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Ask a Local Style Expert: After Age 40, Are Bare Legs Appropriate?

With spring temperatures approaching, style consultant Nancy Pipal, of La Grange, addresses the bare legs vs. pantyhose debate.

Many women wonder if bare legs are something they can get away with at ages older than 40. If bare legs are OK, many seek a recommendation for a sunless tanning product for legs. , a La Grange resident and professional personal style consultant, addresses this topic, and more in her monthly Style File e-newsletter. According to Pipal's expertise:

Honestly? Your age does not matter! If your legs are shapely, toned, tanned and flawless, by all means, go ahead and bare those gorgeous gams! But make no mistake about it. For the office, pantyhose with skirts and dresses are a must. Even if I work in a “business casual” environment, you ask? Yes. Even then. But do not despair! Pantyhose have significantly improved over the past few years. Today, they are more comfortable, much lighter in look and feel, and dare I say it ... chic!

But please take note: No open toe shoes or sandals are allowed and your hosiery must be very sheer, very nude and very high quality. Personally, I love Donna Karan’s sheer to waist nude pantyhose. I wore them recently for a speaking engagement and everyone in the audience thought I had bare legs! Seriously. Now, wasn’t that fun to hear? And in answer to those who say pantyhose are old fashioned and aging? I say this ... do you really think spider veins are modern and youthful looking? 

As for a summer sunless tanner, try Jergens Natural Glow Express Body Moisturizer. My clients have been telling me lately how pleased they are with the results! With its new faster acting formula, milder scent, and a very natural tan color? A big thumbs up. And, if you need to know how to camouflage unsightly veins, check out this article from More magazine.

Lucy Amore March 28, 2011 at 01:10 PM
I saw your column on "bare legs versus pantyhose "and I have a follow-up question: for evening, when you are wearing a "little black dress",what looks best...bare tanned legs, "natural" pantyhose or ...off-black sheer pantyhose? Lucy
Debbie Antonelli March 28, 2011 at 01:19 PM
thanks for referring me to a good brand of sheer hose ! In a future column can you please provide some ideas for a "brief case" that would be considered stylish and business-like? I need to carry my laptop and note book plus other other papers to client meetings and I really dont like the unisex, typically black bags that you see everywhere.
Donna Wong March 28, 2011 at 02:24 PM
I read your comments about bare legs verses pantyhose. Here is the dilemma I always have. My work environment is nice business casual ( skirts and dresses included) and most of the shoes I want to wear are open toe heels. You say to not wear hose with them, but going "bare legs" just does not give the rest of the outfit the professioanl look I want. Limiting myself to closed toe shoes is boring and most of them hurt my feet. What is the problem with wearing a sheer pantyhose and still allowing a little bit of your toes to show?
Jen Hlavacek March 28, 2011 at 04:05 PM
There are sheer hosiery available for open toed shoes that do not show. The rule I was always taught is that the you shouldn't be able to see the hosiery, so you have to get the latest technology in the "sandalfoot." At 65, I just can't get by not wearing some kind of hosiery. And I agree with Donna, bare legs just don't look professional enough in a work environment unless you have flawless legs. And how many of us over 40 have those kind of genes? As far as self tanner, all it does it makes my age/sun spots look darker! LOL
Celine Heraty March 28, 2011 at 04:45 PM
I have a question. If I can only buy one new thing for Spring, what should it be?
Nancy Pipal March 28, 2011 at 05:14 PM
If you have beautiful flawless legs, the most fashionable look is definitely bare legs. If, on the other hand, you are like most of us, you will probably want to wear sheer nude hosiery. It really is a very polished and pretty look when your face, neck, shoulders, arms and legs are all exposed and flesh colored! Black sheer hose are back in style for evening this year, but tend to make legs look heavier, so a word to the wise...wear them at your own risk!
Mary Jo March 28, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Thanks for your fashion advice! I have 2 questions. 1. Should I pitch my black panty hose and opt for only sheer/nude? 2. It's sunny and I want to start wearing more Spring things but it's still COLD! When is it time to transition from my brown and black denim pants to khakis and spring-color sweaters? Thanks!
Karen Encher Skala March 28, 2011 at 06:16 PM
Hello Nancy- I looked at the sizes for the Donna Karan pantyhose and I'm not sure they would fit a taller, more generously proportioned woman. Do you have another recommendation which might include control top?
Donna H March 29, 2011 at 08:26 AM
I disagree with the author. That is why they make sandal foot pantyhose.. I wear them all the time, and the fashion police have not arrested me, nor have I received and negitive comments from people while out and about. I say if you like it, and it feels, and looks good on you, then wear them.
Donna H March 29, 2011 at 08:27 AM
You say not to wear open toe shoes with pantyhose. WHY???? they make pantyhose that are sandal foot for open toe shoes.
Tina Tuszynski March 29, 2011 at 02:21 PM
Good article, Nancy!
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 06:44 PM
Hi Debbie, In my Style File newsletter entitled Handbags Matter [ February 2011 ] I did mention the fact that briefcases are somewhat passe in the land of fashion these days [see newsletter past editions @ http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs065/1102765975032/archive/1102968350488.html] And I feel your pain about the dilemma. Good idea for a future column. Thanks!
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Now that's the question of the season! And as such, will be the one I answer in my next Ask a Local Expert Patch column in April. Please stay tuned and thank you!
Beth Palmer March 29, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Sounds great! Can't wait to read your recommendations.
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 06:55 PM
Hi Mary Jo, Yes, I would stay with just the sheer nude hosiery. And as for when to wear your spring khakis and sweaters? Let the outside thermometer be your guide, and at this rate, it will be dark denim on the Fourth of July! Sweaters are probably going to be worn more and sooner than light cotton pants, so I would probably wait till late May or June for those. Hope that helps!
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 07:01 PM
Hello Karen, I also like Hanes Silk Reflections collection for sheer hosiery. They have some nice control top styles and colors in both regular and plus sizes. Not quite as sheer as Donna Karen's, they are still a good choice for everyday.
Kelly March 29, 2011 at 07:09 PM
As a society we are far too focused on "tanned" skin. If you don't have you have to fake it in order to be respected? As a fair skinned redhead who has been told by literally hundreds of people - you need some color - come on. My degree, job performance, and polished dress should be enough to gain respect from others. We need to be setting the example for our young girls that are tanning in droves on and off the beach, not playing to a stereo type. Tanning is skin damage and women especially are contracting skin cancers in thier 20's and 30's in numbers larger than ever before. Also I want to thank Coco Channel for starting all the tan is the only way to look healty fad.
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Hello Donna H, One would think that if sandal foot style pantyhose are available, why not wear them, right? All I can tell you is that wearing hosiery with open toe or sandal style shoes is still "frowned upon in this establishment" [As the e*trade baby would say]! That being said, however, I believe you can wear anything you choose as long as you feel confident and comfortable doing so. After all, true style is really about finding and expressing one's own unique fashion perspective.
Nancy Pipal March 29, 2011 at 07:23 PM
Thank you Tina. So glad you commented!
Meredith Ritchie March 30, 2011 at 01:39 AM
Nancy- What do you know about spray tans (at a salon, for example). I see the ads and I am curious. I do not know how often one must go or how long they last. Any tips? Thanks!
Renee Tabben March 30, 2011 at 02:19 AM
Nancy - I am just now updating my spring wardrobe. If I am looking for the best "bang for the buck" what's the "it" accessory for 2011? Should I buy another scarf? Thanks! Renee T.
Nancy Pipal March 30, 2011 at 02:24 PM
I can certainly appreciate your point of view, particularly since I too have battled skin cancer on more than a few occasions. I like what my 17 year old niece told me recently..."Aunt Nan, I have come to embrace my pale skin". Kudos to you dearest niece Lauren!
Nancy Pipal March 30, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Hi Meredith, Sorry, I am not familiar enough with the spray tan treatments enough to comment on them. All I know is that they are certainly better than being in the sun!
Nancy Pipal March 30, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Hi Renee, Hold that thought! I will have the answer for you in the April column...please stay tuned!
Tina Tuszynski March 30, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Meredith, although I am not an expert on spray tans, I have had some experience with them. Typically they will last up to 5 to 7 days, with each day lightening up just a bit. The results are better with good skin preparation beforehand - exfoliate prior to getting sprayed. There are also different types of spray tans. I've gone to the one where you stand up in a booth and the machine sprays you. There are also more pricier ones where an attendant will airbrush-spray you, which I believe results in a better overall application. Not sure how long that one lasts, but it is pricier. If you check living social and groupon, you can often find deals. I have found that using a combination of the initial spray tan with regular applications of Jergens works best for me if I have an event. Hope this helps a bit.
Cathy Goodman March 30, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Nancy, great column and great comments! I agree that pantyhose and closed-toe shoes are best for a professional environment. To keep things fair, I don't think young men should wear shorts and sandals to work either. I'll admit to being more conservative in dress than most folks, though. In fact, I wouldn't have considered going out in public without pantyhose before age 40, or even before age 50. Now that I'm 51, I'm thinking, what the heck! But I still wear slacks or pantyhose when I meet with clients or I'm in a business environment. Old habits die hard.
Claudia Dooley April 06, 2011 at 03:24 AM
Nancy, I have a problem with my jeans fitting. They fit well every where but the waist. They give me the dreaded "muffin top". I know the best fix is loosing weight but until that happens what do I do? The next size up is baggy in the rear. Claudia

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