen! I think much of the "no-no" factor associated with nude stockings is that women don't choose a color that matches their legs, hence it comes off like a fake tan (too dark) or too light and wonky looking. I love sheer stockings (both nude and black) because they can do such nice things for your legs.

  • I always wear skirts, so this has been an issue for me for a while. In the winter, I particularly like the look of layering lacy open tights over colored opaque tights. The sartorialist has a great example here:
    I have to confess that I rarely wear nude stockings. I've never found the perfect shade. I do love Wolfords, especially a shear black pair with embroidered vines going up the back.

  • Thank you, good to know – this one taxes me! In deepest winter, I'm happy in black opaque, but warmer spring/autumn days are tricky!

  • Nude hose are correct for executive women in urban northern North America, where bare legs are still too casual (even in full summer) and it's too cold much of the year anyway. They also wear sheer blacks and navys and that in between charcoal and brown (called nightshade) with skirted suits and evening attire- cocktail to formal.

    We call knee highs "cheaters".

  • Thanks for the feedback Imogen. My legs are pretty good (in hose, not bare)- I have long calves so shiny is ok as far as that goes. I just hope it doesn't look dated. Will make sure I get the non shiny next time.

  • I have the same gripe as Anonymous–the waistbands are too tight and control top is unbearable for me. I don't need it–the hose is enough. It is difficult to find non-control top. I don't wear skirts much in the winter, and then I usually wear tights.

    A few years ago I got one of "the Looks" from another woman when I wore sheer stockings with dressy sandals. Until then I had no idea that this had become a no-no. I'm talking about very sheer sandal foot stockings. I prefer to wear more open shoes in the summer. I will say, however, that I am getting close to the age where no one expects much from me, so I will soon just do whatever I please.

  • I wear nude pantyhose when I wear a dress or skirt that is light in colour. I make sure the fit is good (no cutting waistlines) and that the hose is very sheer and matte. If I am wearing bare-toed shoes, I wear the toeless pantyhose, which is brilliant. I'd love to go completely nude on my legs but my skin is very translucent and you can see a hint of veins behind my knees. Great post!

  • I think this is more of a fashion crime for anyone under 25, as they've never had to suffer under the dress codes REQUIRING pantyhose year round and prohibiting open toed shoes. As someone in her late 30s I have definitely dealt with this in the first half of my career, but am glad that this has relaxed so much in recent years. Now I wear hose only if I feel the outfit will be improved by its addition, and never with open-toed shoes. I was wearing these Hanes toeless ones a few years ago, but they seem to have been changed/discontinued in their former fabric so that now the fabric is not silky anymore, but scratchy. Now I go without for the most part.

  • Hi Imogen,
    I have a question. How do I prevent the dress sticking to my hosiery? I live in Malaysia and I don't think static is the issue here. Would appreciate some ideas because I've got a fabulous dress that I want to wear with a semi-opaque hose. Thanks!

  • I never like the look of my bare legs – I'm prone to red blotchiness. But for casual events when nude hosiery might be seen as too formal (or old-fashioned), I wear nude fishnets. A smaller net gives you just enough coverage, and since they're nude the fishnets are 'toned down'. They add a surprising and fun touch to an outfit (and keep my blotches under wraps).

  • Imogen, I'd appreciate your professional opinion and advice on the matter of whether it is okay to wear hosiery with shoes that have either an open toe (such as a strappy sandal or peep-toe pump) or an open back (such as a mule or a slingback pump). I have bunions on my feet, so I carefully select shoes that hide the bunions so they can't be seen. However, because of the bunions, I have to wear a wider width shoe, which makes closed pumps impossible to wear due to the fact that they are too wide in the heel. For this reason, I wear slingback pumps. I'm pushing 50 and feel very strongly that hosiery should be worn with dressy and/or office attire. However, Clinton Kelly (of TLC's "What Not to Wear") says that if a shoe has no back, then hosiery should not be worn. I'd like for this issue to be settled once and for all, as other websites have stated that hosiery is perfectly fine for slingbacks. IMO, the problem is when someone wears hosiery that has reinforced toe seams (not sandalfoot hosiery) with shoes that are open in the front, so the seams show. I totally get this? I just don't understand why a slingback pump that is either completely closed in front or that has a peep toe) cannot be worn with sandalfoot hosiery… assuming the proper color is worn, of course. Can you give me a definitive answer? Thanks!

  • This something I am so confused about arghh… I am invited to a wedding this coming July, and want to wear a pretty dress, but I dont like my thighs. I am so confused if I could wear some type of stocking or would it look tacky.

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