Do Pantyhose Make You Look Old?

Hi  Deborah,

Don't wear hose with sandles

Pantyhose with sandals looks dated.

I’d love to know what you think about the tights/pantyhose/knee high dilemma. When is a woman too old to wear tights, as in black, opaque tights or colored opaque tights?  If she is too old for tights, do you recommend pantyhose? 

Also, what about knee highs with pants?  If a woman feels that she needs them is it best to go with more of a “trouser sock” in black or a color, or to wear nude knee highs? Thanks, Michele

Hi Michele,

This is one of those “grey” areas that doesn’t get much press!  Since summer is coming, it’s even more relevant, so here’s what I think:

I do feel pantyhose can be aging but let’s be real, they are often necessary! The key to pulling them off is to wear an ultrasheer that is a nude shade that closely matches the color of your skin. Donna Karan makes some excellent sheer nude shades. If you are in between shades, choose the darker, but really nude should look “nude”.

A great alternative is a nude colored fishnet. These look terrific. Wolford makes a great one.

One final point, never wear pantyhose with a strappy sandal or mule!

As for when is a women too old to wear tights, I’d say never. Black or dark brown tights look great in the fall and winter, but come Spring/Summer I would suggest switching to no hose or nude hose.

My thoughts on knee highs with pants?  Don’t do it is my first reaction. However, I hate to say the word “never”…so here’s what I suggest. It all really depends on the shoe and pants and how dressy you are going.

If you are wearing:

  • jeans and flats – no socks or hose
  • jeans and heels or sandals – no socks or hose
  • jeans and a loafer.  Thin dress socks are good but in a dark color. (no white ones)  Barefoot O.K. Do not wear knee highs.
  • Khakis. (same rules as for jeans…however do not wear heels or dress shoes with khakis) Never hose with khakis.
  • Dress Pants.- If wearing closed toed pumps or flats you can wear knee highs or hose or go barefoot. If wearing “peep toed” heels or flats no hose. If wearing any type of sandal or mule, no hose.

Hope this clears things up!

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  1. Best said and summed up here:

    “Seeing a woman wear pantyhose symbolizes five words: grace, class, elegance, professionalism, and femininity. Those are the words that women should remember when they wear hosiery.” (quoted from

    Well said and that’s what I like in a woman. Young or old, it tells me she is all of that. Knows how to tie the outfit together from head to toe, proper. How refreshing to encounter a woman like that in today’s gym-bag slob society!

    Similar argument can be had about a man in a suit without the tie, ick.

  2. Never to old to wear colored tights I think.

  3. Michelle says:

    E iccHello
    I just read your post and I have to say that I love pantyhose and tights when its cold. I love pantyhose all year round. You n3ver know how cold it is going to be at work or in the bars I go dancing at. Not to mention the fact that pantyhose can help prevent issues with your legs when you get older. I personally don’t. Like knee highs with pant. Id rather put on a pair of pantyhose . They allow the fabric to glide more smoothly across. Your legs. If you ever look at peoples legs that hatepantyhose they usually. Look bad in a dress or skirt.

  4. Joanne Lynch says:

    Hello. I recently discovered your site and find it fun and affirming. My pantyhose dilemma is truly vexing. Thanks to multiple vascular surgeries, I am forced to wear medical compression hose (15-20 mmhg). The problem is finding a brand that offers fashionable colors, a “nude” or “beige” that does not have an orange cast. I have invested a small fortune in ordering different brands and colors online only to be repeatedly disappointed. Have you ladies ever researched the topic? I would appreciate your guidance/recommendations. Many thanks.

  5. Gail Myers says:

    Bare legs for women in dresses/shirts is, without doubt, the most ridiculous fashion trend I have ever seen. I still cannot believe that women slavishly bought into this look. Thank God Kate Middleton had the good sense to start sporting pantyhose! I teach college and even very young girls, unless they are tanned or are women of color, look incredibly unpolished sans hose in dresses/skirts. The look is too just too stark. Sheer nude hose on women over forty generally does not work, either. Age spots. spider veins, varicose veins? Seriously…

    • Shell in San Diego says:

      Amen Sister! I’m all for comfort but, come on! Bare legs are great if you’re heading to a beach party- but anything slightly formal… do us ALL a favor.

  6. Lydia Moore says:

    This whole discussion is ridiculous! First of all, trend setters are nuts, because you are just being a follower instead of dressing how you want. I am not out to pleae anyone. I am out to feel comfortable in what I wear. I want to celebrate my own person, not some trend setter’s. I will wear what I want, when I want, and where I want. Bottom line…dress should be a personal thing, not a fashion.

    • Gail Myers says:

      Notice the comments from the men who have posted in response to this question. They are right, of course.

  7. David Elvgren says:

    Classy women don’t walk around with bare legs and bare faces. Thats why God invented Silken Mist and Mary K.

  8. dave dufeey says:

    My opinion- Hose and heels always looks more attractive. I don’t go for that “raw” look.

  9. Guywthclss says:

    Well let me say this. First, Deb, you say most woman over 40 cannot go bare legged? I do not know what part of the country you live but where I live, Central Florida, MANY women in there 40’s and even 50’s who stay in shape go bare legged in very slinky dress and look amazing.

    Now onto the nylons. From a guy who is a “leg” man I can tell you that nylons are sexy and feminine and they also mix up the look for a woman who can go one night in nylons and the next without.

    RE heels with them. Thonged Sandals, NEVER. Closed toe pumps..YES, Peep-toe pumps absolutely but of course have a good pedicure. Finally high heel sandals…that is touchy but it can be pulled off. Also all shades are sexy. Nude, grey, shear black. Very nice.

    One thing ladies. A woman’s visual stimulus is like a drug to a man. It fires off all kinds of sexual chemicals in his head. Like any drug, no matter how good it is, if it’s always the same “strain” so to speak then he will go numb to it. Changing up your looks, even just subtly, can do wonders to the guy whos attention you are commanding.

    :) Take care

  10. No hose or pantyhose is so “teenage”. Why the fashion industry pushes toward the very young is beyond me. An elegant, classy line requires pantyhose. They preserve your shoes and prevent blisters. They complete a look. And, sorry, I don’t agree that light or natural color hose give a polished look to a dark dress…..somehow, it looks like you forgot something and the fashion line just does not flow. The classic look is always the best look.

  11. In the northern states in the winter we wear some kind of socks with our shoes or boots! Shoes and no sock, no way. Yesterday it was 15 degrees out & heavens only knows what it was with the wind chill. I like the knee socks I wear with jeans to be colorful with dress pants, black, dark grey or navy. Some fashion depends on where you live.

  12. I am late forties and will be attending an evening event late october. dress is black sleevless slip/sheath with overlay dress of lace look teal with silver threading and short sleeves (fringe at bottom of dress). It is about tea length with slit to knee on one side. I definitely need hose for my legs – not an option to not wear them.
    1. what color hose? nude? sheer black?
    2. what color and what type of shoes?
    do I need to get closed toe pumps? can i do black sandals (without the toe split – just a strap across foot and at ankle with a closed heel?) should I get peep toe?

  13. I believe hose will never go out of style. To me, I feel more attractive and sexy with a nice pair of thin sheer hose. As we age, our legs do not look they way they did when we were in our twenties, and hose makes our legs look sexy. Most men that I have spoken to will agree a women looks sexier when they are wearing hose. As for wearing hose with a peep toe shoe, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you’re not wearing hose with a reinforced toe. If that’s all you have then pull that part under your foot. I honestly don’t know who makes up these style rules, but panty hose are are forever…as for the knee highs, personally I will continue to wear them under my slacks when I wear pumps or flats. The key about style is, if it makes you feel good, feel sexy, and feel attractive, then go for it. Just remember, just because something has a designers name on it, doesn’t mean it’s stylish. Donna Karan hose are awesome, however it makes you feel like you’re stuffing yourself in a sausage. Control top hose should be outlawed.

  14. Im going to a very formal wedding in October and will be wearing a black cocktail dress and found the most beautiful black peep to pumps. October is kind of cool in the evening and am not sure what to wear on my legs. should I go with sheer black or nude pantyhose? No reinforced toe of course.

    • Hi Deborah,
      Your first choice should be the nude hose. Kate Middleton has made the nude hose popular again and we are so happy for that! Nothing like a nude hose to even out the legs! Just make sure to get a shade that is as close to your skin tone as possible, so they really look nude! Have fun!

  15. Mother of the Groom says:

    My son is getting married in Sept. I have a champagne knee length dress with bolero jacket. Champagne peep toes pumps. Age 54. Nylons? What kind?

  16. Agree that most women over 40 can’t do bare legs (maybe some can, but I haven’t seen many. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of under 40 bare legs that would have looked better covered! And sorry, the fake tans do not provide enough coverage for older women (You think your spider veins are hidden by fake tans? Not likely). One alternative I’ve found is the nude micromesh fishnets -they provide good coverage but have a subtle texture that looks more modern than nude hose, and I think they look chic even with smallish peeptoes (though I would not wear them with sandals or peeptoes that expose a lot). End result, I don’t wear sandals anymore unless I’m also wearing pants.