Office Fashion Etiquette: Must Gen Y Wear Pantyhose to Work?

Office Fashion Etiquette: Must Gen Y Wear Pantyhose to Work?

OK, I think it is time that you helped me adequately address this heated question on office pantyhose. I found some arguments on this debate from a few of my favorite blogs but I would love to hear your thoughts also!
These days, is pantyhose in the office appropriate or outdated?
Office Appropriate

Jen at MBAchic recently posted that you should wear pantyhose.  “I know you probably only see your mom, aunts or old ladies wear them, but for these interviews, you want to wear them. Think: they may not be for you, but not too long ago, it was completely unheard of for women to leave the house without this undergarment. The majority of your potential employers are probably not your age, and for them, pantyhose is just a part of life. You do not want to give a senior partner in the accounting firm any reason to judge (or misjudge) you.”

Outdated

CCG: When I entered the career world out of college, I thought that pantyhose were a must!  I wore them to interviews and on the job.  I even wore knee highs with pants because I thought I would look more professional and mature.  I realized a few months in that not only were they terribly uncomfortable but most women (of all ages) I was working with were not wearing them.  Today, I very rarely see anyone wearing pantyhose.  I think times are changing and it isn’t looked down upon anymore to NOT wear pantyhose.  Disclaimer: I live in San Diego and things tend to be a little more relaxed than other places such as New York and DC.

It Depends

Sarah Shah responded to my question on Twitter and sent me a link to an article she had written on the topic that says, ”The status of pantyhose is changing. The key to surviving the pantyhose dilemma is knowing who you are and who you are going to be with. If you are a Believer and meeting with an UnWrapped (they believe there is never an excuse for pantyhose), it would be wise to rethink the pantyhose. If you are an Unwrapped meeting with a Believer (they believe women can’t leave the house without pantyhose), wearing pantyhose may be key to your success.”

CCG Readers, now you have heard all sides of the fence….what do you think? 
Yes, No or Maybe to office pantyhose?
(photo by No Nonsense)
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About Anna Runyan

Anna Runyan is a Leadership Coach, Author and Professor of Management who helps corporations develop their leaders. She leverages her 7 years of corporate consulting, hiring experience, teaching background and her passion for helping professional men and women accelerate their careers and get ahead. Make sure you sign up for her FREE leadership course and her weekly career report here.

Comments

  1. I wore them to all my interviews! But now that I am hired in a business casual environment, I go without! I also waited to see what the general office population chose to wear as well! The office was sans-pantyhose…

  2. I'm in tech, so you'd think I'd be a Barelegger…but I'm also in B2B sales, in NYC, so I'm a Believer–though reluctantly. I've worn them to every interview I've ever had -except- a recent one with the 20-something founder of a brand new startup. To that one, I still wore a suit, but it was short sleeved, my legs were bare, and the Manolos were nude colored.
    Funnily enough, I'm pretty sure I got that job. Should know soon!

  3. Anonymous says:

    At Mayo Clinic, we are required to ware them! All of the women complain about them, but in a hospital setting they are certainly a staple. I say yes!

    - Social Media Avoider

  4. Anonymous says:
  5. Samantha-That sounds very similar to what I did. I guess you never know so it is best to be safe during interviews!

    Kingstreetfarm: Awesome! Congrats on nailing the interview! :) I really do think it depends on the lcoation too so that is so interesting to hear your perspective from NYC.

    Social Media avoider-Good point! I totally forgot about hospitals but they do wear them all the time! (P.S. The Mayo clinic rocks!:)

  6. It's great to hear the different perspectives. I'm glad to be in a position where my work doesn't require me to have to make the choice….whew! I've never been a fan of hosiery.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wear nylons with skirts by choice. I can't wear dress shoes without something due to sweating, and the little sock-like nylon things never seem to stay in place.

    It's hard to say what others do in my area; I work in a medical office as a mid-level provider, and the other female doesn't wear skirts. I do see some physicians in another office who will wear capris with dressy sandals and bare legs, but they are a generation older than I am. My patient population is older, conservative and wealthy, and as a 20-something, it is in my best interest to dress up a bit.

  8. Kobie says:

    I love these kinds of articles – so relevant! Gen Y employees typically want to express themselves and their personalities, so being limited by a dress code is very frustrating for them (us)! I would definitely chose a job where I can wear what I want if I had a choice…

  9. Chrissy says:

    I just found this so I’m posting late. My current job requires HIGH HEELS and PANTYHOSE. I do understand the pantyhose requirements in some work environments and I’ve been a trooper and worn pantyhose everyday as required. Companies have the right to require pantyhose be worn by their female employees for a feminine and professional image. I knew the requirements when I signed on for my job but the idea of hosiery requirements does seem outdated to me. I’ve decidecd to move on from my current job and am interviewing and one thing I’m paying close attention to is dress code because any potential new job that requires me slipping on pantyhose and heels everyday is out of the running.

  10. Becky says:

    I totslly sympathize with Chrissy, being “required” to wear hose to work sounds aweful!

    I’m proud to state that I have not worn any kind of pantyhose, either to work or otherwise, in at least seven years, since I graduated law school! I Absolutely Loathe panty hose!

    As a young lawyer practicing in the South, I’ve never once felt compelled or required to wear pantyhose; even though I’ve worn high heels literally every day of my professional life. In fact, the overwhelming majority of women attorneys under 40 I know, go bare legged most of the time now, whether in the office, or out at depositions or client meetings or interviews, or in Court. Even Federal Court!

    Although occassionally during chilly winter months, some young women attorneys may wear them then, that’s more about being comfortable in weather appropriate attire, most I seem to just wear pants or dress slacks with their heels, but often still without the hose.

    My first job right out of law school that I was lucky to land was a one year judicial clerkship for a well respected female Federal Judge. On my first day, in August several years ago, I tried to dress as conservatively as reasonably possible, only to realize the morning of that I didn’t even own a pair of pantyhose! I was so relieved when I arrived my first day to find my Judge wearing summer sandals barefoot under her black robe.

    Then on my first day of Court as a law clerk, I was plesantly surprised to see a federal prosecutor in her early thirties appearing before the Court in a stylish blouse and tasteful pencil skirt, with fashionable nude heels and bare legs. That really set the tone right for me.

    Even later in the Fall of my first year as a law clerk when I saw a very professional middle aged attorney in Court with pantyhose straight out of the 80s, and despite me having worn high heels without pantyhose to work every single day; when I finally worked up the courage to sheepishly ask my Judge whether she thought pantyhose were required for Court, she just chuckled, and said “of course it’s not “required”…as far as I know, young women haven’t been “required” to wear pantyhose since the Clinton administration.” (I found this particularly witty since She had actually been appointed by Bill Clinton!)

    Hearing a respected Federal Judge such as her say that, was pretty much the final nail in the coffin of pantyhose as a professional requirement as far as I was concerned.

    If pantyhose aren’t required for professional women appearing in Federal Court, then they shouldn’t be “required” anywhere else. Even after I finished my judicial clerkship and started practice with a smallish boutique law firm with mostly male attorneys, I haven’t worn pantyhose to work a single day since then!

    For me at least, the question of whether or not its business-professionally “kosher” to be able to visibly “see” the bandaids I oftentimes have to wear over the blisters on the backs of my heels from where a my shoes invariably rubs up against my bare skin seems infinetly more topical and current that the long dead concept of mandatory pantyhose! Visible band-aids is the pet peeve of another female attorney friend of mine who also goes nearly exclusively sans pantyhose professionally; although she often times has to wear band aids all over her blistered bare feet when breaking in new high heels just like the rest of us, she absolutely insists that either none if the bandaids be visible or that not more than 1/4 inch of the band aid peek out over the back of the heels. I suppose I could almost see her point if when wearing a knee length skirt the full bandaid is just out there completely visible above the top of the back of the shoes; but who really does that that often?! Many women I know pretty much consider band aids to be practically be a work-purse essential for the young professional woman in heels.

    If that doesn’t evidence the Death Knell of pantyhose as workplace requirement, I don’t know what else would!

  11. Michelle says:

    I don’t think women have to wear pantyhose to the office anymore, unless their boss specifically requires it. I suppose I’m a bit more towards the Gen X age than Gen Y, but I can say that while many women did wear pantyhose in the office back in the early and mid 1990′s; by the late 1990′s or early 2000′s there started to be alot more women going without hose to the office. Amusingly enough, I think Sex and the City helped alot with that perception that it was okay. While I do still occasionally wear skirts and high heels without pantyhose, as I approach the big 4-0 in one more year, I have started trying to wear more dress slacks with my high heels, although I still pretty much wear my heels without socks or hose all the time now. The dress slacks are really just a personal preference that feels more age appropriate for me, but I definitely don’t think pantyhose is a requirement.

    Meanwhile, my nineteen year old daughter, who is a quintessential Gen Y girl in many respects and often times acts like shes twenty five, has litereally never even once considered wearing pantyhose to the office where she works. She wears high heels and skirts without hose everyday while working part time as a receptionist for a real estate office, and also goes to college part time; and she never asked me if she needed to wear pantyhose to the office, she just seemed to know that she didn’t.

  12. Alison says:

    Am I the only one who thinks a requirement to wear pantyhose at work is completely ridiculous?! And to the poster whose workplace requires HIGH HEELS?!? I’m glad you’re out looking for another job! Just the health complications that could potentially arise from wearing heels every day should be reason enough to abolish that ridiculous rule. Wow. That seems so very sexist and wrong to me.

    • anonymous says:

      Alison, pantyhose can be SUPER COMFY to wear, all all kinds of feminine colors and styles!
      Dont give up on being feminine!

  13. Anna says:

    I live in San Diego and have been in the workforce for 9 years and I don’t think I’ve seen a woman wearing nylons in the office, and I work in media and politics. They are definitely NOT the norm around here. Honestly, I think nylons come across kinda sexual, especially in the younger crowd. Not saying it is never appropriate, especially if you are uncomfortable with your own legs, and it helps you feel more comfortable.

  14. Brian W. says:

    I think wearing pantyhose depends on the workplace setting. If the workplace is a professional formal business setting, wearing pantyhose/tights is a must. If it’s a business casual or casual setting, wearing pantyhose/tights is an option. My advice for women is wear what is suitable and comfortable for yourself in the workplace. If you want to wear pantyhose or tights with your outfits in the workplace, then wear it, and don’t let others judge your appearance.

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