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Get a leg up: Tights and hosiery

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Are you overwhelmed with the sheer number of hosiery options at the store or online? Can't decide if fishnets, color blocking or animal prints will work at your office? Sick of continually wearing black tights? Here are a few guidelines to help you choose the best tights and other hosiery for you.

If you want your legs to look miles long, go for a monochromatic look with matching shoes, tights and dress. Muted hues like black, brown, gray, or navy are visually slimming. Brights such as orchid, Klein blue or even emerald also create a striking look.

To make your legs look long in an outfit using mixed colors, coordinate your hosiery to either your shoes or the hem of your dress, skirt or shorts. Both methods create a long line on the bottom half of your body.

If you like wearing tights with peep toe shoes or shooties, contrast your hosiery with your footwear. For a solid color shoe, you can wear a solid contrasting opaque tights, print tights or even lace versions.

You can mix patterned tights with print clothing. When mixing patterns, stick to the same color palette. It's best to mix prints in the same scale so that an outfit has two large, medium or small prints. Generally, hosiery with smaller patterns and textures are easier to mix. The small patterns blur and become a texture instead of a pattern from a distance. This is akin to the idea that hounds tooth plaid is a neutral, as you cannot identify the plaid until you are standing close to the person wearing it.

To convey authority, stick to muted colors such as black, gray, navy, brown, oxblood, or forest green. Patterned hosiery also works in subtle or classic patterns. Textured tights or pantyhose are also an excellent option. In creative fields, you can wear everything except black fishnets, open-work stockings with large holes in them and thigh highs with garters showing.

Want a nude option? Try a small nude fishnet that matches your skin tone. This is also great in the warmer months in Austin. You will be able to stay cool because of the open pattern, but still emphasize your legs using the fishnets.

To get the best fit, there are several tricks. First, use the height and weight ranges on the package as they are usually accurate. If you have a pear-shaped figure or carry weight in your hips and thighs, you may have to go up a size for a flattering and comfortable fit. Second, control top is not a panacea. It often adds a roll of fat above the waistband, even on slim women. Third, buy hoisery containing lycra or spandex to avoid bagging at the ankles. This can be a problem with some lace tights. Finally, try several brands to obtain a comfortable and flattering fit.

In Austin, there are a lot of places to shop for tights and hosiery. While we have fantastic resale and thrift shops in town, it's best to shop for new tights. You can find colorful opaque or sheers, animal print and even seamed tights at American Apparel on South Congress. Dillard's in the Domain doesn't always have the most fashion forward clothing, but they have an excellent selection of hosiery. They carry brands such as Hue and Pretty Polly in solids, brights, animal print, laces, and even embellished studded hose. For a bargain, try Target's house brands or pick up DKNY's opaque tights in limited colors at Costco.

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