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Taylor'd with Style: Pantyhose Perspective

woman's bare legs on a couch surrounded by pantyhose

If you are a woman over the age of thirty, you probably grew up wearing some form of hosiery every time you wore a dress—to work, to school, to church, and to social events. They were a staple in every woman’s wardrobe.

Should I wear hose today? was never a question. Wearing them was an essential element of our attire—just as important as shoes and underwear.

Hosiery has been worn as far back as the 11th century. At this time, women wore full-skirted, ankle-length dresses, so it was the men who wore hose for warmth. Changes in hosiery and our perspective of what was considered appropriate and fashionable, began in the 1920s, when skirt hemlines rose from ankle-length to calf-length.

Women began wearing flesh-colored stockings, made from silk or rayon, for warmth and modesty. Hosiery, at that time, was leg-length and held in place with girdles, garters, and suspension clips. In 1939, Dupont revolutionized fashion by making stockings from nylon. These new stockings were more durable, making them last longer.

Fishnet stockings are another modern choice. They are available in large and small weaves, and in every color from nude to black to white to pink.

They were stretchier, which made them fit better. They were also more sheer, which made them more attractive. Women loved their stockings, so when America entered World War II and Dupont ceased stocking production to make materials needed for the War effort, unrest ensued. The stocking shortage led to disturbances in shops, known as “nylon riots.”

Women were so desperate for an attractive leg line, they painted “seams” on the backs of their legs to create the illusion of a stocking. After the War, women rushed to replenish their supply. In 1945, Macy’s sold out of their entire stock in six hours—that was 50,000 pair!

In the 1950s, hosiery was considered to be ultra-feminine, glamorous, and romantic. Stockings gave women a modest, yet alluring appeal. From pin-up girls to housewives, leaving home without wearing stockings was considered to be tacky and in poor taste.

Then in 1959, our perspective began to change because miniskirts became remarkably popular. These thigh-high hemlines required a more attractive way to wear hosiery—a way that wouldn’t expose garters and suspension clips. The stocking revolution initiated with dancers who began sewing the legs of stockings to panties, leading to the birth of pantyhose.

This new form of hosiery led to even higher hemlines because women could flaunt their legs without worry of showing attachments.

The development of pantyhose was the perfect solution to the uncomfortably tight girdles and the metal clips that dug into thighs. I have vivid memories of my mother wriggling into a girdle, sliding on her stockings, and snapping them onto a clip.

Pantyhose could be worn with short-short skirts—some women even wore them with shorts! They made our legs look smooth and toned. They came in cute, plastic, egg-shaped containers, and they were worn by nearly every woman from ten to 100-years’-old. Why then did they fall out of fashion favor?

Tan-in-a-can is one reason. Self-tanning products gave women the leg-color they desired without covering them. Hose are admittedly hot in the summer. But, in the winter, the sheer fabric can keep our legs surprisingly warm. I know athletes who wear them under their uniforms for this very purpose.

Pantyhose helps to trap skin’s natural oils—keeping our skin from drying out.

Pantyhose also looks hideous with open-toed shoes. Even the “all-nude” variety has a stitch-line at the toe that screams, “I’m wearing pantyhose.”

Another reason is our lackadaisical culture—our perspective has changed. There is often little desire to look our best—even at work, school, church, and social events. Years ago, when men wore hats, shined their shoes, and tucked their shirts in, women wore gloves and hats.

Hosiery was another element of fashion used to show dignity and respect for themselves and others.

Pantyhose can improve the appearance of legs. They can hide discolorations and cellulite. The key is to choose a pair that matches your skin tone—the more transparent, the better. It’s also trendy to wear patterned hosiery—in geometric or floral designs.

Fishnet stockings are another modern choice. They are available in large and small weaves, and in every color from nude to black to white to pink. Sheer, support hose can help manage varicose veins by pushing the blood flow up, keeping it from puddling in the calf and ankles.

Pantyhose helps to trap skin’s natural oils—keeping our skin from drying out. Care of pantyhose is simple. They can be washed out each night with soap and water, hung to dry, and ready to wear the next day.

Putting pantyhose in perspective, as fashion trends come and go, our eye adjusts and what we find “fashionable” one day can change to “out-of-fashion” the next. For me, as a woman who grew up in the 60s, and as a dancer, wearing pantyhose is my comfort-zone.

They’ve been part of my style routine since I was ten. They keep me warm and make my legs look better. So, from my perspective, pantyhose are a style staple I don’t want to give up.


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