Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whatever Happened to Wearing Pantyhose?

As a child of the 70s and 80s, I remember lots of pantyhose ads on TV as well as in magazines (including the infamous one where Joe Namath lounges in a pair of Beauty Mist tights.) Pantyhose was promoted as sexy, feminine, figure enhancing and even energizing. Celebrity women often promoted them. Today, I can hardly recall the last time I saw an advertisement for nylons. Pantyhose sales have been in decline for years, and L'eggs just launched a new campaign aimed at making the garment hip and cool again for 21st century women. While I'm not sure yet if they will succeed, I would like to offer a few words on pantyhose from the female perspective (and it's not all negative.) 

There's a few obvious reasons why pantyhose sales have tanked during the last decade, compared to their heyday that was the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Much of my reasons echo those in this Retrospace blog post. For me, personally, I gave up wearing the sheer, nude colored variety of pantyhose at some point during the 90s. I think my feelings why were the same as for most women: for starters, they were an unnecessary (and hot) layer during the warmer months of the year, and you can't exactly wear them with open toe shoes or sandals. This was also right around the time I quit my hotel job (which required a skirt and closed toe shoes as part of the uniform) for an office one. We all know that the typical office dress code has slackened significantly in recent years--and I'm not placing the blame solely on pants and jeans for making pantyhose obsolete, but the fact that women wear capris and leggings with skirts while at work in some places.

Then there's the fact that pantyhose will develop a run after so much use, and stretch in some areas (leading to extra material bunching around the ankles.) I remember stopping many a run on my last pair using a spot of clear nail polish. Many women also consider it a nuisance to wear them--the "panty" top portion is often tight and constricting. Speaking on The View a few years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama admitted her distaste for the garment: “I stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago because it was painful. Put ‘em on, rip ‘em—it’s inconvenient.”

These tight economic times may have something to do with the unpopularity of pantyhose as well. Like any other consumer good, the price has risen, and I'm willing to bet some women don't want to spend needless money on something that they'll have to throw away after a few wears. 
Having said all that, I am a woman who still loves and wears other types of pantyhose (aka tights or novelty hosiery), especially during the colder months. Just recently I bought two textured pairs of tights in Macy's, and loved having the whole section to myself to oogle over. So many colors, patterns, and various weights from opaque to sheer--even sparkly ones for the holidays--and no surprise, they were on sale and with my store coupon I got two for the price of one. To any woman who doesn't like pantyhose, let me just say there's a big difference between the bland, old school, beige variety and the fun styles that can enhance an outfit (and your legs.) 

Also, I know from reading Gilligan's Retrospace post that men love them. Guys from my generation and earlier grew up seeing women on TV, in movies, and in person wearing hosiery. They also wore shorter skirts, which required something covering the legs. As much as I love knowing I have the permission to wear jeans to work, I make the effort to get some use out of a skirt or a dress at least once a week. There's definitely something about them that makes me feel sexier. I never met a guy who said he doesn't like pantyhose--especially the fishnet variety that Morris Day paid homage to in the 80s:


So what do you say, ladies (and gents?) Maybe it's time for pantyhose to make a comeback? They say nothing beats a great pair of L'eggs!


38 comments:

The Working Home Keeper said...

I have to say, I do like wearing pantyhose! I wear dresses and skirts everyday. So in the colder months, I bring out the pantyhose. I like the sheer types the best. But they don't hold up well to the rigors of home and work! It seems like I'm buying a new pair every week. I haven't ventured into any of the more stylish tights yet.

Mary Ellen
The Working Home Keeper

Desiree said...

Thanks so much for this Morris Day & The Time song. Hadn't heard it. The video is typically hilarious. I think tights have been coming back in a big way, with black tights being the standard. I have tons and I do love a set of fishnets.

DrJulieAnn @ Modern Retro Woman said...

I actually prefer stockings. I think they are much more comfortable than pantyhose and a 3-pair pack of Hanes stockings will last forever because even if I get a run in one of the stockings, I still can use all of the others in the pack.

If I'm teaching, I wear a girdle but otherwise I just use a garter belt.

The only downside is that the tops of the stockings have tendency to creep down so I have to make sure I'm wearing something long enough to cover the tops (or, I have to go the pantyhose route, which I hate). Lace tops seem to stay in place and not stretch out as much as the regular stocking tops.

Oh, and The Mister prefers me wearing stockings over pantyhose, too...

Go retro, go stockings! :)

Teena in Toronto said...

Wow! I haven't worn pantyhose in a couple years.

I used to wear L'eggs when I was younger.

DearHelenHartman said...

I'm ready to go back to panty hose if I ever wear a dress again (not so much with my skirts, which are pretty casual). They create a smooth line that mean you can say no thanks to spanx.

Gilligan said...

I understand they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but bring 'em back and watch tens of millions of men stifle tears of sweet sweet joy.

Unknown said...

I think that one of the issues leading to the decline of pantyhose is that our society has become morally lax. If anyone remembers "the old days", women had to cover up, or be considered a tramp or hussy. Back then women had to cover their arms at least to the elbow, and dresses went to the ankles. When pantyhose were invented (1940) women could wear skirts and still cover their legs. Men found this sexy, and legs were a big attraction for men. Moviestars were idolized for their sexy legs. Pants on women were still not proper. By the 60's, skirts couldn't get any shorter, but necklines started to plummet. Then we had the burning of bras and the sexual revolution etc. and everybody got confused about sex. When we started to recover in the 70's we still had the short skirts, sexy legs very low necklines and cleavage! As mens attraction to cleavage and large chested women began to grow, less and less attention was paid to legs. and more and more attention was paid to how much a woman can show without being obscene. Wasn't it the late 80's when thong bikinis became popular? And when they wore a shoestring up the back, there were only two shoestrings holding up the front! The 90's seem to be when women gave up on making their legs sexy, and just went with a push -up bra, and a button up blouse, that wasn't necessarily buttoned up. And in the past decade the shirts are see through! Granted my observations are very general, and don't apply to everybody, but I have researched and studied pantyhose for a long time. For I am a child of the 80's and I have a pantyhose fetish. I want them to come back in style!

ApacheDug said...

Wow, this certainly gave my "end of the week, tired old self" a real kick in the pants! Good piece Pam, and yes yes yes, sure do miss the days when pantyhose was the norm!

And too true what you said about the workplace, now if a woman wears hose to the office, she's guaranteed to be asked "Why are you dressed up?"

I didn't realize they were such an inconvenience though, they sound like the female version of men's neckties--a nice variety, you always look dressier--but a lot easier to go without. Still, I'd love to see the nude hose make a comeback :)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Well...I can't believe how many men like pantyhose of the nude variety. As opposed to bare legs?

Guess I'll have to do my part to keep the male masses happy out there. :)

Desiree-"Fishnet" was a minor follow up hit to "Jungle Love" for Morris Day. It's still quite catchy! And I agree, gotta love those 80s videos.

DrJulieAnn-now THAT is retro. It took me a moment to get what you meant by stockings...the garter belt variety! Those fell by the wayside when the miniskirt was introduced. I would bet they're more comfortable in some ways then having to wear the tight "panty" portion of pantyhose.

Unknown--very interesting observations. Not to be nitpicky, but stockings that required a garter belt were manufactured during WW2. Pantyhose which included the panty top portion were invented in the late 50s...I found a Smithstonian article about the history of pantyhose (and surprise, they were invented by a man! That explains their comfort factor.)

Thanks everyone for your comments.

Desdinova said...

I'm not sure if I have a pantyhose fetish or I'm just like most of the guys here and grew up with the idea of a sexy well-dressed woman wearing pantyhose. I've noticed from looking around the web that women in Great Britain and Asia still wear pantyhose and stockings. Of course, I live in southwest Missouri where women think that pantyhose is a "snooty city city slicker thang." These same women wear cammo and hunter's orange in their wedding photos.

BTW, that Leggs ad is one of my all-time favorite magazine ads. I've been in love with that woman since I first saw her in 7th grade.

Anonymous said...

Neat article. And yes, men love women in pantyhose. Which makes me think Pam needs to post some pictures of her pantyhosed legs to drive all of her male blog readers batty ;)

Darrin.. said...

HA! I miss LEGGS. Mom and Grandma would give me those great plastic eggs that us boys would convert into bombs and grenades for our "wars" we'd have outside. LOL.

Also.. I wore that Morris Day cassette single out in 1988!

Pam@GoRetro said...

Hmmm, "Anonymous" sounds suspiciously like the voice of someone I know. Who is it? 'Fess up, mister! :)

Anonymous said...

Not until I see pics ;) Hey, you started it with the pantyhose article. Lol

Pam@GoRetro said...

Hmmm...I will find out who this is! ;)

Anonymous said...

Rotfl. And when you do you will be sooooo unimpressed lol.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Anonymous--I think you are female, and I think I work with you.

Anonymous said...

Strike 1 and strike 2. :)

But if you post pics I'll give you a life line ;)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Like Hall & Oates sang, "I can't go for that...no can do." :)

Vinny R said...

Like ZZ Top sang, "She got legs. She knows how to use them."

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in the 80s and think a woman in pantyhose is very sexy. I recall all the workout videos that the women wore leotards and pantyhose in. pantyhose were normal then and were worn under jeans and with open toe strappy sandals. I think the "They're too hot" came when women started wearing pantys under them.
How many women sweat and suffer from the constraints of a bra without complaints?
Bring pantyhose back!

202

Luke said...

I too grew up in the 80s and think a woman in pantyhose is very sexy. I recall all the workout videos that the women wore leotards and pantyhose in. pantyhose were normal then and were worn under jeans and with open toe strappy sandals. I think the "They're too hot" came when women started wearing panties under them.
How many women sweat and suffer from the constraints of a bra without complaints?
Bring pantyhose back!

202

Anonymous said...

Aww, come on Pam! Pics of you in hose would quadruple the blog hits. And I'm just talking elegant pictures with dress and boots :) PLEASE reconsider!! Think of your readers!!!

Anonymous said...

Pantyhose are the best! Gotta wear them properly though. No underwear. That's why they call them pantyhose.

Anonymous said...

Just for the record, the "no underwear" Anonymous is a different "Anonymous" than me :)

Pam@GoRetro said...

Anonymous looking for personal pantyhose pics, I'm still trying to figure out who you are. Did we work together at one time?

Anonymous said...

I love this blog.
Panty ARE comfortable to waer and I cant live without them.
Thank you for this post!

Anonymous said...

1st time post....(not same as other anonymous)

I love pantyhose and tights. I find that most women can make their legs look 10 times better by wearing hoisery. I'm a big fan of nude, beige, black, white and any kind of opaque. I'll have a burning desire to keep on stealing glances at a woman's legs when I notice she's wearing pantyhose. I've heard women complain that they're uncomfortable so much in the past that I decided to try some on and kept them on all day. I've never felt anything more comfortable. I think media, celebrities and trends have made a huge influence on women causing them to ditch their hose. I wish I lived in Europe or Asia where it's still common for most women to wear them.

Rosie said...

I'm surprised (pleasantly!) by all the posts from guys saying how much they like women's legs in hose :-)

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and if you wore a skirt or dress, you always wore some kind of hosiery with it, unless it was a broiling hot summer day.

I don't wear pantyhose often though as they seem "dressy" but my legs honestly look a million times better in them. The trick is finding the right combo of the right shade that matches your skin and the right pair that fits you well.

Anonymous said...

@Rosie...What's wrong with "dressy"? But just try going casual with hose....the world will be a better place for it!

Anonymous said...

Are you keeping up with the male masses?

Anonymous said...

I am in drug sales and wear dresses and fitted skirts every day. I also wear five inch heels most every day. I wear high power tights and pantyhose to give me a smooth look. With pencil skirts i wear open bottom girdles as well. Women if you have not figured out that beauty is pain you will simply look sloppy and not look your best. When it is super hot out i suffer quietly and suck it up. When i walk a mile and stand in super tall heels i know i am looking professional and sexy. Its part of being a woman.

Anonymous said...

I'm a guy that grew up in the 1970's so I remember when it was considered attractive, even with sandals. I'm afraid they've become a fond and fading memory in the US.

Along with those who find them uncomfortable are perhaps as many who detest the look of pantyhose. As I saw posted somewhere, "Why would I want to look like a f___ing Barbie doll anyway?" I'm afraid that sums it up.

Anonymous said...

As a male I started to get a small belly I decided to be fitted in a long legged high waisted boned and zippered panty girdle by a corsetier. The corsetier also recommended to smooth things out and give me additional stomach and back support I should daily wear control top panty hose over the girdle. I put on both a girdle and panty hose, I was really amazed as to how great I felt. To me this has always been a "Womens Best Kept Secret", and as a male I have discovered this secret.

PantyhoseForever said...

I have 24 years old and I love womens wearing pantyhose, is so sexy! :)

Anonymous said...

I think women should wear pantyhose because it makes the woman, now not all women can pull this off u have to have the look

Anonymous said...

nothing makes a woman sexier than wearing pantyhose or stockings

norman said...

i remember 80's high school dances all the girls wore pantyhose it was a monthly thing i looked forward to it and good memories . now girls open with its not comfortable or just maybe they forget gentleman prefer hanes

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