About a month ago, I had a job interview.
Anyone who has ever endured one of these will testify that, no matter the amount of preparation beforehand, they are generally nerve-wracking experiences. Adding to the stress was the question of wardrobe. Everything I might have worn was either not quite suitable, too heavy for the season, or unlikely to fit after a recent weight loss.
So a-shopping I did go, only to discover that clothing designers seemed blissfully unaware that professional women my age existed. Thirteen trips to a dozen stores finally yielded an ensemble that wasn’t more appropriate for someone three decades my junior on her way to an outdoor summer party.
But that wasn’t the end of it . . .
* * *
I don’t wear pantyhose anymore, except on the rarest occasions. I don’t think most women do, especially in my native south. However, I’m rather old-school and conservative; this was an interview with a Catholic university law school; and did I mention that I’m from a generation that still does wear the dang things on occasion? Especially if you’re so fair-skinned that a coworker calls you “the whitest white person” he’s ever seen, even though you’ve lived nearly five decades in one of the sunniest states in the Union?
There was a time when I wore hose pretty much around the clock. This was back in the eighties, when I worked for a company with a dress code requiring same, especially on the “corporate” floor, where female employees were not even allowed to wear slacks. (To any young fry who may be reading this and have been known to go to work in flip-flops, I am not making this up. Things were different back then.) Plus, three decades ago my legs didn’t look much better than they do now. They may have had less cellulite, but even that is debatable.
So I wore pantyhose. In fact, I wore them like a second skin: under dresses, skirts, nice slacks, even jeans. When I belatedly discovered the blessing of knee highs, my world changed forever.
But those wouldn’t cut it for the interview, so, mentally cursing myself for throwing out the last pair of full stockings in my sock drawer, at which time I’d sworn I would never buy another because I was tired of dodging into office supply rooms to pull them up, I headed for Walgreens. They had their own brand in convenient single-serving packages for a relatively low price.
Well, they had.
Staring in disbelief at the choices before me, I wanted to shriek that on principle I refused to pay Five Dollars! for something that could be ruined in a second, but time was short, so I gritted my teeth and opened my purse, only to find that, thanks to accumulated points on my rewards card, my bill was a grand total of twenty-nine cents.
Considerably appeased, I headed for home and soon forgot the matter . . . until the day before my appointment, when I realized I had managed to exit the store with a package labeled Size A.
(For those who are fortunate enough to know little about hosiery and care even less, all I will say is that “A” is the near polar opposite of what my middle-aged body will squeeze into, weight loss notwithstanding.)
In desperation, I pulled them out of the package and began tugging them on, praying that by some miracle I could stretch them to the point necessary for an interview, if nothing more. They did their valiant best, but gave up the ghost at my hips.
Into the trash they went. Off to Walmart I went. Yep, give me good old cheap-o Walmart pantyhose, four pairs for the price of one at Walgreens. I don’t care what brand they are; they ALL run eventually.
* * *
Allison Freer addressed the subject of the once ubiquitous legwear in a recent column for XO Jane, noting that the two occasions in her life on which she donned a pair were for an uncle’s wedding and a grandfather’s funeral:
“I’ve never worn a pair of pantyhose since, and I can’t really think of a single reason to wear them in this day and age. Maybe if you are a lady lawyer trying a landmark case against the tobacco industry and you’re pretty sure they will end up making a major motion picture about you, so you want to give the costume designer a quirky character trait to work with later on?”
Ms. Freer had obviously never met someone like me.
“I don’t really remember anything about it except that the pantyhose I wore were made by L’Eggs and came in that awesome plastic egg I remember my mother having tons of around the house, as she worked in an office that required her to wear hosiery. As children, my brother and I did a lot of hilarious arts and crafts with those leftover ‘eggs.'”
I was sorry she didn’t include a photo of those crafts, but she did share a picture of her funereal stockings:
Which I thought were pretty cool. In fact, I almost wanted such a pair myself.
If only I could have been sure they were suitable for job interviews . . . .
* * *
What do you think? Are pantyhose an invention of the devil, an occasional unfortunate necessity, or something in between? And if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent a brand that doesn’t run?*
*Actually, those who are, like me, of a certain age may recall an early seventies brand called “Turtles,” because “Turtles never run” – get it? Even a scissors blade failed to penetrate them, at least according to the TV commercial. What ever happened to them? Did the marketers realize they could potentially put themselves out of business because their product would never become obsolete, or was it all just smoke and mirrors? Sadly, I’ll probably never know . . . .