Confusion, lack of conviction spur ‘bear’ legs look

           Robin Maryland,
   president, ActSensuous

Dec. 5, 2012 — I don’t think there’s quite as much negative press about wearing pantyhose today as there was during the past decade.  Oh, it’s still out there, yes, but it seems as if pantyhose are finding their legs again in ever-increasing numbers.

Still, there will always be the “fashion expert” haters out there, haterizing on pantyhose.  And there will always be some women who refuse to wear for their own personal or political reasons.  But what I see happening today is more and more women who just aren’t sure whether they should wear or not.  Their dilemma: They think they don’t know what the “rules” are anymore.

It amazes me how, seemingly, the majority of women in this country are deciding what to wear or not wear based on what some individual or groups of perceived “fashion experts” preach.  Are pantyhose out?  Are they in?  It’s amazing how frequently these questions are popping up everywhere you look in magazine articles, on television talk shows, online.

What amazes me is women’s inability or unwillingness to make their own decisions.  I’m OK with human beings wanting to be “in fashion.”  Let’s see, it was bell bottoms in the 1970s, big hair in the 80s, a little of everything in the 90s, and “bear” legs in the 2000s.  There were narrow lapels, wide lapels, “dogs and cats living together.”

Fashion changes with the times.  But through the decades, fashion choices never were about being unprofessional in the workplace, disrespectful at formal venues, or displaying a lack of good taste when simply out and about.  Except in the case of going bear-legged during the 2000s.

And this is where it should come down to the individual making her own decision about what is right orwrong; what is “in” or “out” versus what is appropriate for the venue and occasion.

Doing the right thing

Not sure where actress Salma Hayek is actually headed in this photo, but this is a perfect example of how a woman should dress for a funeral.
Not sure where actress Salma Hayek is actually headed in this photo, but this is a perfect example of how a woman should dress for a funeral.

A case in point: Last week, a reader of this blog, Dr. Ray of San Antonio, Texas, wrote this email to me:

“About a year ago, my wife and I  went to a funeral of a close friend of mine for many years. Almost all of the women friends and family wore black dresses, black stockings and black high-heeled shoes.  Why does it take a sad event before women want to look attractive?”

My response to Dr. Ray:  At least, those women had the good sense and good taste to dress appropriately for that occasion.

But Dr. Ray’s larger point is that it took a funeral to get the women in his circle to wear hosiery.  To me, that means they know better.  They accept that an event as formal as a funeral warrants the wearing of hosiery, but why then do they go bear-legged at every other opportunity?

I think the answer is because they can.  They can because the bear legs culture exists, so the excuse is out there.

Dr. Ray wrote to me again last night, saying that a similar situation presented itself this past Sunday, when he and his family attended a wedding.  He said his wife dressed elegantly, including wearing pantyhose, while his 17-year-old daughter did not.  That’s likely because the bear legs camp has had some success in convincing today’s younger generation that pantyhose are something only older women wear.

Of course, we know that is not true, as we are seeing more and more young entertainers wearing pantyhose today.  I believe the positive example being set by the likes of Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Miranda Cosgrove, Katy Perry, Beyonce’ Knowles, Rihanna, Blake Lively and Zooey Deschanel to name only a few, will begin to influence more young women.

Young female characters on the teen drama series, "Gossip Girl," demonstrate class and elegance in the outfits they wear, including sheer pantyhose, as bridesmaids during a scene from the show.
Young female characters on the teen drama series, “Gossip Girl,” demonstrate class and elegance in the outfits they wear, including sheer pantyhose, as bridesmaids during a scene from the show.

And, thankfully, there are a few good television shows today that feature young women who frequently wear pantyhose.  One such show is the teen drama series, Gossip Girl, starring Blake Lively, who appears to be a devoted pantyhose wearer on the set and in real life.

I’ve never watched an episode of Gossip Girl, but lately I’ve been seeing many pics of Blake Lively on Internet sites devoted to celebrities in pantyhose.  She appears to be a very professional and classy actress, and she looks fabulous in pantyhose.

Perhaps, shows like this one will someday help to mold a generation of younger women, such as Dr. Ray’s daughter, who will have a positive view about wearing pantyhose.

For now, it’s easy to see how the competing negative and positive press about wearing pantyhose causes confusion and a lack of conviction among many women today.

No deal, divas

Another longtime reader of this blog, MJ Gruskin, last week, sent me the link to a story published in the online edition of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper:

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/divas/content/reader-question-did-pantyhose-make-comeback

Six writers (all women) apparently form a column, “Deal Divas,” in which they comment about all things fashion today.

In this case, a young woman wrote to the “Divas” about a wedding she attended, at which every woman except her wore hosiery.  The lady is confused as to how this happened, as she had thought that pantyhose were dead and gone.

Here’s the woman’s letter:

I recently went to a wedding in Hunters Green in early November. Very upscale, posh and elegant. I haven’t had many opportunities to dress to the nines so to speak in a few years. So I went all out, new dress, handbag and shoes sans hose of any kind. The bridesmaids age range was 26 to 40 and they wore hose, as well as the bride. All the female guests were wearing sheer hose in colors from nudes to tans and blacks, and many with some pretty killer sandals, too. The women were in their 20s to older than 50.  There were even a couple of women wearing them with pants. I was at a table with four other couples, all women I work with (we work with the bride).

None of us are older than 32. I never saw a single one of them in hose before, and I’ve known them for a few years. I was the only woman that wasn’t wearing any.

I have to admit I felt nearly naked and almost embarrassed. I had a fleeting thought to have my boyfriend drive me to the nearest Walgreens or CVS and buy a pair to put on. I thought hose were long gone.

Am I wrong? So what is a girl to do? Are hose coming back or have they been back and I deleted the memo?

The reply by “Deal Divas” was written by only one of the columnists, Katie Sanders, but who knows whether the other five put their stamp of approval on it?  In some places, Sanders personalizes the response with “I,” and in other places, she uses “we.”

Carole Middleton, mother of Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, not surprisingly knows what to wear to a wedding.
Carole Middleton, mother of Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, not surprisingly knows what to wear to a wedding.

In part, Sanders wrote:

“It depends on whom you ask. Since you asked us, we think it’s reasonable to assure you that you weren’t dressed down for your friend’s wedding.

“It seems odd that all of your young friends wore pantyhose. I haven’t done that as a bridesmaid or a wedding guest, and neither have my friends. We left it behind with our flouncy church gowns, you know?”

Blind leading the blind

Everyone at the wedding had the good sense and good taste to wear hosiery to a formal event, but the “Divas” say that the one woman who didn’t wear hose was not “dressed down.”  That’s the official statement of the “Divas?”  Wow.  It gets worse.  You should read the piece.

It certainly seems to prove my point:  Today, women seem to want to do, not necessarily what is right, but what some “fashion experts” tell them is “now.”  And in this case, a woman who thought no one else would wear hose, so didn’t herself, finds that everyone else did, leaving her feeling out of place and slightly embarrassed.  Thus, she questions her belief that pantyhose are “out,” only to be told by the “experts” that it was odd that all those other women would do the unthinkable and wear hose (to a wedding no less), and that the hose-less woman did the right thing.

In fairness, the “Divas” reply does acknowledge (begrudgingly) that the wearing or not wearing of pantyhose is a personal issue.  Also, the reply admits that an earlier attack they made on Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton’s devotion to wearing sheer nude pantyhose was met with objections from many of their readers.  So, at the very least, the “Divas” do the proper journalism thing by telling both sides of the story, and leaving the matter up to the reader.

Heck, even a mail-order-bride in a box from Hungaria comes wearing pantyhose.
Heck, even a mail-order-bride in a box from Hungaria comes wearing pantyhose.

Still, it’s a shame that so many unprofessional and not-too-classy women who put themselves in the position of being “fashion experts,” use their forum to try to influence everyday women of society to view a fashion accessory as elegant and decidedly feminine as pantyhose as something to be disdained and avoided, simply because they have a personal dislike of it.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking:  Isn’t that pretty much what I’m doing only in favor of pantyhose?  Sure, but at least I’m using my blog for something positive, while extoling the virtues of pantyhose in dressing for professionalism at the office, class and elegance at the formal venue, and beauty and femininity in general.

In other words: Idiot, classless, “fashion expert” = bad guy; Wise, classy me = good guy.

Makeover madness

Also, last week (wow, all these things happened last week), another longtime reader of this blog, Brian W., wrote a comment and attached this link:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/9453642/Trinny-and-Susannah-We-dont-look-at-women-as-pieces-of-meat.html

Kate Middleton doesn't need a "fashion expert's" advice about how to dress, always displaying class, elegance and good taste during public appearances.
Kate Middleton doesn’t need a “fashion expert’s” advice about how to dress, always displaying class, elegance and good taste during public appearances.

If the “Deal Divas” are bad, these women are horrible.  They’re Britain’s makeover queens, Susannah Constantine and Trinny Woodall, of the original “What Not to Wear” television show, which aired on British TV for five years beginning in 2001.

During a recent interview conducted by Celia Walden of The   Telegraph (a UK-based online newspaper), the pair offered – among other annoyances – their fashion advice for Kate Middleton:  

   Constantine: “She should wear her hair up more. When she wore that sheer green Jenny Packham dress and her hair up, it was simple but stunning.”

   Woodall:  “Oh, and the flesh-coloured tights have got to go. You can wear flesh-coloured fishnets, but that’s it.”

Unbelievable.  Of the 28 readers comments to this piece, only 25 show up at the end of the piece.

I didn’t see a comment from Brian W., but I am sure he wrote a good one.

Perhaps, my feelings can best be described by the first comment from someone who calls himself or herself “the_sentinel.”

It reads:

“Shame they can’t get a makeover themselves. What utter shite.”

Exactly.

Beauty no accident

ActSensuous has been a proud sponsor of the Mrs. America state beauty pageant organizations for the past several years.

In 2011, Kristie Bear, one of our customers, won the Mrs. Idaho-America pageant, and posed in her swimsuit wearing her sash, crown and Act II Suntan pantyhose.  I was very proud.  Kristie is pictured in the News section of the ActSensuous website.

Photo by J.Wolfe Productions, Boise, ID
Chanthy Birch prepares for the judges interview during the Mrs. Idaho-America beauty pageant Oct. 13, 2012 at Kuna High School auditorium in Kuna, ID.  Chanty is wearing Act II Nude.

And in October 2012, Chanthy Birch, also an ActSensuous customer, competed in the Mrs. Idaho-America pageant.  While she didn’t win it, she did take the honor in the Best Evening Gown category.  Chanthy wore Act II Nude and Act III Suntan throughout the pageant.

“I have to tell you it was pretty funny,” Chanthy said.  “During full dress rehearsals, I wore your pantyhose and a couple of the ladies came up to me afterward and asked me if I was planning on wearing them during competition. I told them yes, and they said they didn’t understand what I was trying to hide.

I simply replied: I’m not hiding anything, I’m accentuating what I have.

“They, of course, thought I was completely insane! Ha ha.

“A couple of the ladies told me they didn’t even realize I was wearing pantyhose because they looked so natural and perfect for my skin tone.”

Chanthy, wearing Act III Suntan, looks stunning during the swimsuit competition of the Mrs. Idaho-America beauty pageant.
Chanthy, wearing Act III Suntan, looks stunning during the swimsuit competition of the Mrs. Idaho-America beauty pageant.

Chanthy made a point I’ve been trying to get women to understand forever:

Wearing pantyhose isn’t an issue of “have to.”  Rather, it’s a case of “want to.”

Pantyhose are designed to enhance the natural beauty of a woman’s legs.

Funny that men all across the world understand this, while so many women don’t.

Men say that pantyhose are like makeup for the legs.

Do women have to wear makeup?  No.  But does makeup enhance their natural beauty?  Uh, that would be a big yes.

Update April 23, 2017 — It took us two years to develop and bring to market our NewAct IV line, which we created with our Mrs. America state beauty pageants in mind.   When a few samples pairs were made in Nude size B back on Jan. 6, 2016, Chanthy was kind enough to test a pair for us.  I like to offer a few of our customers the chance to try a new product so I can get impartial feedback (not just my own).

Chanthy wrote me an email to share her thoughts:

Robin,

These are amazing!  I haven’t worn pantyhose in a long time and had forgotten why I LOVE wearing ActSensuous!!!

They look great on and you cannot tell I’m wearing pantyhose!  Like a light second layer of skin that perfects the look of my legs without spray tanning!

Love love love it!

Chanthy

 

Now, back to when this post was originally written and published …

Dec. 5,  2012 — I might never understand why so many women try to vilify something as soft, delicate and decidedly feminine as pantyhose, but it’s clear to me that it creates a case in which otherwise neutral women can’t decide for themselves whether they should or should not wear pantyhose to an event or a particular venue.

In any case, it’s much easier for me to just appreciate and honor the special women who truly “get it,” and go the extra mile to complete their look; to enhance their natural beauty by wearing sheer pantyhose.

Thank you, Chanthy, for sharing your experience and some pictures of you in ActSensuous.

Note: Mrs. Idaho-America photos of Chanthy by J. Wolfe Productions, Boise, ID

Also, I want to thank Dr. Ray, MJ Gruskin and Brian W. for their comments and emails, which led to my writing this post.

10 thoughts on “Confusion, lack of conviction spur ‘bear’ legs look

  • In terms of style and class, hosiery just gives the overall outfit a completed look. It’s a shame there’s not enough emphasis on head to toe style. Between the hair and the shoes, legs need style too. That’s just me.

  • I am impressed with your article regarding Chanthy Birch. I was raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho and her story about the Mrs. Idaho competition reminds me of my high school days.

    My uncle started the idea of drill team competitions in Idaho Falls where many girls drill teams would come from many states in the region. It was a young man’s dream to go and see the young women perform in their eye catching outfits. As you may figure, pantyhose were a part of that outfit. I lived a block away from my high school where they were held every year and would see bus loads of girls everyday of the competition exit the buses. Those were the days!

    Chanthy looks rather striking in her pose at the end of this fine article. Something about Idaho women! ☺

    Love your article Robin. You know, though I live in Hawaii, Idaho is my real home. Thank you for letting me remember good times.

  • Spot on!

    At a formal, church wedding last summer a female friend in her 40’s commented how happy she was that no women in attendance were wearing pantyhose and the expectation to do so no longer exists. I guess I deleted the memo that class and elegance went out of vogue. I guess she needed validation from others. I’m sure zero men in attendance would have been the least upset if women were wearing hosiery.

  • Always good to read some of your past articles. I am glad you got the update from Chanthy and included it. I do wonder why she hasn’t worn hosiery in a long time but hopefully you nudged her to get back to it. Your points (as always) are salient and timeless. Thanks for bringing this back

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