In Which I Never Thought I Would Write About Pantyhose

woman in pantyhose

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.

Not just for old ladies...

Not just for old ladies…

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.

Think this was a best-seller?

Not just for wearing…

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:

Alison Freer 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 . . . .

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8 thoughts on “In Which I Never Thought I Would Write About Pantyhose

  1. I’ve given up pantyhose as well. But I have fond memories of when they first came out, because the produce they supplanted was MUCH worse. I was a tiny person when I came of age (probably 85-90 pounds and 5′ tall). My mother bought me a panty girdle and a pair of nylons. When the nylons were attached to the girdle, it promptly fell to my ankles. So, mother bought me a garter belt, otherwise known as a torture device. As one walks in a garter belt, it begins to spin around the waist, stopping only when the stockings are stretched to their limit. At that point, either the elastic garters pop open (audibly) or the stockings start to run. One of the greatest joys of my retirement (right behind looking at the traffic reports on TV) is gazing at a dresser drawer that is blissfully free of hosiery of any kind! Great blog. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I followed your posts around the time of the interview and enjoyed reading this account as well. I must be about your age and still wear pantyhose a few times a year. But I’ve banned discount store hose from my life. I buy nice stockings (Hanes Silk Reflections) and they last well and fit so much more comfortably! The last time I desperately ran to Wal-mart for hose, then carried them with me to an event, it was a disaster. The hose were sized very skimpy, were tortuous to wear and ran before the event was over.

  3. Can I confess? I still wear pantyhose. With slacks. And in Texas. In summer. And they help keep me warm in winter. I guess old habits die hard. I had one of those jobs in the eighties – we couldn’t wear slacks. Now, I don’t even own a dress – a couple of skirts and tops, but for the most part, I wear slacks to work. I enjoyed your post!

  4. I remember entering junior high school in the early 1970s and it was ever so momentous because, due to some unwritten rule, I (and other girls my age) were now allowed to wear make-up *and* pantyhose! The novelty wore off quickly when I started working in Corporate America and nylons were a required part of the dress code. Remember always carrying a bottle of clear nail polish in your purse in case you got a run? Plus I’d developed OCD and *hated* tight-fitting clothing, so it just made my skin crawl to pull those nylons on every day (and that was back when “A” size fit me).

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Jill. I do indeed remember carrying that clear bottle of nail polish in my purse. And hose were required by the company I worked for back in the ’80s (which “rule” at least one friend of mine blatantly ignored). I still wear them for job interviews – some of us just don’t have great legs.

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