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Bare Legs or Tights? Fashion Dilemma, Solved

TimGunnFashion_400Here’s what to wear with that cute skirt or dress this spring. Plus, my take on Kate Middleton’s nude pantyhose revival. From Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible.

As part of my official duties at Liz Claiborne Inc. (now renamed Fifth & Pacific), I travel around the country to host fashion events. We take questions at the end of the runway show, and there’s hardly a time when a woman doesn’t ask me about stockings. It’s likely she was raised to believe that you were supposed to wear panty hose in more formal settings. Generally, the question is some variation on this: “Are bare legs vulgar with a skirt or dress?”

I always say no. Bare legs are usually the more fashionable option. As pants have become more popular for women, panty hose have continued to fall out of favor, and as a rule, I say good riddance.

But tights can be great. My advice is just to always wear a stocking that looks like a stocking. Women sometimes tell me they feel naked without tights, and would feel exposed without their tan panty hose. But generally when I see women with this look, they seem old-fashioned, and uncomfortable. Black tights are far more flattering. They make one’s legs look younger and thinner.


I don’t use “nude” for the color tan, because a huge percentage of the women in this country are not white. “Nude” is not an appropriate word for a pair of tights that only resembles a white woman’s nude legs. I’m told that Kate Middleton has provoked something of a renaissance for the tan stocking, but I am still against it. If you do want to wear tights, wear black or a color that enhances your outfit. The 1966 movie Blow-Up is full of daring dress-and-tights color combinations, if you’re looking for inspiration.


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