Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog

Are Nude Stockings Posh or Passé?

You might wonder why I am writing about this now as we go into the summer season when bare skin is the norm.  Well, I’ll tell you. It’s all very personally motivated.

You might have heard me mention that my legs are not my favorite feature.  Since we all teach what we have to learn, I have spent time doing the inner work necessary so I can honestly say that I have come to love and appreciate them.  Will they ever be the legs of my dreams?  No.  But am I thankful that they are relatively long, strong and take me where I need to go?  Yes.  And, part of my accepting them the way they are is the knowledge of how to dress them in a way that makes them look pretty good – (the magic of illusion is a wonderful thing!).

That’s where nude stockings come in.  I can hear a collective groan as I say that, but please don’t stop reading.  Trust me, I too, am not a fan of pantyhose either.  Since I was a teenager I have not been able to stand anything tight around my waist, and I spent decades cutting the waistband of my pantyhose so I could breathe (yes, you can still do that as long as you don’t buy “sheer to waist” pantyhose and you don’t cut them so much that they fall down (I never had that happen so don’t worry about it too much)).  And, there was no chance that a pair of control top pantyhose would come anywhere near my body!

Then, along came the current generation of young women who reject any suggestion that nude stockings are the way to go.  In fact, they snicker at the idea that they should ever consider wearing them!  They see it as wearing fake legs and just the idea makes them kind of squeamish.  In their opinion, bare legs is the only way to go. Obviously, this is a fashion topic that is highly polarized, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.

I am not going to try to change someone’s mind who is firmly ensconced in the belief that bare legs are the only option (although I’m sure they wear tights of various colors). Let me just say that I believe strongly that in a conservative professional setting stockings are appropriate.

So, back to me since I suspect many of you can identify with my experience.  I am writing about this now because for years I did not wear many dresses.  For those of you who know me, I can see you checking your memory for times when you’ve actually seen my legs!  The truth is there haven’t been many occasions.  But that has changed this season, and it’s exactly the reason nude hosiery is on my mind.

Let’s talk about the 5 reasons nude stockings have disappeared from so many women’s wardrobe AND 5 new ways to invite them back in:

1. They Make You Look Like an “Old Lady!”  Ask any 20-something woman, and she’ll gasp at the mere suggestion that she wear nude stockings.  They are so not cool.  As with most fashion trends it’s really just because they didn’t grow up with them.  I mean, really, just look at those young men who wear their pants down below their butt with their boxers showing and you can’t tell me it’s not a fashion rebellion.  The same is true for nude stockings.  When worn well there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing them (and often you can barely tell someone is), but it’s more the idea of them that offends young women–we did the same thing with bras 30+ years ago)!

Solution: You’re probably not surprised to hear that my new favorite celebrity is Kate Middleton.  Not because I know very much about her or follow her every move.  I don’t.  But, I do appreciate her bringing nude stockings (ooops, they are now called nude tights!) back into favor (at least more than they were).  Sales have increased significantly since she entered the celebrity fashion scene.  She has proven that nude tights don’t have to look obvious or matronly.

2. Pantyhose are Uncomfortable.  I don’t think that most people will debate this.  This is arguably the #1 reason pantyhose fell out of favor with those of us who used to wear them.  In fact, I still have bags of pantyhose left over (I used to buy them in bulk because they cost less!), and I am the first to admit that they are not my favorite accessory.  Yes, I wore them for years because that’s all there was, and it was an expected part of our wardrobes in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, instead of embracing the bare leg fashion statement, I just covered my legs in a different, more comfortable way: pants.

With dresses being such a huge fashion trend now (yay!) I was beginning to feel the pull to wear them.  But, after having one or two of them sit in my closet for a year or more because I never felt right wearing them with bare legs, I finally decided I had to do something about it and solve this dilemma.  And, I have!

Solution: Bear with me on this one.  The solution is thigh-high stockings (just breathe and keep reading!).  They are super comfortable (no waistband to squish you) AND when you are wearing an A-line skirt or dress (or one that just flows softly over your curves) no one can see the band on your thigh (even if it does cause a touch of a muffin top).  Trust me, I have a muffin top with it and no one can tell (except now you all know).  More on brands coming up.

3. They are so 80’s.  Give this one up!  Half of the 80’s styles (e.g., bright colored pants paired with other bright colors or black, peplums and flashdance style shirts) have made a comeback this spring so shouldn’t nude stockings (when worn well) feel right at home?

Solution: If you remember the 1980’s as well as I do, you might not want to revisit all of those styles – especially not all at once – but bringing the stockings into your current wardrobe with a pretty pair of platform shoes, for instance, or with a fabulous patterned dress will feel current and elegant.

4. They are a Huge Expense.  Why do you think I bought them in bulk years ago?  Invariably, after just a wearing or two, I’d put my toe through one or catch it on something and have that unsightly “laddering” – the new term for runs.  One other word of caution…the stockings are meant to be “nude” so they should match your skin color and not change it noticeably (“suntan” stockings should be outlawed on someone with very fair skin) or you run the risk of looking very dated.  (And, the good news about laddering in your stockings is that when truly nude stockings run, it is less noticeable because they blend in so well with your skin.  And, there’s more good news.  When you get a run in thigh high stockings you only have to discard one leg of the pair!)

Solution: You can buy them in bulk (once you determine the brand and color you like) but I have noticed there isn’t a huge savings on them – unless perhaps you can get them at a Hanes’ outlet (that’s what I used to do). My two favorite colors were “Barely There” for Fall/Winter and “Little Color” for Spring/Summer.

I was also just introduced to stockings.  Yes, they are way more expensive but rumor has it that they don’t run easily.  I just ordered my first pair so I will keep you posted.

5. You Can’t Wear Stockings with Sandals:  This was another reason I stopped wearing stockings for a while.  What do you do about the webbed toes?

Solution: Enter my favorite kind of stockings – toeless!  Donna Karan makes a good brand and you can even get the Berkshire brand for less (it’s not as smooth and silky but will do the job).  Yes, you have to play with the band around your toes to be sure you can’t see it when you put on your sandals but it’s amazing how it turns invisible in many strappy sandals.  Be sure to try them on ahead of time with the sandals you want to wear to be sure this is true – sometimes they are obvious and that’s worse than webbed toes.

Can everyone go bare legged with skirts?  This is where the debate gets tough.  Women with long, slender, evenly tanned legs are so quick to say yes, but for the rest of us the answer isn’t always so straightforward.

I’ll just use my legs as an example.  I’ve never had a tan in my entire life.  Burns, yes.  Tan, no.  Being a redhead this is not surprising but what also comes with my red hair (which I wouldn’t trade) is super pale and translucent (you can see a mix of freckles, purple undertones, red and white so my skin never looks smooth and even.  And this has little to do with aging – it has been the case since I was a kid).

Some well-meaning women will say, “So get a spray tan.”  Okay, so I could do that, but do I really want to commit to something that I have to do so often?  It gets expensive, time-consuming and, to be honest, since I’ve never had a tan, having even slightly tanned legs looks very foreign on my skin.  Not to mention that I don’t know exactly what is in those spray tans and I’m not so keen on repeated applications of something I feel so unsure of.  Trust me, I do enough “beauty treatments” without adding one more!  But, that’s just me.  So, more than anything, what the stockings do is smooth out my skintone and create a sleeker line (and, yay, they also smooth out any dimpling).  Quick and easy!

If your skin is unevenly colored can you still go bare-legged?  Yes, of course.  It’s certainly a personal preference and, yes, I do go bare-legged with skirts when I’m being very casual (but I’m even more hyper-vigilant about the fit, length of the skirt and shoes I wear so that I feel good in them).  That said, I also know that my legs will draw more focus when they are bare because they are not as smooth, and that’s not my preferred place to have the eye go.

It’s clear to see that the stocking debate is here to stay for now.  There is certainly no one perfect answer for everyone.  And, while I’m sure this information did nothing to change the minds of those who are firmly entrenched in their no nude stocking beliefs, hopefully, for those of you who are on the fence and looking for a solution, these 5 options above will give you food for thought and may bring you the solution you’ve been looking for!

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  • Charmedlifelady

    Thanks for your welcome post about stockings. I first learned they were “wrong” in Charla Krupp’s book, How Not to Look Old, but I miss them terribly in summer and the bare-legs-only rule has caused me to stupid things like wear leg makeup (OK, I admit it!!!). I’d rather just wear nude stockings and what I’m going to do to feel sexy about them is bypass both pantyhose and thigh-highs for real stockings with a garter-belt. Just knowing I’m wearing them will make me feel sultry rather than dowdy — maybe I’ll even get a pair with a seam. And when I do revert to pantyhose, I’ll think of them as “nude tights,” thanks to you and Kate Middleton!

    • Ginger Burr

       I love it!  We often underestimate how important it is to feel good about all aspects of what we are wearing — even if no one else (or very few people!) other than ourselves see it.  You go, girl!!

  • Teresa

    I’m always afraid that if I get a spray tan I will look orange. LOL.  Not to mention all the other reasons you have above. 

    I’ll have to look at nude hose again. It’s been a while since I’ve worn a dress.  I’ve never felt I had the legs for it and have avoided them as much as possible.  Maybe time to rethink. 

    • Ginger Burr

       Ahhh, again it’s that redhead thing :-)  We definitely share a bond there.  Give stockings a try and keep us posted!

  • Amy

    Ginger, I love this discussion! Having worn panty hose and dresses/skirts/suits for the better part of 20 years in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, I had a LOT of them. A couple of years ago I did a big purge. Discovered I had about 10 pair of WHITE and off-white hose! Good heavens. When did we think that was a good look?!

    I have been cutting the top of my hose regularly since I started doing during my first pregnancy before purchasing maternity hose. (secret: I wore maternity hose for several years just for the comfort!)

    I love wearing dresses, and thankfully live in the South and enjoy bare legs for many months. I’m am in client offices multiple times/week, and just have bare legs, high heeled sandals and it’s perfectly appropriate even at my age. (mid-50’s) However, I happily pop on a pair of Barely There hose during the winter months and keep on trucking. For me, pants are not the comfortable option always, and certainly not as cool in our blazing summers. 

    I avoid the sun these days, and tried the self tanners. Too much trouble more than anything. I just prefer to feel good about healthy skin, un-tan as it is! “I yam what I yam.”

    My daughter (26) has borrowed my Barely There’s on occasion when home over Christmas holidays and it’s too cold for her bare legs. Ha! A young convert. Of course, I used to make her wear a slip, too. That’s another discussion, Ginger!


    • Ginger Burr

       So funny, Amy!  Years ago I wrote a book called “Fashion Secrets Mother Never Taught You” (no longer in print) — you mentioned two of the secrets (no white stockings and no slips).  The 80’s were an interesting decade, that’s for sure.  And, I’m with you on self-tanners (plus I always get streaks).

  • janetcd

    Myself have had scar tissue redness on my ankles due to a reaction from medication that caused a rash. So I wear nude stockings the type that use a garter belt. I like wearing garter belts as they remind me of the times before pantyhose.
    I purchase mine six pair at a time from the Stocking Store: Also if get a run in a stocking no need to trash the pair as save one for the time the next stocking gets a run.

    • Ginger Burr

       Thanks, Janet, for another great resource!

  • Dale Kathryn

    Love this article because I have always worn stockings because I have such fair skin and rarely have a tan. I must admit after a month in southern France last year, when I came home with beautifully tanned legs, it was truly liberating. We get far too much rain here on the West Coast of BC!

    • Ginger Burr

       Wow!  I bet that was liberating. It’s nice also to have the option of wearing stockings as well — so glad you enjoyed the article!

  • Sheena

    Its a very informative article! I have always loved your work and this article is simple stupendous! I am going to direct all my clients who shy away from nude stockings to this page!

    • Ginger Burr

       Thank you so much, Sheena.  I’m thrilled you like it and will pass it along.  It’s a tough topic these days!

  • Dianna Huff

    I have always worn nude stockings — and you are 100% right about why to wear them. You told me to wear them with the fabulous dinner dress you helped picked out to wear to my reunion — and it was the absolute right call. The stockings finished the outfit. I love the tip about  thigh-high stockings!

    But, I will not wear stockings in the summer with humidity. The feel of them makes me want to pass out. UGH

    • Ginger Burr

      You’re right, Dianna.  When the humidity soars about the only thing that feels good on is a bathing suit (now ask me if I’ve worn one of those in the past 10 years!!). :-)

  • Liz

    This is a very insightful article!  I always wear nude stockings to work, even though I realize it’s not the trend. I wear waistband-free stockings by No-Nonsense 

     They’re sort of like low-rise pantyhose, so they don’t gather at your waist.  They’re hard to find in stores, but, apparently you can buy them on line!  (I am happy that just discovered that now when searching for a link to post here for you all) and reasonably priced. I have fair skin and wear the beige mist color.  I’ve stocked up on them in beige mist & black, but perhaps when I start running low I’ll try thigh highs.  Thanks for the tips, Ginger!

    • Ginger Burr

       Thanks so much, Liz.  I love adding new resources and appreciate you sharing your favorite!  Have fun with the thigh highs :-)

  • AnnaMaria

    Thank you Ginger for the information. My legs aren’t my favorite part either.  What an awesome solution.   i will be sharing this post with my community
    Thanks again…AnnaMaria

    • Ginger Burr

       Thanks, AnnaMaria.  I think we’re not alone :-)

  • Gini MacRae

    I am old enough to have been wearing nylons and pantyhose for over 40 years. I still consider them both a luxury AND a necessity in my wardrobe. That said, I gave up on American-made brands years ago. Now, I prefer Euro brands like Pretty Polly and Aristoc.

    • Ginger Burr

      Thanks, Gini. Good to know. I, too, have been loving my Italian made ones from Vienne Milano. So glad we’re on the same page (a luxury and a necessity, for sure!).

  • Marsha

    Such an on-going debate! As office manager I feel that
    wearing hosiery (pantyhose or thigh-high’s) is both professional
    and fashionable………..would feel quite ‘underdressed’
    without them!

    • Ginger Burr

      Yay! So glad to hear I’m not alone :-)

  • kimseifers

    What about white hose? I have a red and white skirt and red shoes. I normally don’t wear hose at all, but the skirt is just a bit short (right at my knees) and I am over 45 and work in an office and feel that the naked leg is not appropriate in this sitution. But can’t decide if white or nude is best? can you help me?

    • Ginger Burr

      Great question, Kim. Nude is always best. White never, ever works. They will just draw attention to your legs instead of up to your face and will make your skin look a chalky color. Definitely go for nude as close to your skin tone as possible. Hope that helps :-)

      • Callie

        Also, please don’t go for super-shiny hosiery. Your legs will look fat. I promise.

        • Ginger Burr

          Very true and just draws focus to your legs which is not generally where you want the focus to go.

  • Melanie Greenwood

    The one time I tried thigh-highs I felt like they were going to give me an embolism even though I followed the sizing guide and used my actual weight and height, not some made-up number I wish I was. I’ve got a tummy pooch and a bit of a butt (Hubby says I look like J-Lo), so maybe I also have Thunder Theighs and didn’t know it?

    • Ginger Burr

      There are definitely some brands that hurt and give you a thigh muffin top. I wore one brand that squished my thighs so much that I had red rings around my thighs for days after! But, the Vienne Milano brand doesn’t do that. The most comfortable brand I’ve ever tried. It’s definitely worth checking them out. Check in with Vienne (she’s the owner — tell her I told you to contact her) to see what her return policy is — just in case.

  • Bee

    Maybe the reason Kate Middleton wears them is because in the UK absolutely everyone wears them. I am a 21 year old female and bare legs in the UK is definitely the exception and not the rule. Nude tights are extremely common over here. (Also, tights are “pantyhose”, not stockings).

    • Ginger Burr

      Good for the UK. Hopefully they’ll inspire those in the US :-) Of course, we’re expecting a huge blizzard as I write this so I can’t imagine going out with bare legs right about now!

  • Callie

    I love hosiery, which looks fashionable and completes an outfit. Last night, I went to an event; a number of elderly women were wearing skirts and dresses without hosiery, and the effect wasn’t pleasant.
    But, pantyhose = evil. The waistband cuts me in half, and the crotch always seems to land several inches too low. Pantyhose is dreadful to put on and worse to wear.
    Hooray for traditional stockings. Thigh-highs are good, too, but I wouldn’t wear them without a garter belt; they slip and get baggy.

    • Ginger Burr

      I’m so with you on this one, Callie! Try thigh highs — they don’t slip and don’t get baggy :-)

  • Nikki

    I’m a 19 year old woman and I don’t dare go out without my nude stockings on! Whether it is a formal event or just a trip to the store, if I’m wearing a skirt, I’m slipping on my stockings. I actually think my legs are awesome but stockings just add that nice finished look to any outfit, in my opinion.

    • Ginger Burr

      It’s so refreshing to hear someone your age, Nikki, seeing the beauty of wearing nude stockings. As long as they truly match the color of your leg, I absolutely agree that they add that extra polish and sophistication to an outfit. Thank you for sharing!

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I am putting renewed effort into dating, specifically online dating. I feel I have great options now to wear for a date or meet over coffee. And for my dating profile I realized I should include some of my words from the Totally You workshop if I’m trying to convey who I am! So I have included “genuine” and “vibrant”. I’m anticipating the “captivating” word can go unsaid and will come across in my photos (more flattering thanks to my style and color improvements) and my words. You might consider encouraging other women to use their inner beauty words for their online dating profile!

Pam K