Pantyhose: Fashion Relic or Fashion Accessory?
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.
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.
Groovy! Check out this Vintage Ad for Panti-Legs (Pantyhose)
Wisdom from a Wardrobe Pro
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.
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