To Hose or Not to Hose

  • This is an article that was published in the Toronto Star back in Noember 2021...about a year and a half ago, now.

  • Great article Carrie. thank you for sharing.

  • @Carrie Stuart Great read. Thanks, Carrie. I think "tights" sounds better than "pantyhose" too! Perhaps changing the name here in North America could help to change people's outdated perception of pantyhose.

  • @Tom Woo I think if an image change is in order, then changing the name might be an important aspect to that transformation and perception.  Then how will we differentiate between "pantyhose" and what we in North American typically refer to as "tights", the thicker heavier denier type?  Do we go wiith "sheer tights" for 8-40 denier, and simply "tights" for anything above 40 denier?  How do you see it going if we adopt the all encompassing "tights" as part of sheer hosiery's new identity?

  • @Carrie Stuart Maybe using tights for all pantyhose and "opaque" for anything above 40D 😉

    Anyway it requres a major marketing compaign to make it happen, which I don't think any manufacturer has the resource or interest to invest...

  • @Tom Woo Honestly, billions could be spent on educational and information campaigns, and I don't think it will make much of a difference in either, what people call them, or how they perceive sheer hosiery.

    Did the fact that the term "stewardess" officially was changed to "flight attendant" after 1971 make much of an impact in the use of that old sexist term?  Not much, in certain circles.  I run into that term all the time in common conversation with average people, men and women alike.  It's astounding to me that certain stereotypes continue to linger despite the rest of the world moving on from certain practices and terminology, more than 50 years ago.  Half a century later, and still that word exists in regular conversation with some  people.  Good luck erasing pantyhose from the collective psyche.  Spending money on such a campaign would be throwing good money into a very deep hole.

  • Personally, I like the term "pantyhose" because it is a descriptive term that, unlike the word "tights", clearly defines their function.

    And despite the fact they've been around for decades, pantyhose are still quite often referred to as stockings today, especially by older women.  Lately, I've even seen the phrase "knee high pantyhose" used in ads for knee highs.  😄

    I agree that the term "pantyhose" has evolved into a "dirty word" over the years, probably due to its lack of daily use in polite society.  It never seemed to be a problem back in the day when they were all the rage, though.  Society has grown persnickety over the years, perhaps too much so, in certain ways.


  • What? "Knee high pantyhose"? Ridiculousness. The "authors" clearly and completely show their lack of understanding. I am all for being concise, but that is just wrong. Wrong-y wrong. 

  • Even the term "nylons", which I use with less accuracy at times, doesn't accurately describe or depict certain hosiery items.  Once upon a time, (before pantyhose were invented) the word "nylons" was specific to stockings made from nylon, in order to differentiate them from luxury stockings that were made from silk.  Nylon was the lower cost material that stockings began to be made of just prior to WW ll.   Theeir appeal was widespread because of their affordability for the everyday woman, for everyday wearing.  Previously, those who wore silk stockings were typically asssociated with the wealthier class of the population, and not the working class or common woman.  "Nylons" was the term that was adopted to describe what most women wore on their legs...stockings made from nylon.

    I'll often misuse the term to describe hosiery in general, since most of what we know as sheer hosiery is primarily made from nylon, as the main component.  Other fibres are included in the modern day processes, but nylon is by far the major ingredient in the hosiery recipe.  Even when I was in high school, I can recollect conversations with girlfriends when we were planning what we were thinking about wearing to a school dance or sock hop.  One girlfriend of mine always called pantyhose, "nylons".  I remember one conversation in particular as we were walking home one Friday afternoon after school when we were talking about what outfits we might wear to the dance that night.  She specifically said she was going to wear a certain skirt and top with low heels and "nylons".  She did that to impart to me that she was going to elevate her look from basic knee socks with her skirt that night.  She didn't say "pantyhose".  It was "nylons" that she used to describe what she was planning to include in her outfit for that night.

    Back then, I called them what the package said on the outside.  "Pantyhose" was by far the most common term used.  But to be honest, I prefered the softer, more soothing sound of "nylons" as it rolled off my tongue.  "Pantyhose" seemed so...basic, so common, and not at all sophisticated...which was what we hoped we would look while wearing "nylons".  Words DO have an impact.  Words DO make a difference.

  • @D H You are soooo right right righty right!!  They are simply knee high stockings, or knee highs.  In certain applications, I've seen them termed as "trouser socks".  But I think there's a difference between what most trouser socks are made of, and what knee high stockings are comprised of. 

    Just think about it for a moment.  What other versions of stockings do we have?  Hmmm "thigh high" stockings?  Sometimes, "thigh highs" are what we occasionally refer to as stockings that stay up without a garter.  You know the kind...the kind with the fancy lace tops that have silicon strips or bands inside them that are designed to "stick" to your thigh and keep them UP.  "Stay ups" describes the garment, and differentiates it from stockings that require a garter, or other method to keep them from falling down ones legs.  It is a descriptive name for the article of clothing, just like "pantyhose" is descriptive of what most women who wear sheer hosiery now wear instead of classic stockings.

  • Women's undergarments have taken on all sorts of nicknames over the years to avoid the embarassment (for whatever reason) of calling them by their proper names.

    When the question of whether pantyhose should be worn with or without panties comes up, my response is to point out that in a world of knee highs and thigh highs, if pantyhose were meant to be worn with underwear, they would be called "waist highs".  😄

    Another term that seems to be gaining popularity these days to avoid the use of "the dirty word" is "sheers".  But I'm still partial to "the dirty word", especially when it's pronounced "pannyhose".  😁

  • @JA Sheers is primarily used to distinguish between 2 different varieties or more specifically, "deniers" of hosiery that are often referred to as "tights".  If you ask a Brit about "pantyhose" they might understand the term refers to "sheer' tights, in her/his world.  Tights of all deniers are considered just "tights" in Britian and probably in other European countries where English might also be spoken.
    In order to differentiate between thick tights and the more attractive sheer variety that we in North America refer to as pantyhose, the term "sheers" has been adopted more universally, even in North American fashion circles.  Personally, I don't mind the term.  It clarifies any potential misunderstanding when the more general term "tights" is used.  I won't then, automatically, think of those thick things my mom made me wear in winter with my skirts.  Sheers is a more attractive word, in my way of thinking.

  • @JA "Pannyhose" is the lazy 'Murican way of saying it.  To me it sounds horrible.  There's a T in the spelling of the word for a reason!

    "Women's undergarments have taken on all sorts of nicknames over the years to avoid the embarassment (for whatever reason) of calling them by their proper names."

    You must be referring to "knickers"  😉

  • @Carrie Stuart You are correct, Carrie.  "Knickers" and "bloomers" are two terms that came to mind when I wrote that line.  And I think "pannyhose" is just a way of "defusing" the word a bit -- sort of saying it without really saying it.

    And I agree that "sheer" is a very attractive and very feminine word.  Sheer Energy, sheer-to-waist, "sheer without fear" are all very sexy and sensuous concepts in my mind.

    And speaking of Sheer Energy, we're quickly approaching Easter, a holiday where girls (who were about to turn into women) were often given their first pair of pantyhose by their mothers, neatly packaged in little plastic eggs.  With any luck, they fell in love with them for a lifetime.  How I miss those innocent days...  😭

    Easter L'eggs

  • @JA LoL...I so remember buying pantyhose in beautiful egg shaped containers.  I liked the one with the silver foil-like wrap.  I think those were the Sheer Energy style. They weren't your basic L'eggs and I found them nice to wear with my uniform.  I used to try to buy a few whenever I had long enough on the ground in the USA between flights, back in my flight attendant days as a workin' girl.   At least, that was until they finally came to Canada.  Still, the US stores and basic drugstores had far more varities and choice in their L'eggs pantyhose selection.  I also loved SilknMist for a dressier style of hosiery when I was going out somewhere.  They weren't as expensive or as fancy as Hanes but they were a happy medium between luxury price points and something I could splurge on a little but not freak out if I ruined a super expensive pair.  They lasted better than Hanes, too.
    I was also a fan of No-Nonsense for everyday wear.  (different company) If I couldn't find my style, size or shade in L'eggs at the drugstore, I'd check out the No-Nonsense rack.  Their packaging kinda sucked in its visual appeal but you could keep a spare pair in your handbag more easily than a big egg.

  • @Carrie Stuart Here's a bright and beautiful Sheer Energy egg for you, Carrie:

    Both L'eggs and No Nonsense were very big here in the states.  In fact, besides the popular TV and magazine ads and store displays, I used to see L'eggs delivery vans travelling along the roadways up until the '90s  -- something I never saw for any other clothing item... EVER.

    I developed such a strong affection for pantyhose growing up (and for the women who wore them), that even the mere sight of a L'eggs egg was enough to send my heart racing.  😍

    Nearly 50 years ago, L'eggs introduced their first sheer-to-waist pantyhose, and ran this ad in the May 1973 issue of "Good Housekeeping" magazine promoting it:

    How amazing is it that something that can fit in the palm of a woman's hand can stretch and grow to envelop more than half of her body, while hiding nothing and enhancing her natural beauty in the process!  Perhaps some unintended symbolism exists between pantyhose elasticity and that of a man's anatomy that I didn't realize while growing up, but I saw it (and certainly felt it) even to this day.

    After making this incredible breakthrough 50 years ago, L'eggs sheer-to-waist pantyhose are hidden in obscurity today.  They make an "Everyday" style where they pack 3 STW pairs into a really ugly cardboard box, but good luck finding them in stores where women might see them and want to purchase them.

    Instead, what women typically find in stores are styles that are meant to compensate for what might politely be described as a combined "calorie management and lack of exercise problem".  🤭  (Maybe that's why pantyhose are so often sold in drugstores?)

    And perhaps one of the reasons physically fit women shy away from pantyhose is that they have come to believe they're designed to correct a physical or medical problem they don't have (and would be embarassed to draw attention to by wearing pantyhose, if they did).

    If that's true, then I think the time has come for mainstream hosiery companies to focus on promoting sheer-to-waist pantyhose as their "baseline" product, and put their "girdle hose" styles on the backburner where they belong.

    50 years ago we knew that it was the reinforcements, T-bands, control panels and control tops that conceled a woman's natural beauty and made pantyhose look old and feel uncomfortable.  And yet, today, that's all you see being promoted and sold in mainstream stores.

    It seems like there's a golden oppotunity out there for someone who remembers history and is willing to change the tide of the future.

  • @JA Ya, that's them!!  LoL...exactly what I wore in uniform for a few years in the 80s.  Eventually, they became easier to find in Canada, but for a while they were either sold out or never stocked in the drugstores I used to shop at.  So, I'd have to dash off the airplane during a 1 hour turnaround and walk quickly through the terminal building in search of a L'eggs display in the hope that all the local flight attendants hadn't already exhausted their inventory of Sheer Energy...very popular with women who spent a lot of time on their feet during the working day.
    They weren't that aesthetically attractive, at least not compared to other regular styles.  There was something about the thread and the weave that made them look less sheer.  But they weren't as ugly as medical support hosiery, that some flight attendants wore. (and likely still do)  For me, they were a compromise between the 2 parameters of a nice look and a nice feel on your legs.

    A couple of things you stated are a little difficult for me to get on board with.  The statement or conjecture on your part as to why physically fit women shy away from wearing pantyhose having to do with not wishing to draw attention to a medical or physical problem, is a bit of a reach.  I think the true reasons a lot of women don't even think about wearing pantyhose has more to do with convenience, efficacy when getting dressed for work, and the fact that they've worked very hard in the gym to obtain the legs and tight butt(s) they now have that they simply wish to display their hard work in its natural state...nude, bare and lotioned to a healthy glow.  It's an attempt to show off their lifestyle of fitness and healthy living, as well as earn some street cred among their peers.  Wearing pantyhose over those sculpted gams could be viewed as cheating, and therefore disqualify that person from any potential lauding of praise that might be otherwise bestowed upon them.  I'm being somewhat facetious, but the point stands that women prefer to keep things natural these days...ever hear of the no-make up look?  Even though you wear some make up, the purpose is to look as though you haven't gone to the effort and expense to do so in order to look "good".  Pantyhose, when worn, follow a similar way of thinking.  The idea is to match the nude shades as closely as possible to ones own natural skin tone so as to give the appearance that your legs aren't actually covered by hosiery.  They just "naturally" look that flawless.

    But I'm with you in general, and would have no issue whatsoever, if times evolved such that a sheer pair of natural or nude shade pantyhose was adopted as the default baseline upon which the rest of ones fashionable appearance was built.  For me, it pretty much is anyway, as rarely a day goes by that I'm not wearing a pair of sheer hosiery.  When a friend sees me in some skinny jeans, socks and runners, they'll joke about it and ask if all my pantyhose are in the wash today.  It's a rare look for me not be in a skirt and heels with the prerequisite pair of sheer hosiery on my legs.

  • @Carrie Stuart I said it before, and I'll say it again.  The world needs more women like you, Carrie.  You get it.  Most women don't, and even if they do, they would be too embarassed to admit it and do something about it.

    There's a very attractive and intelligent woman who works at the same company as I do.  Our paths used to cross on a daily basis up until around the year 2000.  She always wore pantyhose, heels, and a skirt.  While other women frequently wore similar clothing during that time period, her legs were in a class by themselves.

    There was once a job related event that took place on a weekend.  I didn't attend, but during the week that followed, I overheard some co-workers comment that she was there and was wearing shorts and "stockings", and looked incredibly attractive in her casual attire.

    Years went by and we all moved around to different parts of the company.  She earned advanced degrees while working full-time and steadily climbed the corporate ladder.  I hadn't seen her in perhaps 20 years, but our paths crossed a few years ago.  She's no longer wearing heels, hose, and skirts, but has dressed down significantly to pants, socks, and flats.  (a.k.a. men's wear)

    One thought I had was that if panythose have fallen out of style, then she might prefer to wear pants than to submit to the lazy, crazy, bare legged look.

    And I'm all for the "natural look" you mentioned, Carrie.  Blue hair, tatoos, piercings, and fake eyelashes from the 60s don't look attractive to me at all.  And while there's certainly more to people than just their looks and how they dress, I have to question what's going on in the heads of anyone who would go out of their way to dress like it's Halloween 365 days of the year.  😄

    To me, pantyhose, when intelligently chosen and properly worn, can significantly improve the appearance, atrractiveness, and confidence of any woman, even if she spends considerable time and effort at the gym to keep her physical appearance in top-notch condition.  I wouldn't consider wearing pantyhose as "cheating" any more than having power steering in your car or indoor plumbing in your house.  It's the 21st century and we're living in a hi-def world, so why not use all the tools we have available to us to make life more enjoyable for everyone?

    And speaking of L'eggs, one final chuckle.  One of the company's slogans used to be, "She's got L'eggs".  I would like to suggest that a woman not wearing pantyhose as someone who's got L'oggs:

  • @JA There could be any number of considerations for why your work peer no longer wears heels, skirts and hosiery to work.  Perhaps she feels more effective, more "heard" by her male cohorts, as opposed to simply being viewed or seen, and not necessarily for the right reasons.  Expressions like, "power suit" mean something, although their impact is primarily sub-conscious in the minds of the audience.  Colours and styles have an impact and affect impressions of others.  For her, she may find that she is more readily accepted as an equal when she dresses like they pants, flat leather shoes, and socks.  Sometimes, you need to be accepted as "one of the boys" if your organization reeks with that sort of toxicity from the top down, in order to survive in that company.  You'd likely need to actually have that conversation with her in order to understand why she dresses differently now.  Who knows...maybe many years in high heels 5 days (or more) a week may have taken a toll on her physical health.  Feet or back ailments come to mind immediately as a potential outcome from constantly wearing heels for long periods on a near daily basis.  You should ask.

    Cheating.  I don't make the rules about that.  I'm simply the messenger sharing the info as how it was explained to me.  I get it, even though I don't subscribe.  It's also just one more convenient excuse not to wear sheer hosiery on a regular basis.  Women with great legs can get away with skipping that step in the dressing routine, and still look well turned out.  90% of us might not wish to cut corners, however.

    A lot of women are attacked in social media and in other arenas for "embellishment".  I'm not talking about the tall tales kind of embellishment.  I'm referring to everything from our use of make-up, to certain types of plastic surgery, wearing push-up bras, and anything else under the sun that changes or "disguises" a woman's natural appearance.  You wouldn't believe it unless you've been a target, or witnessed it first hand through a close friend's experience.  It's real, though.

    Hi Def World:
    LoL A couple of interesting and funny conversations have happened to me in the past year involving the wearing of sheer good quality hosiery.  The first happened at a local dive bar (restaurant/pub) where I used to love to go for their home made lasagna, some hard ice tea, and the occasional Blue Jays game on one of their large screens.  As I became more and more of a regular, one or 2 of the long time regulars would smile, wave Hi, or come over to chat briefly with me.  One guy in particular used to engage me with his music selections on the "juke box".  Although younger by a decade or more, his musical taste wasn't too terrible despite having grown up with a more recent generation of pop music.  I would occasionally say thanks to him in passing for providing and paying for some good music on the system, as opposed to the algorithm selections that could be more than unpredictably awful.
    One evening I showed up there quite a bit later than I'd usually go there if I was going for something to eat and the ballgame on tv. The place was pretty quiet, and nearly empty.  Mark was there at his usual spot at the far end of the bar than where I usually would park myself.  He looked over and nodded as I was getting settled and giving my drink order to the bartender.  It was a little while later that I felt a presence beside me when my face was down in my phone screen.  The brightness of the screen contrasted the relatively dimly lit pub atmosphere in such a way that I didn't notice anyone come over to me.  After some pleasantries he asked me straight out if I was wearing nylons, and if when I came to the pub if I always wore pantyhose.  I was a little taken off guard by the query but rolled with it and told him, yes, I always wore nylons when I was in a skirt and heels...always.  He seemed a bit surprised and said that it was hard to tell from where he was always sitting, even though it was probably less than 20 feet away with a pretty clear line of sight.  I said, really??  And he confirmed that it was really hard to tell if my legs were bare or not, most of the time.  Cool, I thought!  It pays to buy and wear really good quality Italian or other European 15 denier matte or satin (not glossy) hosiery.  I recalled having worn both pantyhose as well as gartered stockings to that pub in the past.  I would only wear gartered stockings with longer length skirts...still minis but closer to knee length than my usual preference when I'd wear STW pantyhose.

    All that to say that certain guys do, or will take an interest or curiosity in a woman's legs if she presents them appropriately, whether or not her purpose is to draw such attention.  It likely more often happens when one is wearing nice hosiery, as opposed to just leaving your legs bare in your skirt and stilettos.  I can't speak from the bare legged camp, but I do know that pantyhose has absolutely been the root cause of certain conversations involving my legs.  I doubt that such conversations would ever have happened had I not been  wearing some beautiful hosiery as a regular thing.

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