What To Wear In The Summer If You Can’t Go Bare Legs?

When I wrote about How to Wear Dresses when you have unattractive legs, a reader responded by asking, “What if you don’t like showing your legs at all?

What if you have big calves, chunky ankles, thunder thighs, veiny legs, splotchy legs, or even skinny legs? How do you cover up your legs in summer?”  Read on…


1. The Obvious – Wear Pants

Palazzo pants are chic and loose, which makes them perfect for hot weather. Wide leg linen pants ideal, keeping you cool and chic at the same time.  Capri or ¾ length pants are great for showing off a slim ankle without revealing the rest of your leg.  Wear with a cute low block or kitten heel to lengthen the leg even more. A shorter length colored jean worn with ankle boots, so there is about an inch of flesh on show, is a fabulous way to be totally on-trend

Coral Maxi

2. Try a Midi or Maxi dress

Tea Length/Midi length is fabulous for Petites and for anyone wanting to show off her pretty ankles. Wear flat shoes, flip-flops, or a small heel.  They never look quite right with a towering stiletto.

Shirts for Leggings - Sleeveless Sleeveless Floral Shirtdress


3. Leggings

These cover a multitude of sins.  Wear them under tunics and dresses as an alternative to tights.  You can go with ankle-length or capris style. Experiment.  Some women look better with them worn nearer to the knee, others nearer the ankles.

4. Divert Attention

The oldest trick in the book, but it works.  Move the focus upwards by wearing a fabulous hat, bright lipstick, dramatic jewelry, a must-have scarf. Your legs won’t even be noticed!

5. Experiment with Tights

Ten denier flesh-colored tights are a creative choice. Some even have the added advantage of control panels, so your tum, bum, thighs are streamlined too.  Choose toe-less if you want to wear sandals. You could even go the fishnet route, as they are cooler to wear in hot weather.

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P.S. Don’t like showing your arms either? Here is a great solution – pretty maxi dresses with long sleeves. 


Join the Conversation

37 thoughts on “What To Wear In The Summer If You Can’t Go Bare Legs?

  1. I absolutely hate pantyhose. So I wear nice thigh highs that come all the way up to my legs and have narrow welts. They almost stay up, but not quite. So I also wear a four strap garterbelt with wide clasps and the rear straps well to the side. I remove the front straps. Then I fasten the side garters to my stockings by gathering the welts high in the clasps and attaching the clasps to my stockings.

  2. Tights or hose look better, feel better, and treat your legs better. Legs stay moisturized for when you do removed them, for instance, and aren’t as tired at the end of the day. In the summer in LA I prefer nude fishnets, which get a lot of compliments. I think they’ll actually more cooling than bare because when I move, the pattern of the threading creates just a slight bit of air movement on my legs to keep me cool. In cooler weather, nude, black or colored tights are great. I also adore navy blue and chocolate brown. A friend wears burgundy a lot and I need to find where she buys them because they are professional and cute at the same time. Since curing myself of the bare leg fever, I’ve also said goodbye to goosebumped legs in chilly offices and sticking to the backs of chairs. Not to mention that the baby-oiled bare leg look that celebs love wrecks havoc with cleaning clothes and furniture in real life. Hello hose, welcome back.

  3. I am going to a daytime high school graduation in the month of May in Orlando, FL. Is it okay to wear black dress shoes and hose in the month of May. My outfit is a pink top with black chiffon skirt.

  4. Thanks for advice!. I do love to wear tights because I have to wear a knee support at all times but I wasnt sure about wearing tights with summer skirts. I must try different denier values to be confident? Thank you.. ps I have skinny ankles! Mmm! What do you reckon?

  5. Bare legs solution? I live in Florida, so believe me, tights and jeans are not an option – I’d melt!
    Try Sally Hansen leg spray…it works, doesn’t stain clothes and looks great.

    P.s. I’m 59 and quite pale with a few very blue spots from spider veins.

    1. I also use leg make-up. I was cursed with Keratosis Pilaris (chicken skin). Sally Hansen’s is like airbrush and it helps a lot. Most of the time, though, a trusty maxi skirt, a tunic with leggings or light-weight wide legged pants work for me when it’s blazing hot out.

  6. Love that I found this article! I’ve been super stressed over whether or not I can wear asphalt opaque tights with a short black dress (sailor neckline) and strappy closed toe stilettos tomorrow night to a press event. It’s smack dab in the middle of July in Los Angeles. I’ll arrive at 7:30pm. What do you think????

  7. My legs look good in nude hose, but w/o the pantyhose, my cellulite is pretty bad. I would look ok in a swimsuit if I could wear hose, but I don’t want to look like an idiot. What do you think?

    1. Hi Liz,
      Definitely no pantyhose with a swimsuit. Here’s what I’d suggest. Get yourself a huge scarf like cover-up and tie at your waist so it falls on an angle over your legs with a nice big slit up the side. Or, go for a long sheer caftan to wear on top of your swimsuit for when you want to walk around.
      Hope that helps! Cheers, Deborah

  8. Hi, I have just stumbled across this great website over the weekend. I have found this article at the perfect time too. As I am waiting on an operation to remove many varicose veins from my leg (many the result of of an accident 20 years ago) I am just 42 years old. I have been driving myself mad with what to wear. I like the idea of wearing jeans and then when I am wearing them wish I was in something smarter. What with the weather now turning to Spring here, hopefully getting warmer, I am struggling as the Surgeon has insisted I wear support tights constantly and these are proving to be quite uncomfortable under jeans and jeggings and I have been wondering whether I could make the tights part of my outfit and reading that tights are ok to have on show as such has opened a wardrobe of skirts and dresses to me. Do you think that 20-30 denier tights would be ok in either natural, blue or black with skirts and dresses etc. I am thinking with short boots at the moment and then maybe with brogues or ballet pumps later on. I haven’t been given a date for the operation yet but it is looking possibly about July time. Any advice or tips and suggestions would be so welcome. I am an hourglass with broader shoulders, 5ft 7 and a size 12-14 on top and 10-12 on the botton. Thank you!

  9. Are stockings/pantyhose back in vogue? I am very pale and do not like my bare legs. I will be attending a wedding in October and would prefer to wear a dress…. I do not want to be a fashion don’t!

  10. Question: What should I wear while visiting New York City in June? I want to be cool and chic, but comfortable while walking.

    1. Hi Gwen, Stay away from shorts, capris or long, hot blue jeans and try a pair of casual cropped pants that narrow at your ankles or even a cute sundress. Leggings and tunic would also work well. The main thing is you want to be comfortable so be sure to choose a good walking shoe. Have fun!

  11. Maxi skirts and cargo pants are my staples. Might try cotton leggings under denim skirt this summer. Long tshirts and tanks with leggings and sandals will be my go to uniform.

  12. Where do you live? I’m guessing not somewhere warm! Tights, leggings, pantyhose and boots? Making me sweat just thinking about that. And the pants suggestions are great for women who want to look shorter! (Not me.) I guess I’ll stick with letting my veiny legs show. When it’s hot or cold enough, vanity goes by the wayside.

  13. I too struggle with the bare leg look. I have some cute sandals to wear with summer dresses, but I cannot wear hose with them. I look best with dresses just above my knees, but my legs are freckled, pale, and scarred. I tried tanners, but don’t have good luck. (scars don’t absorb the lotion)

  14. Hi Deb, need your help! I have a BCBG long knit, crouched sweater that I wear over my Jeggins. You can see thru it so I added a white
    L/S Danskin! The Danskin make this beautiful
    Sweater Blah! I like to stand out in a crowd!
    Do you have any ideas? Thank You
    Karen W, Indy

    1. Hi Karen, I like the idea that you have a monochromatic look (I am assuming that the sweater is white as well) Just add a pretty long colorful scarf or a colorful large handbag and you are good to go!

  15. Lady’s this is the BEST, hands down. I have many issues with being over 50 and wondering what to do with hair, makeup, dressing, t-shirts, and jeans. This is what I live in (should say, use to!) Thanks to you lady. I have been brave and dressed up somewhat, still, love the jeans. Keep up the good work. By the way trying to get the nerve up for a new hairstyle!!

  16. I hate wearing sleeveless anything. I also do not wear bathing suits or shorts, but what do you wear when you live in Florida and you get hot, and every one else is hardly wearing anything.
    I am 5’7″ 124lbs, which means I should be able to wear almost anything, but my skin looks like I am melting,I am 63. My husband and I wil be traveling to Hawaii in Septmeber, I am already paniking about what I am going to wear. Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Jeannette,
      When you are going to be in a tropical location and don’t want to show your arms, find light weight gauze tops and pretty sarongs to wrap around your waist to keep you cool and covered. A large hat and pretty sandals will draw the attention from your arms to your face.
      However when you have to wear a bathing suit, just go for it! You are going to be more critical of yourself than anyone, so try not to worry and just enjoy your trip!!!

  17. I don’t think Kate Middleton wears nude pantyhose by choice! It seems ludicrous to me that people would copy her in what appears to me to be purely an act of submission to te royal family. The people I think we should be copying are the young girls ( like Kate) who decided to rebel against wearing the horrible nude hose. Now we are free to go hose free in summer, wear heels without our feet sliding around in our shoes, and to free ourselves from the ridiculous expense of hosiery designed to wear once only before being ruined with snags. Finally at age 60, I dared today to attend an afternoon event without feeling obligated to wear pantyhose – and I felt younger exercising that option.

  18. I was going to comment, that other ethnic groups do suffer from the “pale leg” syndrome LOL. Tanning salons and leg makeup are excellent ideas. I do plan on having my veins removed, but the thought that they may come back in multitudes is heartbreaking, so it ain’t so.

    1. Don’t bother getting your veins removed…I did it on one leg to see and my leg seems worse than the one I didn’t get done…such a huge disappointment :(

  19. What an interesting post. I don’t know if I’m brave enough to wear colored tights but I do enjoy wearing leggings. I have also used leg makeup to cover my imperfections. I’ve gone the laser route but they just come back but in multiples.


  20. My legs have been ugly for years before I reached 40. I was cursed with Keratosis Pilaris, a.k.a. “chicken skin” disease. It’s ugly and rashy and I typically have worn jeans or long dresses. I am happy to see leggings come back I do wear with a tunic. I just bought a few maxi dresses. Another option aside from tanning, is to wear leg make-up. Last year I mixed my foundation with a lotion and slathered it on my legs. They looked great and didn’t transfer onto anything.

  21. Yes to stockings in the higher denier! I wear 60 and 70 denier with seams and love it! They work with everything and add a vintage touch. Great post!

  22. Great post Sue~

    I must share with you that you don’t have to be over 40 to dislike your legs! I’ll forward this to my daughter who is in her 20’s and currently loving dresses and donning her black tights.

    She’ll appreciate the creativity and suggestions and maybe move into a brighter color for summer!


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