Summer Skirt Conundrum

Or, To Hose or Not To Hose?

Having rediscovered skirts this last fall and winter, I’ve enjoyed wearing them with tights and occasionally leggings, and find this a comfortable and flattering option for me. But warmer weather is on the way, and now I’m faced with figuring out how to make my skirts work for summer, when tights will be too warm and look too heavy.

I’m not yet comfortable with the bare legs option. My preferred skirt length is just above the knee, and this feels like just too much skin to be flashing in the office. (Not to mention all of those blue spider veins…) And I find wearing most shoes without some sort of hosiery to be uncomfortable. But the thing is, I abhor “nude” pantyhose. Hate them with a white hot passion, probably because for so many of my younger years wearing them was mandatory with dresses or skirts. Now, they seem a bit too staid and formal for my office even were I so inclined.

Readers, how do solve this riddle?
Skirts + office + warmer temperatures = ____?

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  1. Blume
    May 2, 2011 / 11:44 am

    Nude fishnets! The fine, micronet kind.

    (Maybe something to stock up on in Paris or in Italy? They have such better hosiery options.)

  2. May 2, 2011 / 11:53 am

    My feet are ripped to shreds from bare feet being wedged into shoes at the first sign of summer.
    I always opt for bare legs and a grimace

  3. May 2, 2011 / 1:02 pm

    Bare legs are usually best left to the young and veinless. How about trying to track down a garter belt and regular lightweight stockings (not pantyhose). They cover your legs but are alot cooler. I know there must be someone out there that still makes them. ?? Please post your solution – I am curious to see what you decide. As for myself, my legs are not so great so I would not choose to go bare either. Lana

  4. MJ
    May 2, 2011 / 1:08 pm

    I’m struggling with the same issue in NYC, where at least it’s still cool enough that I can wear black tights today. I’ll be going with the bare legs, probably using self-tanner, although last year I noticed lots of very white-skinned young ladies just going bare-legged and so I swallowed hard, decided that no one was really looking at my legs anymore, and if they were looking closely enough to notice the blotchiness they got what they deserved.

  5. Maravonda
    May 2, 2011 / 1:23 pm

    Sally Hansen leg makeup. When I’m going to wear a skirt, I do a quick spray and blend right after drying from the shower. By the time my makeup is done it is set…dries really fast. Looks natural and is Just Enough color to make me comfortable…this from a woman who has never worn shorts because of ghostly pale legs, so you know it really works!

  6. Anonymous
    May 2, 2011 / 1:26 pm

    Here in OZ where it gets very hot I usually wear bare legs sometimes with a light self tanner. I have noticed this seems to be the most favoured look for women of a certain age here. I cannot stand feeling restricted with hose when it is so hot and as someone else said I don’t think anyone is looking at my legs now and if they are, well, they are mine and they work………thank God!!!

  7. May 2, 2011 / 1:50 pm

    I like Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs to add some color and cover the veins. Caution – keep the spray can in an upright position, otherwise it will clog up and quit working. Longer skirts help too.

    Getting veins “zapped” isn’t always a good solution because the veins eventually come back. And, it’s painful!

  8. May 2, 2011 / 1:55 pm

    We don’t get your heat, obviously, and I don’t teach in the summer, so I don’t have many occasions where bare legs don’t work. I make sure to keep up a decent colour with the aid of some self-tanner or other (and luckily, so far my legs are relatively vein-free). As other readers suggest, this is even easier with longer skirts.
    I’m intrigued by the notion of a mini/invisible fishnet and will be curious to see if you pursue that. I’ve worn fishnet that’s def. visible — for fun, bien sûr, but had no idea there was a version designed to go low-key.

  9. May 2, 2011 / 2:04 pm

    Nude fishnets are a good option, as are a pair or nude (or black if you’re wearing dark shoes). Rather than self-tanner, try something called “Air Brushed Legs” by Sally Hansen. Go for the lightest shade you can find to avoid that DWTS look.

  10. May 2, 2011 / 2:32 pm

    I think I’m the only one in the PNW under the age of 70/not a lawyer due in court who wears hose voluntarily, ha.

    As that’s never with sandals and only occasionally with peep toes, I bare-leg it as well, but generally my skirts are more mid-knee cap. I hear your concerns and agree with the comment upthread that a slighter fuller skirt may address that. It will also give more coverage when you sit.

    I second the recs for microfishnets; your skin looks warm enough that the generally-available “nude for lighter-skinned chicks” shade will blend. It makes me look like an ice skater, so I avoid ’em and keep an eye out for grey and pale pink micros.

    [Also: if you do a lot of walking you may want to put a little foot cover thing (peds?) between your foot and the net so doesn’t dig in.]

    I am usually in plain-Jane hose (spendy and babied DKNY truly-my-nude or pale grey), but in addition to the microfishnet you may find more boldly textured hose makes a trendy/funky statement that keeps you feeling stuffy at work.

  11. May 2, 2011 / 2:33 pm

    I too struggle with this one! I come from a generation where no well dressed woman wore a skirt without nylons. It still feels wrong to me to go with bare legs, so I have only worn pants to work for many years.

    But there are so many fun skirts out there now. It’s now considered ‘old fashioned’ to wear nude hose, plus it gets too hot in summer. Now I want to have the option of skirts, without looking dowdy or having pasty white legs.

    I don’t like the chemicals and potential streakiness of artificial tanning lotions, but a leg makeup might do the trick!

    I’m not sure if a longer skirt is right for me – I’m short (5’2″) so the length would be critical.

    Looking forward to seeing what you decide!

  12. Anonymous
    May 2, 2011 / 3:11 pm

    There are some great really sheer pantyhose out there these days… don’t have that fake tan hose look.

  13. Berta_B
    May 2, 2011 / 3:14 pm

    I’m with Gretchen–those Hue socklets, in a variety of shapes (toe socks, weird tubelets for sandals) and fabrics (cotton is great for the heat here in the SW) keep my otherwise bare feet comfy. I gave up pantyhose when I moved to Tucson, and since we have no fashion police and even the lawyers wear cowboy boots to court, it’s all good. I say comfort tops style on this one.

  14. May 2, 2011 / 3:38 pm

    As I’m wearing skirts most of the time and leave under colder skies I understand your dilemna. My solution is to wear longer, lighter and moving skirts with bare legs – so the swich-swich-swiching of the skirt hide the “above-knee-spider-veins” area and keep my shorter skirts to wear with opaque tights when the temperature drops. This has been my solution for quite some years and it works fine!

  15. May 2, 2011 / 3:39 pm

    I can’t wait until you solve this riddle – I also am not comfortable wearing skirts without stockings unless I am also wearing sandals, and yes, stockings are not only too warm, they run, and they look a bit odd unless they cost the earth (and those still run after a wearing or two).

    I just bought three summer skirts that I can wear with my sandals, and even though my legs are white (what is so very wrong with white legs, by the way?), I will bare them around town, but in the office? Not so sure.

  16. May 2, 2011 / 3:41 pm

    I live in Dallas which is a fashion conscious city. NO ONE wears stockings here, and I mean NO ONE. It’s been this way for years and years now. And this goes for the young women all the way up to our age and beyond. I particularly notice this because I have a condition that requires me to wear heavy duty compression stockings all the time. I can’t tell you how many times a well meaning sales person in a store has said to me, “Of course you won’t wear those stocking with this skirt.”

    I say go bare legged. If you don’t like to show that much leg, maybe it’s time for longer skirts. However, you probably know the right length for you. For me (and I’m a lot taller) just below the knee to mid calf looks best.

  17. May 2, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    It’s a dilemma for sure. I am currently wearing capris & sandals with my pasty white legs! But I just started my usual 6 month membership (Apr-Oct) at the tanning salon to get a minimal, light base tan and that helps. I look at it as protection against sunburn in addition to keeping the glare from offending others.

    Of course, tanning bed are something one needs to decide for themselves, but they’ve kept me from the bad burns of years past, and I’m not aiming for the deep, dark orange glow either!

    There is always the option of the spray tan- should last you two weeks? I find with self tanning lotions, I would get blotchy fast- I shave my legs daily so that exfoliated them too fast to make any sense for me.

  18. May 2, 2011 / 5:22 pm

    I feel your pain. My general rule is: shorter skirts get some textured lightweight hose I buy at Target. Maybe a fishnet or herringbone in a nude or grey tone. Longer skirts get my pale, pale legs shining bright for all to see. : > I’m too lazy to keep self-tanning them.

  19. Sue
    May 2, 2011 / 5:34 pm

    Besides to odd patch of blue veins I have bruises, the result of interacting with a big rambunctious dog. On the hottest days I’ll go barelegged with a below-the-knees skirt, but I do feel self-conscious about it. Faux tanning doesn’t appeal to my lily-white self.

  20. Jean S
    May 2, 2011 / 5:44 pm

    Oy! I also have pasty white legs (I call it an Oregon tan)…I also have toes that will poke through light-weight hose. I have never tried self-tanner but might, based on some of the comments here.

    Good luck!!

  21. May 2, 2011 / 6:28 pm

    Nude fishnets are my first chouce.
    Here in Italy (and I suppose in France too) stores sell “summer weight” tights – 8 den. They don’t need to be a true “nude” color. Even in spring and fall, I prefer to buy a slightly darker shade, which looks more elegant and makes the legs look longer/thinner!

  22. May 2, 2011 / 6:33 pm

    How I do it is
    1) nude fishnets
    2) self tanner

    Self tanners have really improved. A tiny bit of color masks all kinds of imperfections.

    I like the Fair/Light version of the Jergens lotion that is supposed to work gradually, although I need only apply it for 1 or 2 days to get enough color for me.

    Oh, and I wear bike short type garments with skirts when I’m bare-legged, both for control and anti-chafing.

  23. Dorky Medievalist
    May 2, 2011 / 11:49 am

    I second Blume. Nude fishies are an excellent compromise.

  24. LuxeBytes
    May 2, 2011 / 12:02 pm

    I go bare myself. Target has nude fishnet “footies” that just barely cover the foot so you can wear flats or heels without hose. I like them with my Converse, but I think they’re cut low enough for office-type footwear.

    If you feel self-conscious about veins, perhaps get them zapped?

    Great questions for our friend, dear Cherie ….

  25. coffeeaddict
    May 2, 2011 / 12:10 pm

    I happen to love nude tights, but I completely understand why you refuse to wear them. When something is forced upon you, you come to hate it with a passion and a vengeance.
    I prefer to wear tights well into the late days of May/ early June, I hate pale bare legs but can’t abide the stench of self tanning lotion.
    I wish I could be more of an assistance instead I guess I can only agree with Blume.

  26. Paula
    May 2, 2011 / 12:40 pm

    My legs are whiter than white, so it’s nude tights for me. I like the tights, Wolford or Palmers, Maybe I am friends with tights because it were pants for me for lets say the last 35 years. 🙂

  27. May 2, 2011 / 7:45 pm

    Seconding the nude fishnet option. My preference is for thigh-highs rather than the full tights–cooler and more comfortable. Wolford is expensive but so very worth it.

  28. Couture Allure Vintage Fashion
    May 2, 2011 / 1:16 pm

    I too would choose bare legs, BUT with longer fuller skirts. That way the skirt is what captures the eye, not the legs. The one in the photo you’ve chosen is a perfect example.

  29. Gretchen
    May 2, 2011 / 1:20 pm

    Bare legs from April to November, and Hue makes both very low foots and these strenge toe caps, to help protect shoes. For legs that aren’t quite all the same colour, this, too, is manageable. Use a light sunless tanner (Neutrogena or Jergens work well), or Nars body oil, or one of the many newly proliferating “leg makeup” products, designed especially for this purpose. If your office is frigid, the Spanx nude fishnets add a bit of coverage so you won’t be quite as chilled.

  30. May 2, 2011 / 8:37 pm

    I like what Blume has to say…my legs are spotty and veiny and not young so I need to have hose of some kind unless I am at the beach or on the boat.

    If you find a source for these fishnets please guide us Deja Pseu….

    Waiting to see what you decide…


  31. May 2, 2011 / 9:13 pm

    Love nude fishnets.

  32. Parthenope
    May 2, 2011 / 2:27 pm

    I concur with all the votes for nude fishnets; Wolford make nude fishnet stockings too, but I find the Honey colour a bit too ‘suntan’ ! The tights in Sea sand are most elegant.

  33. Sal
    May 2, 2011 / 3:38 pm

    Blume stole my idea. Another option would be sheer tights with subtle patterns.

  34. Pam @ over50feeling40
    May 2, 2011 / 4:06 pm

    I live in South Texas and we just rejoiced when women started to go without hose…it is really hot in the summer! Now, I do not think you could get us to go back even it was declared the worst thing to do!! A cute skirt with no hose is a great way to stay cool!

  35. Nancy B. Hartley
    May 2, 2011 / 4:07 pm

    Clarins self tanning cream works really well at hiding leg veins. Also more flowing longer length, below the knee, skirts seems to be more covered and airy. Sandals, and open toe shoes help with cooling the feet. This is a great post, and interesting comments, looking forward to reading more!

  36. Chicatanyage
    May 2, 2011 / 4:21 pm

    I have had my veins zapped and it is painful and they do come back. So now I wear slightly longer skiirts and do a slow and careful build up of fake tan. Although the other day I did find a pair of very thin “Clair” Dim tights that looked as though I was not wearing any at all.

  37. May 2, 2011 / 11:34 pm

    I say, bare ’em! One trick I like for softening the look of spider veins is to mix a little mineral powder foundation (one or two shades darker than your natural color) with regular body lotion, and use it as a light makeup for the legs.

    I have yet to try a self tanner that doesn’t have a funky smell, so I don’t use them — and anyway, they don’t really provide any coverage. Besides, I’m ok with my natural pasty color, I just want to take away a little of the bluish hue. The makeup doesn’t completely hide everything, but it does reduce how noticeable the veins are.

    Other than that I’ll add my vote for the nude micro fishnets!

  38. May 2, 2011 / 11:51 pm

    eeek. I just don’t get fishnets! Don’t they hurt your feet?

    And dare I mention (shh…sweaty feet?) how uncomfortable it can be to go sockless? Even tights help with this ick factor.

    You have really got our attention! It’s not even dark here and you have a bazillion legs paying heed!

  39. Susan Tiner
    May 2, 2011 / 5:52 pm

    I don’t like the bare option or any kind of hosiery, though the micronet fishnets sound intriguing.

    Generally I stick with capris and or dressier microfiber pants if the weather is warm.

  40. May 3, 2011 / 2:30 am

    Thanks so much everyone, for sharing your ideas and solutions!

    I’m not bothered by the paleness of my legs as much as having a lot of bare skin on display at work (just can’t shake some of those “old school” notions!). I’ll look for some nude fishnets and maybe some (slightly) longer skirts.

  41. May 3, 2011 / 3:09 am

    Nude micro fishnets are very fashion foreward.

    a sheer tight rather than heavy, in a charcoal rather than black

    The right nude tight is not noticeable, even though you hate with a passion. Sometimes they just work!

  42. RoseAG
    May 2, 2011 / 11:18 pm

    Here in conservative DC I’ll wear stockings in colors from DK or CK until Memorial Day. After that it’s bare legs touched up with some Natural Glow color.

    I was complaining about stockings at work and three different women, none perfect told me to bag the stockings and go bare.

  43. May 3, 2011 / 12:11 pm

    I’m with Marsha, what’s so wrong about white legs? Now that tans are outed as health risks, the aesthetic of white skin has shifted too.

    Try a slightly longer hem- to the knee or grazing below it. Treating spider veins is easy and effective.

  44. Villette
    May 3, 2011 / 12:34 pm

    I am very pale and last year finally got fed up with fake-tan attempts on my legs — even the ‘gradual’ type can build up on the knees and ankles. I decided to ’embrace the pale’ and tried MAC Face and Body Foundation instead. A really helpful MUA took me and my bare legs out into daylight so she could get an exact match. Now, if I take a few minutes to get the stuff on right in the morning, it stays on my legs all day, making my legs’ ‘complexion’ look smooth and even — but if a bit wears off, it doesn’t show, because the color matches the skin underneath.

  45. Donnie
    May 3, 2011 / 3:21 pm

    Oh, another of those annoying getting older problems. Like you, I have great legs in tights, but the veins and those around the ankles!!! Pants for me in the summer, or only at night, bare legs with L’oreal self tanner. I add it to my body moisturizer every few days, keeps the pasty look away. I’m becoming very high maintenance to myself….but not giving up the fight!!

  46. May 3, 2011 / 4:37 pm

    I also love nude fishnets, as some others mentioned. And self-tanner does wonders for my pasty, pasty gams.

  47. May 3, 2011 / 6:38 pm

    Skirts + office + warmer temperatures = bare legs, or sheer nude thigh-highs with anything shorter than knee length. Actually, I’m a huge fan of thigh-highs all year round. They give a more professional look, eliminate the pinching of the midsection, and keep the ladyparts cool. Plus they’re sexy as hell.

  48. May 3, 2011 / 6:41 pm

    Bare, bare, bare! I always loved that when my business trips took me to France and the weather was gentle, no hose was the way it goes… “business bare” was perfectly acceptable.

    Dare to bare!

  49. Anonymous
    May 3, 2011 / 6:55 pm

    I am in 43 and also came up with hosiery the norm (sometimes required) in my first professional positions. I still wouldn’t interview or deliver a really important talk with bare legs–crazy, but there it is.

    I have used self-tanners for 10 years or so–to increase my comfort level in casual skirts and sandals–but I am declaring my liberty from tanners this season. I loathe the malty smell! I plan to embrace my pallor.

    The problem for me is summer formal events. I realized at an evening wedding last summer that I was the youngest woman by a decade in any kind of hosiery (high-quality sheer black). But pumps hurt my bare feet, and it also seems somehow sloppy and sweaty . . . a bad thing to do to a nice pair of shoes.

    Peds haven’t worked out for me. I have some of the mesh ones with cotton soles. They are comfortable in sneakers or other closed shoes, but they show in pumps and even loafers.

    Maybe I’ll try the micronets.

  50. Anonymous
    May 3, 2011 / 10:18 pm

    For me, it’s all about the knees: after a certain age, most just can’t face prime-time exposure without the smoothing camouflage of tights. For summer, I’d suggest slightly longer (kneecap-covering) narrow skirts with platform-soled heels (cuts down on the angle while still giving height) in soft, comfortable leather, or longer, fuller summery skirts with sandals, depending on the degree of polish the situation requires. Even shorter women can wear full-ish skirts if the proportion and fabric are right. (I’m 5’2″, and I love the cool swish of a pretty summer skirt.)


  51. May 3, 2011 / 11:09 pm

    I have the same issue – I love skirts in the summer, wear them almost every day, and have pasty white legs even by September.

    I wear self-tanner sometimes. Other times, my hemline is low enough so that pasty white legs don’t blind the eye.

    I hate tights and pantyhose – can’t stand the constriction around the crotch. Any size that are comfy up there for me are usually droopy below.

    I have been experimenting with wearing thigh-highs in the winter, with mixed success. you can’t wear them if you have to do a lot of walking all at once, they’ll droop and you have to yank them up. OTOH, at a typical desk job, you can manage the occasional discreet yank.

    And ladies – I am flabbergasted. Was I born under a rock? What are nude fishnets? Must google…….

  52. May 4, 2011 / 12:34 am

    Like the nude micro fishnets option or if bare legs (with little sockettes from Target – invisible with a court shoe) and you hate the smell of tanning lotion (I do) what about using a mineral powder base bronzer on legs (sans sparkle of course)? I have found this to be a good option. X

  53. Jemajo
    May 3, 2011 / 9:53 pm

    For the veins, I could suggest the concealer that is used for costmetic cover-ups as it does stay on all day.
    For your feet, definitely footies or best of all, nice sandals in a soft leather.
    For the legs in summer, I skip the tights and just go with fake tan, either the wash-off stuff, or the longer lasting one for a few days. There are plenty now that don’t smell at all and one that is organic too!

  54. May 4, 2011 / 6:23 pm

    I’ve got to get out more! I haven’t clue what nude fishnets are? I hate to be the last to know something this important! Thanks so much for bringing this critically important matter to light. I’ve enjoyed all the comments. God knows it’s nowhere near warm enough here to even think about going bare-legged, yet it’s liable to soar up anytime and then I’ll be up a creek with white, bare legs. I’ve tried the self-tanners and I’m not sure they’ve worked but they do provide a degree of confidence. I really like the suggestions around concealers. Isn’t Joan Rivers flogging some sort of spray on leg makeup. Anyone know anything about that?

  55. California Girl
    May 4, 2011 / 1:35 pm

    I’ve been pondering this same question of late as I’m buying skirts again. I agree about the self-tanners. I love bare legs but not always how they look so a self tanner & well manicured toes & a shaved or waxed leg should look very nice.

  56. Katriona
    May 5, 2011 / 5:17 am

    I’ve never had fabulous legs, but never really worried about going hose-less, because I love wearing mid-calf graceful flared skirts in soft linen or jersey in the summer. I like the way they move when I walk and they are much more feminine and graceful than trousers, but not bunchy like a dirndl style skirt. They are cool, light to pack, versatile and they don’t show a lot of leg but draw attention to the ankles and a pretty shoe. Fishnets I’d avoid unless they’ve changed since I wore them they kill your feet by dicing them if you walk any distance.A little self tanner and those little nude low cut sockette thingies and you’ll be good to go!!

  57. May 6, 2011 / 3:31 am

    When I was in Rome a few weeks ago, I noticed all the ladies dressed for business or in skirts to go about town were wearing nude hose! ARGH!!!

  58. May 13, 2011 / 11:33 pm

    A few years ago there was an advertisement for Alitalia with a youngish woman and of course a well-dressed man in some kind of embrace. It was a summer pose. The woman was wearing a short sleeve top and a short print silky skirt with dark hose (not sheer dark, and not woolen-winter dark) and high heels. After seeing this ad daily, I came around to appreciate the look. The only thing you need to carry it off is a skirt of the proper fabric weight and pattern (preferably with some black tones), and the confidence to pull it off. If it is 85 and August, might be too warm, but for a chilly July evening, could be just right.

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