How to Wear Tights

how to wear tights

I’ve gotten so many requests for tights-related advice this season that I figured it would be worthwhile to update my old post on styling tights, which contains what I consider to be the easiest guidelines for making outfits with tights look great.

Is the color of the tights the same
as the color of your top?


This is the trick I find myself sticking to most often. I imagine that my tights and top are creating a bodysuit of a single, solid color. In the above outfit, that color is black. Then, I can layer on a skirt, a blazer or cardigan, a scarf, and a pair of shoes or boots, and that underlying bodysuit of color creates immediate harmony among the other pieces.

Does the color in the tights appear
anywhere else in the outfit?


Making sure that black appears multiple times within an outfit ensures intentionality. Likewise, making sure that the color of your tights shows up at least twice helps the tights seem like a natural addition. Here, my outfit is mostly neutrals, but the bright red in the scarf and tights create colorful brackets.

Does the color of the tights blend with or match to
the shoes?


These burgundy tights are very close to the color of my boots. There’s no burgundy anywhere else in this outfit, but had I worn bright red boots or shoes, the tights would’ve seemed a bit more incongruous. But since both tights and boots are dark tones, the addition of this color seems more natural.

If your tights introduce an entirely new color, selecting footwear in similar values and tones will make your legs and feet look more like a single unit. This not only makes your legs appear longer, but helps the tights seem like an organic part of the overall outfit.

Are the tights a neutral that works within the mix?


These gray tights are a shade that doesn’t appear anywhere else within the outfit … but they are a warm, dusty gray that complements the mix. Grays and charcoals are the tights colors I’ve found to be most useful, but non-neutrals can work, too, so long as they have similar undertones and value to the other colors present.

Are the tights clearly making a stand-alone statement
of their own?

How to wear tights

Honestly, this is the technique I struggle with the most and utilize the least – as evidenced by this ancient photo which shows me in striped tights that include colors not echoed elsewhere in the outfit, but echoed by my bag and scarf. This is a tights styling trick that definitely bears mentioning, though. Brightly colored and boldly patterned tights can be the focal point of an outfit, but will work best if it’s abundantly clear that they’re the focal point. Creating contrast and utilizing neutrals both help drive the point home.

In addition to these guidelines, here are some other posts about tights that might be helpful:

  1. Reader Request: Working those Colorful Tights
  2. Toasty Legs: Recommendations for Warm Tights
  3. This Week I Love: Textured Tights
  4. My Pinterest board featuring outfits that include tights