I follow the same color rules for tights as I do for other garments.
1. Punch it up – add a pop of color to a neutral outfit
2. Opposites attract – create interest with an opposing color
3. Watch your saturation – pair brights with brights and pastels with pastels
4. Be matchy-matchy (or not) – match the tights to the rest of your outfit or use them to bring intentional disharmony.
5. Break color taboos – mix black and brown or even red and purple (that combo isn't just for Red Hatters!)
Check out my Color Yourself Happy post for my color mantras.
Patterned tights can be the trickiest to wear. They can create interest or distraction. They can lengthen the leg line or stumpify. In general, vertical patterns are the easiest to wear. Beware horizontal stripes and argyle.
Small or subtle (like lace or herringbone) patterns are a great place to start.
My number one footwear choice for eye-catching tights is a tall boot. Even on the slimmest of legs, bright or patterned tights can create an optical illusion of wide calves (and thighs). By wearing a tall boot and choosing your hemline carefully, you can indulge in funky hosiery while flattering your figure.
If you’d like to show a little more leg, you aren't restricted to boots. I like booties, clogs, peeptoes, mary janes, and strappy shoes with tights. Even ballet flats are ok (although I don’t choose that look for myself).
However, I vehemently dislike the look of a regular pump (or court shoe) with bright or patterned tights. It’s a little too ‘80s for my taste.
I usually buy my solid tights from We Love Colors* but I'll pick up patterned pairs anywhere I can find them: Urban Outfitters, JC Penny, Claire's Boutique, TJ Maxx, Target.
Solid dark tights are the safe and slimming choice but a bright or patterned (or bright AND patterned) pair can bring new life to an old outfit.
Stay tuned for a post on layering legwear (as I've done in the above photo).
*UK readers: We Love Colors is offering free shipping to the UK on orders over $30, from now through November 20, 2010 (ending at 11:59 PM EST on that day). Enter gift code WELOVEUK at checkout to receive the discount. We Love Colors is not responsible for customs fees with this offer.