Monday, August 20, 2007

Reader Question: Pantyhose Etiquette

Colleen wrote me recently with a question about pantyhose...

Hi Meg,
Is it acceptable to wear pantyhose with slingbacks? I am starting my first year of medical school and need to dress professionally, and I have a cute pair of black slingbacks, but I don't think showing up in the hospital to shadow a physician without pantyhose would be okay. Plus I have super pale legs. Thanks! Colleen

Unlike most women, I love wearing pantyhose and tights. I know a lot of people say that they're old-fashioned and no longer a necessity, but I think they do a lot to make an outfit look more polished, make you look (and feel) thinner and eliminate panty lines. And unless you're Heidi Klum, chances are that you've got bruises or razor nicks or cellulite or freckles that can be made less noticeable with a pair of hose. I also think they're great for preventing foot pain, as I always get way more blisters when I don't have hose to provide an extra layer of protection between my foot and shoe.

I don't wear pantyhose in summer (unless I'm wearing a suit or dressed for an important meeting or interview, formal situations that call for hosiery) and I would advise against wearing them with open-toed shoes, unless you've got one of the toeless styles. But I think they'd be perfectly acceptable with slingback pumps, just as long as they're closed-toe.

Your daily dose of shoe porn.

If I were in your situation, I would definitely wear hose to work, slingbacks or not. I think that a hospital is one place where you're better off leaning conservative in your fashion choices. First, as a medical student, you're young and have to work extra hard to be respected and looked at as an authority by patients. And as I've heard from friends who are medical students and doctors, patients (especially older ones) can sometimes be wary of female doctors treating them. It's a sexist view that persists in our society that if you're a woman (particularly a young and attractive one), you're assumed to not be as qualified or intelligent as your older male counterparts in fields traditionally dominated by men. Pantyhose won't change someone's whole opinion of you, but it does make an outfit more formal and conservative and it may help you look more mature and experienced.

Finally, as a doctor you're also dealing with many different kinds of people, some of whom might be put-off by your bare legs in a hospital setting. Whether it's a hygiene thing or a matter of bare legs being more sexually suggestive, I would err on the side of caution and go with the hose.

What do you guys think?

12 comments:

Cate said...

Meg, although I usually agree with your advice 100%, i would disagree here...not necessarily on the hose with slingbacks (although that might not be my first choice, i don't think it's all that dire), but that hose is truly necessary in any situations other than very formal business meetings in the fall/winter/early spring. I agree that if you'd prefer it, then by all means it's lovely (I know that if I'm wearing a skirt that's knee length or a bit higher to work I'm always in hose)...but other than that it's personal preference. I'll be interested to see everyone else's take ont he status of hose today!

Elle said...

I recently cleaned out my lingerie drawer, and tossed all but one pair of pantyhose (just in case).

But I'm an academic, so your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised that the other comments so far are anti-hose. Except in the summer or for really informal situations (party with friends, for example) I always wear hose or tights if I'm wearing heels, for all the reasons you mentioned -- not to mention, I imagine shoes will stay nice a lot longer if you're not sweating directly into them all day.

Alexandra said...

I am a hose-hater. While I agree that it does look a bit more polished and professional, the discomfort is simply not worth it for me. If I worry that my bare legs are inappropriate for a business meeting or the like, I wear pants. As a matter of fact, all my suits are pant suits for that exact reason.

Monica said...

Agreed, yes, you can wear nude stockings with slingbacks. It might be worth mentioning that it's unwise to wear them with mules, not because it looks wrong, but because it's very hard to keep mules on with nylons. I've tried. :) As for the pro-hose/anti-hose issue, I think sheer stockings can make an outfit more polished, and I wear opaque tights often in the winter to extend the skirt season. I consider stockings necessary for business formal and optional for business casual. In general, I look at what women just senior to me wear and take my cues from them (as they say, dress for the job you want, not the job you have).

Jo said...

I'm a nurse who works at a teaching hospital. For the medical student, I say hose, hose, hose. Also nothing too low-cut or tight, as you tend to do a whole lot more than just walking around when you're shadowing somebody. Doing a patient exam can be tricky in a skirt and blouse. (Why do you think we wear scrubs?) The trick is to look professional as "professional" was defined twenty or thirty years ago.

As for hose for my own self, I hate 'em. If I can't get away without them, I wear cotton tights or thigh-highs with that weird sticky rubbery stuff that holds on to your legs.

purrtykitty said...

i don't like wearing hose, either, but i think that when wearing a skirt in a professional situation, they are a must. i'm studying to be a lawyer and i cannot imagine walking into a courtroom wearing a skirt with no hose. as it gets cooler, i opt for tights, as they are much more stylish.

basically, i think hose/tights are a necessity for any professional woman. i agree that hose/tights give the air of professionality, which will put patients at ease.

Anonymous said...

I'm a surgery resident...you don't need to wear hose. I steer away from high heels or overly feminine shoes in the hospital because of comfort and appropriateness...definitely no open toe or mules!

lisa said...

I'm anti-hose in general, BUT I completely agree about the shoe thing, which is why I have about ten pairs of peds. (You know, the fake sock-y things from Payless? Except I actually buy decent ones that stay on my feet and don't rip.) I wear them every single day to work, and they make all of my shoes about a zillion times more comfortable. Best part? There are a ton of different styles, so you can do low-cut, open toe, sandal, or whatever, and there are a lot of different colors. I buy mine mostly at Target, but the ones from Payless are actually better.

(Seriously, I wear these every day, especially since moving to Florida.)

Pat said...

I like what Lisa said, and I would add that there is a peds-like sock that is made specifically to wear with slingbacks (in fact, I'm wearing a pair with my black slingbacks as I write this now) - it's like a half sock that goes over your toes with a clear plastic strap on the sides and heel. Works perfectly. I got mine at Nordstrom's - I'm sure you could find them at other stores.

Lisa in vegas said...

I am a hose lover myself. I like the polished look and think hose rounds out an outfit. For me not wearing hose is like not wearing panties or a bra, i just won't do it. So my advice is yes and hose are acceptable with any shoe except open toed.

Erin said...

i work in a professional setting and most of the girls in my office wear hose. i dont really find them discomfortable, but im pretty slim. i like the way i look in a skirt with hose and heels.

i find i get alot more looks from men when wearing hose, has anyone else made that observation?