Reader Request: Tights and Sandals

how to wear tights and sandals

Wearing sandals and other open-toed shoes with hosiery is newly stylish, gaining popularity over the past several years. When I first saw it in my mags, I thought, “OH NO. Not for me, thanks.” But within a few months, my eye had adjusted to the look. And since it allows me to utilize more of my shoe collection for more of the year, I’m now fully in favor.

As with anything in fashion – especially a developing look or trend – there are no hard and fast rules. But here are my personal guidelines for pairing tights and open-toed footwear:


  • Flat sandals or gladiators with any kind of hosiery
  • Super delicate and/or strappy shoes and heavy opaques
  • Sandal boots with any kind of hosiery
  • Other styles that hit above the ankle with any kind of hosiery
  • Heavy socks and sandals


  • Heeled sandals
  • Sandals with fairly chunky/substantial straps and construction
  • Peep-toes
  • d’Orsays
  • T-straps

Much of the rest is up to you. I gravitate toward opaque tights with my sandals, just because a lot of pattern on your arch PLUS whatever strappy-ness your sandals contribute can get a bit busy. But I’ve seen many women do patterned hosiery with open-toed shoes to great effect. So if you’re interested in this look, carve out some time for experimentation in front of the mirror. See what works best from your own wardrobe.

A few things to bear in mind:

1. Hosiery is more likely to snag on sandals than on boots, since there’s more detailing, stitching, and hardware touching the fiber. This is another argument for utilizing durable opaques in this look.

2. While contrasting colored tights and shoes look fun and funky, like-colored shoes and tights are EXTREMELY flattering. Nude pumps make your legs look long and lean because your legs and shoes are in the same color family. Same goes for shoes and tights.

3. This is not, generally, the place to explore pattern mixing. Snakeskin sandals and tie-dyed tights are just gonna look odd.

4. Skirts and dresses are best. You can certainly try this look with long slacks, but it is much cuter when more of your leg is visible.

Many people still abhor the look of tights worn with sandals, and I can understand that. It takes a while to get used to a look that may be trendy now, but was considered positively doofy for ages. When and if you embrace it, though, you’ll transform your spring and summer shoes to year-rounders. So perhaps consider it an investment in footwear efficiency.

Images courtesy Fashion for Nerds (olive green dress), Esme and the Lane Way (all others … except the one of me.)

Originally posted 2009-10-08 05:52:00.

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36 Responses to “Reader Request: Tights and Sandals”

  1. Fell 4 Fashion

    Awesome tips!! I am in love with your entire ensemble 🙂 I want it all!!!

  2. AsianCajuns (Lauren)

    Oh my gawd, Sally! I love, love, love your outfit! I didn't even read the post for like the first few seconds because I was staring agape at your ensemble! I love that in all these photos you chose, none of these ladies you look at and think "she is wearing socks with sandals– cool"- it just looks like an overall amazing outfit. Usually when I see the sock+sandal thing, even if it looks good/interesting, I notice the trend first. You and these other ladies totally rock this as a style, not a trend.

  3. Elise

    Great tips – it's a great look but you have to get it right otherwise…. disaster !

  4. Cupcakes and Cashmere

    easily my favorite thing to do in cooler months and you've NAILED it! off to put on a pair of tights and sandals 🙂

  5. Audi

    Aw, thanks for featuring me, Sal! This is a trend I LOVE because our chilly summers in San Francisco very often necessitate tights. I was happy to see this trend emerge, because now I can wear my sandals more than 2 or 3 times a year.

  6. Sheila

    I am loving this look and fully embrace it. However, I do wear my Fluevog gladiators with hose and they look great (will be wearing them today, actually, with black hose). And the only way I like a boot/shoe that hits above the ankle is with tights (otherwise my leg looks chopped right off).

    Great post!

  7. futurelint

    I LOVE that this is acceptable to do now… so crucial here in the north and I have too many cute sandals to let them waste away in my closet 9 months out of the year! I totally agree with all your tips!

  8. simplesophistication87

    great post! and I love the outfit you put together!

  9. deanna

    LOVE the black and white dress with the scarlet tights. Very chic!

  10. Belle de Ville

    I adore that entire outfit. It's very "jeune fille" but chic.

  11. K.Line

    It's a look I used not to get but now I'm on it! (And my word ver is "trippe"!)

  12. Meli22

    you look so lovely! I LOVE the red and black&white, so chic! The colors do a lot for your skin tone!

    I wanted to try this trend out this fall, but alas my office has imposed it's own rules on the dress code, specifically:

    NO open-toed shoes allowed.

    This includes peep-toes. :'(

  13. Michelle

    I think these look great! I think pairing sheerer tights with peep toes looks a little odd, but with opaque tights is looks fabulous. And Sal, I MUST know – what shoes are those that you're wearing?! They are SO cute.

  14. Erin

    We're on the same wavelength today! I just wrote an article for the school paper about wearing summer clothes in fall and I proposed the same thing, except I like socks with heels personally, it's kind of school girlish 🙂 But I got a giant "WHAAA???" from my editor.
    The article is posted on my blog though, and I thought the picture of my socks and sandals turned out well. Love your tips too, I'll have to try it with colored tights

  15. Hanako66

    I love the look and am anxious to get more mileage out of my open toed shoes this winter!

    btw, you look totally amazing!

  16. hillary

    eep!! I have done the gladiator and delicate sandals with thick tights.
    Now I wonder if I looked silly.

  17. Julia

    Now where do flat peep toes fall, then, if flats are a no and peep toes are a yes?
    Because I have a pair that I've recently discovered looks pretty excellent with tights, or at least I think so. I almost wore them today, actually…

  18. lisa

    This is such a great look and you've really hit the nail on the head with your guidelines for how to pull it off.

  19. pretty face

    Sally that is a beautiful, beautiful photo. Totally echoing what Lauren said:

    I didn't even read the post for like the first few seconds because I was staring agape at your ensemble!

  20. Maggie

    I've always been in favor of shoes with tights, but I guess my issues come more in wearing tights with open-toed shoes, something I'm still not convinced is totally acceptable.

  21. Nadine

    It looks really good, but your feet would get wet wearing sandals in winter! Well, MY feet would, where I live.

  22. Sal

    Julia: If you like the look, go for it. As always, no rules! Just suggestions and guidelines. 😉

    Nadine: Oh for sure, this look meets its end the minute the snow flies. Well, either that or I trudge to work in my boots and swap out for sandals at the office.

  23. Corrine/Frock And Roll

    I'm with you. When I first spied tights and open-toed shoes together, I cringed and vowed that it was a look that I could never get used to, but after seeing it on a number of stylish women, I'm definitely warming to the idea! (BTW, I LOVE your red tights! I so need some coloured tights in my life!)

  24. Sarah in Seattle


    Thanks so much for this GREAT post, as well as your personal response to my question last week. I wasn't expecting that at all, and I think you ROCK. 🙂

    My best!

    Sarah in Seattle

  25. Laura.

    these are great tips, and your outfit is absolutely adorable. i am very inspired. i don't suppose you have any insight on where a tall girl could find some good, well-fitting, reasonably priced tights, do you? that is the only thing holding me back: the fear of buying tights that don't fit at all or are totally uncomfortable.

  26. metscan

    I would not wear tights and sandals together. That´s just me. I´m old-fashioned on this matter. However all the pictures are so cute, especially the one of you.

  27. melissa loves

    you look adorable here Sal! I say you take up tight/sandal wearing, immediately! 🙂