Pantyhose on the brink of global acceptance?

Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

I started ActSensuous in 2001 fully realizing that pantyhose were on their last legs, having barely survived the 1990s and Sarah Jessica Parker’s TV and movie series, Sex and the City, universally recognized as the origin of the bare legs movement.

Honestly, I thought that was a fad that wouldn’t last.   I couldn’t believe then that so many women throughout the world would jump on that bandwagon and ditch their pantyhose. 

It’s been a sad decade for pantyhose indeed, but I have never been more optimistic about a comeback than this year.   Even last year, I was seeing signs of wider pantyhose acceptance, as more and more TV shows and movies featured actresses wearing.   Then there were more women wearing in TV commercials. 

Katy Perry performs

And when some big-time entertainers, such as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Beyonce’ starting attracting attention for their wearing, things were looking good. 

Then, there’s Julianna Margulies wearing in every episode of the best drama on TV, The Good Wife, and Morena Baccarin wearing in every episode as the beautiful and glamorous queen alien in V.

But perhaps the real measure of any product’s return to favor in the market is how often it becomes the topic of widespread media coverage.   And that’s what is happening right now. 

While so-called fashion experts, fashion magazine editors, and the legion of hose-hating women out there want you to think pantyhose have been run out of town for good, the delicate and dainty little accessory is flexing some muscles no one knew it had.

That’s because pantyhose have a new ambassador whose credibility appears to be beyond reproach and whose beauty, class, grace, elegance and charm are irresistable.  And that ambassador is Kate Middleton.

No matter the occasion or venue, Kate Middleton has the class and elegance to appear in dresses, heels and pantyhose.

Seemingly every day, stories appear in Internet fashion magazines commenting on Kate’s becoming a global fashion icon.  And recently, the subject of those stories has been Kate’s wearing pantyhose.   (Note: while pantyhose are referred to in the UK as sheer tights, and many of the writers switch between calling them tights, pantyhose and stockings, let’s just stick with pantyhose throughout.)

Funny how the main enemies of pantyhose, the “fashion experts” and fashion magazine editors, now are scrambling to try and outdo one another in covering what’s covering Kate’s lovely legs.   And while the coverage has been predominantly positive, it’s no surprise that a few of the online mags criticized Kate for wearing.   Some called her look “hopelessly old fashioned,” while others called her wearing pantyhose the “ultimate sin.”

That’s unfortunate, but not unexpected.  But what I like is that lately, the majority of the stories I’ve read (all by female writers), disagreed with those who criticize Kate, and actually defended her choice of wearing.  And many of the writers said they hope Kate’s influence ushers a return of pantyhose popularity because seeing bare legs everywhere is getting old.

Last week in a posting on CelebrityFix, staff writers delivered a piece in which Kate was photographed in a cable knit Alexander McQueen dress during a recent visit to Canada.   The writers realized it was a version of the sailor-style outfit that Sarah Jessica Parker wore in 2006.

The story in CelebrityFix posted this side-by-side photo composition showing Kate wearing conservative blue Prada high heels (and pantyhose, which wasn’t mentioned but is very obvious), while SJP wore red stilettos (and bare legs, again not mentioned, however it was pointed out that there was “no contest for which one has the nicer feet.”)

If anyone ever needed a visual depicting the merits of pantyhose versus bare legs, this picture ought to do the trick.   The bare legs movement has always baffled me.   I don’t get how any reasonable person could look at the image and not admit that the one on the left is far and away more attractive than the one on the right.  Why women continue to try so hard to look like the one on the right when they could look like the one on the left is beyond me.

A royal example

On Tuesday July 12, in the online Fashion and Beauty magazine Shine, staff writer Piper Weiss wrote a story with the headline: ‘Kate Middleton brings back Pantyhose.’  And the subhead read: ‘Bare legs are so 2010.’

Weiss wrote a positive piece, crediting Kate for bringing back pantyhose for a new generation, and praising her look.   Referring to bare legs, Weiss wrote that “egg-crate color is out, and clear, almost fairy-dusted iridescence is in.”

Also in her story, Weiss referred to a recent royal visit by Tom Hank’s wife, Rita Wilson, who complained that she was required to wear hosiery for an event at Buckingham Palace.  Apparently, Wilson told Harper’s Bazaar: “Women must wear closed-toe shoes — and get this — stockings!  Sheer disbelief — I don’t even own a pair of sheer hose.”

I feel sorry for Tom Hanks, first because his wife supports the bare legs look, and second, because she showed no class in complaining about what is considered elegant by the Royal Family and all it stands for.  

Another graphic example

Like the side-by-side picture showing Kate in pantyhose next to bare-legged SJP, in Weiss’ piece she notes that our own First Lady, Michelle Obama, a confirmed pantyhose hater, greeted Kate at Buckingham Palace recently, and the accompanying photo shows Kate in pantyhose and Obama doing the “ugly American” thing in not respecting another country’s culture, tradition and protocol, in this case, by showing up bare-legged.  

It goes to show that we’ve still got a long way to go, as long as women choose a look that is less professional, less classy and less attractive.  

But with Kate, and her sister, Pippa, constantly being at the center of global attention for having the class and grace to always wear pantyhose, there is plenty of reason for optimism.

29 thoughts on “Pantyhose on the brink of global acceptance?

  • I was proud this week to call myself Canadian. Who am I kidding I’m always proud of that. But in this case it was because of a certain state visit to Washington. The Trudeau’s were in Washington to visit with President Obama and his wife Michelle. All politics aside it was nice to see Canada’s first lady(although that’s not an official title here) sporting sheer pantyhose alongside Michelle Obama who’s a well known bear when it come to Nylons. To me it showed much class that Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau showed how much nicer she looked and more elegant then Mrs. Obama. Take a look and decide for yourself.

  • What I could never understand is how women could have bare feet in their shoes. I would think that pantyhose offer at least some reduction in friction between the foot and the shoe and would help to reduce any irritation or blistering. I’d never consider wearing dress shoes without socks because it is not fashionable nor does it make much sense in terms of comfort. I have never received an answer from my wife or any ladies I know. I do know they complain about the comfort of their shoes.

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your comment. I am 100% with you on this one. It is not the least bit comfortable to go all “bear” in high heel shoes. It amazes me what some women will go through to try to satisfy what some “expert” says is in, or out of fashion.

      I do wish those women very friendly abrasions and blisters. Haaaaaaaaaa

  • Today, I went to see the movie White House Down that stars Jamie Foxx as the U.S. President. Actress Garcelle Beauvais plays the First Lady who wears hose in most of her scenes. The first scene where she is taking off her shoes showing her hosed foot, and second scene where a glimpse of her hosed sole is shown while she is sitting on the floor watching TV with her daughter.

    If only Ms. Obama could learn how actresses like Garcelle Beauvais are dressing very classy and professional in their TV and movie roles as U.S First Ladies. They would put Ms. Obama to shame.

    Its not the only time I saw Ms. Beauvais wear hose. A few years ago in the movie, Bad Company, she wore black hose in a footsie scene with Chris Rock. It was pretty sexy and funny.

  • I found a couple articles from the Yahoo and Instyle that made me really ticked. The Instyle article is about Tim Gunn, the fashion mentor from Project Runaway bashing Kate middleton for wearing sheer nude hosiery despite respecting her style. At least the comments at the bottom of the article, and the poll on an another link are very positive about sheer hosiery. The posters even told Tim Gunn off big time about his criticism of sheer hosiery.

    The second article from Yahoo is about the worst trends of 2011 and pantyhose is ranked #7 on the list.

    When will these people ever give up criticizing woman for wearing sheer hosiery?

    • Excellent comment, Brian. Articles like the ones you attached usually make my blood boil, but I’m getting used to idiot people, especially those who call themselves fashion experts, shooting off their big mouths about things of which they know nothing.

      Actually, I’ve never heard of Tim Gunn, but I couldn’t care less about his opinions because, to me, he’s a moron. Besides, who ever said guys like him should be telling women what they should or should not wear?

      As you pointed out though, I do love all the comments (by mostly women) that came to the defense of pantyhose, and bashed this knucklehead for his stupid remarks.

      And, as for that Worst Trends of 2011 thing, if the best they could come up with for the Top 10 includes pantyhose, their dumb year-in-review piece carries little credibility. I keep going back to the fact that practically all of Hollywood, most singers/entertainers, and most models and actresses in TV commercials are wearing pantyhose. So it seems pretty clear that those in the “bear” legs camp are seeing their influence wane more and more, and the beauty, class, grace and femininity of pantyhose are coming back in a big way.

      • I find it kind of funny that Tim Gunn seems do an about face on his fashion views. First, he praises Kate Middleton’s fashion sense as being classy, elegant, and feminine including wearing pantyhose with her outfits. Then, he disrespects Kate’s devotion to class and femininity by bashing her nude hose saying that it is old fashion, granny, out of style, and suggested that women should wear pants, tights or go “bear’ legged. He once recommended that women should not show too much skin, and by promoting the “bear” legs culture, it goes against Mr. Gunn’s beliefs of women not showing too much skin. Tim Gunn is not just a moron, but another clueless fashion expert who needs to make up his mind on his views instead of saying two different and confusing things all at once.

    • Hi Carl,

      I felt the pain in your words, but unfortunately, I was unable to listen to the video you provided. Something is wrong with my speakers it seems. Probably a good thing, too, because judging by the video portion of your attachment, and your comment about it, I am sure it would have made me very angry if I was able to hear what those idiots were saying.

      Soon enough, I will figure out what’s wrong with my speakers and then will torture myself by watching this, only with audio this time.

      Since you were good enough to pass this along, I am guessing you need some reassurance. And, I take it as my responsibility to be the voice of reason and hope. So, I’ll say this: There will always be stupid women out there who have no class, no grace, no sense of femininity. They will always dress like slobs at the office, out in public. They hate pantyhose because it represents everything they are not and will never be — beauty and elegance.

      The video seems to be knocking the professionalism and class of Kate Middleton and her choice to wear sheer pantyhose versus what these stupid women think is “in” now — going bare-legged. To me, it’s a tired, old argument. These women are gross, and they’ll jump at the chance to endorse today’s ugly bare legs look.

      Carl, take heart in realizing that these losers don’t speak for all womenkind. They are getting the press right now, but remember, everywhere you look you’ll see classy, elegant women wearing pantyhose for the right reasons. Women who are committed to professionalism in the business world wouldn’t dream of going bare-legged. Women with class and grace would never go to a formal outing bare-legged. Think about all the Hollywood actresses and professional entertainers — especially the young, up-and-coming stars of today — who are wearing pantyhose more and more.

      Don’t let a few seahags of the world ruin your day. As hard as those witches try to put an end to something as beautiful and elegant as pantyhose, it’ll never happen. Those idiot women see Kate and know they could never look as lovely as her in a million years, so they try to tear her down and all she stands for. But girls like Kate who are devoted to dressing with elegance, will always outlast the detractors. And so will pantyhose.

      Keep the faith, Carl. Let’s don’t give any attention or energy to the harping of those stupid women and their ugly ways. Instead, let’s just continue to adore and appreciate the classy ladies out there who love their pantyhose.

      Take care.


      • Robin
        WOW…. What a reply to my posting…. It is just outstanding… I take my hat off to you…

        As a person who wears…Values and appreciates pantyhose… It just made me so angry that someone could do a piece of **** for television like that…
        Luckily we very very rarely see this sort of thing in the UK…. It is you wear pantyhose or not wear pantyhose… And that is it….

        The way the world is at the moment…. They should be encouraging people to wear pantyhose…. It keeps a lot of people in work… From making the yarn to person selling them…

        Take Care


        PS: Robin…. What a great blog you have….

    • It’s very sad to hear that American women are still bashing pantyhose even though Kate is wearing them with grace and elegance. The GMA host is right to say that women are liberated because they are still influenced by these so called fashion experts and media that hose is old-fashioned and out of style thanks in large part to the bare (or as Robin says “bear”) legs movement. I wouldn’t just say that women are lazy or sloppy when they dress, but they don’t take pride in their neatness and appearance and don’t seem to care what others think about their looks. They are also spoiled and immature as well when they insult or disrespect others like Kate Middleton, who is dressed with class, and that includes wearing pantyhose with gorgeous outfits as well.

      As for Mrs. Obama, even though she does not frequently wear pantyhose, her legs and feet look awful without hose in that picture with Kate Middleton. I wonder what the Queen would think?

      One person on the blog “What Kate Wore” said when Mrs. Obama visited the Czech Republic, people were shocked that she does not wear hose at formal event where women are required to wear hose since they have different dress codes in that country.

      That goes to show you about the lack of respect and appearance that Americans have towards other countries especially their customs and culture.

  • I agree that some of these fashion experts and pantyhose haters need to wake up and get a grip on themselves. Kate is one of the few women out there who still believes in dressing with elegance and class and wearing pantyhose. Bare legs is not appealing at all. Every since I was little back in the late 70s, I have always loved seeing women in sheer nylon pantyhose: especially when they are so sheer you can barely tell they have them on unless you are right close to their legs. They bring out a natural beauty in a woman’s legs that is so sexy. Just the thought of beautiful legs covered in sheer pantyhose made of the most delicate, thin, extremely sheer nylon fabric is sexy enough. And as far as wearing pantyhose being called “old-fashioned is concerned, I would rather see an old fashioned woman in pantyhose than to see a not so old-fashioned woman in plain bare legs. As beautifully sheer as 100% nylon pantyhose are, why in the world would anyone despise wearing them? Thanks Robin, for keeping
    the beauty of 100% nylon pantyhose alive. R.M.

    • Hi, R.M.

      I agree with everything you wrote, except that I wouldn’t give an ounce of validity to the idea that pantyhose are “old-fashioned.” That is just something stupid people say to try to justify their hated of pantyhose. Shoes have been around a heck of a lot longer than pantyhose. Why aren’t they old-fashioned?

      As you know, wearing pantyhose shows class and elegance, as well as a commitment to beauty and femininity. It has nothing to do with one’s age, and wearing pantyhose doesn’t throw someone into the category of old-fashioned. Fortunately, that is clear by the vast number of up-and-coming movie stars and professional entertainers who choose to wear pantyhose, along with the number of veteran celebrities who’ve never stopped.

      Every true expert knows that fashion has always been about change, as throughout history, we’ve seen a return to popularity of items that were hot, then not. Today, fashion is pretty much about what anyone makes it — not so much about what someone says it should or should not be.

      Thanks for your comment, R.M., and keep the dream alive.


  • Nicely written, Robin! While I share your hope, I happened last Friday, to catch a Today segment (a morning USA national news show) where Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb were talking about Kate and wearing pantyhose in the summer. They asked, by applause, both women and men in the outdoor crowd, whether pantyhose should be worn in the summer. The women clapped louder for the NO vote by I’d guess a 80-20 margin vs the YES vote. While the men were louder for YES (that they’d like to see women wear pantyhose during the summer) it was pretty unenthusiastic. Maybe too many men were embarrassed to make noise? And the show was in Montreal, not even in the US…
    I know it’s only one data point, but it didn’t bolster the optimism generated by your blog, Robin. I hope it doesn’t represent the general attitude that Sarah Jessica is correct about bare legs. Sorry to start the week on a down note…


    • Hi, A.J. That crowd could just as easily been made up of mostly pro-pantyhose people, but this time the haters won. I don’t think it’s very smart to conduct a poll in public because probably most in the crowd didn’t want to stand out on a subject where everyone “knew” which way they were expected to vote.

      Just a thought. Thanks for your comment, A.J.


      • Hi Robin,
        I wouldn’t be discouraged from the poll results of those morning shows. Its just the typical American media making a big deal of women wearing pantyhose and finding ways to criticize women for wearing them. They still have that Sex and the City mindset even though the show has been off the air for about 5 years, and that a crop of young celebrities are wearing pantyhose again.

        Even though some poll from the Today Show in Montreal states that women hate wearing pantyhose in the summer, it does not mean that women hate wearing hose in general. In fact, Montreal women are always seen wearing pantyhose due to the city’s chic fashion culture from its European influence, and that is usually during the fall, winter, and spring months. I go to that city a lot and see a lot of women young and old wearing hose whether if its sheer, nude, opaque or colored usually in the downtown during and outside rush hour. They also wear them with either closed or open toe shoes, that show you that they have a different fashion culture than the Americans who do not know what class means.

        I do have to give credit to Kate Middleton showing a lot of grace, class, and elegance wearing pantyhose with her nice outfits during her Royal visit here in Canada.

        • Hi Brian,

          Thank you for your great comment. You did what I could not do in this case — handle that negative situation with class and reason. That’s what I want to do, but instead, I sometimes allow myself to get sucked in too deep and respond with hostility when I read or hear such hatred aimed at the wearing of pantyhose.

          Good job, Brian.

          Best wishes,


  • “A Picture Paints A Thousand Words”… Nothing more truer can be said for people who wear pantyhose…

    It is great to see globally people waking up and wearing pantyhose….

    Some “fashion experts” and fashion magazine editors are like sheep.. They have a “Bare Bare” Sorry “Bar Bar” mentality….I often wonder what sort of people follow them…. Sheep follow Sheep…

    Personally…. There is nothing like wearing a good pair of pantyhose…

    Take Care


  • I live in Toronto and sometimes it surprises me that even in warm weather, how many women I see wearing hosiery. So no….wearing pantyhose is far from dead and in fact, I am in agreement with you Robin; I think we will see a surge in the wearing of hosiery with the influences of Pippa and Catherine. An outstanding blog.

  • I’m glad that the giant is waking up, despite the fact that singlehandedly SJP put it to sleep, yes I’m referring at the giant pantyhose movement which like the phoenix is rising from the ashes of criticism and bad reviews for a very long time, but with examples coming from Europe, that’s good news.
    I would like to say that in America among the examples you wrote above, another or perhaps the new pantyhose goddess is Jasmine Wagner, I’ve seen her in a lot of events and she always looks lovely in sheer pantyhose, and not only she is beautiful but she knows how to deal with this lovely garment appearing with closed toe and open toe shoes.
    Looking at that is clear to me that pantyhose is not dead, far from it, and with new technologies around, the fabric now is becoming more comfortable for it’s use, yours by example, and I quote one of the benefits, “nylon moves with the legs”, thank you again Robin for being our spokeswoman and for your again insightful research.

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