December 3, 2007

Pantyhose? No, seriously — pantyhose?

Posted in Feminism, Musings at 11:56 am by The Lizard Queen

Here’s the lede from a November 25th L.A. Times article:

Bare legs beware. Pantyhose are showing up on runways and simultaneously making an ironic statement about modesty and style.

I’m not much of a follower of fashion, but I certainly know that the things that appear on haute couteur runways often bear more resemblance to art, in the sense that they’re an attempt to make a statement (or provoke thought and/or emotion) through creative means, than to the clothing the average person wears on a day-to-day basis.  Still — pantyhose?  Really?  Sure enough, the picture that accompanies the article shows a runway model with her sweater tucked into the waistband of a pair of nude pantyhose.  Of course, I can see how that look makes a statement about modesty: it’s a fairly tame outfit overall, without much exposed skin, and yet an undergarment is clearly visible.

However, the second half of the article branches into a discussion of women who wear and people who advocate wearing hose in an unironic way.  It’s still a requirement in a number of (predominantly corporate) workplaces, including the White House:

The mother-in-law [who complained that her son’s new wife went bare-legged on her wedding day] might find solace in the fact that her views are supported by the president of the United States. One of his first actions upon taking office was to reinstate the White House dress code requiring, among other things, that women wear stockings in the West Wing. Exhibit A, Condoleezza Rice, the fashionable secretary of state.

Excuse me, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.  As a member of Generation X or Y (depending on who’s measuring), I reached adulthood with the understanding that pantyhose were de rigeur on special occasions (though still negotiable if wearing pants on those occasions), but not necessary the rest of the time.  Now that I’m older, rounder (such that the power of the Control Top is not enough to make me look like I have a flat stomach, at least not like I had when I was 18), and — let’s face it — more strident in my feminism, I’ve pretty much put pantyhose behind me.  I might wear funky tights when it’s cold, or thigh-highs for a special occasion, and I spent a good chunk of time over the weekend drooling over the offerings at Sock Dreams, but the idea of being required to wear them to work, day in and day out, makes me shudder.  I think part of that is because the impetus for advocating the wearing of stockings is a desire to return to a time when women knew their place:

Katie Couric has been one of the most stalwart and high-profile bare-leggers, bringing her tanned gams into living rooms every day with the TV news. But the sight of bare legs is so repulsive to some that a forum has emerged on, a website for stockings fans, dedicated to persuading the chipper news anchor to wear pantyhose. Fundraisers, bribes and beatings are a few of the strategies discussed. One man lamented that he’d been forced to switch to Fox, where the legs are rarely naked.

About 70% of the impassioned commenters on are male, according to site founder David Bradwell. Their push for hose is about making “ladies” look sexy.

So.  Very.  Creepy.

In general, though, I’ll be interested to see whether this really does become a trend, and pantyhose really are coming back.  It’s not going to change my habits, but I think it makes for interesting social commentary.

[hat tip to Feministing]



  1. pavlov112 said,

    Ick, ack and gag. You know I loves me a beautiful woman in stockings, but this coercive crap is ridiculous.

    (Sorry. Even though I don’t have much do contribute here, you knew I’d have to comment on this…)

  2. Donna said,

    I wear pantyhose everyday, no matter what the weather Hot or Cold.
    I like the way the make my legs look and feel, and my husband also like to see hose on me and other ladies.
    In the summer I wear Shorts and Hose, and I have received some nice compliments from men and other ladies. I myself think pantyhose are makeup for the legs, and just as I make my face up in the morning, I also make up my legs, even when I wear long pants.
    Bare legs are not appealing to me at all

  3. Mark said,

    I have yet to see a womans legs that look better bare than in pantyhose.

    So many women refuse to go out anywhere without makeup, but yet will go bare legged.

    Confuses me!

  4. Marshwiggle said,

    What the hell is the obsession with women’s legs? Then again, I am a weirdo of the opinion that the whole obsession with shaving to be “accepted” is demeaning to women in the first place… never mind the makeup and pantyhose requirements. Let’s tell women they have to spend money to be better than they naturally are. Because we -are- not sexist. And if they don’t, we will devalue them as ugly. WTFH?

  5. Dan said,

    Sexist ?? Are you crazy???
    I for one am not Sexist, but I do like the way a lady dresses, and I do like to see them in hose myself. I think that society in general has gotten to lazy in the way they dress. Look at the way some people dress to go to work (male and female), they don’t care. I saw a prospective employee go to an interview looking like they just came from a beach party. If people started caring about the way they look, and about one another this world wold be a better place to live.
    Getting dressed up is just a start…

  6. Sam said,

    Stockings HQ is a perverse site where men who dress in ladies clothes are given more power than the women themselves.

    There are much better examples of stockings retailers than them.

    What Katie Did and Stockingirl are just two. There are also much better forums than theirs too.

  7. Andy (my real name) said,

    I am 45 years old. I am in charge of IT for a small business based in the Mid-Atlantic. I play guitar in any number of regionally based groups, have performed with internationally known artists and, most importantly, I am married.

    I believe that I am at the back end of the most recent generation that considered hosiery part of a business-woman’s wardrobe. The ensuing generations came up during the evolution of such concepts as “Casual Fridays” and the “Dot-Com-Era”, and, given the casual nature of such business environments, both mens’ and womens’ collective fashion sense’s went to hell in a handbasket.

    Thereafter, it seemed as though womens’ workplace fashions consisted of flip-flops and sundresses. The flip-flops have given way to peep-toe and sling-back pumps, and the sundresses have given way to pencil skirts and square-neck tops. The bare legs remain.

    A great many women would take issue with me on lobbying for the legitimacy of women’s hosiery as a part of day wear. I must assure those women who decry the validity of hosiery that they are most assuredly denying themselves of some serious armament. Were there two equally twins in possession of similar intellect and pulchritude lobbying for the same objective, my bet would be that, all other things being equal, the twin wearing hose (and I do not mean drugstore pantyhose, but, rather, something of worth, such as Hanes Sillk Reflections or Wolford Synergy) would win the contract. For women, hosiery is a weapon that will most likely disarm most men in positions of power. Don’t decry this power – USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!! As a man, were I in the possession of such a guaranteed deadly weapon, I’d use it to the nth degree. Hosiery, be it thigh-highs or pantyhose – is a guaranteed-return investment. If you don’t close your deal on the first visit, you will probably nail the deal on the next visit, especially if you are wearing sheer black hose under your black suit. I have known plenty of male sales execs who have always sweated their asses off when a female rep wearing a black suit, black hose and black pumps was slateds for the previous interview slot.



  8. Andy (my real name) said,

    Please disregard the typographical errors, as I will quickly admit that I am not perfect!!

  9. Pantyhose Lover. said,

    Pantyhose, rah rah, Pantyhose rah rah. If they can’t do it, nothing can!
    I’m moving to Russia, where summer or winter Pantyhose rein supreme!

    P.S. If you wear pantyhose regularly. I’ll clean the gutters, wash the car, change the oil, sweep the driveway, vaccum the carpets, do the dishes, dust the dustable…get the picture. Don’t say they don’t fit = you are wearing the wrong size / brand. Find the correct size and you will own your man. They are like spinach to Popeye, yellow sun to Superman… they are powerful tools/weapons.

    Blah blah blah, you can say ack etc. all you want but it shows you truly have no idea what pantyhose can do for you.

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