Serious Question: Are Pantyhose Still Required Workwear?

woman on steps wearing pantyhose

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Deanna deBara
Deanna deBara
June 20, 2024 at 6:38AM UTC
Workwear has come a long way. While folks used to be required to dress conservatively—or at least traditionally—in the office, there’s a lot more leeway in what people can wear to work today.

And while different offices have different style standards, there is one question that many people still have about work fashion—and that’s “are pantyhose still required at work?”

Let’s take a deep dive into all things pantyhose: If and when they’re required, how to style them, and alternatives in case pantyhose aren’t your thing.

Are pantyhose still required at work?

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. Most workplaces are opting out of having any gender-specific requirements, like requiring women to wear skirts over pants—or, you guessed it, requiring women to wear pantyhose.

"In general, asking for gender-specific dress codes in the workplace is not looked upon favorably—so requesting that women wear pantyhose would be inappropriate," says style coach Sara Dahlquist

Should you wear pantyhose in certain situations?

Just because most companies don’t require women to wear pantyhose doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain situations where pantyhose might be the norm—for example, in more conservative or traditional industries or office environments.

"In my two decades of style coaching, I have experienced clients in the law or financial industries who receive conservative requests from their workplaces," says Dahlquist. These requests can include wearing pantyhose with skirts, or requiring that skirts fall below the knee.

In addition, you might want to consider wearing pantyhose in professional situations where you’re unsure of the dress code or want to dress more conservatively, like in an interview. But keep in mind, this is just a way to play it safe with your outfit, not necessarily a requirement.

"For interviews, I direct my clients to wear an outfit on the more classic side of their personal style—and then show a little of their personality in a color or accessory," says Dahlquist. "So, if pantyhose are a part of your look, then go for it. But are they required? Not so much."

How to style pantyhose

If you want to play it safe, going with nude pantyhose is the most conservative option. There are other pantyhose options (like different colors and/or patterns) that can help you incorporate more of your personality into your outfit. 

"Pantyhose can be used to show a style story for your outfit," says Dahlquist. "A pantyhose with a pattern or complimentary color to your outfit can set a very interesting and appropriate vibe if done right."

Everyday Control Top Pantyhose, Nordstrom, $15

Manzi Sheer Patterned Pantyhose, Amazon, $15

Alternatives to pantyhose

Not a fan of pantyhose? Not a problem. 

"I have many clients who loathe pantyhose but want their legs covered in the workplace," says Dahlquist.

Let’s take a look at a few alternatives that will allow you to skip the pantyhose and keep your legs covered at work:

Tights

Tights are similar to pantyhose but are generally thicker and have a wider range of coverage, from fairly sheer to fully opaque. Not only can they provide extra coverage underneath a skirt or dress, but in colder weather, fleece-lined tights can also add extra warmth and protection from the elements.

A New Day Flat Knit Fleece Lined Tights, Target, $13

Longer skirts

You don’t always need to pair a skirt or dress with pantyhose or tights. If you want to wear a skirt or dress without wearing anything extra on your legs, consider "exploring skirts and dresses that fall mid or maxi length for full coverage," says Dahlquist.

Poplin Midi Shirtdress, Banana Republic Factory, $60

Pants

If you want your legs to be covered but don’t want to worry about pantyhose or tights, you can skip a skirt or dress altogether—and opt for pants instead.

The “right” pair of pants will depend on your office dress code. For example, a nice pair of jeans would work for a more casual office—but a more tailored pair of dress pants might be more appropriate if your office has a more “business casual” approach to workwear.

Whatever style of pant you decide is the right for your office, make sure to look for a pair that is not only professional, but also feel like the right fit for your body and style.

"Try different styles of pants and find a style that feels great and flatters you and your personal style," says Dahlquist.

Editor Mid Rise Bootcut Pant, Express, $56

Leggings

As a general style rule, leggings aren’t a replacement for pants. But when styled correctly, they can be a potential alternative for pantyhose.

"Leggings could also be an option," says Dahlquist. "But depending on how casual or formal your workplace is, you want to be sure you wear something that falls over your leggings to the midpoint of your thigh," she says, like a tunic or sweater.

EcoCare Seamless Leggings, Spanx, $68

Bare legs

Finally, the last alternative to wearing pantyhose to cover your legs is wearing nothing at all—and going with bare legs.

"If bare arms are accepted, then bare legs should be as well," says Dahlquist. "They're just a limb on the body."

While bare legs should be acceptable (as Dahlquist said, they’re just limbs!), if you work in an ultra-conservative office environment, look to see if other people opt for bare legs under skirts and dresses—and if you do opt to go for a bare leg look, keep your skirt and/or dress on the longer side.

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