Rock those stockings: Think twice about bare legs for a formal event (2024)

This question rolled in just as I was about to issue a bulletin on this very subject …

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My son is getting married in November. I’m wearing a black knee-length sequined sheath. I have an old pair of black sequined pumps that will look fabulous with the dress. I would prefer to wear pantyhose since it is November and also because the shoes are a little tight. Are bare legs still the way to go, or is hosiery OK. And if so, what color would you suggest?

— Sharri B.

Dear Sharri: I have just refined my advice on this frequent question, thanks to some personal trial and error over the past two weeks. The most frequent questions put to The Angel have something to do with what to wear to a wedding. One common dilemma is whether bare legs are the chic option or is hosiery now OK.

In the past I’ve pointed out that bare legs (even in chilly weather) have been popular on runways, red carpets and in fashion layouts, which set the trends. I have advised readers that while bare legs are fine even at the most formal events, hosiery also is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s skin tone and sheer.

I’ve just returned from a wedding where I wore my new bargain ($10!) black sequined mini and consignment store jeweled black shoes (also $10). I was planning to go barelegged. After I put on the dress and was almost out the door, my spouse gently suggested that bare legs were not such a great choice. Another look in the mirror told me that he was completely right. We headed for the wedding, but I made an emergency stop at Macy’s, where I bought two pairs of pantyhose, one black, one flesh tone and raced up the escalator and into the ladies’ room to try them out. The black ones were fabulous, and I urge you to buy some black ones for your son’s wedding.

The very next weekend I had another wedding with another glittery (mostly silver) consignment store dress (new, with tags, $69). I had planned to go with bare legs to this one too, but after the previous week’s experience, I knew I would look better with hose. Before leaving the house this time, I tried on both colors of hosiery and found that the flesh tone looked great and the black was way too dark and offered too much contrast with the dress.

This recent experience has taught me that women generally are better off wearing sheer hosiery to fancy affairs instead of going barelegged. If you’re not sure of the color, try on both flesh tone and black hosiery with the dress you plan to wear and take a hard look in the mirror before you make a choice.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I really love the lightweight printed cotton fabric handbags; however, I would like to know if they can only be carried when wearing solid color clothes or if they can be carried with printed clothes in the same color family as the handbag. I would very much appreciate a reply.

Sally M.

Dear Sally: Pattern mixing has been big for the past few years and is still going strong. So, feel confident in carrying that patterned bag with patterned clothes. Right now, anything goes. Some of the combos I see in stores seem to clash, but they’re considered high fashion. And if you doubt me, while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, thumb through Elle, Vogue, Marie Claire, and you’ll see what I mean.

Dear Answer Angel Ellen: When putting on necklaces I have a difficult time with clasps. Is there such a thing as a stretchy necklace (for casual wear) that will go over your head and around the neck for people in a hurry?

Fed Up With Jewelry Clasps

Dear Fed Up: I’m fed up too! Just recently, I had to get out pliers to remove my Kate Spade necklace and had a frustrating 20-minute wrestling match trying to put on a delicate gold necklace from Tiffany. Why do designers pay so little attention to such important issues as putting on and taking off the jewelry they sell us?

Yes, there are thousands of elastic necklaces out there. Search for “stretch necklace,” and you’ll see loads of options.

Another alternative, of course, is to buy necklaces with long chains to slip over your head without fiddling with the clasp. Charming Charlie ( has many styles. Also, I’ve had good luck with magnetic necklace clasps that are easy to install on your existing costume jewelry. Find them for under $10 at

For your high-end jewelry, a jeweler can replace the Houdini clasp with something that mere mortals can use. And, although you didn’t ask, check out YouTube for videos on how to use a paper clip to enable you to put on those bracelets that you’ve given up on.

Angelic readers

Barbara B. introduced me to a product I didn’t know existed: “The answer to covering arms while wearing sleeveless tops and dresses is the Sleevey Wonder (” They’re pricey ($44-$75) but worth a look.

Reader rant

“Blonde lament: Why do drugstores stock each type of mascara in three different shades of black, but will carry maybe only one type of brown mascara (which is usually not waterproof)? Many women don’t want ‘doll eyes’ or ‘butterfly lashes.’ The Kardashian look doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tip: When my brown mascara starts drying out, I use it to darken my brows. That’s why waterproof brown mascara is so important to me.”

— Karen C.

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Rock those stockings: Think twice about bare legs for a formal event (2024)


Should you wear stockings to a formal event? ›

In the past I've pointed out that bare legs (even in chilly weather) have been popular on runways, red carpets and in fashion layouts, which set the trends. I have advised readers that while bare legs are fine even at the most formal events, hosiery also is perfectly acceptable as long as it's skin tone and sheer.

Is it okay to have bare legs at a wedding? ›

It's a personal choice! If you feel more comfortable and confident in pantyhose, then by all means, wear them on your wedding day. If you'd rather go without, that's totally fine too. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to wedding day attire.

Are bare legs appropriate for work? ›

Looking classy in the office is important. So if you're going to go with bare legs in the office, always remember to wear a modest, professional top and a skirt of a decent length.

Is pantyhose formal? ›

Pantyhose are great for a quiet formal event, under pants or skirt. However, under some circ*mstances I prefer to wear a set of garters and some very nice stockings. Those garters can be a simple garter belt or attached to a bustier or corset.

Does anybody wear pantyhose anymore? ›

Pantyhose weren't left-back in yesteryear. Many women enjoy them today, and you don't have have to settle for the squeezed-in corseted feeling of the past. Hipstik provides comfortable low-rise pantyhose with a non-squeeze waistband for women of today. Browse comfortable nude pantyhose.

Is it OK not to wear pantyhose to a wedding? ›

Remember, as the mother of the groom, you have the freedom to express your personal style at the ceremony. While wearing pantyhose is not a strict requirement, it's a great opportunity to look and feel your best for the event.

Do you still wear pantyhose with dresses? ›

Bare legs with dresses are commonplace now. If you don't want bare legs, tights are a more modern-looking option than nylons (tights are more opaque than nylons and aren't designed to look like your skin). But any of these options are fine.

What to wear to a formal wedding as a guest female? ›

Simply put, women should wear a formal, floor-length evening gown—no exceptions—with jewelry, heels, and an elegant clutch. Men are required to wear a tuxedo with tails, a formal white shirt, a vest, a bow tie, white or gray gloves, and formal footwear, such as derby shoes or oxfords.

Is it unprofessional to not wear pantyhose? ›

Generally speaking, no. Most companies recognize that, while dress codes for the office may be appropriate, having different standards for men and women isn't.

Are pantyhose back in style in 2024? ›

In 2024: Bold tights are in—from vibrant hues to pearly whites. Standout tights are having a moment this year and the vibe extends from vivid reds to creamy neutrals.

Do millennials wear pantyhose? ›

But no more. It turns out pantyhose sales have been sagging for the last two decades, because of self-tanner, open-toed shoes, women wearing pants more often, and, generally, more casual dress in the workplace. Millennials don't own pantyhose. One article says, "Many people associate sheer with grandma."

What stockings to wear with a black dress? ›

For example, if you have a black dress, then choose a pair of black tights or stockings. This helps them “support” the outfit, rather than take the main stage. There is an exception to this rule, however; if your outfit is darker than the shoes you're wearing, go for nude-colored tights or stockings instead.

Are black pantyhose out of style? ›

Fashion and style continuously evolves but foundation garments should remain in the forefront. Wear sheer black pantyhose to ramp up your nights out. Black sheers are a timeless classic adding radiance and elegance to any outfit, any body shape, and any skin tone.

Are pantyhose making a comeback? ›

It's true: Pantyhose (one of the most unappealing names for a garment ever invented) have been on the rise for a few seasons now, after disappearing almost entirely from many wardrobes as women not in the British royal family were freed from some of the more egregious dress code strictures of the past century.

Is it unprofessional to not wear stockings? ›

You're fine either way. There are some variations on this by region and generation, but in general bare legs are totally fine and not considered unprofessional … but it's also fine to wear nylons (also known as pantyhose or stockings) if you prefer them.

What should a woman wear to a formal event? ›

While etiquette rules are softening on the question of dress length, your best bet is a tea- or floor-length gown. A column or A-line dress is most sophisticated, but you could wear a well-tailored, chic, and formal suit.

Do people wear pantyhose with co*cktail dresses? ›

Is it okay to wear stockings with a co*cktail dress? Absolutely. We love pairing stockings with our ONE33 Social co*cktail dresses––we firmly believe that they can enhance an overall look.

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