When I speak to a group of women on appropriate dress for the workplace, the first question is invariably: How do you feel about pantyhose? I remember someone telling me that Katie Couric wore no pantyhose on “The Today Show,” so why should any of the rest of us wear it?
I’ll tell you why. Hosiery is like makeup. If you are very young, you can get away with not wearing it. Your skin is fresh, clear, and smooth, and you probably look just as good when you’re “all natural.”
Hosiery is similar. If you are young, you can get away without wearing pantyhose because you probably do not have varicose veins or age spots, and you probably have time to shave your legs daily and keep up with a fresh pedicure. However, as we get older, we get busier with children, work, and all the other things in life. Our bodies change, and over time our once-smooth and sexy legs become riddled with spidery veins, scars, age spots, wrinkles, sun damage, and more. Who wants to show all that to the world?
If your legs and feet are not perfectly groomed and attractive-looking, forgo the bare legs and strappy sandals, and wear pants or skirts with pantyhose. Tasteful closed-toe shoes are also imperative if you’ve gone too long without a pedicure.
For example, I was in the elevator one day and noticed a woman who was well-coiffed, well-dressed, and elegantly put together. Then I looked at her feet. She was wearing no hose, and had on opened-toe sandals, but she obviously had not had a pedicure in months. It was very distracting and a little gross. Just remember, the devil is in the details!
Recently, another question I often receive after a workshop to women is: How do you feel about bare arms at the office? Again, if you are young, or work out and have firm arms, you can get away with it as long as the garment you are wearing covers your shoulders. Some companies—including many schools—prohibit sleeveless garments, so you should always check corporate dress policy.
Invariably, I get someone in the back who says, “Well, our First Lady, Michelle Obama, is often seen wearing sleeveless dresses.” To which I say, if you have Mrs. Obama’s well-toned arms, go ahead and go sleeveless. If you make $15 million a year, as Katie Couric does, go ahead and go bare-legged. You probably have enough money to have someone wax your legs, paint your toenails, and take care of your varicose veins!
If that’s not the case, play it safe and cover up.