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Is wearing panty hose with open-toed heels a good idea?

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The question

With cooler weather arriving, can you offer advice on open-toe shoes and hosiery? I have a pair of high-heel, peep-toe booties that I would like to wear with a pencil skirt but feel funny with my toes covered, yet odder still with bare legs in cold weather.

The answer

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Winter boots with a hole in them? To confirm my instincts, I turned to a female expert, designer Sara Duke, makes and sells clothes for her boutique Factory Store in a newly hipster-laden neighbourhood of Toronto called Bloordale. She was blunt: "I wouldn't have bought open-toe boots because they are kind of dumb. Boots protect your feet from fall/winter weather and open toes let all the weather in." But Duke does offer useful advice for those who would risk dampness for fashion: "As a rule, open-toe shoes and hosiery are not compatible, so go for bare legs for as long as you can, then, if you must, switch to tights. Opaque tights, that is – on nylons, the seam is really visible, which looks awful with an open toe. And whatever the colour of the tights, it should all look very intentional. High contrast will create the effect." One other thing I can confirm as a guy is that the idea of a pencil skirt and high heels of any kind sounds really great to me, toes or no toes.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy , was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail

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