Tights with Shorts

Recently, the Stockingirl blog has made quite a few mentions of one of my favorite trends from my teenage years: tights worn under a pair of shorts. I know it will come as a major shock to everyone who reads my blog, but I really enjoy showing off my legwear. What might be more of a surprise is that I'm not a huge fan of wearing very short skirts. I just have a very difficult time tuning out the idea that I might be showing off the lady parts unknowingly, so it's hard for me to relax if my skirt is more than a couple of inches above the knee. Wearing a pair of shorts takes care of that anxiety and lets me show off a few more inches of the hosiery.

Now, as someone who, in the 80's, owned a pair of red and white polka-dotted rayon shorts that she often wore with white tights and a pair of red suede flats that had a gold medallion on them, I can attest that it is a look that is really easy to get wrong. Even then, I knew I felt best wearing a pair of denim shorts with black tights. I think I'm going to go on record now and say that I still think this is the gold standard of the shorts with tights look. A monochromatic look is a very close second.

Let me re-iterate. This is a danger-zone kind of look. You can very easily dip into "My EYES!" territory and injure others if you get this wrong, as captured by malingering at Flickr.
There are issues other than the shorts and tights going on with this ensemble, starting with the poor fit of the shirt and jacket. However, keeping our focus on the shorts and tights, if The Busy™ is happening on the legs, the rest of the outfit needs to be simple as all get out. These tights are way too busy to wear with tweed shorts (which are not even in the same color family as the tights) and a jacket that is possibly made from yak and seems to have ripped up toilet paper glued on it. She seems to have also made the shorts herself by scissoring up a pair of her former tweed trousers and leaving them unhemmed. Obviously, there is a long tradition of cut-off shorts. These, however, look like what would happen were Martha Stewart to decide to get herself a pair of Daisy Dukes.

Keeping it simple and as classic as possible with the shorts with tights look is really important because it's already a little different than what people are used to seeing and it is surprisingly easy to confuse the general public.

Style Du Monde shows Sarah Rutson, the fashion director of a very popular chain of Hong Kong department stores, rocking the ever living daylights out of the shorts with tights look. The length of these shorts is perfect for her, the little distressed details are fun (notice her perfectly trimmed hem, though) and she has kept her accessories and other clothing really classic and perfectly put together. Although she is wearing a lot of different things, the coordination is so tight that the impression is just holy cow and fabulous. One thing she's doing that's a fave for me with shorts and tights is wearing a tailored blazer, which helps the tights make sense again and dresses up the shorts.

However, even someone as stylish as Ms. Rutson can make me question the shorts with tights look. It's that fraught with peril.

There's something that's not right about these shorts with this outfit. I think it's the shape and the length most of all, but the distressing seems to be too much here, too. It's one of those times where I can't say exactly what's bugging me, but putting my thumb over the shorts improves the outfit a hundredfold. I think this would have looked fabulous with black wool shorts.

All in all, the shorts with tights look can be a really fun way to show a few more inches of legs than you might be comfortable showing in a skirt. It's not the time to get crazy with the rest of the outfit, in fact it's probably the time to dip into the more classic areas of your wardrobe. I am guilty of high crimes against fashion while wearing shorts with tights, but I hope this year I'll be making up for what I did 20 years ago.

I'm adding some photos of some longer shorts with tights in response to the comments on this post. It's definitely possible to wear the look with a longer short as long as the shape is right. I've thought about it and I think the thing that bothers me the most about the third Sarah Rutson photo is that the shorts are baggy through the thigh and then pull in at the cuff, so they look almost like bloomers. The length is also not exactly right on her, but it's definitely possible to venture out of short short territory with tights and look fabulous, as evidenced by the photos below I've borrowed from a Stockingirl post on the shorts with tights trend at New York and London fashion week. (photos from

What do you guys think of shorts with tights? Are they serving up the hotness or do they make you want to escape to your special place?



  1. Great post! I love fashion.

    Also, I noticed you just changed your profile pic. It's completely off topic, but I think you're very pretty.

    Okay, I'll stop being a dork now. :-)

  2. I prefer a skirt to shorts but anything that shows leg is okay by me.

  3. Hey! You changed your profile picture! Did anyone ever tell you you're very pretty?

  4. I agree with Mark, completely. I wish that people wore in a neat and tidy way, but shorts are great. They really have grown on me. I'm surprised that there are still people who are against shorts & hosiery.

    I find them more comfortable and warmer than pants.

    Sincerely, and with thanks,
    Eugene T.S. Wong

  5. I would love to wear shorts with tights, but they seem to look better with "short shorts" than with bermudas. Since my body is really only flattered by longer shorts, I'm going to have to stick to skirts (until I see a good role model rocking long shorts and tights).

  6. Thanks Mark and Treacle for the kind words on my new photo. I could dork out all day about you, Treacle. You're my Yoda, so please dork away.

    I agree with you, Eugene and Mark that showing leg is awesome and Eugene, I'm not sure why people are still so against them, but they definitely are, based on a few of the notes I've gotten on Twitter about this post. BTW, Eugene, I'll drop you a note elsewhere about this, but you have a great photo on MySpace in shorts and tights that I'd love to add to this post.

    oohlookasquirrel, you might find that you can get away with a shorter pair of shorts that you would feel comfortable wearing bare-legged. The tights make everything firmer and look more shapely, generally. Also, picking some shorts that have an a-line look, more like a little skirt can work, if you want to go longer. That third Sarah Rutson photo with the bermudas isn't working for me mostly because the shape is screwjiggy. If I get the chance today, I'll see if I can find someone looking hotacular in longer shorts and tights. Links from other people in the comments section of hot shorts with tights looks they enjoy are more than welcome, too.

  7. I'm not so sure about the photo of Sarah in the black tights and shorts. They make her thighs look very skinny and concave. I see lots of young women in shorts and tights and can understand they feel safer in them. I do agree that it is a combination that needs to be carefully put together. The chinese and Japanese girls do it well here.

  8. Here are some longer shorts that I recommend for women.

    Wow! I'm shocked. I just tried to find some photos of shorts that go down to above the knees, combined with opaque hosiery, and I couldn't find any. I honestly thought that it was very common.

    I got the second link from this article, "Short Smarts", about wearing shorts.

  9. What the...? The above comment got rearranged somehow. It was supposed to be like this.


    Here are some longer shorts that I recommend for women.

    I got the second link from this article, "Short Smarts", about wearing shorts.

    Wow! I'm shocked. I just tried to find some photos of shorts that go down to above the knees, combined with opaque hosiery, and I couldn't find any. I honestly thought that it was very common.

  10. I do sometimes wear hosiery with shorts.

  11. Now fall is here, and hopefully we will get to see tights all about. Shorts and tights definitely serveup the hotness, hors d'oeuvres, main course, and (hopefully) dessert.

    I wish the shorts and tights hating fashionistas out there would pay attention to what women dressed like this do to us poor blokes....stroll through a car park in your tights and shorts and watch the boys walk into cars and light standards.

    We love it.

    and yes indeed, you are very pretty!


Thanks for commenting. Please keep it clean, no spam and most of all have a stockingtacular good time!


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