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Pretty (and ugly) in Pantyhose

July 17, 2011

I think this is one of the few times she wasn't in pantyhose! Image Credit: Daily Mail (U.K.)

The fashion world (and the world of women) is at odds. From feminist-friendly blog Jezebel to fashion magazines and sites to even daily newspapers like the Boston Globe, women want to know if pantyhose has suddenly come back in vogue.

In the U.K., pantyhose is selling out at department stores. Even fashion polls have been taken to decide on the issue of pantyhose, with shocking results. (Check out What Kate Wore’s post. Seriously?! 36% of pollers are considering wearing pantyhose? Color me shades of surprised!)

My opinion? (If you haven’t already figured it out yet…) Please, God, no, don’t let pantyhose come back. It’s itchy, you have to travel with clear nail polish on the off chance you need to stop a run, it makes using the bathroom potentially difficult (I know, TMI). Clearly, my issue isn’t with how it looks — it’s with wearing it!

I knew Google Images wouldn't fail me in locating an old-school Leggs package.

In reality, pantyhose has its place with certain wardrobe choices. Two or three years ago, wearing patterned pantyhose was all the rage (particularly in the winter). So while it may seem pantyhose is so 80s, (remember those Leggs Eggs at the drugstore? They lasted maybe eight hours before crapping out) clearly Kate (and others) can rock the look.

I still say there is something sexy about having bare legs no matter what you are wearing. Yeah, stockings can be super hot if you’re looking to score, but I feel like those situations only happen in the movies or in cheestastic romance novels.

So, here are my tips on when and how to wear — and not wear — pantyhose. Plus a story about sexy bare legs gone horribly wrong (and pantyhose saving the day) circa 1996 after the jump.

When To Wear:

  1. Conservative work environments. My bestie actually was required to wear pantyhose to work (she worked for a bank) if she had legs showing. Clearly, this was a dress code created by men who have no clue how awful it is to wear the stuff, especially in Texas… in 100 degree weather.
  2. In colder environments. If you live in a colder climate, having the extra fabric on your body (no matter how sheer) is probably necessary and helpful. It will allow you to wear outfits that are cute but otherwise not appropriate for the environment you live in.
  3. Important events. Maybe graduation, formal party, an awards ceremony, a funeral — something where dressing conservatively is almost a nod of respect to the host. The Queen does have a dress code in place for a reason at the palace — don’t insult the woman. (P.S., at these same formal/conservative events, don’t wear short skirts, plunging necklines… ask yourself, WWKW?)
  4. Health issues. Whether it’s because you have varicose veins, aging knees or a more serious health problem that requires compression stockings, you get a pass. P.S., if you do have those issues, there are a variety of brands that make more fashion-forward compression stockings, so do a quick Google search and you’ll find a ton of options.

When NOT To Wear:

  1. Warmer environments. I’m not saying this is a fashion no-no; rather, I’m just trying to help a sista out. Any temperature over 80 degrees should mean no hosiery, regardless of the occasion.
  2. Open-toed heels. I try not to laugh when I see a woman with hose and open-toed heels on… where the seam is clearly showing. If you want to wear pantyhose with your outfit, choose a different pair of shoes, or go without it. And if you’re trying to hide the fact that you haven’t had a pedicure in awhile, you’re just bringing more attention to it 😉
  3. Casual outfits. Nothing weirds me out more when I see a pair of pantyhose being rocked with a pair of shorts. Gross. Let’s just say living in Texas sometimes brings you face to face with these oddities.
  4. When you should be wearing something thicker. Remember really thick tights/leggings were all the rage a couple of seasons ago? And remember seeing women wearing really sheer pantyhose when they should have been wearing a thicker denier hosiery or leggings? Yeah, don’t do that. For the sake of others around you. P.S. Confused by the interchanging of hosiery, stockings, pantyhose and tights? Me too… and this article really did nothing to help me out.

So when do I wear pantyhose? Fall and winter when it is chilly out but I still want to wear dresses and knee-length skirts. And I usually only wear sheer black pantyhose with a pattern. My favorite? Banana Republic’s hosiery. It lasts forever; I still have a black pair with a criss-cross pattern that is almost three years old. I love this pair they have online right now (though they call it a tight but it looks too sheer to be considered one).

Final pantyhose-related story for the day. In eighth grade, I went to my first school dance stag (I know, this is already screaming loser).  I found this really lovely crushed velvet maroon dress that I paired with an off-white choker (again, this is the mid-90s and I’m probably still screaming loser). There is a picture lying around somewhere, but I’m so not putting it on here 😉 Instead, here is a jewel from the last day of eighth grade:

I'm on a mission to ensure that future generations never suffer from bad bangs.

I decided that I wanted my legs to look incredibly smooth and sexy for this dance, so I bought some Nair at the drugstore, thinking it would be the key to sexy legs and hopefully a boyfriend. And like an idiot, I put the crap on my legs about an hour and a half before the dance. And within 10 minutes, I had the worst allergic reaction — my legs were beet red with bumps everywhere.

I was devastated. I thought my life was over and ruined, like most 14-year-olds. Worse, I was wearing open-toed shoes and open toe pantyhose hadn’t been invented yet. So I borrowed some opaque pantyhose from my mom (who is shorter and has a darker complexion than me) and was the only one at the dance wearing pantyhose.

And I didn’t dance with a single boy for almost the entire dance — or the boy I really wanted to get a dance with. His name was Josh Henderson and he had pretty much dated every girl in eighth grade by that point, except for the girls in orchestra (again, are you fully understanding my loser/dork ways?).

Finally, this guy felt sorry for me and danced the last dance with me. We danced to End of the Road by Boyz II Men. And he did ask me on a date… five years later. If the Nair had worked and I didn’t wear pantyhose, maybe I would have gotten that dance with Josh Henderson and never had danced with my future husband. So, I guess you can say that pantyhose brought me and my now husband together? Thanks, pantyhose!

(P.S. Josh is now a somewhat famous actor and actually my husband’s second or third cousin. Funny how that worked out…)

13 Comments leave one →
  1. Naomi permalink
    July 17, 2011 10:11 pm

    I completely agree with your rules. I would add sandals to your DO NOT list. Having lived in AZ and now in WA I only wear hosiery during the “after Labor Day to Memorial Day and not on Easter” period. And 9 times out of 10 it’s black (cause no matter your size black hosiery is sesy!) or grey. Was introduced to your blog by the Duchess of Cambridge ladies. Totally love all your posts!

    • July 17, 2011 10:14 pm

      Naomi — welcome to the blog! 🙂 And I love your rules around sandals (you would think that would be obvious for folks but it isn’t!) and the timing… it’s like the opposite of when you should wear white shoes. And I know some people say the white shoe rule is dead, but I can’t break myself of that habit! Thanks so much!

      • July 18, 2011 1:16 pm

        I have a very hard time of breaking myself from the “no white shoes” rule. I have daughters and I won’t let them wear their white shoes after Labor day at all. They tend to think I’m a little weird…..

  2. Jenn permalink
    July 18, 2011 9:34 am

    Hehe! Thanks for sharing that blast from the past! The whole hose with open toed shoes thing has always been a pet peeve of mine!

  3. Ashley permalink
    July 18, 2011 11:53 am

    As someone who until recently was required to wear pantyhose for work, I don’t see them coming back into style. I felt like an old lady every day that I had to put them on. Tights in the winter are one thing, but panty hose in the summer…not gonna happen as a trend.

    That’s just my personal, biased opinion. 😉

  4. sean permalink
    July 18, 2011 12:31 pm

    Just like spending money on any fine item of clothing, you shouldn’t buy your hosiery at the drugstore. Make an effort to find some European brands. Like Wolford, Falke, Cecelia de Rafael, Pretty Polly. My wife did. They actually make them to fit real women and sheer to waist don’t create constriction to your gut.
    Personally, I don’t want to see the veins and marks on bare legs and hosiery cover all that up with a nice smooth, slimming, and silky appearance. They look very tacky. Sheer nylons over open toes can be sexy. That whole open toe shoe rule is dumb, to guys anyway. Silky feet and toes in some upscale thin nylon look way better than some dirty toes sticking out of some shoes. I’ve seen way too many.

    You need to lighten up and pay more attention to the visceral reaction and attention you get from looking polished and sexy, instead of hashing over some dumb rules that may or may not apply to your circumstance.

    You may have bare legs that look good, but a fine pair of nylons will make them look great.

    I think most men agree, but who are we to judge.

    • July 18, 2011 1:19 pm

      I think you have some valid points; however, I would also argue that women dress up just as much for other women as they do for men. And women have some pretty ridiculous rules and judgements (hence some of the rules) to avoid the snarky comments women can say behind your back – or to your face. My husband always tells me “he loves me the way I am” and he doesn’t care what I’m wearing so I end up dressing to get compliments or feedback from other girls. At the end of the day, every person is different and you’re right, who are we to judge? Though, that’s all women do when it comes to fashion 🙂

    • July 18, 2011 2:01 pm

      Sean, you’re right in that you (usually) get what you pay for, and that hosiery can be amazing. However.

      1) Veins and marks on bare legs are character. Sometimes that character is out of place, and needs to be covered up. But not all men think that ladies should have legs closer to those of a doll than to those of a human person.

      2) Totally with the writer on not wearing pantyhose with open-toed heels. It looks like you’re wearing athletic socks under Birkenstocks. You talked about “visceral reaction” over dumb rules. The fact of the matter is, from the right distance/angle, a properly covered up set of legs can help elevate a pretty girl into a Goddess. When I see a seam bordering a set of toes in killer shoes, all I can think about is socks and sandals.

      All of that being said, you’re right that (some) nylons (can) look better than (some) toes (sometimes). Rules are made to be broken, afterall 😉

  5. Jim permalink
    July 18, 2011 3:53 pm

    The anti pantyhose stance by many women is amazing to me…do you wear makeup? Does makeup enhance your look?..So does hose..not to mention it’s a more put together look, it’s classier, and definitely dressier. There was a picture of Eva Longoria on In Style last week bare legged, her legs were this fake tan Orange..and there are tons of famous women who’s legs look hideous bare. Liv Tyler, Emma Stone, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Roberts, the list goes on and on. As for too hot, pretty interesting men don’t get a temperature break from a suit and tie considering it’s hotter and more layers, than a sheer one on your legs. Your commen about your friend who works in AC in Texas…seriously give me a break.

    Kate Middleton’s legs look AMAZING in hose, so much nicer than what I see in NY in the summer. It’s nice to know someone out there still dresses classy.

    As for open toes with hose, celebs do this ALL the time now, that isn’t considered a fashion faux paus now and the women doing it are smart enough to know their legs look better in hose.

    You know what my pet peave is? seeing women’s feet at work or any semi formal event. It looks gross and just because you have your toenails painted doesn’t mean it looks nice.

  6. sean permalink
    July 24, 2011 2:06 pm

    Yes, women are their own worst critics, unfortunately for their emotional, or social health, and tragically for men, who like me can be just as shallow, but for different reasons.

    Women seeing another woman’s hosed legs: ooh,, what possessed her? Yuck, the color doesn’t match with those hose, So.o.. 80’s., the toes have reinforced nylon, WTF!, Too hot,too thick..or too shiny. Or they see Kate in hers: Wow, looks really nice. Where’d she buy those. They didn’t come from an egg, no doubt.

    Men eyeballing hosed legs: Hmmmm.. nice shape, looks really good (shiny objects do that), I bet those legs feel silky, can I touch? Cute toes, or not…. OR they quit looking if the legs are not attractive, so they search for the next sighting. If they see some hot bare legs, a fair percentage ponder how awesome they’d be in hose.

    Once again, I don’t blame women for their lack of enthusiasm with the quality of American products. In this day and age, very high quality, non-contrictive sheer to waist, satiny, shiny to preference, color abundant hosiery from Europe are available with a click online.

    My wife shops here:

    This is one area where Made in the U.S.A is not a good idea.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    September 2, 2011 1:49 pm

    You simply haven’t worn any quality brands. Try Wolfords.

  8. Pantyhoseguy permalink
    September 2, 2011 2:55 pm

    Yeahhhhh let pantyhose come back and in a BIG way!!!! Don’t listen to that wench who doesn’t like it or anyone else for that matter… If you dam nay Sayers don’t like it then don’t dam well wear it! Stop spoiling the party…. What’s it to ya anyways if it comes back… There’s a lot of pervs out there that deserve to look at womens legs Like they should be dressed! LOL….my god bare legs? You stupid /:$&@!!!!


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