How To Wear Tights This Winter, According To Stylists

As an adult, wearing tights in the winter can sometimes make you feel like you’re playing dress-up or going to ballet class. But when styled correctly, tights can be the chicest part of your look. So how do you avoid the pitfalls that’ll make you feel 5 years old again?

We spoke with stylists who weighed in on the best ways to style tights this season. They recommend playing around with your tights’ texture, color and opacity, which can elevate your wardrobe. As temperatures grow colder, here’s how stylists say hosiery can keep your legs warm while pulling your outfit together.

Sheer With Socks

Lena Mahfouf, aka Lena Situations, at Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 3 in Paris.

A sheer tight can look sexy when skin peeks out from underneath your look. Think black tights with a line running down the back, or even colored tights that are less opaque. “I like sheer tights because they can’t be mistaken for leggings,” said stylist Jules Wettreich, who recently dressed “Riverdale” actor Drew Ray Tanner. “A thick sock on top with a cute kitten heel or sneaker is a fun way to style your tights casually.”

Celebrity stylist Samantha Brown also stacks with socks. “You can play with layering socks over fishnet or lace tights,” she recommended.

On-air style correspondent Sydney Sadick describes her dream date-night outfit with sheer black tights as the standout piece. She suggests Wolford back seam black tights (with a line running down the back), paired with a black miniskirt, a black turtleneck bodysuit, a brightly colored jacket and short boots. “Wearing tights on date night makes me feel fun and flirty,” she said.

Wear Tights With Boots, Not Heels

Street style stars at 2022 Fashion Weeks around the world wore their tights with chunky boots.
Street style stars at 2022 Fashion Weeks around the world wore their tights with chunky boots.

Winter footwear makes any tights look seasonally appropriate. Think combat boots, ankle boots, over-the-knee boots, Mary Janes or loafers. “Play with the juxtaposition of tights and something more masculine like a loafer,” Brown said.

Stylist Parker Blaine is a fan of pairing tights with platform loafers. “Loafers, whether they’re heeled or flat, add such an edge to tights,” she said. Her personal favorites are Steve Madden Lawrence Loafers and Stuart Weitzman Ultralift Loafers.

The biggest mistake: tights with peep-toe heels. “I’m not a huge fan,” Wettreich said. “In my experience, it made my feet look awkward because the seam was showing.” Instead, she suggests a pair of black high boots from Camper.

Sadick disapproves of wearing tights with pumps. “In the fall, it can be cute, but in the winter, it just doesn’t work,” she said. “It’s really key to wear your tights with boots.” Sadick said she normally wears tights with heels to a religious service for a more classic look. Boots are her go-to for winter street style.

Break Out Your Summer Clothes

Guests at Paris and London Fashion Weeks in 2022 broke out their summery clothes over tights.
Guests at Paris and London Fashion Weeks in 2022 broke out their summery clothes over tights.

Winterize your summer staples by adding tights underneath. Tank tops, miniskirts and tees are all fair game. “Tights can be worn with any length of skirt or dress and also look great with shorts in wintery fabrics like tweed and leather,” Brown said. The stylist transitions her favorite leather shorts into winter by layering them with textured tights, a turtleneck or a cashmere sweater.

Brown recommends selecting darker-colored pieces to be winter-appropriate. “Transition your summer dresses in darker palettes through the winter by adding opaque or textured tights, boots, and layers like a blazer or leather jacket,” she said.

There are two reasons to wear tights: style and function. Wettreich wears tights to keep warm, but she also uses them as a base accessory for layering. “Miniskirts and slip dresses are my favorite summer pieces to style with tights because they are thin enough to layer with a turtleneck or a sweater on top,” she explained. “Layering it with nude tights underneath if it’s super cold out is the ultimate hack.” Skims Mid Support Tights in Clay are her go-to.

Wettreich also suggests styling tights with a maxi dress. “I think the maxi-dress-and-tights combination is alluring because it’s such a nonconventional way to style a long dress,” she said. “It isn’t something you see very often, but it makes your outfit look more expensive.”

Stock Up On Darker Tights

Black tights will go with just about everything.
Black tights will go with just about everything.

Black tights are chic and lengthening, and they pull any look together. “White tights are fun if you’re going for a ballet aesthetic, but black is my favorite,” Wettreich said. “It’s a great way to flaunt your legs in the cold weather.” She recommends a pair of classic, sheer black tights from Sheertex.

Bright colors aren’t necessarily off-limits, but Sadick believes reds and blues should be reserved for sweaters. “I know that a lot of women like colored tights, but they’re not for me,” she said. “Wearing bright colors in sweaters, pants and dresses will be more complementary.” Whatever you decide, a rule of thumb is to coordinate your tights back to the palette of your outfit ― this will help keep it cohesive.

The No-No’s

Styling tights with a winter ensemble can be fun, but not everything goes. Wettreich said one mistake she sees people make is pairing jeans with pantyhose. “Tights layered with jeans is criminal,” she said. Texturally speaking, “denim and tights clash too much” ― it’s just one too many layers.

Brown’s biggest concern when styling tights has to do with size. “Be sure that your tights fit correctly,” she said. “You don’t want them to go too sheer if they’re snug, or pool at the ankles if they’re too large.”

Blaine recommends avoiding sneakers with tights. “I can’t get behind that pairing. There’s just too much going on,” she said. “Worst case, opt for a black leather sneaker if you’re in need of some comfort.”