The first tights appeared, in the way we are used to seeing them, in the USA in the 1960s. This invention coincided with the start of the miniskirt trend. Before that, girls had to wear stockings and short outfits used to show their garter belts. Today, pantyhose are an essential element of a wardrobe but designers, bloggers, and simple users still continue to debate about how to wear them correctly and even whether to wear them at all.

You might notice that models and mannequins in clothing stores often show outfits without pantyhose. And very often the residents of colder regions have to choose a suitable pair of tights by themselves, with no guidance from stores or the runway.

We at Enlighten decided to figure out the rules for pairing tights with our clothing and if there are any no-nos we should look out for when wearing them.

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There are really very few limits with wearing tights nowadays because fashion rules change every season which means you can bravely experiment. But, in order to look neat and well-groomed, you should know about some nuances, regularities, and fashion taboos.

You should consider several factors when choosing tights:

  • the environment and the clothing style appropriate for it (office work, formal or informal party, a walk in the city, etc.);
  • your age;
  • fashion trends and your own tastes;
  • weather.

Common rules

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Despite the epoch of experimenting with clothes, it’s better to stick to this rule: the denser the tights are, the denser the clothes, and the more massive the shoes should be. Combine cotton and synthetic materials with tights at a density of up to 40 deniers. Tights up to 20 deniers are considered thin and up to 40 deniers are considered demi-seasonal. The thicker, warmer options will look good with skirts and dresses made from knitwear, wool, or denim. But keep in mind that dense tights don’t look good with business suits.

Don’t try to save money on the quality of your tights. Cheap products tear and stretch easily, which creates unattractive folds. Additionally, the color on cheap and thin tights is often distributed unevenly.

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Never wear really tan tights or tights that are shimmery.

Don’t forget about the weather outside. If it’s hot, you don’t need to put on tights. If you don’t feel comfortable wearing mini- and midi- skirts without tights, opt for pants or long skirts.

Transparent tights won’t do anything for you in the colder seasons and you could catch a cold. If you are planning to be outside for no more than a couple of minutes (like running from home to the car and from the car to the office), then you can allow yourself to wear tights as light as 20 deniers. And, if it’s sunny and warm at the beginning of fall or at the end of spring, don’t put on dense black tights.


Never wear tights with socks over them. The only situation when you can do this is putting socks on over tights in order to keep warm when wearing boots and when these socks won’t be visible.

White tights might often be seen in fashion shows, but in everyday life it’s difficult to match them with other clothes. Many people associate white tights with the outfits of little girls.

Combining tights with shoes

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As strange as it might sound, tights and open shoes are not taboo. The main thing is to follow several rules:

  • Footwear should have high heels.
  • Tights shouldn’t be a nude color.
  • Seams or reinforced toes shouldn’t be visible.
  • Tights shouldn’t be too transparent; but extra warm ’winter’ tights won’t work either.

When combining open summer shoes and tights you can create an informal-grunge look or, conversely, evening attire for a cocktail party. Also, they don’t necessarily need to be identical in color.

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Tights of any density are not recommended to be worn with light shoes without heels, like flat shoes, sandals, loafers, etc. However, more and more fashion mongers say ’yes’ to the combination of tights with sneakers and other sporty shoes. As a result, they get a modern, casual look. Dense tights also go well with closed-toe massive shoes like ankle boots, autumn boots, and winter boots.

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A rule that has been followed for a long time is that shoes should be darker than tights. But today bold and brave designers ignore this rule and fashion mongers follow their example. But still, sometimes they should take into account the color combination because tights and shoes in certain colors can make you look weird. There is one exception — black tights and black shoes make a good combination and visually elongate legs.

Base colors

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Fashion bloggers and stylists have long been debating whether tights in a nude color should be worn at all. Many girls will agree that a nude color is the perfect option for the office. The main thing to remember is that transparent tights should create an illusion that there is nothing on your legs. Tights of all other colors are meant to show that your legs are not nude. That’s why instead of glittering tights, opt for matte shades that best match the color of your skin. Before buying a new pair, check out the photos on the manufacturer’s packaging and the website or use color charts. Moreover, it’s better to not wear tights in nude colors anywhere, except for the office or business meetings.

Black tights can make either the right or wrong statement. On one hand, they seem universal and match almost all of your clothes. On the other hand, they can stand out in combination with a light dress and make your whole look seem aggressive. Dense black tights will complement your everyday style, while thin black nylon can ruin your look at a business meeting or a celebratory event.

Instead of black ones, opt for other more interesting but not flashy colors for your office dress code: graphite, anthracite (the color of wet asphalt), or mocha. They can be combined both with dark and light clothing. Thin tights won’t overwhelm the look and it will be noticeable that your legs are not nude.

Colorful and ’fantasy’ tights

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Colored tights always add an informal shade to the look, so consider the situation for which you are choosing an outfit. It can be pretty difficult to combine colorful tights with other clothes correctly. If you have doubts about your decision, follow this simple rule: don’t use more than 3-4 colors, combine cold shades with cold shades, and warm shades with warm ones.

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It’s better to stay away from buying nude tights with patterns. In reality, the pattern along your legs will create an impression that your legs are covered with bruises and scratches. However, tights with imitation tattoos that have appeared recently look really cool if you choose a pattern in the right proportions.

So-called ’fantasy’ tights — tights with pictures and ornaments — should be combined with clothes in only one tone. The perfect option for a print is polka dot — it looks nice and not too flashy.

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Tights in fishnet or with a seam from behind are there to create truly elegant looks. Never wear them with miniskirts, open dresses, or open or massive shoes.

Tights and the length of a skirt

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Wearing thin tights with a miniskirt and a short jacket in chilly weather looks very sad. People won’t be impressed with your ability to withstand the cold, but conversely, they start to worry about your health. Combine tights and short skirts with a long coat in cold seasons and put on a long cardigan when inside a building. Good news — multi-layered outfits are still on trend.

Which tights do you prefer? Do you have a personal fashion taboo on how to combine tights with clothes and shoes correctly? Please tell us about it in the comments!