The Wall Street Journal today weighed in on the generational battle that is pantyhose. For many women, pantyhose are akin to the girdles and corsets of old, which is to say something your mom or grandmother had to do, an unmourned victim of the feminist movement. For others, they're a way to camouflage supposedly unsightly legs or to decorate them, to keep warm or hold in a bulge-y area, or just something you feel you have to do. And, for some poor women (including, rumor has it, the female employees of a certain female Senator) they are required work attire. While a hosiery requirement makes me seethe and long to rebel, I go back and forth about hose themselves.
For one, I have the whitest of pale white legs, and I don't tan, so for most of my life I was really, really uncomfortable with my skin color. Pantyhose made my legs look (in my mind) less cadaver-like and more socially acceptable, and in the humid-as-hell D.C. summers I'd wear pants to the office and avoid skirts all together. But, then there were cute skirts! And open-toed shoes! And a business casual office! And lots of other women with really white legs that they weren't embarrassed about, so I forced myself to get over it (and to shave my legs more than every six months).
The other time I pretty consistently wore stockings was when I was a lot heavier. I used to buy the mega-control top ones that sucked everything in so that I could get away with wearing the clothes I didn't really fit into and didn't want to replace, to hide my under-belt belly as much as possible and smooth out my ass and still pretend I was a size 14. I wore them under pants and bought Spanx for the summer and then finally, finally got off my widening ass and did something about the weight other than pretend a pair of stockings could fool everyone when the only person they ever fooled was me.
Nowadays, the only time I really wear stockings is in the winter. I have only gone out once in cold weather in a skirt without stockings (a walk of shame, actually) and as I stood on a corner hailing a cab home with my balled up fishnets in my pocket, I silently cursed at myself for deciding that unrolling them hungover was too difficult because, holy hell, were my thighs freezing in a way that thighs should never freeze. But anytime I do wearing stockings, I take them off as soon as I get home — before I even take off my bra — because the sweet release of removing the encasing nylon is just too good to put off.
One reason I've never worn them, though, is because a boss required me to. It amazes that some offices require them — even under pants (and who, exactly, checks that?). Is it just that I live in a swamp that I've never had a dress code like that regardless of my job?