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the return of pantyhose
December 23, 2012 8:01 AM   Subscribe

"Reading comments on any article about pantyhose, you’d think we were talking about the Gaza strip, not flimsy tubes of nylon. Trends come and go... But there’s something about pantyhose that’s oddly divisive." Autumn Whitefield-Madrano on The Beheld with Hosed: Conservatism and the Return of Pantyhose.
And though I don’t find pantyhose particularly uncomfortable, it’s not exactly comfortable either—again falling into line with conservatism, the idea that maybe women shouldn’t be too comfortable with their bodies.

Still... I’m going to stick with ’em. For here is my conservative little secret: Pantyhose, to me, are one of many symbols of womanhood. My mother didn’t wear pantyhose, but I remember visiting her mother when I was a kid and eagerly accepting a pair of nylon knee-high castoffs that I figured would have to do until I was old enough to wear full-on big-girl pantyhose. Which I started doing in 8th grade, for special occasions: I loved feeling encased in this tight, stretchy stuff that somehow didn’t look tight but just looked...finished, making me feel finished, giving me a sense of finesse that I lacked otherwise. It does that for me still: I happily go bare-legged in the summer, but come fall, slipping on a pair of pantyhose is an adult version of putting on my back-to-school wardrobe. Pantyhose means I’m ready; it means I’m in public, wanting to be seen not as a prolonged adolescent who still sleeps on a futon and wrinkles her nose at broccoli, but as a professional. As an adult, as a woman who isn’t afraid to take herself a little seriously.
Sarah Haskins (formerly of Target Women):
Yes, I'm a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against pantyhose. To me it means that as women we are individuals before we are gendered people and that we’re not defined by our gender except in the ways we chose to appropriate that definition. We’re in a weird generation, right? Our moms were forced to grapple with that definition more immediately, and I think it’s changed as we’ve grown up. The core issue ‘how do I fight bias against me because of my gender’ is still there but has gotten more complicated and wrapped into all kinds of identity issues about how you present yourself as a woman and I pretty much think it’s your choice. And fuck pantyhose.*
Kate in the Middle - Why I still wear pantyhose (oh, the horror!)
The Beauty Boomer - Pantyhose: What's with all the hate?

She Can't Be Serious - You Can’t Make Me Wear Pantyhose Again, Kate Middleton!
The Shape of X - The Nylon Hurtin'

Tracy Clark-Flory - The irony of my feminist photo shoot: "I posed for a magazine spread with young female activists. Many of us ended up in Spanx and painful high heels". The Frisky responds - Feminists Can Wear Spanx Too

Wall Street Journal - Bare-Legged Ladies: Hosiery Reveals Office Divide
Feminist Legal Theory - Pantyhose and Flip Flops at Law Firms
Style Goes Strong - Where Do You Stand on Pantyhose?
Alison Doyle - Should You Wear Pantyhose to a Job Interview?
You Look Fab - Bare legged with blemished skin: yay or nay?

Bridgette Raes - Men in Tights: The Truth About Men Who Wear Pantyhose
Feminist Fatale - "Real men" like to get Spanx'd: masculinity, body image and advertising

How About We - That Awkward Thing Where You Hook Up With Someone While Wearing Spanx

CoolHunting - Polymorph: "Feminist Katya Usvitsky explores 'the malleability of the female body' through pervasive pantyhose"

The Social Life of Secondhand Clothes - Femme Feminism: Is Wearing the Past a Step Back for Women?

Already Pretty - The Jiggle
Stephanie Dolgoff - Of Two Minds, One Body

previously on MeFi: pantyhose during WWII - crafting with nylons
previously on AskMeFi: Are pantyhose really necessary for a job a interview? - Small blemishes on legs; pantyhose to work?
posted by flex (90 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite

 
Here is why I wear hose or tights with my skirts and "good" shoes: Not to make some political statement, but to keep my poor feet from looking like raw hamburger at the end of the day. I do not know how women who go bare-legged in pumps do it - perhaps they have feet of steel?

It's either wear hose or tights, or plaster my feet with bandages or coat them with blister-block every hour or so. Has it ever occurred to anyone that pantyhose might have a practical use?

I really don't care who sees my pasty middle-aged legs, but I do care about my tender feet. (Perhaps I need to trade them in for new feet?)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 8:33 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I’m interested to read these. I was just discussing this with my wife, who often wants to wear pantyhose but feels it’s far too unhip according to whatever she reads. She claims no one wears pantyhose, to which I have to wonder why they’re using all that floor space at Target, etc.
posted by bongo_x at 8:34 AM on December 23, 2012


The odd thing though, is that there's this weird dividing line between hose and tights. Hose are old-fashioned, but tights are definitely more acceptable and even trendy.
posted by bizzyb at 8:43 AM on December 23, 2012


Thigh highs all the way for me. Or bare legged; I use those insertible heel guards to protect my feet.
posted by ifjuly at 8:44 AM on December 23, 2012


I just want to say that, as an Englishman, the word "Pantyhose" is the funniest word in the American language, after the word "Fanny."
posted by marienbad at 8:48 AM on December 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yeah skin-tone nylon hose is out, but opaque tights are everything now. There will always exist the problem of not wanting to be bare-legged when it's cold out.
posted by bleep at 8:50 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


My wife and daughter don't give two shits about whether they're "hip" or an un-cool political statement. They simply choose to wear panyhose because they prefer to. It's a choice.

Frankly, if one wants to get all poly-sci over feminine accoutrements, I'd think make-up would be a bigger, fatter, much more deserving target than pantyhose.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wow, awesome post, but what a weird debate. NYC professional here, most women wear pantyhose when it starts getting cold (November-ish) and go back to no pantyhose when it's warm (May).
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:00 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Frankly, if one wants to get all poly-sci over feminine accoutrements,

Many do!

I'd think make-up would be a bigger, fatter, much more deserving target than pantyhose

For many, it is!

(A collection of links is not, I suspect, meant to represent all feminist thought everywhere; in some alt-mefi, there's probably an fpp right now about makeup and a feminist response to it, and someone is probably asking why they don't focus on pantyhose instead.)

When I lived in DC, I only ever worked jobs where I didn't have to wear hose (and I didn't wear skirts anyway, so that was usually moot). When summer started, I'd be standing on the metro platform in my shorts and t-shirt, bare-legged, getting death stares from women in hose and dark suits who were clearly on their way to more important and professional jobs than mine. I always wondered if one day someone would snap, and shove me off the platform.
posted by rtha at 9:04 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Mantyhose, Pantyhose for Men. For real men.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:08 AM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this was a NYT story ( The Beheld piece, I mean) I'd call it a fake trend story and look for the Jennifer 8 Lee by-line.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a grown-up tomboy (who had eczema as a little kid) I held out against ditching hose for as long as I could, since my legs do have some scarring and discoloration and I'm really, really not thrilled with the idea of applying makeup to my legs. Not everyone has Barbie skin on their lower limbs. Also, hose eliminates VPL, if you're wearing a jersey dress or unlined dress pants. I'm much happier when the weather snaps cold enough for tights.
posted by availablelight at 9:23 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Amazing the difference a word makes. I've found women my age hate the word "pantyhose" with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. Like, it's right up there with "moist" and "panties". But "tights" will garner either a positive or neutral response -- even when you're using the two words to refer to the same thing! (since "pantyhose" generally only refers to the sheer kind, but "tights" could refer to either opaque or sheer)
posted by Afroblanco at 9:26 AM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh god I am old enough to remember when pantyhose was considered a requirement. August in Manhattan, standing on a steaming subway platform. The trains are air conditioned, but they just push these waves of hot air ahead of them through the tunnels. Wearing pantyhose in that situation makes one feel like a sausage being cooked in its casing.

Of course this was at a time when pants were not considered professional attire either. We've come a long way, baby. You can put pantyhose back on me never. Or rather, you can make me wear pantyhose on my cold, dead legs.
posted by ambrosia at 9:29 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The difference between tights and pantyhose is more than semantic. There is a texture and breathability factor as well.
posted by ambrosia at 9:30 AM on December 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yay for Autumn! She's my girl.

That being said, I fucking hate pantyhose. They've never fit me right--I've always had thighs that touched and rubbed, even at eight years old. Unless I buy ultra queen sized tights (which feels absurd for someone at 5'3" and 150 lb. I know I got chubs, but not THAT MUCH chubs), they fall halfway down my thighs. They're itchy, sweaty, uncomfortable.

Tights and leggings are cool, but that's because they're different The way a microfiber pair from We Love Colors feels is a world apart--super soft, stretchy, comfortable. I'm not a sausage in a casing, though, and I'm okay with some slouch. My style inspiration is pretty much Bob and Steve-O from SLC Punk in their long johns, not shiny Kate Middleton gams.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:32 AM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I loathe pantyhose with the fire of a thousand suns and I only marginally tolerate tights if they're not absurdly short on top, thereby necessitating a struggle to keep them up all the time. However, thigh highs and a proper old school garter belt? SO AWESOME. No fighting with the awkward uppermost sausage tube, leg warmth or coverage achieved as needed, and it's super easy to drop your you know whats for a pee as needed. Old school, yo.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


One of the big benefits of going from law to tech writing was never wearing pantyhose again. Having said that, I don't get how girls who wear Spanx (and I've worn 'em myself, so I know) get off bitching about the tyranny of control top hose. Spanx are like those girdles my mother's generation was so glad to shed for control top!

(I like very sheer pantyhose with formals, but preferably dark. Tights are better with casual wear and, no, I'm not putting on a suit again. To each her own in legwear.)
posted by immlass at 9:33 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also I worked in an office in Gainesville, Florida with business formal dress code and was pretty much the only soul in the whole office who walked to work and putting on pantyhose on arrival on the days I wore skirts was fucking disgusting. Wearing them on the way to work was even grosser. I associate hose with synthetic materials, with smelling bad and trapping sweat next to my skin. Ugh.

(For those asking, "how do you wear pumps?" the answer for me has always been "I don't.")
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:34 AM on December 23, 2012


I've definitely heard women refer to pantyhose (the sheer kind) as tights, although that could be a regional thing. Also, (anecdotally speaking) I've seen sheer tights become more popular in recent years, even as the word "pantyhose" remains all-but-unspeakable.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:35 AM on December 23, 2012


tights are not pantyhose. pantyhose are not tights
posted by crush-onastick at 9:35 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


NYC, I use the words interchangeably.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:37 AM on December 23, 2012


Well, at this point, anyone (including men) who runs or bikes is likely to own a couple of pairs of "tights." They're very different from the stretchy, funny-smelling plastic things that I remember my grandmother wearing when I was a kid.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:43 AM on December 23, 2012


I called them nylons because that's what my mom called them and I, too, hated the word 'pantyhose'. I've never called nylons/pantyhose 'tights', though. Totally different things. That might be because I was around when both things were in normal wardrobe circulation = the distinction. I'd welcome clear black hose back, maybe (with seams!).
posted by marimeko at 9:44 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


At the age most girls were getting panty-hose, I decided they were a rip-off.
My family were living in a desert region of the US, and the high-school did not have a dress code, so jeans or long skirts it was.
Nothing like sand you can't get rid of next to your skin! I never wore them for work either. I worked in call centers, and later, as an insurance agent. But I cold-called for agents who hated doing the cold-calls.
Anyway, panty-hose struck me as really stupid. If your feet need protection, sox, knee highs or thigh-hi's otherwise, there's always tights.
Pantyhose really only make sense with mini-skirts. I don't wear those.p
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:47 AM on December 23, 2012


I've discovered the secret to keep tights/hose from falling down, as they have for all of my life: a second pair of underwear. I've got my regular underwear, and then I go all Superman and put a second pair on on TOP of the tights, and that's enough to keep my stockings from doing the Dick Van Dyke penguin impression all day.

That said, one of the links mentioned address code that required pantyhose even when women wore trousers. That's insane - first off, how could they tell? and second, everyone knows you wear socks with trousers!

maybe the Doctor Who themed socks are a little unprofessional, but no one at my work complains.
posted by jb at 9:58 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I'm all about the second pair of underpants too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:02 AM on December 23, 2012


I don't shave my legs, therefore I don't wear pantyhose. Not that my wardrobe particularly requires it anyway, but I made the mistake once of giving in to my mother's nagging for some religious occasion - a bar mitzvah maybe? - and the sensation of every individual leg hair being yanked every time I twitched was penalty enough.

On the feminist side, I don't give a flying fuck what anyone else does, but I'm sort of grimly amused that not only do women have to shave to make their legs smooth and perfect, but that's not enough - they need to wear an artificial layer to make their legs even smoother and more perfect.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:04 AM on December 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


The year was 1953 and if you were a woman, a night on the town meant either squeezing into a girdle or slipping on a garter belt. Formal dress dictated that females wear such intimate, and often uncomfortable, articles of clothing. How else could you hold up your nylons?

“It was wonderful,” a 74-year-old Ethel Gant told the Associated Press 30 years later. “Most people my age loved them from the very beginning and couldn’t wait to get a hold of them. I don’t think we’ve ever changed our minds,” she said.
50 Years of Pantyhose.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:14 AM on December 23, 2012


Yes, I'm a feminist. It is an extension of my lifelong war against pantyhose.

There's also mantyhose (or guylons).
posted by iviken at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here is my conservative little secret: wrestling singlets, to me, are one of many symbols of manhood.
My father didn’t wear a wrestling singlet because he was an infantryman and liked going commando, but I remember visiting his father when I was a kid and eagerly accepting a pair of nylon knee-high castoffs that I figured would have to do until I was old enough to wear full-on big-boy wrestling singlets.
Which I started doing in 8th grade, for gym class: I loved feeling encased in this tight, stretchy stuff that somehow didn’t look tight but just looked...finished, making me feel like completing a finishing move, giving me a sense of cartoony He-Man Circus strength that I lacked otherwise without a handlebar mustache and triangular kettlebells.
It does that for me still: I happily go bare-legged in MMA, but come fall, slipping on a wrestling singlet is an adult version of putting on my back-to-gym class wardrobe. Wrestling singlets means I’m ready (y’know, to wrestle); it means I’m in public, wanting to be seen not as a prolonged adolescent who still watches WWE and wrinkles his nose at technical falls, but as a professional, who also has a bloodrag.
As an adult, as a man who isn’t afraid to take himself a little seriously brandishing a Championship Belt (Ooooohyeaahh!).
As someone who looks at what some might say is a sign of “trying too hard” and instead interpret it as a willingness to go the extra mile and wear earguards to a business meeting (accounting got a problem with that Bob?)
My nails may be chipped, my head may be shaved, my mouthguard might be eaten off.
But my double underhook? I’ve got it covered.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:47 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't have a dog in this fight. I don't wear skirts. End of.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:49 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've always worked in advertising and tech, so I could pretty much wear whatever. My fave is dresses: you look put together and cute but you only had to pick out one pice of clothing! Therefore tights and leggings are worn when it is cold or the dress is a little short (knee length on someone who is 5'5" can be pretty risqué on me). But hose — NEVER. Spanx are seriously more comfortable. Makeup is no contest. Hose is evil. Pus I'm brown so my les aren't pale and splotchy anyways.
posted by dame at 10:57 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can tell you exactly when I will be wearing pantyhose next. At my son's wedding next month. Till then, assuming I have no funerals to go to between now and then, fuggeddaboutit.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:59 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also the Kate in the Middle piece, and especially the comments — you know how sometimes you read things and you are overwhelmed with a sense of foreignness, like you didn't even know this subset of humanity existed? It is simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. But for the delusional, of course we can tell you are wearing hose. Sheer doesn't mean magically invisible.
posted by dame at 11:09 AM on December 23, 2012


I'm starting to think I have sensory issues. The idea of sandwiching pantyhose between two pairs of underwear makes me want to jump out of my skin even more than baggy tights do.

My god. It's like my wardrobe in hell.

posted by Space Kitty at 11:10 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Thought abhors tights" - Umberto Eco [pdf].
posted by GeorgeBickham at 11:11 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I joke, but I do like compression shorts. And kilts (big legs) so I can move, keep cool, and not have the boys roughed up by friction and contact.

I don't know why someone would wear them purely decoratively, but I'm not really a clothes horse in the first place so discount my opinion there, but hose (and garters) has indeed been useful and practical for many years. Just ask St. George. Or a hockey player. Or fencers or a danseur, etc.
But there seems to have always been this sort of disconnect between athleticism and fashion where the fashion mimics the eroticism of the apparel. Sometimes it homes in on one tiny section and makes a thing out of it.
Like many guys have a fetish for garters or the suspenders for stockings. Or girdles. All on a sort of representational basis (for example, tough-guy t-shirts with bulletproof vests on them or tactical corsets ... I'm not kidding). And men used to wear girdles for the compression and for hanging armor/weapons off of.

Perhaps the difference between tights and pantyhose is that of utility and representation. There definitely does seem to be a sexual component to exerting social pressure to make people wear something or not.
I got handed some feces from a guy I knew casually when I was wearing a kilt. He talks better now and he can still walk ok with the brace and all, but it's funny how people think they have this presumptive right to make you wear something or other when you consider what it's based on.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ugh, wear whatever you fucking want, I don't have a single fuck to give. It's winter and your ass is cold in your skirt or dress? Wear pantyhose, wear tights, wear a pair of jeggings, rock on with your warm ass. Don't want to feel like a sweaty sausage in the summer? Don't wear pantyhose. Oh no someone has told you that $_THING you are wearing is ruining feminism for the entire world? Tell them to fuck themselves with a cactus.

i am tired of this shit.
posted by elizardbits at 11:35 AM on December 23, 2012 [34 favorites]


I don't have a dog in this fight either; I don't live the pantyhose lifestyle. I live the flannel & denim lifestyle.

In the winter, I combine the two with flannel-lined jeans, which is rather like secretly wearing jammie pants in public all the time. With my hand-knit woolly socks.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 11:42 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I interned at the HQ of a big national bank when I was in college; it was also the "prestige branch" in the downtown that served the financial district titans in an old, fancy building. The summer I was there, in the mid 1990s, the women in the office staged a pantyhose revolt, which they only dared do because the daughter-in-law of one of the most senior C-suite guys led the charge. What did they want? To be allowed to NOT wear pantyhose when working a back-office-only job with no possibility of customer contact, ONLY on "Ozone Action Days" (which, for the uninitiated, usually means it 95*F or more, humid, sunny, and there's no wind; the air quality is shit and it's miserable). Chicago's Loop at the time was subject to rolling blackouts so sometimes the A/C would go off mid-day. Everyone would still wear pantyhose on non-Ozone Action Days and customer-visible employees would wear them regardless. This was SUCH AN ENORMOUS CHANGE that they had to discuss it at a board meeting but, in fact, they did finally rule that the women in the office could skip pantyhose on Ozone Action Days if they were not visible to customers. (We still had to be wearing a suit jacket or blazer any time we left our own cubicles, however, even if you were back office.) There was much rejoicing.

The only time I wear hose anymore is when I'm wearing a skirt suit, it's hard to imagine that was only 20 years ago that it required a meeting of the board to allow bare legs on super-hot days.

I did see one of those articles talking about female lawyers wanting to have bare legs with skirt suits. That's just crazy talk. YOU GET BACK IN THE HOUSE AND PUT THOSE HOSE ON RIGHT NOW, YOUNG LADY, OR CHANGE INTO A PANTSUIT. Going into court with bare legs boggles the mind. (It's funny how we can be against old-fashioned formality for the sake of formality ... except for those forms of it to which we have become accustomed and those seem normal and indeed necessary.)

"Having said that, I don't get how girls who wear Spanx (and I've worn 'em myself, so I know) get off bitching about the tyranny of control top hose."

On some body types, control top hose roll; Spanx, being a heavier fabric, don't roll as much. Plus you can get Spanx that go right up to your boobs instead of stopping at your waist. The uncomfortable part of pantyhose for me is how they cut and roll at the waist because I'm very long-waisted and the pantyhose don't like that. Spanx that go right up to my bustline are a LOT more comfortable. Not that I ever bother with Spanx either (I'm not even sure where they are).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:49 AM on December 23, 2012


My first memory of pantyhose/tights is being forced into an itchy pair of little girl white tights as a child. When I complained, my mother said "You have to suffer for beauty." Ever since, hose have been the enemy.

But otherwise, it's definitely geographical; women here in Texas only wear pantyhose anymore if they are forced to, because the sweating, my God. It is rough on shoes, because women's shoes are often not built to handle naked sweaty feet and those little hose footies never seem to look right. Plus, in open toe shoes, you can't do anything else. But, you know, put in some Odor Eaters or something and you're good. Many women I work with have their official dress shoes of the day for meetings/walking around plus a comfy pair (slippers, flip flops) for under the desk, or even go barefoot under there.

Or, you know, switch to pants and knee highs if you don't like the way your legs look.

I personally live for the advent of Boot Season so I can wear short skirts, comfy socks, and boots, and never have to worry about my goddamn pedicure.
posted by emjaybee at 11:52 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could someone clarify the difference between tights and pantyhose for me, please? In the UK, we call both of them just 'tights' and I didn't know until just now that there was a difference between the two, for Americans. Thanks. :)
posted by daisyk at 11:58 AM on December 23, 2012


I standardly think of pantyhose being made of thinner and somewhat see-thru material, typically skin-color, and worn for a vague sense of propriety, and tights as being thicker material and opaque, usually not skin color, and worn for warmth and visual coverage of the legs.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also think of pantyhose as being more or less synonymous with stockings and nylons, where tights are closer to leggings.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:03 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh my god I just learned how to keep my nylons up. This is awesome.

(I usually prefer thigh- highs though. They feel better).
posted by windykites at 12:04 PM on December 23, 2012


Aah, I see. Thanks, LobsterMitten! It turns out that I hate pantyhose and love tights, and all this time I thought I was just being fussy.
posted by daisyk at 12:06 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fortunately, I have the kind of job where I can wear jeans pretty much all the time. Can't remember the last time I wore any kind of hose - sheer knee highs to a wedding I think? When I went to middle school in the late sixties/early seventies, the dress code insisted on skirts for girls, and skirts were short in that era, as were coats. I also had to walk or bike to and from school (sorta country so no buses, and my parents were occupied and could not drive me), so I routinely froze in the winter, even with hose or tights. They would not even allow us to wear pants under our skirts and change when we got to school. (That dress code went by the wayside a few years later, thank god.) That has left me with a pretty permanent dislike of skirts in the winter.

Generally, in my past experience during a job that did require hose, in order for the hose part to fit well and not bag, the panty top part borders on being too tight. So, for posterity, I can pass on my mother's solution to the issue of the elastic top band of pantyhose cutting into your waist uncomfortably, should you be forced to wear them. She used to cut a couple of wedges into the elastic, cutting down from the top edge. The trick is to cut the elastic part way only. Don't cut all the way down to the hose part. This loosens them up a bit. This also works for the elastic top band on too tight knee highs or thigh highs as well. You have to be careful, and experiment on the number and depth of cuts to get the right "fit" for you.
posted by gudrun at 12:19 PM on December 23, 2012


I don't care if women wear pantyhose....as long as they let me play with the L'Eggs eggs.
posted by DU at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


That has left me with a pretty permanent dislike of skirts in the winter.

My mother in law went to BYU in the early 1960's and if you ask her about it, will hold forth with no small amount of vitriol about the skirts-only dress code. In Utah. In the winter. Fifty years later, she's still outraged.
posted by ambrosia at 12:40 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that the important issue isn't whether or under what conditions any particular person wants to wear pantyhose or not, but whether anyone has any authority to dictate the particulars of anyone else's dress.

Whenever a culture is using overt rules or social pressure to control what women wear, that gives me the heebie-jeebies. You have to wear pantyhose at the office, you can't go on a tour of the cathedral if your sleeves are too short, you have to wear a veil outside the house -- it's all the same. Got to tell those uppity women how they're allowed to look if they want to go out in public.

What one person wears is simply not a legitimate subject for rule-making by any other person. Instead of making rules about dress, we should make a rule that we all just mind our own business and respect other people's personal choices about how they look and what they wear.
posted by Corvid at 1:07 PM on December 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


I will never understand for the fucking life of me why an article of clothing that can fly up in the breeze and show everyone your drawers is somehow more intrinsically ladylike than a fucking pair of pants. If I went somewhere with a skirts-only dress code motherfuckers best believe I will be showing up in a full hoopskirt with multiple petticoats and a fucking parasol. My primary goal in life is to make people sorely regret telling me what to do.
posted by elizardbits at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


I know a male model. He has done gigs modelling thigh highs and tights because there is concern that female models' legs "bulged out" on the thigh highs and "lacked definition" for tights. This stuff is apparently circulating in regular clothing catalogs.
posted by fingerbang at 1:09 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mantyhose, Pantyhose for Men. For real men.

Those are some amazingly unconvincing pictures. Are they trying to sell them, or stop them?
posted by bongo_x at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2012


I will never understand for the fucking life of me why an article of clothing that can fly up in the breeze and show everyone your drawers is somehow more intrinsically ladylike than a fucking pair of pants.

I have a strong suspicion that it's linked to horseback riding. There are/were plenty of cultures where men wear skirt-type things and didn't have the same kind of access to horses as in western Europe. (Thinking Roman infantry, Scottish highlanders, etc.)
posted by restless_nomad at 1:16 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like bare legs, but I pretty much like bare anything so there you go.
posted by Mister_A at 1:17 PM on December 23, 2012


My stance on pantyhose is the same as my stance on high heels and makeup: they should be completely optional. Wear 'em if you want to, but in a perfect world no one would ever be required or feel pressured to put them on.

The one difference is that I find makeup and heels fun despite their inconvenience, but pantyhose has no redeeming qualities for me.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:27 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]



To me feminism, in this day and age means I can wear whatever the heck I want. I don't give one whit on whether my attire somehow supports feminism or is somehow anti-feminist in someone elses mind. If I feel good in it I wear it, if I don't I don't. Not sure why there is even a debate about it though I do find it interesting that there is even a debate.

I barely ever where full pantyhose anymore because I find most full pairs uncomfortable and I'm a clutz and no matter how careful I am always get runs in them. I will wear tights in the winter and I have a couple of pairs of thigh high hose things that I wear with the two fancy dresses I own.

The last time I bought a couple of pairs of panty hose was a couple of springs ago but they weren't for wearing. They were on sale for dirt cheap and I bought them to cut up for tying plants to stakes in the garden.

I've never had and doubt I will ever have a job that requires some sort of hose dress code. I'd hate that and hate a job that required that.
posted by Jalliah at 1:43 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I also grew up calling them nylons, and now usually say stockings, since I hate the word pantyhose beyond reason. But I have pasty white skin that shows every scratched mosquito bite going back to the Reagan Administration, so the last few years, when I was the only under-50 woman I knew who was wearing them, was pretty awful. I could go with tights, which really only work in cold weather, I could go bare-legged and always look like I was ratty and unfinished, or I could wear hose and look put-together, but know that in so doing I was the most uncool person in the tristate area. You can't even find the el-cheapo but perfectly functional No Nonsense pairs in the drugstores around here anymore, since I guess chic women won't even look at them unless they're three times the price and called "silk sheers" or some such nonsense. So I was thrilled at the idea of them coming back -- not because I want anyone to be forced to wear them (hell no), but just so that those of us who love fashion and still need the coverage have the option back.

I will admit, though, that the absolute best thing about wearing pantyhose is that amazing feeling when you finally take them off.
posted by Mchelly at 1:46 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


At the age most girls were getting panty-hose

I read this as "getting panty-hosed."

I've always called them "nylons." I hate the word "panties," and "pantyhose" even more. A co-worker of mine told me about a former colleague (male) who asked her some question like, "What color are those pantyhose you're wearing?" Either he had some way of knowing those weren't knee-highs or old-fashioned stockings, or he wanted to be able to say the word "pantyhose" to her in front of people, and I'm guessing it was the latter.

I used to occasionally buy control top nylons to make a dress hang more smoothly, but they really are hateful. And they are so fragile and run so much! I've never seen how you could wear those regularly without wasting a ton of money.
posted by BibiRose at 2:01 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, what’s behind the hate of the word "pantyhose"? To my ears it sounds like hating the word "socks" but I guess it must ring differently for some.
posted by bongo_x at 2:27 PM on December 23, 2012


I hate wearing pantyhose too - they never fit right. However, I learned from my mother that the pantyhose goes on first, and the underwear second. Mom gets the pantyhose that has a gusset woven into them. This is how you keep your hose up and keep your fancy panties nice.
posted by LN at 2:34 PM on December 23, 2012


what’s behind the hate of the word "pantyhose"?

I think it's because it contains the word "panty," which is the word of choice for the perverts at the laundromat who want to watch you fold yours.
posted by corey flood at 3:08 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


One of my first jobs was in an office, where I was part Receptionist and part Network Administrator.

For women, pants were forbidden, pantyhose were mandatory. It's really pleasant to go crawling under someone's desk in a skirt and hose, trying to rewire their Ethernet cables. I quit soon after. And ditched the hose after that.

At my current job, I comfortably wear t-shirts and pants, because again I'm often on the floor fixing machinery and getting motor oil all over my hands. So while there's technically a dress code, I became exempt once HR saw what machinery I have to work with. I have a couple pairs of nice tights for the formal events I go to and/or really cold weather days. And then, they're a Godsend.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:50 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


DU: "as long as they let me play with the L'Eggs eggs."

the L'Eggs eggs have been pathetic, vaguely egg shaped cardboard cartons since like the early 90s. If you can find play value in that, more power to you; for me it just makes me angry for what has been lost.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm so old that my first pair of "pantyhose" (age 12) were fishnet stockings. Yes, there was an actual period of time in the 60's when it was deemed appropriate for 12 year old girls to run around at school wearing garter belts and fishnet stockings.

I've bookmarked this page because I am still reeling from the discovery that nobody wears pantyhose anymore. When I first read about this a year or so ago, I was flabbergasted. What do you wear under your skirt, I wondered? I know now that you go bare legged, even in winter, or you wear opaque tights. I've always loved tights (I had a pair of purple tights in high school that I wore all the time) but dark tights do not go with formal, dressy dresses. So if, for example, you are a movie actress attending the premiere of your movie in New York in December in the snow and you wear a cute little frock, you wear 5 inch heels and naked legs. I think that would be a lot less comfortable than wearing closed-toed pumps and pantyhose. But I guess I'm just old-fashioned that way.

I luckily can wear jeans every day, but I do feel sorry for the older, dress-wearing ladies I know who don't want to look out of touch. Spray tans really don't conceal spider veins and blotches as well as sheer pantyhose. Somehow naked legs and bare feet in heels are a lot less attractive to my eye unless you are very young and it is the middle of summer.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:36 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can't agree more with Jalliah and the others who say we should all wear what want. Like, when I was working for a law firm I wanted to wear to court flip flops, shorts and a sweatshirt- the fascists wouldn't let me. So unfair.
posted by happyroach at 4:46 PM on December 23, 2012


daisyk: "Could someone clarify the difference between tights and pantyhose for me, please? In the UK, we call both of them just 'tights' and I didn't know until just now that there was a difference between the two, for Americans. Thanks. :)"

While you would never wear pantyhose by itself (outside of certain parts of brooklyn) tights are often worn as pants in college campuses across america--though the debate about that continues.
posted by danny the boy at 5:02 PM on December 23, 2012


Gravy, I wear fine-gauge fishnets. Durable, and wearable with open toes, providing the necessary buffer for my shoes to rip up my feet that much less.

I seem to be in the minority, plus, it's scandalous? Oh. Wow, people are easily scandalised.

Any company expecting me to wear sheer hose daily must face the resulting expense claim.
posted by tel3path at 5:25 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Instead of sheer stockings, I love, love, love nude fishnets. Unless people are spending a ton of time looking at my legs, which, hello, who is inappropriate now? -- anyone who cares probably doesn't notice the difference and I get to feel a little naughty.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:33 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I absolutely despise pantyhose and have tried (not completely successfully) to get through post-law-firm life without ever wearing them again. Annoyingly, though, there are occasions, where it still just feels too out there to go with bare legs.

As a practical matter, this means wearing unflattering trouser/pant suits at times just to avoid the hosiery issue. My favourite solution, though, is to wear leather boots with a skirt or dress. Then no one needs to know that I have bare legs (and bright stripy socks) under the skirt.
posted by sueinnyc at 5:43 PM on December 23, 2012


I'm short and fat as hell, and I don't wear hose. The pair has not been manufactured which fits me in anything approximating comfort. I either go bare-legged (I don't shave my legs, either; anyone who has a problem with that can drop me a line here in the 21st century) or I wear knee-highs. I do have a professional uniform as part of the Seattle Symphony chorus which theoretically requires black hose, but the dress is floor-length, so I wear kneehighs and nobody knows.

Other than that, though, I'm with elizardbits. Wear 'em if you want, don't if you don't, and for the sake of gods and little fishes, quit telling women that they should feel guilty for causing problems with their personal clothing choices.
posted by KathrynT at 6:31 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


My mother in law went to BYU in the early 1960's and if you ask her about it, will hold forth with no small amount of vitriol about the skirts-only dress code. In Utah. In the winter. Fifty years later, she's still outraged.

I've found that skirts can be warmer than trousers if you go very traditional and wear ankle length skirts with woolen stockings. The skirt creates a lovely bell of warm air.
posted by jb at 6:35 PM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh no someone has told you that $_THING you are wearing is ruining feminism for the entire world? Tell them to fuck themselves with a cactus. i am tired of this shit.

...I'm with elizardbits. Wear 'em if you want, don't if you don't, and for the sake of gods and little fishes, quit telling women that they should feel guilty for causing problems with their personal clothing choices.

No one is saying anyone's individual choices is "ruining feminism for the entire world". Not a single one of the links in this post says anything even close to that. None of the comments in this thread says anything like that that I've seen.

Does that add to the discussion? Maybe quit stirring up GRAR.
posted by flex at 6:45 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Black tights for me, the higher denier the better. Black black black. Totally opaque. I won't wear anything else; when it gets warm I'm barelegged, aging skin or no (my skirts are generally below the knee, though).
posted by jokeefe at 7:07 PM on December 23, 2012


Sorry, flex, I should have been more clear that I'm responding to statements made in my personal life, not in the linked articles or here on the thread. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by KathrynT at 7:32 PM on December 23, 2012


It's so, so, so weird that anyone bothers having an opinion about this.

I wear pantyhose all the time. I have some fairly bad scarring on my very pale legs, and would rather not answer questions about it, and don't like wearing pants to dressy things. I have no interest in whether pantyhose are in or out of fashion; they are always in fashion to me. If anyone has ever judged me about this, I hereby declare to all mankind that I give exactly zero fucks.
posted by town of cats at 12:04 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


A lot of this isn't about people waking up one day and deciding to wear p****hose. It's about dress codes (at work and elsewhere) that require women to wear skirts, and then to cover their legs with something sheer and, to some, not comfortable. Sort of like ties for men, in fact.

These days there are alternatives, like tights, longer skirts with knee-highs and so on, so pantyhose is just one option at a lot of workplaces, but a lot of people remember when it wasn't so.
posted by BibiRose at 5:56 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


jb, I think what really pissed her off about the whole thing was the patriarchy aspect of "The Lord's University." And something about open staircases where the wind would blow straight up one's skirt. But mostly, the patriarchy.
posted by ambrosia at 9:11 AM on December 24, 2012


Just curious, does anyone ever opt for an old-school garter belt and stockings if they have to follow a dress code like this? I've never had a job where I had to wear skirts but it's something I've thought about. I have the same sizing issue as PhoBWanKenobi--if they're big enough to get over my hips they're sagging and bagging all day--and thigh highs don't stay up.
posted by fozzie_bear at 9:31 AM on December 24, 2012


I'm not completely surprised to hear that there are still employers who require pantyhose, but I don't quite understand the mandate to wear them under *pants* - what does that accomplish and how would you even know or check for that? I can't imagine wearing hose under pants, or even being able to tell if someone was doing so!

This post has definitely given me pause and was very thought-provoking. I think the great thing about being a feminist today (which I surely am) is that you and only you get to decide what you are comfortable wearing. I dislike having bare legs with a skirt/dress when I'm dressed up, but I'm very picky and only wear the most comfortable tights or hose (DKNY Comfort Luxe Opaque tights and Calvin Klein Matte Sheer Control Top hose). That said, I wear pants most of the time!
posted by radioamy at 10:31 AM on December 24, 2012


I'm also shocked women are not required to wear hose, and I'm under 30. I guess this is what I get for not being fashion conscious. What about thigh-highs? Are they also considered too old-fashioned?
posted by schroedinger at 3:14 PM on December 24, 2012


Shortly after I left home and started my own life, I had many "Now that I'm an adult I can do X whenever I want to!" or "...I never have to do Y again!" moments. The one that was accompanied by the most profound relief was "Now that I'm an adult I never have to wear pantyhose again!" I've always hated them because they're uncomfortable, never fit me right, are a PITA to keep straight and run-free, and have some unpleasant unmentionable side effects.

The last time I wore them of my own free will was for Picture Day when I was 10, and my mom wouldn't let me shave my legs yet and I was horribly embarrassed to have my hairy legs show under the shorts I was wearing, and I begged her to let me wear pantyhose. A couple years later she was the one begging me to wear them under my skirts and dresses, because it Just Wasn't Done to go without. I don't even think it was about modesty for her, it was just a silly fashion rule more about appearances than anything else (like the time she wouldn't let me wear a tank top in February even though it was 80degF out because it was February and that was ridiculous because tank tops are only for Summer). So when I left home and realized I could go pantyhose-free with impunity, it was wonderful. Even more so when I started realizing more and more women were going without, and I didn't even have to feel like I was doing something rebellious by not wearing them. Even Mom has come around now--at my sister's wedding last year, neither my sister nor I wore hose under our dresses, and neither did Mom!

It's only been within the past year or so that I've started exploring anything resembling pantyhose again, but even now it's just thigh-highs with garter belts for very, very special occasions. While I respect the right of anyone to wear whatever they'd like, and wish women's clothing weren't such a laden and loaded issue, I still wouldn't wear full-panty pantyhose if you paid me.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:02 PM on December 24, 2012


fozzie_bear, that's what I do these days. I've finally found thigh-highs that fit my massive thighs, and while they don't stay up on their own, that's what the garter belts are for. They thigh-high/garter combination is a little tricky to get the hang of, but it gets easier with practice, and it's so much more comfortable than full pantyhose to me. Plus I feel a little extra sexy, which makes me feel and look more confident, so it's a win all around for me.
posted by rhiannonstone at 4:09 PM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Count me in as one who wears pantyhose only under duress, but loves tights. I love going bare-legged under skirts and dresses, especially now that I live in a warm climate, but it's true that shoes must be chosen carefully. I don't know if I could take a job with a dress code so strict it dictated my undergarments.

Right now I'm wearing bright orange tights. They are super comfortable, and making me very happy. I've never described pantyhose that way, at all.
posted by Superplin at 4:30 PM on December 24, 2012


I worked most of my career (1980s & '90s) in a conservative Savings & Loan and nylons were mandatory. When the office I was working in finally went business casual (khakis, real shirts (no t-shirts)) I'd wear trouser socks with my flats/loafers. It was heaven.

Whenever I have to wear a skirt (funerals only, long skirt), I wear black tights. I do not care what time of year it is.
posted by deborah at 5:37 PM on December 24, 2012


What about leggings? I wear those in lieu of both flimsy-ass leg products.

Pantyhose: extremely flimsy, snags on everything, gives legs odd fake tan color. When it comes to warmth, I'd be warmer wrapping my legs in toilet paper. My mom claims they make her legs warm, but I don't feel it.

Tights: somewhat less flimsy, snags but less so, can be in whatever color you want. When it comes to warmth, they're somewhat of an improvement. If hose are at a 1.5 on a scale of 10, tights are about a 4. I was in ballet for many years and I don't miss tights, though they sure beat hose.

Leggings: made of actual fabric, don't snag on anything. Harder to find in fun colors, mind you, but it can be somewhat done. On a scale of warmth, they're probably about an 8 to me. I wear them under clothes in the winter, I can wear them with legwarmers or boots. And they actually give you some warmth, for crying out loud. Leggings FTW.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:45 PM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not completely surprised to hear that there are still employers who require pantyhose, but I don't quite understand the mandate to wear them under *pants* - what does that accomplish and how would you even know or check for that? I can't imagine wearing hose under pants, or even being able to tell if someone was doing so!

I wonder if this is due to men writing up the dress code who are unaware of the existence of sheer knee highs. They see dress pants + dress shoes + visible nylon foot covering and assume the woman is wearing pantyhose?
posted by fozzie_bear at 10:02 AM on December 25, 2012


The first question is whether they let women wear pants at all.
posted by ambrosia at 10:23 AM on December 25, 2012


I wish women didn't feel they have to wear pantyhose or cover their legs because they've got blotches or spider veins or scars or whatever. Not that I blame anyone for hiding something so they don't have to deal with it (or other people's reaction to it) when they'd rather have their mind focused on something more important. I get a lot of remarks on the many bruises on mine and it's always a boring and stupid conversation. I can only imagine its worse for something deemed unacceptable to the fashion police.

Whoever thought up the term 'unsightly' for the perfectly normal lumps and bumps and hairs and colours that appear on women's bodies should be taken out and force-fed a year's worth of fashion magazines.
posted by harriet vane at 1:14 AM on January 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


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