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20-40-60 Etiquette: Socks, Leggings, Tights or Pantyhose?

by Helen Ford Wallace Published: December 22, 2010

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QUESTION: Are women tired of wearing hose?  Most women I know are bare legged, except in the wintertime, when they must wear socks or tights to keep warm. Is there a real trend to shoes, no socks? How about black pantyhose? In or out? What is proper etiquette?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: Proper etiquette of pantyhose? I don’t think I have heard that term unless from an older woman. No offense.

For what is in style, tights and leggings are a must during the wintertime. They can be dressed up (tights) or down (leggings).

Socks, yes women do still wear them, but depending on what shoe.

A big trend right now is socks and heels. For this trend your socks cannot be too bulky, and your shoes cannot be too fancy. Always keep your outfit fun and casual! A high sock, no, unless you are young and can pull it off with the right outfit; remember you are not Brittney Spears. Dress for your age and body type.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I haven’t worn hose in a long time, but thinking through this answer made me think about going back to them, at least to try them out again. I skipped this fashion “accessory” when I left work years ago to stay home with children and now that I’ve returned, have yet to add it to my getting-ready routine.

It’s very freeing not to have hose constricting your legs. But now that I’m back in the workforce, I don’t have any reason not to try again, especially since there are so many fun patterns and colors. Tights keep your legs warm, but I think hose can work with the right outfit and shoes (definitely not sandals).

HELEN’S ANSWER: Women are still wearing hose for a put-together look and for covering legs with bad veins and blemishes. Textured leg wear and textured tights and sheer black hose never went out of style, not even in the bare legs era. But, the young girls look great with their bare legs. I am jealous.

Sometimes a nude stocking is the most flattering choice, even though some fashion experts say to wear patterns in nude-colored hosiery. I think some people opt for a nude hose that is really opaque color and they don’t look right. They should be wearing a sheer nude that matches the skin tone. Nude color is meant to be nude, not obvious, and for the older woman the right nude color can improve the looks of her leg.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Linda Miller, Fashion Editor for The Oklahoman and Mood: The fashion industry embraced bare legs years ago, and most women happily followed. They were tired of the expense, runs, snags and hosiery shades that looked fake or frumpy.

Certainly, pantyhose can camouflage less-than-perfect legs, but there are other options.  In winter, opaque or patterned tights and trouser socks are a stylish and functional choice. So are sheer black patterned hose. Yes, hose. Take your pick from dots, lace, stripes, crystal accents or a retro-style back seam. Channel your best “Mad Men” character. Hosiery seems to be gaining a toehold again as the finishing touch for a polished look, at least in winter.

When Oklahoma temperatures heat up, bare legs beat out pantyhose almost all the time. It’s just too hot. Style experts suggest slathering on a moisturizer with bronzing properties for a natural glow. Hide spider or varicose veins with a product such as Dermablend Leg & Body Cover Foundation. Or consider patterned nude hosiery. Nude fishnets are pretty cool.

Women who feel better in pantyhose all year should opt for a super sheer style in nude or off black.

Callie Gordon, a college junior,  was an Oklahoma City 2009 debutante. Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a former  debutante and currently the assistant features editor for The Oklahoman. Helen Wallace has written a social column for The Oklahoman for many years and has been on various local Ball committees. Guest Linda Miller is The Oklahoman’s Fashion Editor.

This group does not always agree (via age differences), but they ALL see the need for proper behavior.
Ask a specific etiquette question and you will get three answers…Then you decide for yourself how you would handle the situation. The answers have information for every age range….Callie is 20-ish; Lillie-Beth is 40-something, and Helen is 60-plus.

Please email us with your questions and  follow us on Facebook, Twitter and daily blogs. We will try to answer your etiquette questions  weekly on the Parties Extra! blog.
Sometimes we will ask other people for their opinions.
Look for us!

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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