Knee-high stockings are often associated with highschool style, Harajuku fashion, and 1980s leg warmers.
In recent years, the biggest fashionistas have been rocking knee-high stockings and tights with everything from mini skirts to shorts.
Knee-highs are surprisingly versatile and can take multiple directions, from preppy to grunge. These affordable accessories come in many colors, patterns, and textures, offering a world of options at your fingertips…or at your knees, rather.
Welcome to our guide for how to style knee-high stockings!
Tips for buying and wearing knee-high stockings
- If you can’t find knee-high stockings, go for over-the-knee styles and simply roll them down
- Garters come in handy for looser knee-highs prone to falling. They’re simple to make, with a length of elastic and a few hand stitches
- If you find that knee-high stockings aren’t quite so flattering on you, try over-the-knee options instead! They can really elongate the leg and give a little extra coverage
The sleeveless shift dress and brogues
Celebrity inspiration: Streetstyle goddess Olivia Palermo has rocked many sleeveless shift dresses and often layers them for Winter styling. We’ve seen her in knee-high sock boots multiple times, so let’s take a leaf from her book…but swap them out for knee-high stockings. Shift dresses are timeless and demure yet cute, especially with a shorter hemline.
- Layer a sleeveless shift dress with a crisp white shirt or long-sleeved tee, and throw a coat over the top for winter warmth
- Brogues paired with knee-high stockings create a preppy, collegiate look, especially when styled with a buttoned-up shirt under a navy or black shift
- Play with contrasting colours and patterns by pairing a simple shift with bright or intricately-patterned knee-highs. Argyle knee-highs are a cute nod to Ivy League style and British prep
The mini skirt, t-shirt, blazer, and ankle boots
Celebrity inspiration: An A-line mini skirt and a plain or graphic tee is a staple outfit you can style up or down depending on the occasion, season, and your mood!
Pairing a mini with knee-high stockings is a preppy, cute way to style the look. Lea Michelle and her ‘Glee’ character Rachel Berry wore a mini and knee-highs too many times to count, becoming an iconic look in “TV land”. Let’s take this look and shake it up with a little dash of cool-girl grunge.
- Pick high-waisted mini skirts with an A-line silhouette to avoid the “tube mini skirt” catastrophe of the ’00s
- Go for texture, pattern, and embellishment with tweed, diamantes, beading, fringing, or ornate prints
- Offset the sweetness of the mini with a band tee or slouchy grey marle V-neck
- To make the look more angular and sophisticated, add a long-line, sharp-shouldered blazer
- Try a pair of vintage (or vintage-style) soft leather ankle boots with silver studs and a chunky heel
Extra Tip: Wear sheer black full-length stockings underneath your knee-high tights for extra coverage and varying patterns
The sweater dress and converse sneakers
Celebrity inspiration: Can you guess who we’re spotlighting here? Oversized sweater dresses? You guessed it, Ariana Grande. To take knee-high stockings down a more casual route, wear them with an oversized sweater dress with Converse chuck Taylors (and a super-high ponytail if you’re going full Ariana).
- If the uber-baggy hoodie isn’t for you or your figure, go for a more fitted zip-up sweater dress to hug your curves
- For extra coverage, wear semi-sheer black stockings under your knee-high stockings
- Pick high-top chucks for skater style, or the low option for a sportier look
- To keep the look from being too juvenile, keep your sweater and shoe colour choices dark or neutral such as navy, black, or even rich tan
Leather shorts, blouse, sweater, and sneakers
Celebrity inspiration: We’re going back a few years now, but Blake Lively was snapped wearing a pair of leather mini-shorts, a knit sweater, wool coat, black flat shoes, and black over-the-knee stocking socks. This eclectic street trend worked seamlessly, and even better, it’s easy to recreate!
- If leather mini shorts are out of your price range or the walls or your wardrobe, just pick the nearest thing. A pair of well-loved mini denim shorts would work a charm
- Keep the look stylish and sophisticated by layering black full-length tights under your knee-highs
- Play with your shoe choices to change the direction of the look. For a playful, sporty, casual direction, go for a sneaker or trainer.
- For a preppy vibe, go for patent leather brogues. And for an edge, rock a pair of studded leather ankle boots