Black Tights with a Dressy Dress: Yea or Nay?

So, in keeping with what I preach, I no longer read fashion magazines and thus have no real idea what’s in style at any given moment. But I read enough Go Fug Yourself and Jezebel to know that people who do have some idea are wearing black tights with everything up to and including some pretty fancy dresses.

Which leaves me with a dilemma. See, in my heart, I still think tights with formal or even semi-formal wear are kinda tacky. (Keep in mind, about 75% of my ideas about appropriate dress are dictated by my late mother, whose ideas about appropriate dress stopped evolving in 1959.) And yet, during a midwestern winter, this would be a damned practical trend for me to adopt.

I have to go to Al’s office holiday party on Friday, which is a roughly semi-formal affair. (Last year, I saw everything from business casual to a floor-length velvet gown.) So my plan is to winterize what I wore to Fillyjonk’s wedding, which is this dress in the red jasmine print, and a pair of high-heeled mary janes. I was fantasizing about knee-high boots with it in the winter, but the only ones I have are too casual, and I have so far been too cheap to bother getting dressier ones. So I need something on my legs. 

Ordinarily, I’d do nude or black pantyhose with this ensemble (which might also include a cropped black cardigan, depending on how the heat is inside), but I find myself debating wearing black tights now, since they’re warmer and more comfortable, and I can claim they look fashionable instead of tacky. Also, I wouldn’t have to shave my legs. Bonus.

So, what do we think, crew? Are we in favor of the formal black tights trend? Specifically, how does this look? (I mean, apart from it being taken in bad light with a shitty webcam on a self-timer that required me to run backwards as fast as possible to get my whole body in?) 

Tacky? Not fancy enough? Or just right?

Oh, and while we’re at it, please feel free to share what you’re wearing to holiday parties this year, if you’re going to any.

222 thoughts on “Black Tights with a Dressy Dress: Yea or Nay?

  1. Definite yes on the tights. And, how big a dork am I that my first reaction to this picture is, love the bookshelves?

  2. I think it works… although since the tights are the main concern, I can’t really make them out in a lot of detail. It’s hard to judge.

    It’s a totally FANTASTIC dress, though. I’d say “I want that dress” but it’s not the sort of thing that I’d pull off. So I’ll just cheer and clap over how awesome you make that dress look. Woo! *clap clap*

  3. I like it. And what a gorgeous dress! I think it would look especially good with that cropped black cardigan- it might balance it out a bit, making it look even better.

  4. although since the tights are the main concern, I can’t really make them out in a lot of detail. It’s hard to judge.

    Yeah, sorry about that. Al’s already in Indy (where the party will be), and I couldn’t do better with the resources at hand. I figured you could tell my legs look all black here, and that’s what matters. :)

  5. I think I’m a nay. I mean, I don’t think anyone would gather around being all “Hah, look at the girl in the tights,” and I think it would be fine, but tights tend to dress things down and look more daytime to me. That said, I loathe being cold so I might wear them anyway. And that dress is fantastic either way.

    No holiday parties for me, but a friend sent me a surprise Christmas gift yesterday of this dress from anthropologie which I had off-handedly mentioned I was lusting after. I was completely blown away and am intending on wearing it everywhere for the next couple of months (probably with black tights. :-))

  6. In general, I’m with your mom–fancy clothes require sheer pantyhose. But I think that dress would look fine with black tights and high-heeled mary janes. Although I do think slightly more sheer pantyhose would dress it up a little more

    I’m wearing the fabulous sleeveless black sequined dress I bought for my BFF’s big anniversary party last spring, with sheer black (or possibly silver) hose, either silver or black sparkly sandals, depending on which ones I can find in my closet, and either a cropped cardigan or a black cashmere wrap, depending on which I decide looks better. I’ll be on the dressed-up side, but my SO’s company holiday party is like the one you’re going to–there’s a wide range of dressed-up-ness.

  7. Please no! They are too daytimey and too casual to wear with such a pretty dress. Is daytimey a word? I would say to go with sheer hose. Also, if anyone is getting down low enough to look at whether you shaved your legs or not, they’re low enough to kick in the chin for being a nosey bastard. ;-)

    My work Christmas party ended up at a Chili’s (can’t dress up, also, work is a metal refinery) but I had bought a sheer black cap-sleeved dress shirt which I planned to wear with a contrasting cami underneath, perhaps purple or red. With some kind of black skirt, I thought it might look decent. But now I have nowhere to wear it!

  8. If the party were a strictly “semi-formal” event then I’d say no on the tights, but given the wide range of what’s appropriate at the party, I think the tights are definitely the way to go.

    I’ve only recently been converted to the church of the tight, but now I either wear tights or go bare-legged. Sheer pantyhose, even in black, looks really dated to me right now.

    I agree with whoever said above that adding the crop cardigan will help balance it out.

  9. Kate, I think it looks fine–the dress reads “I’m dressed up,” and unless it was a strictly cocktail, fancy affair I think opaque tights are fine. Office parties rarely reach that level. As one who still reads fashion mags, I can tell you that you’re now allowed to wear tights with open-toed shoes and if you’re really worried about the formality, how about adding some blingly jewelry and a metallic sandal?

  10. I think it looks fine, but I’m also in a very warm state where tights are almost completely unknown. I’d recommend wearing them, but with the caveat that my fashion advise is, well, worth about what you paid for it. Still, I’m certain that you’ll pull it off well.

  11. I think you should wear the tights with the dress, and splurge out on high black boots to go with. I got my fashion sense from my mom, too (she was born in 1945), and I wouldn’t wear tights with most formal dresses, but with that one, I think they work. It’s not THAT formal – it can be pushed in a funky-trendy direction.

  12. I think tights are fine with all but the dressiest – or barest – of dresses. I have to add that I hate them with open-toed shoes, though. Since you’re not wearing any of the above, I say be comfy and warm. Tights have always given me the courage to show more leg than I’d feel comfortable with in sheer hose. Back in my 20’s, when I was still just an in-between fattie, my standard going-out outfit consisted of high heels, black tights, and a skirt or dress cut up to my hoo-hah. Ah…misspent youth.

  13. I think you look super-cute, and I would definitely wear the tights. But I love tights, as I’m a klutz and they are usually more durable than hose. I’m also a schlumpy college student who wears dresses over jeans and kneesocks over fishnets, so what do I know from office-cocktail-party-wear?

  14. I vote HELL YES for the black tights.

    The black band on the bottom with the tights looks sleek and clean.

    Throw on a great pair of dressy black heels and you are good to go, razor be damned.

  15. Not sure if it is a fashion in the Northern hemisphere but everywhere you look in Melbourne, Australia at the moment there are women of all shapes and sizes wearing footless tights under summer dresses and skirts with flat shoes (no socks) – very practical and comfortable for our climate.

  16. Love the dress – spectacular – but I can’t get behind the tights… I’m all about the matte nude stockings – nude NOT tan. Although if you take the previous suggestion of a black cardigan, I agree that it would balance. I’ve always thought that dark tights disrupt the symmetry of an outfit.

    As for me, no fancy parties, but I’m spending the holidays with my future in-laws. I only have two types of outfits, basically: flippy skirts with turtleneck sweaters, and slacks/blouse. Will I look like a rube if I wear the same thing two Christmases in a row? Will they even notice?

  17. I do think the black tights work with that dress, partly because the dress has traces of black in it as well. I kind of hate it when people throw on tights with, say, a yellow and orange number, because it looks so afterthought-ish, rather than well-put-together-ish. So, you have my permission.

    That dress is completely fabulous, and really suits you.

  18. Well, to me this depends. Tights like TIGHTS, the kind that are made of cotton and spandex and you might wear to the gym all by themselves?

    Or opaque stockings, like opaque black things with feet?

    I’d say no to the first for a fancy thing and yes to the second.

    I’d say yes to the second because I’ve never worn anything but: I have a mark on one of my legs that just is distracting under sheers.

    But, should you have time, I can recommend for warmth the double-sided/reversible Spanx stockings, which are as warm as any of my tights. And if you don’t like the girdley parts, they work a size up pretty well.

  19. Yes to tights! Just think about how they call attention to shapely legs!

    I always feel sexier when I wear tights because suddenly my legs look very va-va-va-voom to me and my thighs don’t rub together. Colored tights are also awesome.

  20. I’m not for tights with everything, and some of those dresses on the In Style link did not deserve tights. However, the dress you’re wearing (and the Kirsten Dunst ensemble) look fine with them. I think the key is the black hem on your dress; it makes it all look nicely put together. Be warm, be happy.

  21. I think the tights look awesome – and agree that sheer pantyhose of any color looks dated to me these days. If it helps, think of wearing them as sticking it to the sexist standards of dress that always leave women as naked as possible, whether it’s cold or not.

  22. I was thinking of wearing that exact ensemble to a party on Tuesday! (Did you have to hem like 6 inches off the bottom of the dress? I did, it came alost to my ankles for some reason). I like the dress with tights, but it does dress it down a little, so it depends how formal you want to look.

    As for me… I had three office parties this year. For the most formal one I wore a long gown from Igigi that’s no longer on their website (I snapped it up on clearance after the holiday season last year because it was only $50 and I loved it, I was excited to finally have somewhere to wear it). For the somewhat formal one I wore this dress from Kiyonna. For the casual one on Tuesday, I’m planning to wear either the dress you’re modelling or this dress from Igigi. Either one with black wool tights and knee high leather boots because it is cold here. (And no I don’t know the meaning of the word casual, and yes I own way too many ridiculously expensive clothes… I am trying to cut back on the shopping!!)

  23. Are they thick woolly tights with fuzz coming off them? If not, it’s a very popular look at all sizes in Australia…

  24. I’ve been struggling with the black tights with a spring/summery dress look myself. I feel like tights make me look shorter, but I’m not seeing that on you. I like the combo, and think it would look good with a black cardigan.

    At my holiday work party there is going to be a “tacky holiday sweater” decorating contest, so I don’t have to dress up. Unless you call a tacky sweater from Goodwill that I’ll bedazzle dressing up.

  25. (Did you have to hem like 6 inches off the bottom of the dress? I did, it came alost to my ankles for some reason).

    Yep! Had the tailor take off the black band, chop off 6 inches, and put it back on. Also had the sleeves shortened. I think the model on the Kiyonna site must have tucked the sleeves up, ’cause boy, they are not cap sleeves like that on the actual dress. (The model pic of the other print is more accurate.)

  26. I’m probably in the minority here, but have you considered red tights with this?

    Also, what color shoes?
    If red shoes, then I’m in the sheer hose camp.

    Just my opinion. I love black tights for nearly every occassion.

  27. Ha wellrounded see i was gonna say a different color shoe would be cool over the tights for contrast. White even :)

    Kate i think it will look good either way, and i do think it will come off as a fashion statement.

    Actually my only comment is i’m really into fabrics sort of going together, and if the tights are too thick and wintery – like some of my tights are – then i feel like they work better with a dress that’s thicker, like some fancy brocade or something like that. (Though this dress just appears kinda thin and silky but maybe it’s not in person.)

    But that’s a thought, i just wanted to point out the fabric aspect of it (which is actually hard for me to make out from here). And also, I must repeat – it will come off as a fashion statement, not as some fashion faux pas.

    Also, LilahMorgan, your anthropologie link didnt work.
    Show us your dress!

    I would love to wear this dress, but i fear i might be cold.

    http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&_dynSessConf=-2842413412690347558&id=830115&parentid=APP_DRESS_GRAPHIC&pushId=APP_DRESS_GRAPHIC&popId=APP_DRESSES&sortProperties=%2BmarketingPriority%2C-saleDate&navCount=10&navAction=poppushpush&fromCategoryPage=true&selectedProductSize=&selectedProductSize1=&color=ppm&colorName=PURPLE+MOTIF

    It actually looks much better in person – it’s VERY 50’s style, with tulle underneath. Amazing. I kept watching Mad Men wishing i had dresses like that…

    I thought maybe with this jacket.

    http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1&_dynSessConf=-2842413412690347558&id=810278&parentid=APP_OUTERWEAR_JACKETS&pushId=APP_OUTERWEAR_JACKETS&popId=APP_OUTERWEAR&sortProperties=%2BmarketingPriority%2C-saleDate&navCount=34&navAction=poppushpush&fromCategoryPage=true&selectedProductSize=&selectedProductSize1=&color=grn&colorName=GREEN

    Now i’m thinking OMG may i should wear tights!!!
    AND i have steve madden patent tan colored peep toe shoes, and i too have heard (and agree) that it’s kinda cool to wear tights with an open toed shoe. So i can wear my olive green tights and the peep toes. Oh my the excitement…

    Or I can wear tall brown boots but i think i like the steve maddens better.

    The only problem is: I will be away for the holidays, and don’t know if i will have room to pack all that. Might have to make do with some jersy print dress, which is also awesome.

    Also i could do this top (in the black) with some fancy skirt and shoes:

    http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=339899

    Or this top – which i don’t consider too fancy to be casual, so it’s a good thing to pack.

    http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=343647&PseudoCat=se-xx-xx-xx.esn_results

    (i don’t make that pose when i wear it.)

    Okay i could go on forever so… me shuddup now.

  28. I know this is a weird comment, but I think the dress is a little bit big on you. Anyway, you look great. Go with some gold bling and a shawl. Or a lacy cardigan. As for black tights, why not? You can make it work for you. Walk into that room like you own it and you will own it.

  29. Damn, wellroundedtype2 beat me to it! Red tights would be my suggestion too. If not, I’d certainly go with the black tights. (Personally I think nude or tan tights are frumptastic and loathe fine denier tights for practical reasons – i.e. I ladder them the moment I take them out of the packet).

  30. Someone already made this comment above, but if you’re going to do the black tights and shoes, I think the black cardigan you mentioned is necessary to balance the outfit. Otherwise, I’d go with nude hose and the black shoes.

    Unless something drastically changes, I’m not going to any holiday parties. If it does, I’d either wear the black dress I bought this spring, or go shopping.

    On Christmas itself we will be going out to dinner, and I will be wearing jeans, a purple sweater (I have lots) (I like purple sweaters), footwear that will depend on if there is snow and if so how deep, and my wonderful artsy-tacky Christmas tree earrings that I love and wear as often as possible throughout the season.

  31. Red tights aren’t a bad idea if you have an exact color match, but reds are hard to match, and if they’re different reds they’ll look terrible. I think the black tights look great, and I second the black jacket/cardigan suggestion to make it look even better. Since it’s not formal dress, I think it’ll go just fine, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were other “black tights sisters” there with you!

  32. Oooooh, I love the dress! The tights – not so much.

    I can understand the practical side of it, but I agree with the Shapelings who say that the tights would be too casual and the dress would lose its zing!

  33. The tights are cute and work with the dress. Continuing the color scheme down the body makes you look taller, if you care about that sort of thing. I’d like to see the shoes with it though, sometimes it’s the shoes that end up making tights a bad idea.

  34. Scuse me while I just have a trans-atlantic moment, but what’s the difference between tights and pantyhose? I always thought pantyhose was American for what we call tights in the UK, so now I’m wondering what you mean by tights! Just thicker ones?

  35. I like the tights. (Says the girl who’s wearing purple tights at the moment.) And I agree with the people who said that a black cardigan would balance it out and make it look even better.

    And I covet that dress. It’s gorgeous.

  36. Scuse me while I just have a trans-atlantic moment, but what’s the difference between tights and pantyhose? I always thought pantyhose was American for what we call tights in the UK, so now I’m wondering what you mean by tights! Just thicker ones?
    Sheer tights are pantyhose, opaque tights are tights.

  37. wiscck> thanks!

    Nude sheers would probably look a bit dressier, but I think the opaques look great, and are almost always really flattering. A little cardie or shrug in black would definitely balance it out nicely.

  38. I think the opaque tights make it look more modern – I think sheer/nude pantyhose could make it look a bit frumpy – sort of the difference between dressing in 50s costume vs doing a nod to the style, if that makes sense. I think it’s also a more sophisticated nod back to the heyday of the grunge movement with the pretty girly dresses and big black combat boots. (It’s frightening that it’s come back around already!)

    Personally, I’d probably go with black fishnets with that frock, but I’ve been a sucker for ‘nets since my jazz-ballet days.

    If you go with the opaques, I’d try to wear a more solid pair of shoes, nothing delicate or dainty – say mary-janes with a substantial heel or similar.

    If you’re not sold on the opaques entirely maybe try tights in about 40 denier – they should be quite dark still, but you can still see a bit of flesh tone. I think most sheer stockings are about 5-10 denier vs 70-80 denier for heavy-duty opaque tights.

    (Bear in mind, I’m the woman who wore black tights to work yesterday in the middle of a Brisbane summer – couldn’t think of anything better to go with my new peter-pan collar trapeze-dress that makes me feel all Barbara Feldon/Agent 99, so I’m obviously a fan of the tights!). And have a lot to say on the subject!

  39. I like the tights a lot, but I like the look of black tights with fancy dresses anyway. It’s just funky enough. I think the outfit looks pretty great.

  40. I like the idea of black tights. Esp. w/ peeptoe shoes or sandals (black patent would be nice), because that says “Yes I do know I am wearing black tights with a dressy dress, and it’s an intentional statement of fashion, not an unintentional one of frump.”

    Or, heavy tan or beige tights with fishnets over them. Very warm, very chic, very much no need to shave your legs! (This is what I live in for dressy events during the winter.)

  41. I’ve always been a nude hose person as well, but I think the black tights would work if you also used a black shrug or shawl to balance it out. Of course, I have no idea how to wear a shawl. :D

  42. Someone already made this comment above, but if you’re going to do the black tights and shoes, I think the black cardigan you mentioned is necessary to balance the outfit. Otherwise, I’d go with nude hose and the black shoes.

    What Tropical Chrome said. Sheer black hose could also work.

    I hate wearing hose and I’d probably do sheer black thigh-his, which leads to a bad case of Thelma Harper Syndrome (I don’t own any garters to hold those babies up).

    I work for a nonprofit and there’s only four of us in the office, so no fancy holiday parties for us (we are doing a potluck lunch on Christmas Eve Day) and I plan on wearing jeans and a festive top. But on December 20th, our birthday group is having our annual gettogether at my aunt’s house and I do plan on going a little dressier. My outfit of choice right now is a black velvet jumper dress I bought years ago at a Sears Outlet, paired with a Lane Bryant red metallic top and my black patent knee-hi Cloudwalkers boots.

  43. Perhaps I am not the best person to give advice since I was pretty oblivious to the “tights are not dressy” rule. Last weekend I went to a holiday party in a blue satin-y wrap dress, black cardigan, tights and black boots. I’m a big fan of tights. I hate pantyhose which I find to be expensive, flimsy, uncomfortable and too cold for winter.

  44. I think that the tights are fine, though I think that a ‘dressier’ tight would be great. Something with some shimmer, or a VERY faint subtle pattern. Red would be AWESOME, but whoever mentioned the need for an exact match above is right, and I think it’d be more headache than it’s worth.

    A definite yes on the cardigan and some dramatic makeup/accessories – if the topmost part of you brings in the bottom part, with chunky bracelet/necklace/earrings/something, then I think it’ll look even better than it does.

    Also, you’ve now got me thinking about how GFY really is my main fashion input for what the ‘mainstream’ is doing. (Well, and seeing what LB et al have in their merchandising. Very weird, in a way, since it means accessorizing questions reference a primarily early-90s library in my head!

  45. Red or peach tights, if you can find a color match.

    And black tights look HOT with red anklestraps on shoes. Even though we can’t see your feet in that picture.

  46. I tend to go with sheer black hose for fancier things (although if it’s cold, screw fashion. Be comfortable.)

    I don’t think the tights look bad, though.

  47. Esp. w/ peeptoe shoes or sandals (black patent would be nice), because that says “Yes I do know I am wearing black tights with a dressy dress, and it’s an intentional statement of fashion, not an unintentional one of frump.”

    Can’t. Do. It. Just can’t.

    These are the shoes, btw. (That huge back heel strap is friggin’ brill, b/c it looks like a closed back, but it doesn’t dig into my heel the way closed-back shoes usually do.)

    And to all those pushing for the black cardi, never fear — I’ll definitely be putting it on, the “might” was just because I might end up taking it off.

  48. Oh, and I’m sorry I’ve already forgotten who it was who said it looked too big… I see what you’re saying, but it’s actually not. The tailor and I sat there and studied the top to see if it needed to be taken in at all, and we both ultimately determined that it fits me — it’s just that I’m not built exactly like the fit model (or the model-model), so it’s not perfect. It looks a lot better when I put my arms down, and the sleeves do the floppy kimono thing instead of looking like they’re just gigantic. Also, as I learned from Fillyjonk’s wedding, this dress just does not photograph all that well. I feel like I look a hell of a lot better looking in the mirror than I do in photos of it. Though the emergency bra also wasn’t doing me any favors.

  49. Hrm. Tights automatically dress something down, to me. I wore some (textured) tights with a lacy dress recently because I was going to a party that was more hipster than formal and wanted a deliberately funky look. (I was also wearing sneakers). I’d wear sheer nude hose with that dress in the winter (and none in the summer — my mom finally lost that battle to the larger culture).

  50. I am a huge fan of tights, and I’m planning on wearing tights to a black-tie ball in January. So, I say, go for the tights. Patterned tights- like lacy tights- might be a little too busy for the dress.

  51. I think they look great, and I love that dress. Though I think I’d love the black tights more with shiny red shoes.

  52. I’m a fan of the lycra/spandex opaque stockings as a happy medium – not as warm as thicker tights, but warmer than sheer stockings, they have a little dressy shine, and I don’t have to shave. : )

    That dress is so pretty.

  53. I have no fashion sense, so take this for what it is worth: I like the black tights. But rather than a cardigan, if you have a lacy black shawl, bonus points if it’s a crocheted open work black shawl made of fairly heavy yarn, try the shawl and see how it looks. (You want the shawl I was crocheting in 1974 but gave up on and who knows where it is now.)

    (If you ever saw what I wear, you would not ever take any fashion pointers from me. I would wear tights with open toed shoes without knowing that 1) this is frumpy 2) this used to be frumpy but is now fashionable.) (If I had any comfortable open toed shoes that is.)

  54. I can’t help but think there’s a connection between our being told that black tights aren’t “formal” enough and our being told that fat isn’t “formal” enough (read: low class, a sign of poverty, etc) in that we ought to question both as arbitrary and designed to force women to negotiate through a never-ending maze of social expectations in order to be found acceptable.

    The appeal of tights for women is often that we’re allowed to feel less self-conscious about shaving (because our body hair is hidden from sight).

    The mandate that says that women’s legs *should* be smooth and hairless has everything to do with companies selling products by making women insecure about their natural body (fat, hair, smell: all wrong).

    Granted, we’re *all* somewhere on the journey and in the process of questioning and feeling comfortable in our own skin. But at the very least, I think that something like tights/stockings/bare legs should get the same level of thoughtful interrogation as any other decision we’re asked to make, as women, in the pursuit of socially acceptable public bodies.

    So I guess my answer is that the question, “Are tights tacky?” is a little like asking, “Should I lose fifteen pounds or would I still be okay if I only lost ten?”

  55. Believe me, you don’t want any fashion advice from me. You’ll look lovely no matter what you wear.

    Holiday parties…for me, nothing fancy. I’m hosting a No Limit Texas Dreidel party at my apartment. 1-bedroom apartment, 25 of my closest friends…no problem! Everyone will be wearing jeans.
    Other than that, I’m going to a latke-fry. I’ll be wearing something that won’t be bothered by oil spatter. But that’s ok! I’m no good at dressing up.

  56. I’m in favor of the tights. I’m cold-natured (as they say in the South), so I’m generally a fan of keeping in as much heat as possible.

    I’m wearing a black velvet dress with a similar line to the one you’re wearing to my office party next Friday. I will need to purchase tights between now and then. Thanks for the reminder!

    Heather the Thealogian

    p.s. You look purtee in that dress!

  57. So I guess my answer is that the question, “Are tights tacky?” is a little like asking, “Should I lose fifteen pounds or would I still be okay if I only lost ten?”

    I think that’s overstating it. Whether one should follow fashion, or wear make-up, or even shave (which is more invasive, but still neither painful nor difficult if you’re able-bodied) are all fine and complex feminist questions. But I really don’t put them in the same category as whether one should decide to lose weight, since the latter involves a long-term, difficult and ultimately futile and damaging effort, while wearing tights or lipstick or shaving can be done in 5 minutes and reversed just as quickly. (Well, it takes a little while for hair to grow back.) On one side, you’ve got very temporary, performative acts that one can opt into or out of at will. On the other, you’ve got something that involves a longer-term commitment to shame and self-abnegation.

    Which is not to say it’s not worth discussing the way the same patriarchal beauty standards influence all these behaviors. But to me, there’s an enormous difference between choosing to engage in patriarchally approved costuming and choosing to engage in a patriarchally approved, never-ending battle with your body.

  58. Yes on the tights! But you know I am not the most formal person in the world. I think it looks great and hip with the tights. I also think nude pantyhose (and most sheer hose in general) is the work of the devil, or at least a conspiracy to make sexy women look as ridiculous as possible.

  59. I think it looks good. And for the red carpet outfits, it made the short skirts look a lot less slutty than they would’ve been with sheer hose.

  60. Fashion-sense also not-so-good here, but I like the tights. And given the caveat on my fashion sense, I would also consider a color that matches the dress, but as someone said it would have to be an exact match. (I finally found boots that are calf-height and was told that I could avoid looking shorter by wearing the same color hose / tights as the dress to elongate the look.)

    Anyway, you look fabulous in that dress!

    PS Once I attended a ballet performance in your city when it was below zero windchill. My gown was floor length, so not only did I take it upon myself to wear tights, I also wore long underwear bottoms because no one would see them. It was still a frickin’ long 3-block walk from the hotel to the theater.

    That’s all short for cold + wind = tights. No other way to do a skirt / dress in winter.

    Although Indy is always several degrees warmer than up here…

  61. tg, I always double (at least) on tights in the winter here. Double tights + lined boots + long down jacket means I can JUST barely get away with wearing skirts in winter weather.

  62. And as for holiday parties, the one I’m attending won’t be until the end of January. I was exciting to see “cocktail dress or similar requested” for the ladies because I’ll finally have an excuse to wear one of the cocktail dresses I own. On the other hand, all of them are above the knee, which is not very January-like.

  63. I have good fashion sense, and I love the opaque black tights trend. I jump on it every time it comes back around and keep the dream alive in between (luckily it seems to be trendy every other year). I think it’s because it messes with the semiotics of formality, so it’s a little punk but still looks chic because come on, matte black. (What? You mean there are reasons to engage in fashion BESIDES capitulating to patriarchy?) Anyway, big thumbs-up from me.

    Can you wear a cardi with that dress, though, without having extra fabric bunched in the armpits? I have never tried to wear a cardigan with a kimono-style sleeve.

    As for me, I don’t have a holiday party because I am a journalist. (That’s not really true — since I’m not a print journalist, we’re not shutting down all our nonessential spending. But money is tight, plus we’ve got a conference to put on that requires us to miss the usual holiday lunch. Dan’s a grad student so his “holiday party” is a potluck lunch at the lab. Maybe I can wear a cute dress for New Year’s.)

  64. I think the dress looks lovely. Wear what makes you feel comfortable. Honestly, the dress is long enough that, in an office party setting, very few people will even see your legs most of the time. I do think the cardigan will balance it nicely. I love living in a warm climate, but I do miss wearing tights. I hardly ever get a chance any more. Have fun at the party!

  65. I’ve always been a big believer in tights (the more opaque, the better), but then I’ve always been a notoriously tacky dresser, too.

  66. It looks good! Fantabulous dress.

    But a stupid question from the land of “not America” what *are* “tights” in your world? Because in my world “tights” are what I understood “pantyhose” to be – that is a garment shaped like close fitting trousers with added feet made out of some stretchy material of varying thin-ness, and they come in all manner of colours, thicknesses, opaquenessess and so forth. (And I hate the wretched things! I’d much rather have stockings but clearly comfort levels of such things are a YMMV thing).

  67. Love the tights!! And the dress and OMGthoseSHOEZ are awesome!

    We’re not having a big party this year, but today my department is hosting an open house for the rest of the company. Not too dressy, but I’m wearing a long black knit skirt, long black crochet sweater duster, knee-high black boots (flat), and this cami — http://preview.tinyurl.com/57oryf — peacock print FTW!

  68. Can you wear a cardi with that dress, though, without having extra fabric bunched in the armpits?

    Surprisingly, yes. I worried about it, too, but it works.

    And Naath, someone answered upthread, but in the U.S., pantyhose are the sheerest tights, and tights are opaque tights. (Thicker and footless, they’re leggings, unless they’re for running, in which case they’re tights again.)

  69. It’s fashion-forward. The trick with tights is, is the dress short enough? Otherwise it’s stumpifying. But this dress is short enough, and the black trim ties it together.

    Is the cardigan dressy? If it’s sequiny or sparkly it’s a must-wear.

    naath, the difference between tights and pantyhose is opacity. Pantyhose are sheer, tights are opaque.

  70. When I come to decisions like this I have come to realize it all comes down to weighing physical comfort against mental comfort.

    If you’re going to be so distracted by the thought that people are looking at and judging your tights negatively; then that for me outweighs the warmth factor. I hate being mentally uncomfortable. Even if no one IS looking but I fear they are; I end up spending the night tugging at things and feeling awkward.

    However if being warm (not a problem for me; I’m usually trying to figure out how to keep from sweating!) is the stronger concern then work on not caring if it is in fashion or not :) But again, grain of salt advice since I’m not at all the one to give fashion tips here. I say if you fear being cold more; wear the tights and fashion be damned because a large percentage of how great a person looks is their attitude and conviction while wearing something; and you look great above!

    For me I think most of the parties are pretty low-key affairs where a nice sweater and jeans will even work. I’m glad for that!

  71. naath, i’m sure this has been answered, but pantyhose for me is a term that covers both tights and nylons. tights are knit cotton stretchy things with feet, always opaque, sometimes ribbed, and often slightly chunky. nylons are made of nylon, surprisingly enough, and are much more fine and sheer. they also fit much more tightly, so they can me a hella lot more uncomfortable that tights, which have more give.

    and kate, YES on the tights here. love the look. and the shoes are KILLER.

  72. The trick with tights is, is the dress short enough? Otherwise it’s stumpifying.

    Disagree, as long as the shoes are also black.

  73. OMG I want those shoes. Shoes!

    I like the tights, given the occasion. If you were going to some New York society event, maybe they wouldn’t be dressy enough, but office parties are kind of weird, in my experience, and while I love dressing up, I never want to be “that weird lady who’s trying too hard” in an office setting, especially when it’s not even my office.

    Which is why I just interpreted “semi-formal” a little loosely for my boyfriend’s workplace holiday party and went with a pretty-but-not-cocktail dress, dressed up with formal jewelry. The outfit you’ve got going seems to be cocktail dress, dressed down a bit with tights, which I like. I think it keeps it from feeling all matchy-matchy, in some way.

  74. Heh! I’m wearing the same dress in the Mademoiselle print to my office holiday party tomorrow. With tights, because it’s freaking cold here. I think you look great, Kate.

  75. I’m afraid they’re going to make you look short, but better short than effing freezing. You need a nice black wrap around your shoulders, that would dress it up.

  76. Yes on opaque tights. Sheer black pantyhose are not fashionable anymore. At all. With anything. That is why you no longer see any youngish stars with anything other than opaque tights on the red carpet, even if they are wearing dresses much, much fancier than the one you have picked out.

    Now, the older women at your party may think you look strange in black tights. But the younger women will think you look infinitely hipper. Of course, 99% of the men won’t notice either way.

  77. Also, make sure the tights aren’t shiny. I can’t tell from the picture, but that’s very important, IMO.

    P.S. Love the dress. Very pretty print.

  78. I’d wear tights to the coronation of the Emperor of the Universe, so I guess you know my vote.

    You look great in the outfit. Plus, it’s winter. Wear tights, be warm, look adorable. Score, score, and score!

  79. This was the dress I wore. On me, though, it ends up with a very plunging neckline, so it’s a bit more evening-y. And I have a massive blue topaz pendant that I inherited from my mother, which I wore with it.

    And bare legs and dainty-ish heels, because it’s California and too warm for tights!

  80. Go for the tights. Would have loved to see it with a red shoe, though.

    And for your picture taking dilemma, crappy cameras can put out good pictures if you make sure that you’re incredibly over-illuminated to balance out the grainy-ness. I have a 4MP camera that takes passable pictures in low-ish light, but all of my best shots come from full, outdoor daylight or over-the-top indoor lighting.

  81. If you want to be fashionable, SHEER HOSE ARE NEVER OKAY.

    Right now, it’s either tights or bare legs. Those are the only two fashionable options.

    In the world of fashion, sheer hose are anathema. Sheer hose are for people who work in stuffy offices where they won’t let you wear bare legs.

    Now, not everyone wants to be fashionable. Which is fine.

  82. By “never okay” there, I mean “not okay for any situation right now, according to the whimsical dictates of the fashion world.”

    I’m sure this will change at some point.

  83. I love the dress. I love the tights. I think you can balance it with a heavy black hairband or fabric hair decoration of some sort for when you take the cardigan off. I’ve just decided the best one would be a brimless hat with a half-veil worn at an angle, though, so you should probably run away from me.

  84. Seconding all the OMG SHOEZ comments. Those are GORGEOUS.

    Since the shoe will show a little of the tights, I do rather like the idea of a complementary color of tights (who said peach? peach is good). The black shoez and cardigan will balance each other nicely.

  85. Does anyone else think “old lady” on the sheer hose thing? This old lady does…

    I like the tights, but as others have mentioned, texture might be an issue. Nubby fuzzy tights would be a sad comedown for such a great dress. I liked someone’s suggestion of a black lacy shawl instead of a cardigan. Also, cardigan would accent the informality, no? Although – the right black lacy elegant cardigan – hmm, it all boils down to textures for me. Fuzzy cardigan and fuzzy tights – schlub. Lacy spiff cardigan and opaque black matte tights – excellent.

  86. I would absolutely wear black tights with that dress. If I could find one to match, I’d wear it with a little red shrug too.

    I loathe nylons, both stylisticly and comfort-wise.

    I’m going to one semi-dress-up party. I’ll be wearing a black velvet above-the-knee shift, black tights, and black mary janes. I like to keep it simple and comfortable.

  87. Kate, you look awesome. Black tights ftw, always.

    Also, why have I never thought of doubling tights? Not only would it be warmer, but it would probably acheive my goal of complete opacity.

  88. Also, my holiday party consists of a huuge lunchtime potluck, so I’ll be dressing more towards strategic Thanksgiving standards. :)

  89. Please either tights or bare legs- sheer pantyhose in black or nude is horribly out of fashion. PLEASE don’t do it!

  90. I have never worn tights. Just nylons. I think I should try it.

    I live in the middle of nowhere, UT and it’s…odd here. We don’t do formal. Jeans show up at weddings and funerals and church. (It bug me.) I wear a skirt and no less than 5 people ask me why I am so dressed up. We are a very relaxed town. Still, I’m going to wear a black ruffled skirt and this awesome 3/4 sleeve purple sweater to my husbands Christmas party. And now, maybe tights.

  91. Kate, in a recent episode of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style, he threw up his hands in horror when the client said something about wearing sheer pantyhose. She quickly explained that it was for work because her office required them. Tim rolled his eyes and said something tart about offices that far behind the times.

    So…sheer hose? Completely out.

    Tights too informal? I wore cream-colored lacy tights to my own wedding with a pure silk custom gown with handmade lace. Yes, this was in 1993. I was ahead of the curve.

    That dress with some matte black tights (not heavy cabled ones, but either a plain or a lacy weave) with those Mary-Janes of awesome? Will look fabulous, darling!

    As much as I love getting all colorful and tend to avoid wearing a lot of black on principle, I would advise against red tights with this dress. As others have noted, matching reds is hard. More than that, though, the hem of the dress is black, your shoes are black, and you’re accessorizing with a black cardigan. Red tights would make the look too choppy.

    In the end, though, I have to side with April D even over my own feelings on the subject: you need to decide your priorities and follow them, fashion and habit both be damned.

    Whichever choice you make, I think you look terrific in that dress and you’re going to be superfantastic. Why? Because you are Kate Harding, and you are composed of sparkly awesome.

    Twistie has spoken.

    So there.

  92. Ooh, you guys will totally know the answer to this. I need some cute, comfy black Mary Janes that’ll fit wide feet, size 8.5-9. Ideas, all?

  93. I’m a big girl (size 20 – 22) and I find black tights a little on the heavy side (no pun intended). So this year I have ventured out into the realm of patterned hose. I think a little pattern on your legs would but fun (and still allow you to let the leg hair grow! it’s winter after all).
    However, my clothing mantra stands: if you feel good in what you’re wearing you’ll look good in it.
    Love your dress by the way. I can’t find much for decent holiday wear here in Manitoba Canada so I’m settled on a sapphire blue top with black pants for any dressy occasions this holiday season.
    Merry Christmas!

  94. JupiterPluvius, this no sheer hose thing is what my daughter keeps telling me. But, as you can imagine from my name, I’ve been wearing pantyhose with skirts since high school with the Flintstones. I always used to tell myself I’d never wear old lady clothes like polyester pants and office sweaters (white or beige, left on the back of the chair, missing a button, pilling). But now you’re telling me that my taupe pantyhose are the same thing! This is just so …hard. Especially since my legs are very white with very dark hair and over the years I’ve added random red spots. I know, I should just buy some tights, but they make me feel 5 years old. Whine, grumble about whippersnappers, whine…

  95. Apparently I am fashion forward, as I have been wearing black tights for years. It gets mighty cold here, and tights solve the problem nicely, as well as eliminating any quandaries about shaven or unshaven appendages.

    Spanx (I am not affiliated, just a fan) came out with some real purty patterned tights just recently, that … wait for it … go all the way up to your braline and help control things. I do not currently have the budget for this magical item, but I cannot wait until I do.

  96. “Mary-Janes of Awesome” sounds like the name for another SP rock band, maybe the opening act for Piggy Moo…?

  97. I feel you, OlderThanDirt. I’m 30, so NotQuiteAsOldAsDirt…but even still, in my little brain, tights are what I wore in preschool, and pantyhose are what I wear as a grownup. Bare legs, meanwhile, are for shorts and the beach.

    So. For those of us still locked in the Legwear Stone Age, the choice now seems to be between feeling awkward in hose or feeling awkward in tights. Arrrrrgh. Damn you, fashion! I get around this lately by almost never wearing skirts, but the truth is, I like skirts.

    Well. At least tights keep you warmer and typically last longer.

    As for Kate, she doesn’t want my fashion advice. I’ve got sheer hose in my drawer, I’m good for nothing! :)

  98. OlderThanDirt, I hear you. I myself am older than all the dirt that is less than 44 years old, and it was very very hard for me make the move to opaque tights/bare legs only. In my heart of hearts, I think that “evening sheer” stockings and pantyhose look awesome.

    But when I’m doing the fashion thing, I try to throw myself into it. I do love my beautiful opaque tights of many colors, though.

  99. Yes, all the way. I wear black tights with everything up to just-short-of-black-tie. To me sheer or tan tights are what looks tacky, though I have no idea where I got that notion.

  100. Oh, and to my society’s Christmas ceilidh I wore a red and black dress from Rocha John Rocha at Debenhams, which I couldn’t afford but my aunt bought me as a birthday present, and oh my GOD. It had a halterneck and a black sash round the waist and netting under so it was poofy and it was just the right length and BEAUTIFUL and I am honestly getting married in it, because I will never look so hot in anything ever again.

    I looked at the photos and thought, “Wow.” When have I EVER looked at photos of me and thought “wow”?

    I also would never, ever have bought it this time a year ago, because its perfection was due to the fact that it fit me EXACTLY, and I’m the biggest now I’ve ever been, so why let someone to spend £65 on a dress you’re going to be too small for soon, right? Right? *rolls eyes at self* Now I hope I never lose another pound, because I’m going to wear this thing every chance I get til it falls apart.

    IF ALL SHAPELY PROSE HAD GIVEN ME WAS THIS ONE DRESS, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN ENOUGH.

  101. I am also of the up-with-opaque-tights-down-with-sheer-hose crew. I think black will be perfect in this instance.

    I also love bright opaque tights with an otherwise all-black ensemble, because I’m obnoxious like that. I haven’t tried ordering from it yet, but I’ve heard that welovecolors.com is pretty awesome in that regard: they have plus and straight sizing, men’s tights, gloves … it is pretty astounding, actually.

    Oh, and sometimes when I think that black opaque would be just too much, I go for black fishnets. And in more formal circumstances where I might feel weird wearing black fishnets (say, work), I’ll wear fishnets that are about my skin tone. That way, I don’t feel like the ladies at my job will refer to me as some sort of trollop, but I don’t feel super-dowdy, either.

  102. I actually would go with a hat for warmth rather than a cardigan. I find that if a dress isn’t made for a cardigan or jacket, often it has pretty details or shaping hidden by them. I hate wasting the effect of a well cut dress, so I’m voting no cardigan.

    I’m visualizing either a slouchy top hat style, with a sparkly pin, or a beret with a pin and feathers. If you’ve seen 50’s era cocktail hats, that’s about where I’m aiming… just big enough to be *warm*.

    Gloves were also a warmth thing, but I don’t think that gloves short enough to look right with that dress would add enough warmth to be worth the trouble. It’s not very bare, and the barer the dress, the longer the gloves… our grandmothers were clever that way.

  103. Oh, Caitlin, please please post a link to a pic! That dress sounds fabulous, and I love how you so obviously know that you look smokin’ in it.

  104. office sweaters (white or beige, left on the back of the chair, missing a button, pilling).

    Oh dear. I’m wearing one right now (beige, although I take it home every day and it’s a zip-front, so no missing buttons, and it’s not old enough to pill). Then again, I freeze in standard office temperature, even in turtlenecks and sweaters (or both), so it appears my other option is to wear my wool coat at work . . .

    Regarding the nylons issue, my fashionable cousin (she’s 26, same as me) from New York City was wearing sheer hose at my wedding reception last month, so it must at least still have been somewhat OK then. (Trust me: if there was a memo, she’d get it.) I’ll remember that they’re an absolute NO this month, though.

    But I have plans! I have a black-and-white polka dot dress with a red ruffle at the hem, and I want to wear it with green tights and red patent-leather heeled shoes, although I own neither the shoes nor the tights, and I’m moderately impecunious. So we’ll see. The tights, though — those, I won’t give up.

  105. I feel you, OlderThanDirt. I’m 30, so NotQuiteAsOldAsDirt…but even still, in my little brain, tights are what I wore in preschool, and pantyhose are what I wear as a grownup. Bare legs, meanwhile, are for shorts and the beach.

    I feel you on this one. Plus, I work in a courthouse so feel like maybe more traditional conceptions of formality are still in vogue. Oh fashion, why must you be so confusing?

  106. Count me among the old farts for whom it is news that sheer hosiery has gone the way of the Trapper Keeper. But you know, I think I’m just going to keep my sheer hosiery and say that I’ve leapfrogged from my current position as “behind the times,” straight over “in the current fashion,” and smack into “is so cool she broadcasts her independence from fashion trends by employing deliberately-unfashionable items to fashionable effect?”

    Unless… omg… unless ironic distance is also out now?

    *contemplates this, starts to cry*

    Kate, screw it, I think you should hack off about a foot of the skirt, slap a black petticoat under it, and wear it with thigh-high fishnet stockings, a garter, and tall pleather dominatrix boots.

  107. TWoP fan – I’ve got some great Eurostep Mary Janes that I got from Famous Footwear on clearance for $10 last season, but they might have been discontinued. I just googled them and found the exact pair here on ebay, so maybe. Hmpf. But they do come in wide widths and are pretty comfy, so that might be a brand to search.

  108. Personally, I’ve always worn black tights with skirts… or brightly coloured ones, but never anything white or brown or peach or orangey-coloured. So, I say go for it! I think black tights with that lovely bright dress looks dramatic, and of course very comfortable in cold weather.

  109. Kate I think it’s fine. It does dress it down a bit but it sounds like that isn’t a huge deal to you, and they look cute, so I say go for it.

    I am going bare leg to the office party tonight. Normally I always wear at least pantyhose, but I’m wearing super cute strappy sandals and I just couldn’t do it. Hopefully it won’t be too cold on the way there and I’ll be drunk enough on the way home that it won’t matter.

    Oh! I’m wearing that red, short, off the shoulder dress with sparklies that Igigi had last yearish, with sparkly shoes and a silver clutch. I’m going during my lunch to have my hair blown out because I’m too lazy to do anything with it. I expect to have lot’s of fun.

  110. My husband’s squadron’s Christmas party is tonight, and I’m wearing something quite similar to what you are, Kate! High heeled mary janes, black tights, and a black wrap dress. I think we both look great!

  111. Tights with formal dresses=hell yes! Nude pantyhose with…anything=not for at least the past decade, sorry. I think the general consensus about nude hosiery is, what’s the point? It’s not keeping your leg warm, and it’s not as pretty as your actual leg, which is presumably of a similar color. I think the only reason to wear pantyhose is because you work in some strange, antiquated office where it’s required, or you would like to wear shapewear but don’t have any handy/clean.
    I am seriously considering buying that dress now, though. Very cute on you!

  112. I also saw that episode of Tim Gunn’s Guide To Style, and yelled back at Tim something about wondering if he’s ever lived in the real world. I know of many offices, some not in the more conservative professions, where bare legs would be a definite professional faux pas.

    Having said that, I’ve bowed to the current fashion of no hose on several occasions, and all I have to say is: how do you people do it? The shoes rub. Everywhere. Every little bit of stitching is up against my skin, and I end up with red spots all over my feet – and a little bit longer and they have turned into the most hellacious blisters. Even sheer hose provides a little bit of protection against the friction.

    I hate pantyhose, I really do, but bare legs and feet are no more comfortable. This is why I decided that when I hit 40, I never had to put on another dress or skirt ever again unless I personally felt like it. I can count on one hand and have fingers left over the number of times I’ve worn a dress since then.

  113. It’s funny, Deborah and I had this debate when wardrobing for our Mad Men season finale partay.

    I haven’t read through all of the comments, but part of what makes it work is that it IS fashionable. Tights are so what’s happening right now. Your eyes adjust to that, so where five years ago it may have looked clunky, right now it does not.

    We both wore black tights with our dressy dresses, and both looked faboo. As do you.

  114. “I have a black-and-white polka dot dress with a red ruffle at the hem, and I want to wear it with green tights and red patent-leather heeled shoes”

    Oooh! Ooooh! So would I!!!! There are few things in life more squee-inducing than emerald green tights and shiny red shoes stepping out together.

  115. I’m glad I’m not the only one that clings to her sheer stockings. And speaking of the olden days and what to wear in winter, when I was a young Dirt girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school. My mother bought me two pairs of lined corduroy pants with elastic waists. I would wear a pair every day under my dress until I got to school and then pull them down and put them in my cubby until time to go home. I remember those days every time I see someone propose uniforms for school children. THEY WERE DARK, TERRIBLE DAYS. And no uniform for school children should ever be mandated unless the girls can wear pants too. O.K., back to your previously scheduled topic.

  116. Totally wear tights.

    Mind, I speak as someone who firmly believes pantyhose are a Tool Of The Devil. But also, I don’t see anything wrong with tights.

  117. The dress/tights thing is great…..but not with that particular dress. The tights thing looks good with empire, straight down dresses or one-line dress, think a sweater dress of sorts….but your dress, although lovely does not meet this criteria and therefore looks as if you’re trying to meld two different outfits together.

  118. Well, to me this depends. Tights like TIGHTS, the kind that are made of cotton and spandex and you might wear to the gym all by themselves?

    Or opaque stockings, like opaque black things with feet?

    Dude, tights are that second thing; the first are called leggings.

  119. Sweetmachine: I also think nude pantyhose (and most sheer hose in general) is the work of the devil, or at least a conspiracy to make sexy women look as ridiculous as possible.

    I have said this for YEARS. esp. the part about being the work of the devil, mostly since they’re very uncomfortable and end up making you look ridiculous by the end of the day. I went to private school were I was required to wear them…by the time that was all said and done, I refused to EVER wear them again. Much to the chagrin of my mother, and my aunts, and my grandmother…and I say, there’s nothing wrong with the white pale of my legs…I. really. don’t. care. and they mutter something like, where did we go wrong, kids these days, etc.

    work of THE devil.

  120. I say: it looks great, but if you want to dress it up more, hit it up with some heavy-duty jewelry. The look is already eclectic & funky so slap some bracelets on and call it a day.

  121. I feel like I should be embarrassed to admit that I had no bloody idea that wearing black tights with formal dresses was considered gauche, now or at any time in the past since I’ve… well, been alive, and wearing the occasional formal dress for the occasional formal occasion. I think I’ve worn sheer hose maybe three times in my whole life. I willingly wore tights (with Doc Martens, at that) with my school uniform when growing up in flesh-bakingly-hot South Florida, even.

    And people seem to think I know something about fashion. Ha!

    The dress is fabulous, and obviously I think the tights look perfect, but take that part with a grain of salt. ;)

  122. i would say that you still need knee high boots with them, but then it’s hard to see in the picture. that’s my general rule, though.

    with lower shoes/pumps, i’ve mostly seen textured/patterned or brightly colored tights with solid dresses.

    i don’t know if i’ve been much help here. >_< sorry!

  123. iheartchocolat & sweetmachine: consider mine a 3rd vote for the evil of “nude” hose. i REFUSE to wear them. i really don’t like pantyhose in general. i’ll wear super-sheer black hose, silk stockings, tights, fishnets (like today!), but NOT plain pantyhose. my legs are pale and dammit, i like them that way!

  124. Yay to the tights, and I have those shoes and they are THE most comfortable 4+ inch heels ever. TWoP Fan, if the price doesn’t bother you (they were about $160 CAN when I got them), I highly recommend them. I’m a 9 1/2 wide, and they are SO comfortable.

    *continues lurking*

  125. Pantyhose are a big N-O! The black tights are totally modern and appropriate especially in a cold climate. Sheer black hose are dated and nude hose would make the dress look too summery AND are not going keep you very warm either. The key is the shoe. Get something pretty and high, I think these from Beverly Feldman (the black, not the leopard, obv…) would be great and not too pricely

    http://www.beverlyfeldmanstore.com/cgi-bin/frontrunner.cgi?ri=111&rc=BFLD&rs=T&ro=T&nid=0&pln=&brd=NONE&nid=0&sid=GABRIELA&bu=0&ki=&os=BFLDCORP&ctc=3

    You could even go with black fishnets or lacy black tights…

    Let us know what you decide!

  126. With all the comments here you’ve probably made your mind up already and one more won’t matter but what the heck – the tights look fantastic and I say go for it.

    Also, those shoes are perfection. They are beautiful. Sexy. I am lusting after them. The price makes my eyeballs hurt but they are gorgeous.

    Personally, I think the entire ensemble just works.

  127. Hey, so, maybe the Ning forum is a better place for this, but while we’re on the subject: what black tights are the MOST opaque? (Leaving aside Sternlein for now.) I love my We Love Colors colored tights, for instance, but can’t tell how opaque the black would be — two pairs, maybe?

  128. Yay for tights!!! I love black tights with…pretty much everything. Keeps me warm (since I’m also enduring a midwest winter…my first). I think it looks nice as well. I love tights. Esp. the super opaque ones from lane bryant.

  129. no no no. Ditch those black tights (with that dress), and go for nude. The dress isn’t dark enough to make that work….the only way would work is to have the black bodysuit type undergarment under that dress- ie, long black sleeves, to go with the heavy weight tights, also some black on the decolletage….

    Take that black all the way,and that make the dress work with the black.

  130. in the meantime, i found this picture. it’s a good example of what i’ve seen around, as well as being snazzy and good for an office party. reasons to go shopping!

  131. Nay, dont do it. You’ll take away from the dress with black tights. The black tights will only look good if you are wearing all black.

  132. I don’t wear pantyhose — gah, I don’t even like typing it! But I LOVE tights. I wear what I want and anyone who thinks I’m “unfashionable” can go fuck themselves, basically.

  133. I’m afraid that I have to be in the No column… The weight of the garments is all off. The tights are too heavy for the dress.

    If you want to stay warmer, a longer skirt and a low cowl-necked sweater (one which exposes a bit of cleavage and doesn’t seem like a turtleneck) with sparkly bits in it worn with boots might be the ticket. The tights are just too “heavy” for the dress. I can’t see the shoes in the picture, but Mary Janes also can look a bit heavy – depending upon how they are built — and add to the unbalance between the garments.

    –Andy Jo–

  134. All of you people who are saying “Wear nude hose” are just wrong on the fashion end.

    Even so-and-so’s fashionable cousin: she may have worn hose because the wedding was in a house of worship (one of the places where it’s almost always Not Cool to wear bare legs)? I can assure you that nude/sheer hose have been Condemned to Outer Darkness as far as New York fashionisti go for the last six or seven years at least.

    And the exile is still happening.

    Now, there may be some argument to be made for lighter-toned opaque tights or stockings (not that bright pink-white that little girls wear for ballet class, though: that’s always a disaster) with that dress.

    But I’m not seeing what nude hose would bring to the table that bare legs wouldn’t. Unless it’s a matter of comfort, of course. As the Plain Dealer’s Style editor says, people should wear what makes them feel good, not necessarily what’s in fashion. And I certainly agree.

    But Kate’s question was “would it be tacky” to wear the black tights with the dress. To which the answer is “no”.

  135. Wear lighter clothes, look lighter, don’t dress heavy, don’t weigh down the light dress… am I the only one reading these comments this way?

    It might just be because I like the tights, of course.

  136. I just want to say for the record that I’m 27 and I still wear sheer pantyhose when I’m dressing up. I like the way it looks, especially black. It looks dressy and sexy to me. And if it’s not fashionable – well fuck fashion, seriously. I’m going to wear what I’m comfortable in and what I think looks good on me.

    Which isn’t to say I don’t like tights or bare legs – bare legs are great in the summer, especially for casual outfits or with strappy shoes. And tights are great with casual outfits, or to dress an outfit down, or just to keep legs warmer than sheer hose would. But I really, really hate arbitrary fashion rules telling me: “No you can’t wear this” or “You must wear that”. And yes, that goes as much for people saying “you have to wear sheer hose with a dressy dress”. Just because I think sheer hose looks dressier doesn’t mean you have to agree… wear what you want!

  137. I love the dress and definitely say no tights. I think the dress would be perfect with nothing on the legs or a nude color. Black pumps, not too high with open toe and strap.

    Go ahead and walk in the queen of feeling great too. I can see your hair pulled up with some soft curls falling out and maybe chopsticks coming out the bun so you can see them in front.

    The dress is perfect for the holidays, I can only wish I had the same one in my closet.

  138. Even so-and-so’s fashionable cousin: she may have worn hose because the wedding was in a house of worship (one of the places where it’s almost always Not Cool to wear bare legs)?

    It was an afternoon reception in a hotel, not a wedding. So, no.

  139. maybe not with THAT particular dress. But with a little black dress and some super tall heels or boots, it’s fantastic.
    @stella, yes a cardigan would definitely balance it out.

    I really don’t think it looks good with anything but a solid colored dress. It’s too churchy with prints.

  140. I like the tights. I think they make the ensemble look very young and “now”. I wouldn’t wear them to, say, an inaugural ball, but it’s totally dressy enough for a holiday party. You look awesome.

  141. I’m in the sheer hose camp on this one. I love black tights, and here in NYC we’re wearing them with tweed, wool, etc. But your dress is gorgeous and floaty and silky, and I think it and the occasion warrant the dressier choice.

    Have a great time!

  142. what about some fishnet tights in nude, or some kind of other sheer hose? Hue makes a very night fishnet tight (and faux fishnet tights, which are neat), which still show some skin, but keep your legs warm. I don’t particularly like the tights-with-eveningwear thing.

  143. I’m a bit with Miriam here – fashion rules are sexist and fill up our heads with trivia. I also think they are partly meant to keep certain people in our place.

    Not that I think its wrong to play around with how you look, or to enjoy being dressed up – its the rules about what is proper that get me. Like when to wear sheer tights, or no tights, or ties, or being told that I should wear skirts and never trousers to job interviews, or that I can’t wear that dress because its out of date.

    Its a bit like manners – being considerate to other people and trying to make them feel comfortable is great. Caring about the proper address for the vicar or what crackers are allowable with the cheese board, or what frocks were appropriate when, was a way of keeping down lower class people. They could be discreetly looked down on and kept feeling insecure when they had trouble learning such arbitrary rules, not being bought up with them. Not that some of us don’t play the game with style.

  144. PS. I was too busy ranting about fugly nude pantyhose to say, I think the black tights are perfect. Not tacky, wear them!

  145. Fillyjonk,

    I haven’t had too bad an experience with the Just My Size tights in black. They’re pretty dark and opaque. Of course, this could also be because my legs are dark, and the tights aren’t stretched to their maximum when I put them on. Still, though, they’re way darker than standard pantyhose.

  146. Because there’s no black (that I can see) in the top-half of your outfit, wearing black tights AND black shoes makes the choice seem disconnected from the rest of the outfit. If you had black trim near your neck or anywhere in the top of the dress, I’d say okay.

    So that said, I think either rock the black opaques with *red* mary janes, or rock the black mary janes with nude or gray nylons. You could even do nude fishnets – that sounds pointless but trust me it looks amazing – for an added kick.

    Either way, yay for getting dressed up!

  147. I’ve had good luck with black hose/tights from Lane Bryant, too. Very opaque, and they’ve held up really well. They don’t look heavy, but are thick enough that they haven’t gotten runs. I couldn’t place what I didn’t like about the tights/dress, but I think the weight that’s been mentioned is it – they look too heavy for the dress, so a sweater/shawl would definitely help with the balancing.

    But then again, I’m in the “what, when did nude hose go out of fashion?” crowd. The one thing that I’ve found that is really Satanic is that you can now get hose that are supposed to fit below the waist, so as not to show over low-riding pants/skirts. THE DEVIL, I SAY, at least for someone with a substantial tummy. Just rolls right down. I need them at the waist to anchor them in place. :) But really, not even ones with seams up the back? I’ve started to see those, and thought it was a new retro trend, which I was excited about because if I could live in any fashion decade, it would be the 40s.

  148. if I could live in any fashion decade, it would be the 40s.

    car, I am *so* with you. You don’t know how to build a time machine, do you? Or, wait… Time Machine, are you still here? Do you know how to build a replica of yourself?

  149. I’m not a fashion maven but I am an artist; I’d like to see you put something contrasting on your feet, red shoes maybe, possibly a necklace that matches the shoes, and something dark above the waist — a shrug, a cardigan, a lightweight scarf (in which case, no necklace) to balance out the tights. Because otherwise, it looks like you are only wearing them because your legs are cold. Which may be the case, and that’s totally understandable, but it lacks a certain panache.

    It’s still cute, and I like the dress, but the dark is really strong and needs something to carry it up the line of your body. The trim at the bottom of the dress is a good start, but it’s not quite enough, IMO. This event is probably not formal enough for gloves, is it?

    At any rate, I want to see what you DO end up wearing!

  150. Am dressed and ready to go. Black tights, black cardigan. Blingy earrings and a black beaded necklace with a blingy pendant. Will make sure Al gets a pic at some point.

  151. Can’t wait to see the pictures!!

    A Sarah, Sears has become my place of OMG retro shoez, where I stare in envy and lust at things like this and this, wishing I could A) afford the shoes and B) had the outfits to go with them and C) had the moxie to pull it off. :)

  152. I say nay on the tights with that specific dress. Since the sleeves are short, the tights look odd. I think tights with long-sleeved dresses are great.

  153. A Sarah, fashions come and go; you will be awesome forever.

    Also, Kate, screw it, I think you should hack off about a foot of the skirt, slap a black petticoat under it, and wear it with thigh-high fishnet stockings, a garter, and tall pleather dominatrix boots.

    This!

    & the photos I’ve seen so far were taken by a friend of mine who still works with film, so I have no links. I’m sure someone will put them on Facebook at some point, and then I will show off. :D

  154. Yay–black tights are win. Did you wear them? I wore black tights to my holiday party too, with a gray flannel A-line Isaac Mizrahi dress and black velvety blazer. I have a black tights problem in the winter–ever since I discovered black wool tights (warmest things ever), I basically have stopped wearing pants from November to March.

    Love the dress, great color!

  155. I see you wore them–well done. (Oh and I should clarify that my dress was Isaac Mizrahi for Target, of course. As if I could afford the real thing.)

  156. Yes.

    I lurve that dress, by the by. Unfortunately I can’t afford even the sale price. Or at least I can’t justify it because I have nowhere to go in it.

  157. The dress is awesome.. I cannot really see with the lighting but black tights should technically work if they are not too heavy as far as deniers go (too thick) or if they are not woolen.
    I am a big fan of tux pants for formal wear in the winter…
    Brrrrrr.
    The boots would be fierce though…
    Hugs,
    Milla

  158. Speaking of tights/stockings, I just went looking around the internet and found Henry and June. Looks fairly inexpensive, has plus sizes, and even moderately plus models for said sizes. Does anyone have any experience with them?

  159. Oh my! I hadn’t clicked through to the rest of their site – um, don’t look at work. Didn’t realize it was THAT kind of site. ;)

  160. Head to toe lovely. You’ve inspired me to buy tights. And maybe to not wear sweatpants to my office party in protest of the requirement to attend. Maybe.

  161. Miss Conduct, thanks for noticing! I wore a silver necklace with it in September, but I realized I definitely needed something black and a bit heavy once I started putting the winterized version together. (What you can’t see there is the pendant, which is a CZ [or something] starburst/snowflake kinda thing that made it look a little fancier without being too delicate for the rest of the outfit.)

  162. Yay, it looks so cute! Glad it worked out for you!

    I’m still stuck on the petticoat and boots idea myself, so someone needs to do this and take pictures.

  163. Oh, and although everybody behind me in that pic (of the lobby/cocktail area — most of the crowd was in the dining room by then) looks pretty cazh, it was exactly the same mix as last year: lots of cocktail dresses and even a few full-length numbers. I felt neither over- nor under-dressed, which is half the battle.

  164. Kate! You look gorgeous, like someone I’d see and think I wasn’t near cool enough to talk to. Which is totally my own issue… but… oh sheesh geez, there’s a compliment in there somewhere.

  165. Just want to chime in on what a beautiful dress, and the tights look great. I went to my husband’s party on Friday, wore a bright pink cashmere (well, part cashmere) cardigan and a black and white patterned A-line satin skirt. I was planning on wearing black tights, but with the particular skirt and shoes, it looked weird. Mostly, I looked really short. So, I went with the rare choice to wear sheer hoese, and was happy with the choice. Ah, the holidays!

  166. I love the black tights, and I think they work very well with that dress in particular.

    As a fashion trend I think they’re funky and practical and fun… especially with a nice pair of high boots (I wore a black sweater, black green and white knee length skirt, a pair of THE tights, and black boots for Thanksgiving and it was a smash hit–very warm and wintery but still fun looking.)

    I think that the boots in this case would make your outfit even more fantastic… so we’re on the same page there!

  167. As a fellow midwesterner wearing a thin satin dress to a New Year’s party this year….I’m a big fan of black tights, especially in a blizzard! If the people in L.A. want to make it fashionable, all the better to be warm and trendy :-)

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