Open Toe vs. Closed Toe Compression Stockings: What is the difference?

Do your compression stockings ever make your toes feel cramped? Do you have sensitive toes that require freedom of movement? Do you abandon your compression stockings in the summer for the sake of fashion?   

If you need a little more wiggle room in your toes or want something to wear with your summer sandals, there are open toe compression stockings that will keep your legs healthy and your toes free. There is no difference in the medical benefits that open and closed toe stockings provide - it's a personal style preference. Here’s everything you need to know about open toe and closed toe compression stockings.    

Open Toe Compression Stockings

Most people are familiar with closed toe compression, but what exactly is open toe and how can it benefit you? 

Open toe garments extend past the entire ankle and heel, go over the entire arch of the foot, and up to the base of the toes. This guarantees you're getting the compression you need, but leaves your toes free from any fabric covering.

When to wear open toe compression stockings?

Open toe compression stockings end at the base of the toes, so they are great for summer sandals, flip flops, and peep toe shoes. Not to mention, your toes are exposed, so they also help with breathability. 

Also ideal for:   

  • People with a large shoe size or long toes 
  • People with sensitivities in the toes or in the front of the feet
  • People with ingrown nails, bunions, or open sores
  • People who are seeking comfort without cramped toes     

If you experience any discomfort or tightness on your toes when wearing compression or have any toe conditions like the ones listed above, the open toe option is great for you, as it allows more freedom of motion for your toes.  

Open toe stockings provide the same medical compression that closed toe stockings do.

Pro Tip: If you need to wear an open toe for certain conditions but also want to wear closed toe shoes, you could layer your open toe compression knee high under a pair of normal ankle socks. This will give you the coverage you need inside your shoes without cramping your toes. 

Best Open Toe Compression Stockings

Think open toe is a good choice for you? We’ve rounded up the best open toe compression stockings. The most important thing is to find out what compression level you need first. Then - what length of stocking do you need? We have open toe options in Knee Highs, Thigh Highs and Pantyhose.

Mediven Plus Thigh Highs w/ Silicone Beaded Top Band

Jobst Opaque Women's OPEN TOE Knee Highs

Duomed Advantage OPEN TOE Knee Highs


To put on an open toe compression stocking, pull the end of the garment up all the way past the ball of your foot so it ends at the base of your toes. Make sure you don’t leave the end of it at the arch of your foot, it should go down to the base of your toes.  

Closed Toe Compression Stockings

You might be more familiar with closed toe compression stockings. Closed toe compression stockings offer full foot coverage and cover the toes like traditional socks and hosiery. 

When to wear closed toe compression stockings?

Closed toe compression stockings are great for colder months when seeking added warmth when wearing closed toe shoes, and instances where you don’t want to have to wear another sock or stocking over your support garment. 

If you’re nervous about the fit of an open toe compression stocking or trying to put them on correctly, closed toe compression stockings are a great option. 

Best Closed Toe Compression Stockings

Think open toe is a good choice for you? We’ve rounded up the best open toe compression stockings. 

Mediven Plus 20-30 mmHg Thigh High w/ Beaded Silicone Top Band

Jobst forMen 20-30 mmHg Knee High

Sigvaris Eversoft 8-15 mmHg Knee High Diabetic Compression Socks

To put on a closed toe compression stocking, reach into the stocking and grab the toe of the sock. Then pull the stocking inside out to the heel. Next, slide your foot into the sock and get it in place on your foot and heel. Now you can grab the stocking and pull the rest up your leg. Once the stockings are pulled all the way up, make sure to smooth out any wrinkles and folds.

You can also use donning gloves and application aids to help get your stockings on.  

How to Choose Between Open and Closed Toe Compression Stockings

Both open and toe closed compression stockings are great for improving leg health. Which would you choose?

Unless you suffer from certain toe conditions like bunions, toe sensitivity, etc. choosing between open and closed toe compression stockings is simply just a style preference. Here’s a review of the benefits for each to help you make your decision. 

Benefits of open toe compression stockings 

  • Great for summer shoes and warm weather (also great so women can show off their pedicure and painted toenails) 
  • Ideal for anyone with toe pain, ingrown toe nails, bunions, hammer toes, etc.
  • Easier donning to get on and off 
  • No cramped or crowded toes 
  • Supportive, shaping and toning effect of graduated compression 

Benefits of closed toe compression stockings 

  • Great for colder weather and closed toe shoes
  • Full foot coverage and protection 
  • Supportive, shaping and toning effect of graduated compression

You can also get the compression you need by wearing an open toe compression stocking with whatever kind of sock they want.  

Pro Tip: Open toe garments are NOT the same as footless ones. There’s actually a big difference! A footless garment ends just below the ankle, while an open-toe garment will extend past the entire ankle and heel, over the entire arch of the foot, and up to the base of the toes. 

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