For decades upon decades, women wore hosiery. All through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, this is simply what the ladies wore… but then, suddenly, it went away. Indeed, it happened so fast (perhaps somewhere in the late 1980s) that I didn’t even notice until hosiery had all but vanished from the face of the earth. What the hell happened?
In the UK and much of Europe, hosiery has made a comeback in recent years, but in the United States it is entirely absent. I grew up surrounded by hosiery, so I must admit, I’m a bit sad to wave it goodbye. In the 70s, all the foxy babes on TV wore them: Charlie’s Angels, Daisy Duke, Chrissy Snow, Wonder Woman, Julie Barnes (The Mod Squad), Marcia Brady,… the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a perv with a stocking fetish. I just grew up with them, and like most guys my age, was sorry to see them leave.
The question is “why?” – or to be more precise “WTF?” I’ve done a bit of research by asking a few ladies and come up with a few theories of my own. Feel free to offer your own explanation for their mysterious disappearance, and together we can solve this mystery.
One commenter said,”I think it’s important to remember a few things before you count pantyhose out: for the last 500 years, women have worn some type of leg hosiery. The bare leg look essentially came in vogue around the year 2000. It reined supreme for about 10 years before pantyhose started to make a sneaking comeback. So tell me– what’s the aberration? For years the fashonistas said that pantyhose “made your legs look orange” and that “they make you look like an old woman”. Well, Kate Middleton came along and proved that one wrong in spades. Additionally, the fashionistas said that pantyhose were expensive, that they ruined easily, and were downright unhealthy to wear. Well, the same thing is true of high heels, and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. Finally, you have a whole generation of young women coming of age who really know nothing about pantyhose except what they’ve heard from Mom, their Aunt, or maybe older sister. However, they know this: Mom is now devoutly bare leg. So is Aunt Jane. And the bare leg look is going to be the new “mom jeans” fashion faux paus to avoid at all costs. I’ll even say it plainly: The bare leg look is SOOOOOOOOOOOO 2006…..
Sheers and Ultra-sheers actually make a women’s legs look younger, healthier. The bare leg look which shows off veins, bruises, scrapes, bony feet, bony knees, spider veins and other blemishes do NOT make you look younger.”
They have simply gone out of style.
We are all fashion followers, so it stands to reason that what is not marketed in Cosmo, Vogue, etc, as trendy and stylish is not purchased. The fashionistas for years have been telling young women that only grandmothers and old ladies wear pantyhose, that nude pantyhose makes your legs look like they’re encased in a sausage, and that it also makes your legs look orange. Kate Middleton helped change that conception in the UK, but it’s still pervasive in the U.S..
That’s the obvious answer. But dig deeper and ask why they went out of vogue in the first place…
American women are known to follow fashion trends religiously from fashionistas, media, and celebrities on tv shows, movies, books, magazines, and the internet. Some people said that the bare leg trend originated from the TV series “Sex and the City” where Carrie Bradshaw and her friends are always seen bare legged in designer shoes year round in New York causing many women including celebrities, fashion models, various tv personalities from news reporters, anchors, talk show hosts, and former US first lady Mooch…Michelle Obama to abandon hose in droves and go out bare legged, regardless of the weather.
The so called fashionistas may have declared pantyhose out of style, but there are a number celebrities such as Beyonce, Katy Perry, Zoey Deschanel, and Ariana Grande that wear pantyhose at various events. Would these women be considered granny if they wear hose to an event? If these fashionistas are considering them granny, they are showing a lack of respect towards these stars who are being themselves by dressing very classy and professional for an event. The negativity from the fashionistas about Ariana Grande’s pantyhose caused her to break down in tears at the Grammys a few months back. Hose is pretty much in style in Europe, not because of Kate Middleton, but they never went out of style, even in Eastern European countries such as Russia, Estonia, Poland and Asian countries such as Japan and Korea where women wear them as a culture and tradition of femininity as opposed to fashion influence in America.
Hosiery is an annoyance and inconvenience to women
They often have runs, which require frequent purchases. Also, a run can cause embarrassment. I am told they are uncomfortable. They have a tendency to slip down, and can create annoying wrinkles in your shoes.
The problem is that women are wearing the wrong size and style of hose. Instead, they are wearing the cheap brands of hosiery from the dollar stores, supermarkets, drug stores instead of well known quality brand names of hosiery. Another factor is that the American hosiery companies are not following the European method in investing in new technology to producing nylon in order to make hose soft and silky. Instead they were too focused on sticking with the old method of stiching the nylon to gain profit, causing hose to be tight and constricting eventually causing runs on legs, and women to hate wearing them. All of this contributed to the downfall of hosiery in America. Even the pantyhose advertisements that were seen on TV and magazines throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s disappeared as well.
Tan legs are “in”
A function of hosiery (especially nude hose) was to improve the tone of the leg. Now that most women in the US tan their legs and “tan in a bottle” is abundant, this function of hosiery became no longer necessary.
Women gained control over the mass marketed female images and fashion industry
What women wore and what was deemed fashionable used to be dictated exclusively by men. If men thought legs looked better in hose, then by God, women are going to have to wear hose. Once women had a say in the process, the inconvenient pain-in-the-ass hosiery was kicked to the curb. The feminist movement may have played the role in allowing women to gain power over men. Not only women are controlling the fashion industry, but gay men who only care about dictating what is in and out of fashion, and pantyhose was no exception
We’re comfortable showing bare skin
For a time, hosiery basically served to censor a woman’s bare leg. In other words, it was more than a little bit naughty (and in poor taste) to show off a bare leg; now that that taboo is long gone, yet another function of hosiery is gone.
Unless they are toned, not all women have the legs to pull off the bare leg look. Some women have various skin blemishes such as pastiness, blotchiness, and veins on their legs, thin and knobby knees, crusty and unevened toes. If a woman tries to pull off the bare leg look with all those blemishes, it would look downright tacky, disgusting, and unprofessional
Razor blade improvements
It’s easy to overlook this factor, but vast improvements in the comfort, ease and effectiveness of modern razors definitely has had an impact. Women’s razor blades of today actually provide a smooth finish without carving your legs like a turkey. The need for hosiery to mask the effects of unfriendly razors is long gone.
Skirts aren’t as short
The heyday of the miniskirt is long since gone. With much less leg shown, so there isn’t much need for hosiery which improves the appearance of the leg. Not so for crossdressers, of course, who never seem to find a skirt that is too short 🙂
That annoying “swishing” sound
It’s certainly not the primary reason hosiery went kaput, but according to the ladies in my informal poll, it is a contributing factor. The swish-swish-swish with every step was often a source of embarrassment.
They look bad with open-toed shoes
Even the biggest pantyhose enthusiast will have to admit they look a little ridiculous with open-toed shoes.
But these answers still don’t get to the core. I mean, women have always had these issues with hose; and skirts haven’t always been super short; however, they were fine with wearing them back when… why not now?
So what is wrong with pantyhose and open toe shoes? If the fashionistas think that pantyhose and open toe shoes are a fashion faux pas, what is the point of making sheer and sandalfoot pantyhose then?? To me, this is just a myth, misconception, and pet peeve to discourage women from wearing pantyhose with open toe shoes. Women wearing pantyhose with open toe shoes is still elegant and common today like it was in the 70s and 80s, even in some European countries as well.
Americans have gotten slovenly
If you look back a few decades, you’ll see people dressed up more. Men wore hats and kept their shoes shined. Women wore gloves and were rarely seen outside the home without makeup on. The change from well-groomed and “dolled up” to today’s state of shabbiness was a gradual transition. The hippie counter culture was the first to make strides in this area. For whatever reason, this casualness just got more and more casual.
You always hear that today’s society is overly concerned with outward appearances. However, it’s interesting to note that we’ve never cared less about the way we present ourselves. In this climate, it was only a matter of time before hosiery bit the dust.
This is the most common part of all. American women have gotten lazy when it comes to dressing up nowadays. Instead of dressing like a lady, they decided to dress like a slob and skank which is showing a lack of class and professionalism in America. They are also giving America a bad name and reputation around the world in caring less how they dress even in other countries where it is considered etiquette to dress classy and professional at an event that calls for wearing pantyhose with their outfits. One example is Actress Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife) who did not know that she had to wear pantyhose at a Royal Event in the presence of the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Rita later admitted that she does not own a pair of sheer hose herself. Another example is hose hating former US first lady Michelle Obama who was criticized for not wearing hose at an event in the Czech Republic that calls for women wearing pantyhose, despite the fact she previouly wore them during her husband’s first presidential inauguration in 2009. The ever increasing presence of the internet has casualized the workplace environment causing some workplaces to loosen their dress codes, and employees to conduct their work away from their workplace. As a result of loosened dress codes, women are now dressing more casual by wearing less skirts and dresses, and wearing pants even flip flops to work like if they are going to the beach. Women can’t dress too casually in a business setting in a European or Asian country, where dress codes in some workplaces are known to be strict due in large part to their country’s business culture.
Hosiery Coming Back
There is a poll on stylebistro called “What Do You Think of Wearing Tights Under Shorts?” As of now, 81% like and only 19% dislike. Mind you, this is about the more casual look of opaques (not sheer/ultra-sheer) with shorts (not even dresses or skirts). Hosiery does look better than bare leg, in many situations.
Besides, there are so many new types, new technology out there since prior to the 90’s. The sheer/ultra sheer skin tones look far more natural and appealing than before. As a bonus, there are of course many options for giving the appearance that you’ve lost a dress size (tummy control, especially with high waist, bum lifting, leg messaging, etc). There are even some that are made specifically for hotter climates such as the Silkies 65 Degree Control Top Sheer Pantyhose (in regular & toe-less). There are even hosiery that have a G-string affect made by Trasparenze (& others), if your into that, anti cellulite hosiery made by Solidea (& others), moisturizing hosiery made by Solidea, Cette (& others) and non-slip sole hosiery made especially for high heels by Marks & Spence, Frappe, Verano (& others).
Like Kate Middleton, Beyoncé, Zoey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and many of the younger 20 somethings from Disney, many more young and middle aged women should take notice that hosiery just looks better with dresses and skirts and has come a very long way in the last decade or so!