For every dress or skirt that’s paired with tights, there’s a moment of contemplation that we all have about whether it’s being worn correctly: Is it ever OK to wear nude-coloured tights? Can you wear them with open-toe shoes? Life questions, friends. So we consulted Amy Lu, a Toronto-based fashion stylist, about the ways to wear tights properly—and of course, what is never deemed appropriate when it comes to hosiery. (Never again will we underestimate the power of a pair of black opaque tights.)

1. Tights are not leggings (or pants)

There’s a sad moment of truth when you realize that the girl in front of you probably isn’t heading to yoga or wearing actually leggings—and it comes in the form of a blaringly obvious visible panty line. “Tights are generally referring to more opaque hosiery made with a heavier knit,” says Lu (note: she said hosiery,
not pants). “Leggings are footless and seen as more of a stand-alone pant rather than hosiery.

WORKWEAR STYLE TIPS: The ultimate guide

2. Tights are worn best under skirts or dresses

For a formal occasion, like a
date night or a
sophisticated office look, tights are best to pair with a dress or pencil skirt (and you can add personality through colour and texture, and depending on dress code). “You can wear leggings as tights and pair them with more casual dresses and skirts but they are often thicker than tights and can appear bulky,” says Lu. “Plus leggings are always footless, which only works with more casual looks.”


More rules for wearing tights-including how to wash them-on the next page…

tights-rules-page-two.jpg3. Handle your tights with care
As a general rule with hosiery, “Hand-washing all intimate wear will help it last longer and maintain its colour, however it is more time consuming than throwing it in with your laundry,” says Lu. “I often machine-wash my tights and leggings on a gentle cycle in a mesh-bag.”

4. Tights with peep-toe shoes, is this a thing?

“The easy answer to this is no, it’s not an easy look to pull off,” says Lu. “Having said that, fashion rules are meant to be broken and it can be done. Fishnets paired with open-toe shoes can look really sexy and opaque tights can work as well, just make sure the reinforced toe does not show.”

5. Nude tights work in the right context

Sometimes it’s more appropriate to give the illusion of bare legs with your spring dress than it is to go completely bare legged. “Nude hosiery can look much more flattering than bruised legs or pasty white ones covered in goosebumps,” says Lu. “Plus, nude hosiery can double as shape-wear!” Choose a colour that is very similar to your natural skin tone and steer clear of iridescent ones.

6. Tights can add a chic pop of colour to your outfit

Liven up your little black dress with opaque cobalt tights. “When it comes to colour, go for it—bold colour looks great on everyone!” says Lu. “Think about keeping your look monochromatic or tone-on-tone to accentuate a more lean and flattering look.” But be more discerning with patterns. “Opt for one that is more classic, like polka-dots or lace, rather than kitschy, like trendy graphics or cutesy symbols. Pair your patterned tights and leggings with something solid and simple.”

GALLERY: How to wear the ’90s minimalism trend to work

Find out what tights make any outfit look chic on the next page…

tights-rules-page-two.jpg7. You can totally pull off a sheer look
“Sheer tights are on trend right now and can look more sexy than their solid counterparts,” says Lu. “Make sure the fabric’s colour stays consistent from waist to foot.”

8. Invest in quality pair of black tights

If you’re going to own one pair of tights, make it a good pair of black opaque ones. “They look great with almost everything, from floral print sundresses and tailored sheaths, to sexy cocktail frocks and everything in between,” says Lu. Bonus? “They not only add warmth when it gets chilly out but pairing black opaque tights with black shoes gives the illusion of longer, leaner legs!” Sold.

GALLERY: 10 fashion pieces every woman needs in her closet

9. They add sophistication—and are kind of a no-brainer style choice
With a great pair of opaque tights, you can make most outfits appropriate and chic for an office or more conservative setting. “You don’t have to worry as much about exposing too much when wearing a short skirt because they cover everything up,” says Lu. “I think of tights paired with black booties or heels as a part of my ‘uniform’, then wear whatever dress, skirt or shorts I feel like. It makes getting ready really easy!”

How to find the perfect dress for your body type

10. Tights are sexy!
Tights are great for adding the illusion of height. “If you keep your tights and footwear monochromatic, your legs can appear much longer,” she says. “Go for a pair of platforms or sky-high heels to accentuate them even more. A sexy go-to look for a night out would be your favourite LBD paired with opaque tights and killer heels,” says Lu. “This look works every time!”

How to wear leggings now: 10 fashion rules

15 super pretty date dresses
10 new rules of dressing for work

Patterns: Top spring 2014 fashion trends