When Should You Start Wearing Tights?


Let’s face it: As the only practical, easy, and cost-effective solution to wearing dresses or skirts when temps dip, tights are among the most essential items when it comes to weathering the cold. But as to when you should break them out once fall rolls around remains a steadfast sartorial conundrum year after year. Or conversely, when is it appropriate to bare naked legs come spring? It seems like everyone has some opinion on the matter. So we turned to our in-house experts and posed the question to InStyle editors: “When should you start wearing tights?”

“When you feel cold or when it’s chilly and you want to wear a short skirt. It’s a good way to get extra mileage from more summery pieces. I start wearing mine when it’s below 65 degrees and from November through February.” —Wendy Wallace, InStyle market director

“I think bare legs look really chic in the fall for as long as possible. Especially since hem lengths are longer and can be paired with a higher boot. When it starts getting really cold in November I’ll switch to a matte black tight with a black boot.” —Dana Avidan-Cohn, InStyle senior market editor/digital correspondent

“Chilly and wet mornings are the hardest. I tell myself, if I can just make to the office without tights, I’ll be okay. There’s a great hosiery shop in Penn Station, so I can always make a pit stop there if I make the wrong decision. So far this fall, my legs have remained tight-free, and I am hoping to keep them that way for a couple more weeks at least.” —Angela Matusik,InStyle.com executive editor

“When it’s cold! (Kidding.) I generally try to push bare legs as long as I can, but I’d say by December is when you usually really need them.” —Leah Karp, InStyle accessories director

“I just usually break them out when I’m cold, ha! I don’t think there is a definitive time. It’s different for every place and person! I like to wait until I absolutely have to—usually that’s temps in the high 50s. But I do every once in a while see someone in May or June still wearing them, which I think looks a little heavy for spring and summer.” —Ali Pew, InStyle market editor

“I’ve already worn mine, and then everyone at the InStyle office was in shock and made me take them off. I hate being cold. In the winter, I wear tights under my jeans. I should move to California.” —Nika Vagner, InStyle.com senior social media editor

“Once I commit to wearing tights (usually around the same time I start ordering pumpkin spice lattes), I really commit. I’m a dress person, so tights become part of my everyday wardrobe from October to March. While I love the look of tights with dresses and skirts, I’m not a fan of sheer styles and always stick to opaque black or gray. These go with everything and look good with boots and even open-toe heels.” —Violet Gaynor, InStyle.com senior fashion editor#

This year, if market forecasts for fall 2014 are any indication, our fashion safe zone may just be tights.

WWD credits Kate Middleton, who rarely steps outside in bare legs, for giving a “much-needed jolt to the legwear industry.” While tights may have seemed a little fussy in years past, our spending speaks for itself: last year, tight dollar sales hit $775 million, an increase of 12.2 percent.

And we’re not just talking basic black here, because the tights of 2014 are going to be wild. Predicted trends range from soft faux leather to digital florals and menswear prints like houndstooth. Solid colors appear to be taking their cue from the runways;WWD predicts colors like burgundy, oatmeal, gold, and mustard. 

Not a tights girl? All things legwear are fair game for 2014. We’ll be seeing more leggings with unexpected details, fancy/weird trouser socks, leg warmers, and tall, chunky socks designed to be worn with boots. Sure, we’ve seen these items before, but this year, we’ll have more options than ever. Lyssé promises mixed materials like faux leather panels; Kayser-Roth Corp promises denim prints and “trouser-inspired details in leggings.”

What won’t be fashionable? Shimmery pantyhose, the one item Kate Middleton favors that’s seeing a decline in popularity. Perhaps it’s just too ladylike for today’s go-getter, but dollar sales of sheer hosiery dropped 3.1 percent to $513 million last year. 

So if you’re feeling princessy, slap on a shimmery manicure instead, because nail art is passé, and legwear is getting wild.

Now it’s your turn! When do you start wearing tights?

When Should You Really Stop Wearing Tights?

The month of April begs the question: tights or no tights? With this month's weather being the most fickle of them all, you never quite know what weather you may face when you step out the door. If the temperature in the morning is a brisk 45 degrees but the high later on is 65, for instance, are you allowed to leave the house bare-legged?

Furthermore, when is it kosher to stop wearing tights in the workplace? Lucky for us (pun intended), editor in chief Eva Chen hates wearing tights, so we Lucky staffers pretty much have a green light to ditch our hosiery whenever we please. But in a more formal environment, it can be nerve-wracking to be the solo fashion pioneer going tights-less when spring first hits.

Here's a fairly foolproof formula for knowing when to stow those tights in the spring:

If the day's temperature high is somewhere in the 60-degree range, by all means, lose the tights.

If the temperature will be in the mid-to-high 50s andsunny, no tights. Just throw on a trench for the cooler morning commute.
However, if it's in the 50s and rainy/cloudy/windy, tights are recommended.

If it's 70 degrees or above—no matter what the expected precipitation—you should certainly go tights-free!

Says our senior digital editor Elana Fishman, "Since I hate wearing pants and stick solely to skirts and dresses for both work and weekend, I wear opaque black tights literally every single day, all fall and winter long. Come spring, it can be really hard to ditch them; by that point, I've gotten so used to my tights that I've basically forgotten what my legs look like underneath! But generally speaking, I stick to the Rule of 60: If it's 60 degrees or above, it's officially OK to go bare-legged."

Another idea for those hesitant to pack up their legwear? Do as Lucky creative director Katia Kuethe does and ease into the bare-legged look with socks: "I do a The 40-Year Old Virginlook very well, where I wear a thick, ribbed over-the-knee sock instead. This look is perfect with a penny loafer or a low patent leather kitten heel." After seeing socks with sandals all over the Spring 2014 runways (and street style stars!), the idea of knee socks on unpredictable weather days is a clever way to stay warm without relying on tights.

Another thing to keep in mind? Being a so-called "fashion pioneer" isn't a bad thing! If you end up not wearing tights when everyone else is, just think—they're probably pretty envious. In my opinion, the sooner I can stop wearing tights, the better (hence my own decision to go bare-legged today). Not ready for exposed legs but bored of basic black opaques? Try a colorful or a patterned tight for a change. Either way, it's time to embrace spring in all its fickle-weather glory!

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