Pantyhose or Bare Legs at the Office: What's Appropriate?

We've seen stories on three different tv channels this past week about the Great Pantyhose Debate. Now, if you're under 30 you've probably never worn pantyhose in your life. But women over thirty in conservative professions -- law, accounting and finance -- have been forced into pantyhose by the business culture.

But after Anna Wintour scrapped her pantyhose -- even in winter -- people noticed. And now you see bare legs in offices, at least in Manhattan and Los Angeles. On television, pantyhose are generally out. Diane Sawyer, who has great legs, does not wear pantyhose with skirts. And neither does Michelle Obama. Hillary Clinton cleverly wears pantsuits, thereby leaving us in the dark about her pantyhose preferences. In the Midwest, pantyhose still reign supreme. But even there, times are a changin'.

We believe that whether you wear pantyhose to work or not depends on a) where you work and b) how ambitious you are. If you're in an uptight, conservative firm which requires conservative dress to get ahead, you need to channel Condoleeza Rice or Nancy Pelosi when you get dressed. If you're in New York, L.A. or work in an arts-related industry, you need to dress like the top women in your firm. If what they wear is very expensive, just copy the style in a less-expensive brand. Follow the leader, if you want to get ahead.

If it's a summer job that you couldn't care less about, well, pull out the flip flops if they're allowed. Just don't expect a glowing reference about how dedicated and professional you are. And if you work from home, please feel free to express yourself sartorially in any way you see fit -- even if that means it's bunny slippers and bare legs till noon.

In this video The Wall Street Journal asks Manhattan residents whether women should wear pantyhose to the office or not. One guy says women need to wear pantyhose because he finds bare legs too distracting. So true -- in fact, why not cover women with a full burka? That would be even less distracting.

Posted on June 9, 2008

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