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’ll 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 bellbottoms in the 1970s, big hair in the 80s, a little of everything in the 90s, and bare 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 simply out and about. Except in the case of going bare-legged during the 2000s.
And this is where it should come down to the individual making her own decision about what is right versus wrong; what is “in” or “out” versus what is appropriate for the venue and occasion.
Doing the right thing
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 bare-legged at every other opportunity?
I think the answer is because they can. They can because the bare 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 bare 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 Selina Gomez, Katy Perry, Beyonce’ Knowles, Rihanna, Blake Lively, Miranda Cosgrove and Zooey Deschanel to name a few, will begin to influence more young women.
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 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:
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 but 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.”
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 hoseless 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.
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? Sure, but at least I’m using my blog to extol the virtues of pantyhose in dressing for professionalism at the office, class and elegance at the formal venue, and beauty and femininity in general, simply because I have a personal love for it.
In other words: Idiot, classless, “fashion expert” – bad guy; wise, classy me – good guy.
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:
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.”
“Shame they can’t get a makeover themselves. What utter shite.”
Beauty no accident
ActSensuous has been a proud sponsor of the Mrs. America State beauty pageant organizations for the past few years.
Last year, 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.
Two months ago, Chanthy Birch, also an ActSensuous customer, competed in this year’s 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 plannning 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 skintone.”
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.
I might never understand why so many women try so hard to villify something as soft, delicate and decidedly feminine as pantyhose. 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.
Thank you, Chanthy, for sharing your experience and some pictures of you in ActSensuous.
Note: Photos 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.