General Question

livelaughlove21's avatar

Should I wear pantyhose to work?

Asked by livelaughlove21 (15608points) December 27th, 2013 from iPhone

I’ve always had a no-pantyhose policy. I figured pantyhose went out of style after the 90s for anyone under 50. However, I will be starting a new job next week as a legal secretary and I bought some dresses and skirts to wear to the office. They all fall above the knee, but are appropriate for work. For those of you that wear dresses and skirts to a professional job, do you wear pantyhose?

I would only be wearing sheer, nude pantyhose, of course. No black or patterned pantyhose for me.

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55 Answers

trailsillustrated's avatar

Yes. Yes it’s old fashioned, but this is an office. No bare legs.

anniereborn's avatar

I still wear pantyhose and I am 45. I am so unhip.
So take this with a grain of salt, but in this situation I think you should.

JLeslie's avatar

Ask them, no need to guess. It is perfectly appropriate to ask about dress codes. Any employer will appreciate it.

tedibear's avatar

If you don’t have time to ask before orientation, wear them the first day and then ask. I work for a bank and am required to wear hosiery with skirts and dresses. For your sake, I hope the law office is less stuffy!

marinelife's avatar

I think bare legs are out except in the heat of the summer.

jca's avatar

I think bare legs look terrible at work unless the person is very young and it’s in the summer. My former boss, a woman in her 50’s who was overweight, never wore stockings. She had veiny legs and it looked so awful. Nobody would tell her.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Thanks everyone. I’ll gladly wear them.

I just hope they don’t tell me I can’t wear anything with a hemline falling above the knee. I was told by the staffing agency before my interview that they were “conservative, but not stuffy,” and that I should wear a pantsuit to the interview, which I did. I did see a woman there in a pencil skirt that fell at the knee, but had a slit up the back that allowed her thighs to be easily seen.

I should’ve asked before buying anything, but they got a bunch of days off for the holidays, which is when I bought everything. I used to work for a bank where all hemlines had to hit the knee, but that was a customer service job, so I’m hoping this firm is more lenient. If not, back to the store the clothes will go.

@jca Blech! Yeah, I’m 24 and not overweight. I still feel more confident about my legs in pantyhose, though. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get any weird looks.

jca's avatar

Congratulations on the new job! Good luck with it!

Adagio's avatar

Who cares about old-fashioned, what is old-fashioned, I’m not sure what is meant by that, wear what you feel good in. Personally, I love tights, woollen ones and black pantyhose can look great.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Before you pull all the tags off you might want to ask the dress policy. Why not wear a pant suit the first day? Or, the hose are are a safe bet the first day to err on the side of caution, but wear a skirt to the knee if you have it. When I worked in retail years ago the rule was if we wore a skirt we had to wear hose and no open back shoes. If we wore trousers we must have a suit jacket on, a blouse alone was unnacceptable. If we wore just a skirt and blouse or a dress it must have a sleeve, at minimum a short sleeve. That whole Michele Obama showing her arms style would never be acceptable in the department stores I worked at. I see on TV people having bare arms at work on sitcoms and I think it is completely unrealistic. The girls we hired to the Chanel cosmetic line had to have their nails kept down to a certain length, short hair or hair pulled back. Dress code can get very specific. I assume theirs isn’t or they already would have forewarned you.

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livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie Wow, and I thought the bank was strict. I see professionals baring their arms and legs all the time. I was the only female in the office wearing a jacket when I went for my interview, so I’m hoping they won’t be so specific. But I plan on wearing pants on my first day, just to avoid the awkward, “these are the reasons you can’t wear that ever again” conversation.

@Coloma Gay?

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JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Now many of the department stores have just gone to you must wear black and the rest is more relaxed, but you still have to have a back on your shoes, it is a safety concern, and still most higher end department stores would not be ok with bare arms. Pantyhose has been relaxed a lot in a lot of workplaces, especially in the south.

deni's avatar

Yes wear pantyhose. They’ll be warmer than wearing nothing and if they are the right color, no one will even notice them, and you won’t have to worry about someone seeing up your skirt while you’re sitting lol

SnoopyGirl's avatar

When I have worked in a professional office setting and worn skirts or dresses; I wore tights. Tights have become more popular and I think rather fashionable! You can get plain or with a pattern to them. Take a look at Target or some department stores. I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Also, the biggest bonus about tights…they last much longer than pantyhose!

gailcalled's avatar

Certainly start your first week by being conservative. You can easily check out the dress code by looking around at the other women. Personally, I would not ask anyone initially until you have a feel for the ambience.

gailcalled's avatar

How to dress for work at a law firm mentions everything except panty hose. Maybe that is just the obvious given.

Aethelwine's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie. Ask.

No one wore pantyhose in the upscale travel agency that I worked at back in the late 90’s, and these women wore skirts that fell just above the knee. just sayin’ (I know…a travel agency is not the same as a law office)

Lightlyseared's avatar

Well given that the latest fashion trend among the young is to dress “old-fashioned” anyone who doesn’t dress “old-fashioned” is marking themselves out as either “old-fashioned” or just old. Don’t you just love fashion.

Rarebear's avatar

Perhaps I’m naive but I don’t understand why it’s improper for women to have bare legs if the dress is modest.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Now I’m concerned about length requirements. If they want my hemline to reach my knee, I’ll be returning all of my skirts and dresses (even though they are all made to wear in an office). Finding a skirt that reaches the knees without looking frumpy is difficult when you’re not 5’10” and120 lbs. Luckily, I have enough pants to last a little while. I hope they don’t mind me wearing flats, though, because I’m super picky about pant length, size of leg opening, and heels. It’s much easier for me to wear heels with a skirt or dress.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Back when I was much younger we used to say, “ladies wear hose.” I don’t remember where you live, but up north in larger cities usually pantyhose were a part of professional and respectable dress. My MIL from Mexico City also would always wear hose when I met her 25 years ago, even when she went for a doctors appointment. A skirt suit and pantyhose and a heel. It was the fashion and I think it is a holdover from not having naked parts of you showing. When I moved to Florida, an obvious hot climate, it took me a long time to get used to wearing skirts without pantyhose. At work I still had to wear them, but out everywhere else almost nobody did, but I did for many many months. It’s a great business. Pantyhose snag and then you have to buy a new pair. It’s almost as good as selling razor replacements.

Places of work sometimes opt for the more conservative dress code so the person who has zero fashion sense and zero awareness of their body can’t screw it up. I think it was @jca who said one woman should have worn hose her legs were so bad, but didn’t, and no one told her. If it was the dress code the business would not be treating this woman differently by asking her to wear hose.

Usually dress code is in a larger company’s handbook to avoid employees from not having an appropriate fashion sense at work.

I disagree with @gailcalled about relying on solely looking around at other women, because sometimes specific managers don’t correct or send home people who are not dressing appropriately, but it is still a problem and the person is talked about and not going to get a promotion most likely. In a small office it can be ok, but in a large business it is a good idea to know the official rules and one day the OP and others who read this Q might need to know. My husband one time was sent home to change from his corporate job early in his career. He had on black jeans. They were dark black, in very good condition, and in the office khakis and polo shirts were fine, it was a fairly casual dress code, but you could not wear 5 pocket jean style pants. I know they have that rule to avoid someone coming in in faded blue, worn out, possibly a rip in them, jeans. My husband knows better than to show up with raggy trousers, but the rule is there to avoid the problem with those who don’t. In Bloomingdale’s when I worked there we certainly did send home employees with no hose or with open back shoes. I remember one time an employee was being sent home by a manager who was not her own manager and the young woman said her manager never sent her home for the same thing. Doesn’t matter, now she was being sent home, and her manager had been wrong to let it slide. But, Bloomingdale’s works directly with the public, they care about a certain image, and in the case of the shoes they care about safety at work. We literally climbed shelves sometimes, even though technically we were not supposed to. We were always on our feet and the shoes need to be stable and not allow our feet to easily slip out. Although, high heels were perfectly fine, which one could argue are a hazard also, but I agree a slip on shoe, even flat, is less reliable than even a high heel shoe at 3 inches.

trailsillustrated's avatar

< female dr. In large group practice : hose always . Cute tights in winter, sheers in summer . No cleavage ever. I think a legal firm would be about the same.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I don’t see how any company can insist on high heels. Although, my neice worked at a very small retailer where he wanted her to always wear them, she lasted 4 days at that job. He can do whatever he wants though, he has a very small business with only a few employees. Some women physically can’t wear heels, it seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen to put that as part of a dress code whether written down or left unspoken.

Actually, the 5’10” girl has a hard time finding a skirt to the knee and slacks that are long enough. Don’t stress about the skirt length, shorter skirts are back in. Especially if you are wearing hose or tights. There may be some sort of rule about how many inches above the knee a skirt can be. You can wait and see if anyone communicates dress code to you, and if they don’t then ask.

My husband asked about his long hair at more than one job and he is VP level at big companies. He would have cut his hair if they found it innapropriate. He asked at the interview stage to the head hunter and again when he first started with the companies. Even if it was not in a dress code he cared about how he was perceived and the unspoken expectation.

Good point about cleavage. Never.

trailsillustrated's avatar

ps hem should be just above knee for office, age is not a factor.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Also, heels for professional staff no more than 2 or 3 inches receptionists can wear higher.

JLeslie's avatar

@trailsillustrated You can almost start seeing the socio-economic class differences with the heel rule. Heel height, nail length, nail polish color, hair length and style. It’s interesting that the receptionist can be dressed in what would be considered maybe a more sexual way, and probably most people don’t want their female doctors to have long flowing styled hair and 5” high heels when they go to an appointment. There is a sociological study in that statement. The receptionist might have all sorts of money and education, but still the job and how you can dress says something I guess about society and how we view women.

trailsillustrated's avatar

Here’s how to dress for a professional position : skirts , cardigans, and hose. Hair always neatly done. Makeup yes. Closed toed heels. The receptionist is the greeter, and is not expected to do labs on a patient. When you treat a patient, or are taking statements, it’s about the business at hand.

JLeslie's avatar

@trailsillustrated Exactly. About the business at hand. It also partly explains that even when it comes to men I am attracted to I don’t find very muscular men attractive. Too much time spent on vanity and self absorption. That’s my perception anyway somewhere in the back of my mind. What professional, executive level, high salary earner, multiple degreed man looks like a mega body builder? Very few. Not that I care about formal degrees, or specific careers, I am just talking about the “look” and how we perceive things.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@trailsillustrated “hem should be just above knee for office, age is not a factor.”

“heels for professional staff no more than 2 or 3 inches receptionists can wear higher”

“skirts , cardigans, and hose. Hair always neatly done. Makeup yes.”

Sounds like an office in the 1950s. I’ve seen these rules broken at every office I’ve ever stepped into.

Medical offices are a lot different than law offices. I won’t be taking care of any patients. My contact with clients will be via phone and email. Only the attorneys and other staff members will be looking at me. Hell, I won’t even be attending court proceedings.

trailsillustrated's avatar

That’s great!! What a relief right??

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 If you are not dealing with the public the dress code might be fairly lax. Ask your boss or HR the rules.

hearkat's avatar

@trailsillustrated – The rules in health care will vary between types of facilities and even between specialties and job duties, as well as by the culture in the region and within the office. I don’t recall in what geographic location you practiced dentistry, nor how long it’s been since you’ve been practicing; but as a patient and provider, I see great variability in dress in the different places I go to.

When I started working in health care in the early 90s, I was in hospitals that had very strict dress codes relative to hygiene. No painted or fake nails, no open-toed shoes, no bare legs, etc. Heel heights were never dictated, as medical facilities are usually more accommodating to people with physical limitations. Hair style was also never dictated, only if one needs to tie-back or cover their hair relative to the department they work in and duties they perform.

I am now in a huge private specialty practice with 8 offices and 14 physicians. The receptionists and Medical Assistants wear scrubs. The physicians are all male and wear men’s business attire, often without a lab coat. The hearing center staff are all female, and we wear business casual or better. Our employee handbook does not mention specifics, and the department head wears sleeveless tops and very high heels, but I don’t think I’ve seen her with open-toed shoes. I’ve worn long (mid-calf) skirts with open-toed shoes and bare legs and no one has said anything to me about it. I’ve seen other colleagues also wearing outfits that would not have been acceptable in the hospitals I previously worked, so it’s a cultural of being more laid-back in our practice.

Since the OP will be in a legal practice, I expect that they’ll operate very much ‘by the book” and will have an employee handbook and an orientation process during which such things will be addressed, and questions can be asked. Chances are that skirts shouldn’t go above the knee, and no bare legs, because I generally find that law firms are quite conservative in their business attire.

Seek's avatar

It really depends on the company and the people in charge.

My last job didn’t care whether you showed up hungover with no shoes on. My friend’s office insists all the men in the call center wear ties, even though they have absolutely no face to face contact with clients.

My personal thoughts might be a little skewed by the fact that I was raised in a very conservative environment and didn’t wear pants at all between the ages of ten and 23, but I wouldn’t wear a skirt or dress that rose above the knee unless the office were blatantly casual, and even then, only with opaque tights or leggings. I wouldn’t wear any heels above 2” or so, either.

Most likely, as a new employee and as a legal assistant, you’re probably going to be running around, pulling files and digging through boxes of paperwork. It’s really not the most comfortable or elegant thing to do in a miniskirt and high heels.

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livelaughlove21's avatar

I went ahead and emailed the office manager about the dress policy. I’m hoping to hear back on Monday since I’m starting on Thursday.

I also tried on my skirts and dresses and I think I underestimated their length. My favorite dress and skirt hit the top of my kneecap. Another skirt and dress are about an inch from my kneecap, and the shortest dress that is older and used to be my interview dress falls 2–3 inches above my knee. It’s made for office wear and looks like a pencil skirt with a frilly top tucked in. I’ll only be a little sad if I can’t wear it.

If they require hemlines to fall below the knee, I’ll be returning them all and sticking to pants. I’ll just feel frumpy in a dress/skirt that long. If I find even one pencil skirt that long that’s flattering on me, I’ll be happy.

JLeslie's avatar

I really doubt they will require below the knee. If it is less than 4 inches above I don’t think you will have any problem and it will look professional. Mini skirts are mid-thigh or even shorter, yours are way longer than that. Let us know what the office manager says.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie Will do! I hope you’re right.

Rarebear's avatar

<—male dr here in hospital practice. Pantyhose are neither required nor expected. FWIW

hearkat's avatar

@Rarebear – I’m glad to hear it. It’s been more than 10 years since I practiced in a hospital environment, and we still were not allowed to wear bare legs or open-toed shoes then. What about sleeveless tops or dresses?

JLeslie's avatar

I am fine if my female doctor doesn’t wear hose, but if her hair looks like she spent a half an hour on it in the morning, long and perfectly coiffed, like she is going out for a date, I find it off putting.

hearkat's avatar

@JLeslie – I am curious about your statement that you are put-off if a female medical professional has long, perfectly coifed hair. Why do you think that is? What about how much makeup she’s wearing (if any)?

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Really glammed up with make-up can be a turn off to me too. I guess it most stands out when it is a combination of lots of things together. If a doctor had her hair pulled back, but had on heavy make-up it probably would not bother me. Long flowing, obviously spent a lot of time on my hair stands out the most to me. If she was simply blessed with long hair that appears to just fall into place naturally it wouldn’t. I can tell if someone spent time blowing ut their hair or curling it. Sometimes it is hard to tell if they straightened it.

The doctors on TV, real doctors, on talk shows and news shows, They are all done up and I just think if I met them in an exam room it would stand out to me.

Generally, in my experience, women with post graduate level degrees working as professionals don’t have very long flowing hair down their back (flowing meaning not pulled back while at work, although I would venture to say most don’t have very very long hair any which way) or very long manicured nails. We might be defining long hair differently. Also, long long hair has been the in thing lately, everyone has so much fake hair on TV it is ridiculous and it is as bad as airbrushing photos of women in my opinion. A standard hard to meet without paying a bunch of money and constantly working on it.

I guess it goes to group behavior, social norms, and maybe even thinking pretty women aren’t as smart. I don’t personally equate it with not being smart, but I think parts of society might. I just perceive it as odd.

gailcalled's avatar

Now that the committee has met and calibrated size of earrings, width of eye-liner, quantity of hair spray, depth of cleavage, intensity of perfume, distance of skirt length from floor, height of heels, psychology of beige vs. navy, and a disquistion on the caste system, I wish you a good first day, a minimum of opening-night jitters and the start of a really successful career.

JLeslie's avatar

@hearkat Here is an article about hair. I recommend the first paragraph and then you can also skip to long vs short hair if you prefer not to read the whole thing.

Rarebear's avatar

@hearkat not a problem.

livelaughlove21's avatar

UPDATE: She replied via email and she said this:

“Hemlines should not be shorter than fingertip to just past the knee.”

I’m assuming that means anything between the fingertips and bottom of the knee is fine. Right?

JLeslie's avatar

Fingertip rule is a rule commonly used for school dress codes. It basically means when your arm is at your side your skirt must be at least as long as the end of your middle (longest) finger. Her sentence seems worded poorly. She seems to be saying not shorter than the fingertip, but also not longer than just past the knee? Could there be a rule that says a skirt can be too long? It’s better when they say not more then 4 inches above the knee or something similar. Assuming people know the fingertip rule is ridiculous.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie I’m familiar with the fingertip rule. I’m a female that went to public school in the US, so it’d probably be a safe bet that I’d know it. It’s the wording that had me confused. Plus, she said “you can’t get much more conservative than a law office,” but I don’t think a dress reaching your longest fingertip is all that conservative. And yes, I found it odd that she gave a maximum length.

She made it a point to say she wasn’t quoting the employee manual (though she could if I requested it), just extending what she knows is expected in the office based on her time there. Or, at least, what she sees most without someone complaining.

Either way, it looks like my skirts and dresses will be acceptable.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 You’ll get the handbook first day, so then hopefully it will be very clear for you. I agree fingertip rule is shorter than what I consider conservative. Did she comment about the pantyhose? Either way I am sure she appreciated that you asked, or at least it certainly doesn’t hurt you in any way that you asked. Since it is in their handbook they obviously care about it.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@JLeslie No, I didn’t specifically ask about pantyhose and she didn’t mention them. I’m going to wear them anyway, just because I feel better with them on.

Aspoestertjie's avatar

You will suffer in pantyhose where I live. It simply is too hot here. I only wear them in Winter to warm my legs. It does however make your legs look smoother and nicer, so in the end it looks more professional. I am an IT Manager at a government institution and wear long pants most of the time because I have to run around 9 different buildings each day.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@Aspoestertjie It’s very hot here in the summer as well. I’m in South Carolina. Luckily, I’ll just be going from my house to my car and then a parking garage to an air conditioned building, and that’s where I’ll stay until quitting time. I’m told it gets very chilly in the office. I think I’ll be okay – I suffer to look better all the time. I’ll be in pants most of the time anyway.

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