First came nylon stockings; the selection was pretty much limited to several shades – mostly variations on nude – and reinforced toe or sandal foot. Texture choices were restricted to sheer, for dressing up, and the sturdier run resistant variant favoured by waitresses and other women who had to be on their feet all day. If you ripped one, it was no big deal. You could always replace one leg with one from a back-up pair.
In the 1960’s, hemlines grew shorter exposing more leg. This fashion sea change coincided with the invention of Spandex and, voila, the pantyhose industry was hatched. What we have today is a legacy (no pun intended) of leg-ware options so voluminous and wide-ranging that it takes the average woman a minimum of twenty minutes to make a single pantyhose purchase. Allow us to elucidate.
Here are the variables: size, colour, texture, pattern, control-top, sheer, ultra-sheer, support, toe or no toe. Even the packaging is confusing. You don’t want to buy the wrong pair by mistake. The manufacturers put charts on the back so you can identify your size by a ratio of height to weight. The range for any single size is so broad that making a selection becomes a simple act of faith, defying common sense.
Unless you buy opaque tights, you can expect runs sometimes within seconds. Or, once you have removed the pantyhose from the protective cellophane packaging and tried them on, you may be in for another unpleasant surprise – the trampoline effect. Try as you may to stretch the pantyhose to reach your waistline, they never make it over the hips.
Rather than throw the ruined garments into the garbage, many of our clients store them in dresser drawers and shopping bags for some secret, undisclosed purpose for eternity. Maybe they save pantyhose with runs in them because they feel entitled. At $10 a pop, they need a little more than a single evening’s worth of value. Is a little durability to much to ask from a wardrobe necessity?
Better get cracking and do a little weeding in your own hosiery drawer. This can be quite time consuming if you wear mostly slacks, and knee-highs are your preferred hosiery option. Matching knee-highs can lead to insanity. Two knee-highs may look deceptively similar, but on closer scrutiny you realize the pair you have put together is not a pair after all. One is navy and the other black. One is short and the other is long. One has a diamond pattern and its mate has stripes and so on. As a matter of fact, you could consider turfing the entire lot just to get some relief. Nothing is quite as attractive as the bracelet of red welts that encircles your calf when you finally take the knee-highs off.
As for the pantyhose collection itself, we feel hard-pressed to conjure new uses for shredded nylons. Criminals use them to distort their facial features to avoid apprehension and arrest when committing bank robberies. You could use them to stake plants or as one website suggests, as emergency fan-belts. Unless you have the legendary gams of a six-foot super-model, start by tossing the fishnets.