Today I received another cry for help. I was asked to settle an age-old style dilemma for a client who is headed to the races this weekend. She and her colleagues had differing opinions on the subject of stockings & sandals, so I was brought in to settle the argument. I thought I’d share this letter with you all because as the colder weather sets in, it just may help many others with similar questions!
“Dear Al – I need your expert advice …
There are a few of us off to a marquee at the races this weekend. We are debating whether or not sheer stockings can be worn with peep toe shoes / ankle boots. Personally I’m not a fan, but then have seen some celeb shots in mags where stockings have been worn with SANDALS!! What is your honest opinion? I need to settle this argument!”
This is probably one of THE biggest reasons I hate winter! Those “Dress code do’s & don’t difficulties” combined with the leg and foot-covering dilemmas! In summer, it’s easy – a touch of Dove Summer Glow and off you go! But what do you do when it’s freezing and you need to get all dolled up? Arrgh!
Personally, I’m a closed-in shoe with all stockings girl. And bare legs only with sandals/sling-backs. In general, nothing in between will work for me. If it were a dressy occasion in cold weather I’d only do a closed-in pointed-toe with sheer stockings. With opaques I prefer a closed-in stacked heel with a slightly rounder toe; I’d save super-sheer stockings with a slight sheen for stilettos with cockroach-killer toes!
BUT nowadays (yes, I know I sound old!) and mainly because it’s becoming so much more acceptable in the modern fashion world, I think it can be done but only do it if you absolutely must AND pay attention to my Stocking/Sandal Rules below – for whatever they’re worth:
- Only wear opaques with peep toe shoes and always peeps with a closed-in heel – regardless of what you see on Runway models or in fashion mags.And never with a sling-back or fine strappy shoe.
- Choose highest denier stockings/opaques (i.e. 80 plus), not low-denier opaques with reinforced toes – you really can notice the denier difference
- Never wear open-toed strappy sandals with sheer stockings
- Avoid brightly painted toenails to keep the attention away from the toes, just in case you can see the nails through the stockings!
Other tips/exceptions for Winter
For those who refuse to take the above advice, please at least take note of the following basics:
- NO stockings (sheer or opaque!) ever with fine-strappy/evening sandals or flat sandals (no matter what colour!)
- If you are going to do opaques with sandals make sure they are at least a) Chunky (both the straps and the soles/heels) and, b) Both stockings and shoes are black.
- Fishnets are easier to relax this rule with, as really, they are 50% leg and 50% stocking so it’s generally 50% easier to work around them!
- Make sure when wearing opaques you also match your fabrics to the season – i.e. try to make your dress slightly less summery.
- In winter, go for slightly heavier fabrics, or even just a slightly darker shade at the hemline if possible, to avoid a stark/heavy contrast of colours.
- Avoid snow-white in a sheer fabrics at the hem, if wearing opaques – opt for cream/winter white if possible, and finally…
- In winter, at least cover up on top with a little cropped jacket or something else warm to bring “winter” into the rest of your outfit
Now – rules aside. I just thought I’d share with you some little known facts and a few personal opinions of my own…
European men view the arch of a woman’s foot (and even “toe cleavage”) as the sexiest part of a woman (other than the obvious others). For this reason, I always advise my clients when choosing footwear/leg-wear (in both winter and summer) to heed the following:
Choose a ballet flat that is cut LOW on the arch of the foot – high-cut ballets, though you may find them practical with your orthotics – are NOT sexy.
Look for toe-cleavage – again, it’s sexy, not frumpy. We don’t want “kumfs” we want style and comfort. Sometimes the two ARE mutually exclusive!
Seasonal Affective Disorder (or S.A.D Disease) “sadly” applied to fashion!
- If it’s cold enough to cover up, up top, it’s cold enough to cover (at the very least) your toes! Therefore…
- NO thongs in winter and equally, please, no sandals either!
- Footless tights are a good compromise (yes, even if you wore them in the 80’s!). They’ve actually slowly morphed into a fashion trend/classic now, believe it or not! I’d much prefer to see a woman in a dress/skirt (at the appropriate length for her age/personality) with footless opaques and a stylish ballet flat or heel (see above) than to see a woman hell-bent on “never wearing leggings) going bare-legged in winter (or worse – wearing stockings and sandals!
There are so many things to consider when it comes to styling (that’s why you ask me, isn’t it?). Be it questions about the right length of pants/jeans, the length or cut of stockings (i.e full, footless, cropped, stirrup), the colour of shoes vs tights, skirts, the length of skirt/dress to tights and height of heels, to fabrics etc. The list goes on….
Still confused? Please don’t be shy…ASK AL! If you have a different opinion, again, don’t be shy; I’d love to hear your views! Just remember, opinions really ARE like bums…everyone has one – and these are just mine! 🙂