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How to Wear Novelty Tights

Channel your inner Blair Waldorf this fall.

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Q: I love wearing skirts and dresses, but about halfway through winter I get so bored of wearing my basic tights. I want to wear something more fun, but I'm also scared of looking juvenile -- help! — Heather, Seattle, WA

As someone who has personally been trying to channel the spirit of Blair Waldorf since 2007, I feel you. Besides just being more fun than your run of the mill opaque tights, the right pair of novelty tights can add visual interest to an outfit. The wrong pair, however? An unflattering disaster. So I hopped on the phone with Erica Young, the creative director of Erica M, and Jenny Altman, Wolford's style and fit expert, to get their advice on wearing more intricate styles of legwear.

If you're a beginner, the easiest way to get started is with a pair that has detailing above the knee, which looks cute poking out from under a short skirt or even a pair of shorts. "That’s how the majority of my clients wear the pieces, so it’s just a hint of what’s really happening underneath," says Young, who specifically designs her line so that the detailing hits mid-thigh. "I think it’s more for the woman’s psyche to know all this is happening underneath, but most of it is hidden."

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Another way to sneak in novelty is with a backseam detail, like Wolford's "zip" tights. "It’s a really great staple tight and then from the back you get this little pop of wow," Altman says of the style, which is the brand's opaque tight with a metallic zipper motif up the back. A monochrome pair of tights with a consistent pattern -- like swiss dots or checked detailing -- is also a good starting point.

Ready to try advanced-level stuff? Try a crazy embellished pair for a special occasion, like Wolford's limited edition "jewelry" style. Altman compares this style to a celebrity wearing a show-stopping diamond piece with a simple dress on the red carpet. "You really have to create your outfit around something like the 'jewelry' tight, which probably is the goal anyway if you’re spending that much money on something so unique," she says. (The tights cost $499.) "So the idea then is you take something really simple and you're kind of just adding a 'wow.'"

If you're afraid of looking juvenile, skip the colored tights. Plus, they aren't as flattering as blacks and neutrals, especially in lighter colors.

And in case you're worried about the warmth practicality in truly cold months, both Young and Altman suggest layering. Altman recommends putting patterned tights over another thicker pair (which I have done and can vouch for efficiency) while Young likes styling super destroyed jeans over her tights so that the pattern shows through.