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Ask a Stylist: 3 Ways to Make Tights Look Polished

January 26, 2017 | Filed in: Your Closet

In theory, tights are not complicated. Throw them on under a dress or skirt, and you’ve winterized your outfit. But in practice, styling them can get murky. What color tights do you pair with which color dress? Sheer or opaque? Black or gray? And how do you avoid looking like a schoolgirl (or schoolmarm)?

Enter Audrey, an MM stylist who knows the ropes. “I’m from Cleveland, where going bare-legged is definitely not an option in the winter,” she said.“In New York, I wear tights at least once or twice a week in the colder months.” Below, she discusses the ins and outs of tights—and models three of her favorite cold-weather office looks. 

Look 1: Semi-Opaque Black Tights

What makes this outfit work? “This is a power look. The black jardigan punches up the houndstooth print, and the semi-opaque tights add a formal, polished finish. Wearing shoes in the same color as the stockings has a lengthening effect, because it doesn’t break up the line of your leg.”

Styling tip: “I’m all for experimenting with subtle prints, but when you’re wearing a patterned dress, definitely stick to solid tights.”

Look 2: Opaque Graphite Tights


Audrey wears the Emily dress, the coiled leather belt, and graphite tights.

What makes this outfit work? “This combination is a bit unexpected—exactly why I love it! Opaque gray tights can be surprisingly tricky to match with other colors, but the deep forest shade of the Emily dress works well because they’re both rich, dark hues. The belt adds definition at the waist and grounds the pairing nicely.”

Styling tip: “Gray tights are a fun alternative to basic black, but I’d steer clear of a gray-on-gray look. As a general rule, pair gray tights with non-gray dresses.”

Look 3: Sheer Black Tights


Audrey wears the Nisa dress and sheer black tights.

What makes this outfit work? “This look is clean, chic, and very professional. Sheer black tights, especially when combined with a black belt, make the color of the Nisa dress pop and bring out the quality of the fabric—even though it’s a quiet, neutral hue.”

Styling tip: “I wouldn’t recommend wearing shoes that are a lighter color than your tights. It’s hard to pull off—and usually not office-appropriate.”

Photographs by Lindsay Brown.

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Alexandra Johnson is the brand manager at MM.LaFleur, where she started out as a summer intern. Her happy place is the room housing Monet's Water Lilies at MoMA. Read more of Alexandra's posts.

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