A Grizzly goes to London


Robin Maryland, president, ActSensuous

Readers of this blog have come to know and appreciate my column, Credit ‘wear’ Credit is Due, in which I heap loads of praise on some worthy celebrities for their devotion to wearing pantyhose.

And we’ve had some great ones, haven’t we?  Ann Curry, Fran Drescher, The T-Mobile Girl (Carly Foulkes), Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Middleton, and Carrie Ann Inaba (for doing a complete 180 and finally wearing pantyhose on every episode of the game show “1 vs. 100,” which she hosted recently.)

Minus that headline, I’ve also glorified some other devoted pantyhose wearers, such as Anne Hathaway, Julianna Margulies, Milla Jovovich, Meredith Vieira, Katy Perry, Parker Posey, Linda Fiorentino, Kim Basinger, Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock.  And there are many, many more who deserve such recognition.

Then, a couple of months ago, I introduced a whole different column.  This one shines the spotlight on those celebs who completely miss the boat, just don’t get it, lack the finest sense of true femininity, and always miss opportunites to show some real professionalism, elegance or class.

So, for only the second time, I am handing out the coveted (NOT) ActSensuous Grizzly Award.

And this time, the hardware goes to one Stacy London.

Fashion consultant Stacy London always wears beautiful dresses and high heels, but unfortunately, she's a devoted and vocal follower of the "bear" legs culture.

That’s right, the co-host of  TV’s “What Not to Wear,” a reality makeover show, in which London and her wonder boy sidekick, Clinton Kelly, use their superior brains and good taste (yes, I’m being sarcastic here) to completely trash the wardrobe of their guests and reinvent them in their own fashionwise images.

And, as many normal people have written in comments to online postings by or about these two “fashion experts,” they often do it in a completely arrogant and insulting manner.

A perfect "Beauty and the Beast" scenario as the professional and classy Meredith Vieira, left, who always wears pantyhose, interviews fashion expert Stacy London, who never wears pantyhose. Does London not see how much better Vieira's legs look than hers?

As readers of this blog know, I despise so-called “fashion experts” who make universal rules and tell everyone what they can and cannot wear, as if their likes or dislikes about fashion trends are somehow more appropriate and obviously more sound than what anyone else on the planet thinks.  It’s “fashion experts” like these two who’ve come up with the “rule” that one can never wear pantyhose with open-toe high heel dress shoes a rule that, incidentally, is almost never followed by anyone with half a brain, and one that is standing up less and less to scrutiny everywhere.

So Stacy London, possibly the queen of all “fashion experts,” gets the second Grizzly Award (after Sarah Jessica Parker for obvious reasons)?  But it’s not just because she’s a “fashion expert.”  Rather, it’s because she’s on record as stating that she likes bare legs for all seasons.  That, and she’s using her credentials and influence to further her own agenda — a personal dislike and distaste for pantyhose as a fashion accessory.

Here’s are a couple of excerpts from a 2008 segment of TODAY.com where London is a style contributor, answering readers’ questions about fashion:

Q: I was watching “What Not to Wear” when you appeared horrified by the idea of wearing hose. I know it’s not really the style now to wear nylons, but I have terrible spider veins on my white legs. What do I do now that skirts are knee-length and those veins are so obvious? Any advice?

A: First of all, the only hose I really hate are the semi-sheer ones in suntan or black. They look dated and remind me of a time when women would walk to work in their suits, those hose, white sweat socks and white leather aerobic sneakers. Blech. Might as well throw in a whole can of hairspray, too. Too ’80s!  Stay away from anything that has a mid-range denier number that indicates the sheerness of the hose (10 is very sheer, 30 is semi-sheer and 50 is opaque).

I recommend a good self-tanner for the pale-leg situation, but also realize that won’t help with spider veins. Look for opaque tights and try them in a subtle color, like a burgundy or deep purple, when wearing a neutral-color knee-length skirt or suit. They will hide your legs and add a visual punch to your outfits!

Q: You indicated that pantyhose were no longer proper attire. You stated that in summer, go with bare legs and in winter, wear tights.  I enjoy wearing pantyhose and want to know if I am old-fashioned if I wear them?

A:  I did not mean to indicate in my last segment that pantyhose are no longer appropriate attire. My feeling is that those that are considered day sheer or mid-denier don’t look modern, but a bit dated.  The denier number on hose shows you how sheer the stocking will be. The lower the number, the more sheer they are.

For example, a denier of 10 will be supersheer. These are great for evening, especially with a little shine or a back seam, as they look natural and simply enhance the legs for evening. A denier of 30, is what I have most trouble with; it’s neither here nor there. It’s not sheer. It’s not opaque. You know? It’s like a relationship: Either you’re in or you’re out. This wishy-washy sheerness dates an outfit to the ’70s or ’80s, when this style was most popular. But when you get to a denier of 50 or above, and the stocking is clearly opaque, I think this becomes a more modern and relevant look. A shiny tight like this can be used for day or evening.

OK, first, the country’s leading fashion expert comes out and blatantly tells women to go with bare legs in the summer?  She also tells women to use self-tanner for pale legs?  Seriously?  Second, she recommends opague tights in a subtle color, “like burgundy or deep purple?”  (Those colors are subtle?)

Stacy London actually wore this outfit during the Keep A Child Alive's 5th annual Black Ball Nov. 13, 2008 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, NY.

Hey, look, I respect others’ opinions, and the fact that London is considered a fashion expert, if that’s her best advice about leg coverings, then too bad for her and anyone who listens to her.  While I completely disagree with London about everything she says about pantyhose, I’ve got no problem with her actually saying it.  She’s entitled to say what she wants.  Where I have a problem with her is on her point about denier ratings.

She specifically says that it’s pantyhose with a denier rating of 30 that she finds objectionable.  She even cautions “If they come in an egg, you don’t want to wear them,” referring to the L’Eggs brand (owned by Hanes) of the 1970s and 80s.   But she’s wrong.  L’Eggs and their competitors (the most widely-known one being No Nonsense) made their pantyhose in a 20 denier rating.

As she said, denier rating determines how sheer the nylon fabric is.  The lower the number, the more sheer the pantyhose.  When I created ActSensuous in 2001, I looked into the 10 denier rating she referred to, and yes, they are super sheer, but the fabric is coarse and not very natural looking.  They are not soft or silky at all, and while there may be a market for them, it’s not a very big one.  You almost never see anyone wearing pantyhose like these.  And, yes, denier ratings as high as 50 are available, but they are tights that are thick and, in my view, not suitable in some venues, such as a formal dinner engagement, nor for proper business attire.

No, my problem with London’s remarks are about the pantyhose of the 1970s and 80s being so awful.  I loved pantyhose in the 70s and 80s, and I’ve never known of a 30 denier rating.   But what do I know?  The pantyhose of those decades were made almost entirely of 100 percent nylon fabric in a 20 denier, which is exactly why I made ActSensuous in a 20 denier.  I think those are precisely the kind of pantyhose that true pantyhose lovers love.  Those are the style, the look and the feel that we all miss.  Maybe London meant to say a 20 denier rating is what is so awful.

By the way, ActSensuous has hundreds and hundreds of customers from all over the world, literally from Atlanta to Bangkok, from California to Denmark, from New York to New Zealand.  We’re big in England, France and Australia.  We have customers from China, Korea and Japan.  I don’t think there is a country in which we don’t have customers.  And they all tell us ActSensuous are the softest, sheerest and sexiest pantyhose they’ve worn.  But, really, what do we all know?  We’re not “fashion experts” like Stacy London and Boy Wonder.

In doing the research for this post, I ran across this forum on the Internet:

http://askville.amazon.com/honest-opinion-Stacy-London-Clinton-Kelly-Wear-show/DiscussionBoard.do?requestId=8011723&page=1

To the question:  “What’s your honest opinion of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear?  Do you like this Show …?,  most answers were negative, but even some of the supportive ones came out against their obvious negative slant against pantyhose.

I particularly love this response:

LindsaySheers said:

… Why is (Clinton Kelly) telling me what all men find sexually alluring on women?

A lot of gay men know a lot about fashion, but to get such advice on that subject, I would like a 2nd & 3rd & straight opinion.

… These two complete followers of Brittany and Sarah Jessica Parker have agreed that they do not like pantyhose, (fine), however, they dictate to their audience and columns that, “No one likes them.” “Everyone looks bad in them.” Etc…

I think my legs are my best feature and every boyfriend I have ever had have all confessed to me, after that shyness period passed, that they were all ‘ga ga’ for me (girls in general) when wearing sheer silky pantyhose (hence my nickname, given to me by my current boyfriend sitting kind of to the side here & still a little shy) and tights, but mostly the sheer nude/tan/beige hues.

Lastly, the show was/is not only incorrect on so many levels, but caters to and from their mindset only. Falling into this show would have you most likely ending up as a follower. Be a trendsetter, not a follower. Be stylish. Be sexy. Be yourself. Not what they insist on.

Let me tell you something: this LindsaySheers gets it.  Good for her.

If ever a case could be made for wearing pantyhose, click on the image to see the expanded version. Stacy London looks very lovely in this photo, but wait until you get to see a closeup of those legs.

You know, I want to like Stacy London.

She’s a beautiful and charismatic woman, she’s very intelligent, and she has accomplished great things in her life.

Before co-hosting “What Not to Wear,” she started her career as an editor at Vogue magazine, then, became a stylist for celebrities and designers, then, a fashion contributor on many Today show formats.

She is or has been a spokeswoman for several brands, including Revlon, Pantene, Woolite and Dr. Scholl’s® For Her Comfort Insoles.

Along with Kelly, she’s written a book, “Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That’s Right for Your Body.” 

I actually felt a little bad when I named Sarah Jessica Parker the first recipient of the ActSensuous Grizzly Awards because, when researching her for the piece, I actually found several pictures of her wearing pantyhose.   That’s right, the one celeb universally “credited” with creating the bare legs culture with her “Sex and the City” TV series and movies, actually wears pantyhose fairly regularly.   It was more symbolic that SJP had to get the first Grizzly Award.

But I don’t have any reluctance about bestowing upon Stacy London the second Grizzly Award.  I can’t find a single photo of her wearing pantyhose.  Granted, some of the pics of her on the Internet are of low resolution and too small a file to really be able to tell if she’s wearing or not.  But based on everything London says and stands for, I am pretty sure she is not wearing pantyhose in any of the pics on the Internet.  Certainly, she comes across as if she hates pantyhose, thinks they are old-fashioned and irrelevant today.

The dynamic duo, Clinton Kelly and Stacy London of TV's "What Not to Wear."

I liked “What Not to Wear” when it debuted in 2002.

I watched quite a few episodes and I remember longing to see London wearing pantyhose with those beautiful dresses and high heels she always wore.  But it never happened.

I thought that was such a missed opportunity on her part — a chance for her to show professionalism, class and elegance in the role she held.  But, to her, it wasn’t a missed opportunity at all.

This lady just doesn’t believe in pantyhose … period.

Like LindsaySheers, I too was upset and offended when I saw a video of London and Boy Wonder “explaining how to wear pantyhose,” especially when they admitted the video was made only because they were getting so many inquiries from consumers about why they never talked about pantyhose.   Then, when they said that nobody looks good in suntan pantyhose and no one should ever wear them, I realized that there is probably no one more deserving of the second ActSensuous Grizzly Award than Stacy London.

Here’s that video:

http://tlc.discovery.com/videos/what-not-to-wear-how-to-wear-pantyhose.html

So, what do you think?   Could there be a more worthy recipient of the ActSensuous Grizzly Awards than Stacy London?