Do I need to wear pantyhose to a job interview?
March 3, 2014 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I have been going on a lot of interviews lately, and in order to aid in that process, I've bought a sharp new black skirt suit. Do I absolutely need to pair this suit with opaque black pantyhose, or if it is okay for me to go to a job interview with bare legs (provided that it isn't FREEZING that day)?

Like a lot of women, I hate pantyhose. I think they are kind of ugly, and they're definitely massively uncomfortable. I currently work in a business casual office and I always go with bare legs on the rare occasion that I wear a skirt or dress to work. BUT, as I stated above the fold, I have been going on a lot of interviews lately. I am aware that a job interview is very different from a casual day at work, and I want to be sure to dress to impress. I recently bought a new skirt suit and I look great in it, but I am teensy bit nervous about going to a job interview with bare legs. Would it be a huge deal breaker if I went to the interview in a skirt suit with bare legs? And if I really MUST wear pantyhose, can anyone here suggest a good brand that is at least KIND OF comfortable and that comes in opaque black? Thanks!

I live in the southeastern United States and am in my late twenties, in case that matters.
posted by SkylitDrawl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (50 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This time of year, I really think you should be wearing tights, because bare legs look ridiculous when it is cold outside. It makes you look like you lack common sense. I like the Target brand opaque black tights; if you're on the cusp between two sizes, buy the size up for comfort.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:58 PM on March 3, 2014 [13 favorites]

It depends on whether or not the day is freezing, I think. The weather has been unpredictable here over the last few weeks - this weekend, it was 70 degrees.

Some of the job interview tips I am reading online specify the need for pantyhose over tights. Does this really not matter?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:00 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I always find it realy odd when women don't wear tights with a suit but I grew up in England and had to wear a school uniform everyday, so for me it's second nature..... My American best friend HATES them with a passion but she still wears them in the office because it just looks so much more professional!

I love the Joe Fresh Opaque tights, they are really good quality and you can get 3 pairs for $10 or something like that!
posted by JenThePro at 2:01 PM on March 3, 2014

If you are of an "average" body type, the plain old $5 tights from Target should suit you just fine.

Personally, I think Hue brand tights are pretty comfortable. Three times as comfortable than the Target ones (to make up for the difference in price)? I don't know about that. (When I find Hue tights on sale though, oh man watch out.)

Things that are going to make tights uncomfortable: control top (JUST SAY NO), being too short for your legs, wearing the wrong size.

Seriously on the being too short thing. I'm 5'7" and the difference between tall person tights and normal person tights is the difference between "gee my legs are nice and warm" and "DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE."
posted by phunniemee at 2:03 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

specify the need for pantyhose over tights

I don't know what the textbook definition is, but to me, pantyhose is just oldladyspeak for tights. Specifically when it comes to opaque colored ones, I definitely mentally book those as "tights". "Pantyhose" are the nude colored sausage casings that grandmas and Hooters waitresses wear.
posted by phunniemee at 2:05 PM on March 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

I HATE all forms of pantyhose and tights. However, I recently discovered these. They are surprisingly comfortable, don't snag easily at all and don't fall down. Oh! And no static cling!

Let go of your notions of frumpy compression! You can't tell the difference. Like, at all. I'm 33 by the way...not an old lady by any stretch.

I actually am willing wear them with skirts and boots instead of just boots and sucking it up with bare knees. I have never, ever been able to re-wear pantyhose (they are one and done - I throw them out after wearing because I ruin them every time) but I can get 4-5 wears out of these after running them through the regular wash. Highly, highly recommend!
posted by floweredfish at 2:08 PM on March 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

For an interview, yes, you need to wear tights. Once you get the job, you can use whatever dress code the office uses.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:08 PM on March 3, 2014

It depends more on the industry you're in.

Banking or Big Law or a similarly conservative industry, yes, you need actual pantyhose.

Other industries where the usual dress is business casual, I would wear tights.
posted by pie ninja at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ask people who know your geographic area, like career services at local universities or something, maybe? I live in Ohio, and despite it being conventional wisdom that nude hose is old-fashioned and that bare legs are generally okay, I would NEVER do bare legs for an interview where I live, and I would favor nude over black in most circumstances if one is in a conservative line of work. But that's where I live. I'm well aware that in a lot of places it's perfectly okay, and in those same places conventional interview-wear around here would probably look dated and tacky.
posted by Sequence at 2:10 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think some of this is regional. I'm in the Northeast, and if you showed up at a job interview with bare legs (even in the summer), I would notice, and think you're not very experienced/don't quite get the norms of job interviews. I think that things are a bit different in the Southeast, and definitely on the West Coast.

However, since it's winter, you can definitely get away with black tights instead of nude pantyhose (which pretty much everyone hates). If you need to go with nude pantyhose, pay a little more for ones that are sheer (low dernier count, I think), and close to whatever your actual skin tone is. Sometimes you can find them cheaply at TJ Maxx, etc.
posted by chocotaco at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

If you're wearing a skirt suit, I definitely think tights. I grew up in the midwest so take that as you will. But it's winter, even in the southeast, and wearing a skirt without tights is weird.

If you're going for opaque black, sizing up and buying opaque from Target or H&M should be fine!
posted by stoneandstar at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yes, black opaque tights; grey ones if you want to look extra snazzy and they match.

It may seem silly but I've interviewed women for teaching positions (so pretty casual) and yes, when they arrive at the interview with a skirt and bare legs, it does not make a great impression.

Even though we may be bare legged most of the year with our skirts, you want to show at an interview that you know how to dress properly if needed.

Also: have an extra pair in your car to change into just in case you get a run on your way to the interview.
posted by kinetic at 2:14 PM on March 3, 2014

Opaque black tights. I second Hue. (Definitely not the sausage pantyhose or anything that screams 'shiny' or 'nylons'... yeck.) You want to err on the dressier side, especially if you may be interviewed by people from older generations who still embrace hose. Job interviews are not just to evaluate the candidate's potential as an employee, they're also to see how the employee might represent the company to the public. Unless you're interviewing at a tech startup or someplace where it's okay to dress trendily and/or casually.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2014

I *hate* pantyhose too and generally wear nude micro fishnets in their place. They're fantastic -- way less stodgy and quite light and comfortable, even in summer. Agreed with sequence that I'd wear nude even with a black suit.

Black tights are fine for the office, but I probably wouldn't for an interview. It's not a faux pas, but isn't as polished a look. Bare legs definitely not.
posted by susanvance at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Very very regional. In the southwest where I live, I have never seen a person under age 50 wearing pantyhose "in the wild" except for the rare black-tights-with-boots-and-miniskirt look. Nobody wears them at work, not even bank managers or lawyers. I always laugh when I read interview tips from the northeast, because you'd be laughed out of the room if you dressed like that here.
posted by celtalitha at 2:19 PM on March 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Actually, upon seeing the rest of the answers, I agree that nude pantyhose is actually most appropriate. I wear opaque black daily to the office in winter, but wouldn't to an interview.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2014 [11 favorites]

I vote for nude pantyhose for an interview. You could get away with black tights, or sheer black hose too. But I definitely wouldn't go barelegged for an interview...depending on the industry. (I wouldn't wear pantyhose for a job in fashion in NYC, but tights would be good). Also, I live in Connecticut if that matters.
posted by Shadow Boxer at 2:26 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would wear a nice pair of nude pantyhose. (This is why I wear pants to interviews.)

Kate Middleton does it.

posted by amaire at 2:26 PM on March 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

If you hate the way pantyhose look (as opposed to the way they feel -- they unarguably feel AWFUL) I highly recommend Leggs Sheer Energy in Nude. I buy them at Target for $5. They look like really perfect bare skin.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think that a suit is formal enough that you want to have something covering your legs, unless you're interviewing in the middle of a heat wave or something.

Tights are a good option for the pantyhose averse, this time of year.

If you must go with pantyhose, I would go with colored/tinted ones or a classy fishnet rather than nude hose, which, ugh.
posted by Sara C. at 2:31 PM on March 3, 2014

I'm a professional in the southeast, and I haven't worn actual nude sheer pantyhose anywhere for any reason under any circumstance in over 10 years. I work in a place that is a few notches above business casual, but where suits aren't typically worn on a daily basis (more blazers and slacks or business dresses).

I don't think opaque black tights go with a skirt suit. Opaque tights read casual to me. It would just look to me like you don't know how to wear a suit. As a person who does hiring, I wouldn't think twice about bare legs unless it was cold (and then just to commiserate mentally). I completely assumed nobody wore pantyhose professionally anymore, except maybe some lawyers in Big Law firms who also wear suits all the time. FWIW, I'm almost 40 years old, so I'm not operating from an overly young perspective.

However, the tide is clearly against me here, so I say go for sheer nude hose with your back suit. On preview, Leggs Sheer Energy was my go-to back in the days when I wore hose to work (in Houston, in the summer).
posted by jeoc at 2:35 PM on March 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Nude pantyhose, regardless of whether you're in the SE, NW or SW (all of which regions of the US I've lived). Think of it this way. If this is something that a hiring manager possibly MIGHT notice and could conceivably possibly regard in a neutral to negative way, why run the risk?

By the way - I'd notice (female, mid-30s, also hate hose). I wouldn't particularly care, but I'd notice. And some of my older colleagues would notice in a "not dressed properly" fashion. Also - as someone who hates hose - I still wear hose whenever I'm wearing a skirt suit.
posted by arnicae at 2:36 PM on March 3, 2014

I will stop threadsitting right after I ask this question - why is nude most appropriate?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 2:39 PM on March 3, 2014

I live in Atlanta, am 31 (which I swear seems young but I guess if you're in your 20s it sounds old), and am in a fairly casual industry, so ymmv but I usually just go all out and wear colored tights if it's cold, and bare legs if it's warm. I would be more likely to judge someone harshly for wearing hose (in summer) than going bare-legged. But then again I also don't wear suits (usually dresses or dressy separates) so you're already miles ahead of me!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 2:39 PM on March 3, 2014

Brit here. What is the difference between tights and pantyhose? Are pantyhose stockings? And, if so, how on earth would your interviewer know which you were wearing?
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 2:42 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not really even sure I can quantify why nude, except that professional makeup and accoutrements are designed to make you look as if you naturally rose lily-fresh each morning and there is no makeup and there are no stockings. So nude preserves the illusion that your legs are naturally that even toned, while still saying "don't worry, my bare legs are covered!" I sometimes think it also says "I can manage through the day without getting a run, but that's maybe cynicism talking.

Tights are not pantyhose. Pantyhose is very specifically this kind of sheer, semi-see-through, leg-colored stocking. That is what you need to wear. Nude or possibly tan depending on your skin tone.

Tights are colored stockings that are often a bit thicker and do not run.
posted by corb at 2:44 PM on March 3, 2014 [8 favorites]

Brit here too - as far as I can tell pantyhose means sheer tights.

Opaques just tend not to go as well with suits (it does depend on the suit). Also if you're wearing a black suit and black opaques that's a lot of black. Grey opaques might work, depends on the skirt and the shoes.
posted by tinkletown at 2:44 PM on March 3, 2014

Pantyhose are sheer and thinner than tights, which are opaque.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2014

Generally tights are opaque/thick and pantyhose are sheer/lower denier.
posted by celtalitha at 2:45 PM on March 3, 2014

I'm in North Carolina and in my mid-30s, and I would wear black tights or sheer black hose to a job interview at least until late April-ish.
posted by something something at 2:47 PM on March 3, 2014

My reasoning on black vs nude: : sheer legs=fancy/dressed up, opaque= more casual. Sheer black would look odd to me at an interview because it is usually reserved for eveningwear/going out.

I don't think you'll lose points if you wear opaque tights, but nude sheer will take it up a notch. I'd compare it to shoes -- I really never wear heels, but do for interviews and weddings (but not the same heels, as they are very different looks). If it matters I'm in my early 30s and on the east coast, in a business casual office.
posted by susanvance at 2:55 PM on March 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

I would if the temperature were 10C or lower. After that, I'd rather be at ease and be able to concentrate on the questions versus feeling all sweaty. But I tend to run warm, and I think that workplace culture in the public sector in Canada is a little bit more casual than some other places.
posted by Kurichina at 2:59 PM on March 3, 2014

I would have to agree that this is completely region- and industry-specific.

I'm mid-30s in Alaska, public sector. I leave my legs bare with my work skirts, dresses and skirt suits. I only sometimes wear tights if it's cold enough (15F or colder), or I feel my skirt is a little on the short side. I haven't worn pantyhose since I was probably 13, and that includes attending church.

I conduct many interviews for work and someone under 50 wearing sheer/shiny/nude hose would be quite out of the ordinary. I would assume they did not dress that way every day and were unfamiliar with the interview process. But I wouldn't let that sway my opinion of the applicant's knowledge, skills and abilities.
posted by rhapsodie at 3:11 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I actually think the level of professionalism, based purely on convention, is

nude > sheer black > opaque black

... and I have no further explanation except that it's just what everybody decided. Like how "professional" makeup is "natural," but you know the person is wearing it. Nude pantyhose. A contradiction.
posted by stoneandstar at 3:24 PM on March 3, 2014 [7 favorites]

If you do go bare-legged because research shows that's the norm for your location and
Industy, make sure your feet and the inside of your shoes are clean.

My world tends toward covered legs (for people who wear skirts) but while there is room for bare legs, even with remarks about visible chicken skin on cold days, female silverbacks have a low opinion of women who have dirt rings in their shoes or dirty heels. (If you never, ever, dangle your heel out of your shoe this won't be an issue. But this is a thing people do unconsciously. )
posted by Lesser Shrew at 3:32 PM on March 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nobody's touched on this so far: going bare-legged means bare feet in your dress shoes. Gross! Oh, just plain old hellish gross!

Mondor tights are made in Canada. Buy them. They're what the figure skaters wear!

or, alternatively:

Hanes makes a lovely sheer thigh-high stocking that stays up on it's own. I've been swearing by them for years.
posted by BostonTerrier at 4:01 PM on March 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm in San Francisco and currently working at a fairly conservative financial services/investment company. We just interviewed (and hired) three women, none of whom wore tights or pantyhose with their skirt suits to their multiple interviews. I will say that all of them are reasonably young, have "nice" legs and do not have ghostly white skin (one of the women told me she regularly gets a spray tan for the very reason that she doesn't want to ever feel like she needs to wear pantyhose, etc.)
posted by hapax_legomenon at 4:04 PM on March 3, 2014

I'd like to chime in with something else to consider - make sure you are used to walking in whatever you wear (hose, stockings, tights, whatever) with your heels. Your feet will slip down into the toe of your shoe and it can get really, really painful, especially if you have to do a lot of walking before, during and after the interview. There are some kind of pads that are supposed to help with this, but I personally have never had much luck. Someone else might know of a trick to keep feet from sliding too much.
posted by foxhat10 at 4:09 PM on March 3, 2014

When I wear skirt suits (and that is very seldom nowadays), I always wear sheer hose in a coordinating color. Why coordinating color and not nude? Because I'm 5'2" and was always taught that one long line of color makes you look taller. Nude breaks up the line and makes you look shorter. Obviously YMMV depending on your height and build!

So I wear sheer black hose with a black suit, sheer nude with a brown or beige suit, etc. My favorite opaque cotton or wool tights are for more casual outfits.

Another reason I wear nylons or tights is because I'm north of 50 and my legs are just not up to bare-legged snuff these days. I'm fine flaunting my pasty, jiggly and veiny flesh once I'm actually on the job, if it's a casual workplace - but not on an interview where I want to make a firm, youthful impression. Again, YMMV. Many women have lovely, tight, non-pasty legs and look just fine bare-legged once they are on the actual job. I do think bare legs are too casual for an interview, and not really appropriate in actual winter weather. If you show up bare-legged on a chilly, rainy day I'm going to wonder what is up with that and, yes, wonder about your common sense.

LesserShrew and BostonTerrier brought up the yuck and comfort factors of going barelegged in "good" shoes. As a matter of fact, I asked a question here on the green about how to go barelegged in good shoes! The answer is "footie" socks or liners that don't show over your shoe tops. They also keep your shoes from getting stinky and gross. But they will show if you dangle your shoes off your feet; but glimpsing footies is much nicer than glimpsing dirty feet smudged with shoe dye.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 4:41 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I hate tights, I work in the bank industry, there's no way I could ever get away with not wearing legwear to the office, much less get hired without it.

I can't stand control tops and I have leg tattoos that require any tights I wear to be really opaque, and the only brand that works for me is American Apparel Super Opaque Tights sized up to the largest size.

Pros: will last a million years even machine washed, actually opaque for once, comfortable even after eating a big lunch.

Cons: really expensive, I hate everything about American Apparel except these tights.
posted by Juliet Banana at 4:48 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't worn nude panythose since I was a majorette in high school, and don't plan to revisit that look.

I actually just think that most skirt suits look incomplete without leg coverings. If it's warm, I'd go with pantyhose (sheer); if it's cold, I'd go with tights (opaque). The main thing is to wear something that actually looks good with the suit! (And shoes, etc.)
posted by sm1tten at 5:20 PM on March 3, 2014

Nude pantyhose is appropriate because think of it like wearing shorts to an interview. Bare legs are casual. Guys don't ever have this problem because they would never wear shorts. But it's just another layer that covers your bare legs, and it does make them look a bit more svelte, to be honest. I hate the bare leg look with skirts unless it is a casual gathering.

Color me an old lady. But I think hose completes the outfit, and nude is more appropriate because you are not rocking the fake suntan look of dark hose. It also covers up any weird stuff on your legs and who wants an interviewer looking at that? Colored hose or tights detracts from the outfit and makes it seem more costume-y.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:46 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Software industry middle management - Northern California where it is never really that cold. Bare legs here are never inappropriate. You would be mocked for wearing nude hose if you were any age under 60. If you really want to cover your legs - black or other non-skin tone sheer hose. Tights are more casual than bare legs in these parts.
posted by Wolfie at 7:24 PM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would suggest stockings and a garter belt (especially if it's the croch part of the hose that bugs you) because then you look professional, but get to feel a little risqué. Having a secret can give you confidence. Good luck on the interview btw :)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:04 PM on March 3, 2014

If this is something that a hiring manager possibly MIGHT notice and could conceivably possibly regard in a neutral to negative way, why run the risk?

Probably not relevant to the OP of this thread, since she said she lives in the southeast, but the answer to this is that to some hiring managers in some areas/cultures, overdressing or dressing "older" than the environment is an actively bad thing. There's a trope constantly touted (mainly by people in the northeast or more conservative areas) that it is *always* better to be overdressed than under, that it will definitely never hurt to run as conservative and old-school as you possibly can while interviewing; and this (in my experience and several of the above, as you can see) is patently not true in every circumstance. I have worked for a major mortgage company here in Phoenix where my (mid-30s, fashionable, single, female) boss would frequently come back from an interview with a potential applicant either grumbling, eyerolling or outwardly making fun of the get-up of the interviewee, often for things like "dressing like a grandma" in something like a drudgy loose blazer and hose. Sure, she was a jerk, but she was the hiring manager. It totally happens.

So yeah. Whether the culture in the OP's city and industry are closer to Phoenix/LA/San Fransico or whether they are closer to NY/DC/England in this aspect, I have no clue; but the whole "gasp, horrors, a lady universally never goes barelegged or allows her bare feet to touch her dress shoes in an interview!" is a factually outdated statement.
posted by celtalitha at 10:16 PM on March 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am in Maine.

In professional interviews or employment I have never worn "nude pantyhose," including my (now former) practice as a lawyer. I find them weird and uncomfortable. As said above, black nylons or tights, depending on the weather, are perfectly fine, as long as they sync with your clothing!

Also, for interviewing and/or working, a pantsuit can be fine up here.
posted by miss tea at 6:25 AM on March 4, 2014

I advise a sorority chapter, and when we talk about proper meeting attire, ceremony attire, or meeting with a National officer attire (all different levels of professional dress) I have a chat with them about pantyhose. Basically, if it is summer and they are wearing open toe sandals, hose not necessary. If it is colder, or they are wearing a closed/mostly closed toe shoe, or we are doing a ceremony, hose are required. (This is just our particular standard). However I have learned that I have to educate them on what I mean by nude colored hose.

This means the color of your hose should match the color of your skin tone as close as possible. For Caucasian women, it tends to be nude. But for some darker toned women, it may be called buff or suntan or something else.It is like choosing liquid makeup...choose the one that best blends with your skintone and not the one that makes you look like you tried to fake tan that morning.

If you have a black skirt and black heels, sometimes a sheer black hose works. For me I just have to try the outfit on and see if it blends well or not. Basically (just like liquid makeup!) you don't want people to look at your legs and think about your pantyhose you have on. If you want them to do that wear tights (NOT the same thing as pantyhose!), but that changes the dress up level of your outfit entirely.
posted by MultiFaceted at 10:12 AM on March 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I went with sheer black.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 7:43 PM on March 9, 2014

Got the job in sheer black tights.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:06 AM on March 11, 2014 [9 favorites]

Yay! Congratulations!
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:12 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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