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Pantyhose: Fashion Relic or Fashion Accessory?

Updated on May 12, 2015
hose and heels
hose and heels | Source

The Fashion Experts v. My Humble Opinion

Fashion experts chime in when asked about appropriate attire for legs. Tim Gunn says bare legs are "more fashionable" than tan pantyhose. Note he did not say they looked better, only that they were more fashionable. He is a fan of tights, however, particularly black tights with black shoes. I will agree with him on that point. An unbroken line of black can make legs look longer and leaner.

Isaac Mizrahi says, "Black tights hide a multitude of sins." Amen to that! I wear them to show shapely legs without showing spider veins, moles, age spots, pasty white skin, and other atrocities. I don't know if Isaac would approve, but I also have some solid brown tights I wear with solid brown shoes in the winter.

Does anyone honestly think that a woman who is not a young, toned, bronzed beauty with flawless skin looks good with bare legs? When I see a woman all dressed up with a great pair of heels and bare legs it looks to me like she forgot something. Would a man go out in a suit and tie with no shirt? Most would not. It looks incomplete.

Is Women's Hosiery Evolving or Going Extinct?

Hosiery in Times Past

I was born in 1963. When I was growing up, proper, decent women wore hosiery and slips when they wore skirts. When a girl first got pantyhose and heels and put aside knee socks and flats, she was well on her way to being a woman. Nurses wore special white hose with their white dresses and white caps. Bare legs were for beaches and swimming pools.

Hosiery Today--Not?

By the time my daughters were young ladies, their generation was wearing bare legs and flip-flops to church. Perhaps I should be thankful they were at least wearing dresses. I don't know if any of them own a slip or would know what one is for. During this time, I worked part-time at a bridal shop where young brides would kick off their flip-flops and stick their grubby feet in beautiful, expensive shoes--with no hose. Ewww! They spent thousands on a gown, bra, slip, tiara, veil, shoes, even a garter--but not a penny for a decent pair of pantyhose.

My Case for Pantyhose

Speaking of the bridal shop, I wore Sheer Energy active support pantyhose during my tenure there. After a long day of fitting, sewing, and steaming as well as walking the floor and carrying heavy gowns around, my legs still felt good. On those few days I did not wear support hosiery, I suffered all night with leg cramps. Girls who live their lives in bare legs should at least give lycra spandex a try to see if they feel more energetic and comfortable. Flip-flops are another subject, but know that I have never spoken to a chiropractor who approves of them.

For those who object to nylon-covered, sweaty feet, there are hose with cotton soles or with open toes. There are also cotton-blend tights for breathable comfort.

Groovy! Check out this Vintage Ad for Panti-Legs (Pantyhose)

Advertisement from 1961
Advertisement from 1961 | Source

What Do I Wear?

As a woman over fifty, I have come to love the look of black opaque tights with black heels or flats. My bare legs are not pretty, but they do have a nice shape. The opaque hosiery is perfect for my situation. When the summer turns steamy, I turn to long skirts so I can skip hosiery while revealing only my ankles (which are still fairly decent.)

I am in agreement with the ladies in Steel Magnolias: Do not leave the house without lycra on your thighs. Shapewear is surging while pantyhose languish. For this at least we can be thankful. At least those bare-legged girls won't have unsightly panty lines!

I enjoy the comfort of lycra, especially when I think of how my female ancestors (before lycra) had to endure baggy ankles on their stockings and needed heavy girdles with rubber to accomplish what a little package of Spanx can do today.


Gunn, Tim. 2012. Tim Gunn's Fashion Bible. Gallery Books, New York.

Mizrahi, Isaac. 2008. How to Have Style. Gotham Books. New York.

Kate Middleton Wears Pantyhose

Pantyhose Poll

Do you ever wear pantyhose?

See results

Milestones in Hosiery History

1589: Knitting machine invented by William Lee of Nottinghamshire

1939: Nylon appears at the World's Fair in New York

1940: First nylon stockings sold in New York

1959: DuPont invents Lycra


The History of Hosiery

A History of Hosiery

Everyone has an Opinion about Pantyhose!

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    • kschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel 3 years ago from North Carolina, USA

      Well, it's almost summer. I'm once again working on my feet for hours, so I'll be wearing Sheer Energy while the rest of y'all bare your legs.

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 3 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      Ah! I'm so glad I stumbled upon this Hub.

      I in no way have the shapely, tanned legs of a model or anything - but I feel like I can get away with no pantyhose until I hit age 30. (My grandmother disagrees - I was nagged all Christmas long about not wearing tights to church on Christmas Eve...)

      I do think they look more professional, and I'll snap on some black tights from time to time, but I'm still a fan of bare legs. ;)

      Thanks for sharing! This was a fun read!

    • VirginiaLynne profile image

      Virginia Kearney 3 years ago from United States

      What a fun hub! I was born in 1960 so I'm right along with you in these memories. I tend to wear long skirts and we live where it is hot, so I don't wear much pantyhose, but I do wear knee high stockings. I've actually wondered about this trend myself. My daughter won a business competition for high schoolers yesterday and wore a short blue dress with socks and boots. She's never worn panty hose! I still think it looks best myself, but I like your idea of the opaque tights. I need to buy some of those!