Hot hosiery: How to wear tights

Mischa Barton wearing tights

Hi hose, hi hose, it's off to work, or dinner, or drinks we go. Whether you opt for the '80's trend, the layering trend or the mod trend this season, chances are tights are required to complete your ensemble. But legs have been bare for many seasons now, and many of us need a refresher course on how to pull this look off with confidence. Here, we answer the most-asked questions triggered by this legwear affair.

Really, any type of chunky-heeled shoe looks smart with opaque tights. Winterize your peep-toes by pairing them with ribbed hosiery, or update your silver metallics by pairing them with shades of gray. Boots (short or long) are an ideal match with woolly hose this season, as are grown-up Mary Janes or platforms teamed with darks or brights.

While matching your hose with your shoes is leg-lengthening and an easier option when you're getting dressed, don't be afraid to have some fun with color and texture. And remember, the old-school rule that you shouldn't pair brown and black no longer applies, so achieve an ultrachic look by donning rich browns with your black footwear.

Fashionistas can now stop freezing in their dressy frocks, as black tights are no longer taboo for evening. Many designers showed shimmery evening tunics and dresses paired with black opaques and dressy sandals, and celebrities like Sienna Miller and Mischa Barton have already debuted this look down the red carpet. Keep an eye out for unique patterns and textures as options to basic solids.

Bright tights made a splash down the fashion runways this season in eye-popping colors and wild prints. But looking over-the-top may not mesh with your lifestyle, so assemble with caution. Avoid ultrabusy patterns and horizontal stripes and stick to delicate designs or easier-on-the-eye prints on dark backgrounds. For solids, team your tights with a hue that's featured in your ensemble, or play it safe and wear them with a black dress and black boots. Keep in mind, your legs will be the focus of attention, so make sure your gams are an asset to your figure.

Not only do sheer hose look dated and too ladylike in this season of, tweeds, plaids and layering, but they also aren't nearly as slimming as opaque tights. The thicker opaques counteract any lumps and bumps that occur under knit dressing, and they hide a multitude of sins when you're wearing an of-the-moment micromini. But keep in mind that pairing them with lightweight clothing such as frothy skirts and gauzy dresses won't do.

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.