Nylons No More?: The everchanging world of business dress code

Q: When I was much younger my mother always taught me that it was necessary to wear nylons and slips with skirts and heels. I am just now entering the business world and have seen mixed things–some women wear nylons but some do not. Is it considered inappropriate or ‘sloppy’ to wear a skirt and heels without nylons in the office?

A: The traditional business dress code is changing at fast clip, but the principles underlying it are still in place in most professional fields. While customs are rapidly changing and some workplaces may adopt a more casual dress atmosphere than others, part of a working woman’s basic wardrobe still consists of tights and/or stockings. The smart business dresser knows that they key is to look authoritative, highly competent, and reliable.


  1. Eileen

    This is definitely an area where you need to know your office. Especially look at female higher-ups: do they wear pantyhose? My office has a business formal dress code, but almost no one wears pantyhose. Shockingly, we’re all still able to be authoritative, competent, and reliable.

  2. Jazzgirl205

    Stockings do finish an outfit and make heels more comfortable. However, I would recommend wearing a better grade than the usual drugstore/discount variety. Cheap hose look really dowdy.

    • Elizabeth

      I know plenty of women who wear opaque tights, but literally no one who wears sheer pantyhose. I think they’ve gone a bit out of style. Personally, for me, heels are more comfortable in barefeet, but that’s just me.

  3. Jody

    I think Eileen’s advice is best — know the office where you work. If female hgher-ups wear pantyhose, it would be best for you to follow their example. I would definitely wear pantyhose at an interview (if wearing a suit or dress); once hired, I’d wear them until I got good sense of what other women wear.

    I wear pantyhose because I’m more comfortable in them than I am bare-legged. I disagree with Jazzgirl and Elizabeth. Inexpensive (“drugstore variety”) pantyhose do not necessarily look dowdy or out of style. It comes down to what looks good on you and what fits your budget. There are plenty of inexpensive brands that look quite good.

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