Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pantyhose vs. Bare legs: the debate goes on


Ok. I guess this isn’t the most inspiring photo to launch this discussion. Maybe I should have picked this one:


Now do you feel better about the idea of wearing pantyhose stockings?

Sigh. When I first raised the issue of nylons vs. bare legs for a special occasion, it was doing the chilly months of winter. And I was seriously interested. Did anyone else besides me feel a tad awkward about going out into weather cold enough to require my thick-thermal coat, yet leaving my own legs naked and shivering and-I-might-add, never looking more pale and unsexy?

Well the results to my post have been astonishing. That one little post continues to bring in hits from all over the world, and remains one of my most popular posts ever. Just yesterday, I had a visitor from Rome, Italy. Several from France. And one from Switzerland. And here we are, already into the warm weather month of May.


Is Kate Middleton changing your view of nude-colored pantyhose? 


This past month, these are some of the most common Google searches that landed folks on my blog:

  • bare legs in winter?
  • kate middleton in nylons
  • ice cold legs in winter
  • bare legged in winter
  • Jennifer Aniston’s legs
  • Pippa Middleton’s legs
  • ladies how do bare legs make you feel
  • are nylons in fashion

Apparently, women are still interested in this topic. So today, I thought I’d do a follow-up post and share some of the feedback that I received through my emails. Believe me, this is nothing resembling a credible poll and I know very little about my respondents however, there were enough comments to form some consensus. And interestingly, the comments seemed to reflect some of the same statistics I’ve read on this subject.

What most women are thinking: Women who consider themselves fashionable and current about trends are not wearing nude colored nylons for evenings out. Black pantyhose are one exception. Women who would not wear nude colored nylons would still consider wearing black ones. This seems to support the trend reported in Forbes which stated that the sales of sheer nylons in the $6.98 billion legwear business dropped 4.4% last year.

mad-men-cast2010-e1288335632379The cast of Mad Men where pantyhose are totally “in.”

However, the legwear industry is working hard to make pantyhose cool again.

Do you remember L’eggs? It’s the ubiquitous brand that everyone associates with women’s hosiery and they have now launched a 2012 marketing campaign aimed at the 18-34 year old crowd. They are calling it the “Lucky in L’eggs” campaign and they’ve begun running their first television ads in more than 14 years. In addition, they’re aggressively pursuing this new generation of shoppers through the L’eggs Facebook page and Twitter feed. Considering that today’s 18-year-old was just four or five years old during their L’eggs last TV campaign, it’s a necessary marketing strategy

Is it working? Are pantyhose making a comeback? Sally Kay, president of the Hosiery Association believes so, thanks to such pop culture influences like Mad Men. And they hope that the television ads now airing on national cable networks such as E!, Nick at Nite, Oxygen, SoapNet, and TV One, will help modernize the image of pantyhose for all ages.


Marketers are hoping that young shoppers will experiment with colored sheers. Doesn’t Jen look great in anything?

Age: Age does seem to matter in terms of opinions and behavior. Younger women in general have absolutely no qualms about having bare legs in winter and at special events. (I personally noted this on a snowy December evening in Utah when we flew to my husband’s Christmas party. Not one woman under the age of thirty wore pantyhose, despite the icy conditions and the winter-white legs. This California gal was shocked --and cold-- but it was a clear message about fashion).

Some of my older readers simply felt uncomfortable with bare legs and heels, especially at special events. Going with bare legs to a dressy affair seemed too casual and somehow, wrong.

And self perception matters. If a woman believed her legs looked good, she was more willing to shun nylons, regardless of her age. However, the women who felt self-conscious going without stockings, often made observations about other women, especially those women in their fifties who went with bare legs. One email asked, “don’t they know what their legs look like without stockings?”

What men like:  Sorry I only got a few male responses. And these two comments reflected other anecdotal comments I’ve read and heard from men. Men think sheer stockings are sexy. What about your husband, do you know what he thinks?


I wonder. Will astute marketers be able to create a new image for pantyhose that entices our daughters?

It remains to be seen, but look what happened to the old girdle. Today, Sara Blakeley’s Spanx have reached sales upward of $5 million each year.  (Forbes,November 2011)  And this is one accessory that I don’t hear women complain about, what about you?

And what about those women who work in conventional offices, where going with bare legs is simply not viewed as professional? What are they wearing and how are they feeling?

Looks like this topic is still open for discussion. To be continued….

                sources for this post:

I hoped you enjoyed today’s post. And I’d love to hear your opinion on this topic….

What about you? When you’re heading out to an evening event, a formal wedding or a fancy restaurant…do you ever struggle with the nylons vs. bare legs question?






gloria mckellar said...

Hi! Interesting post! Following you on gfc and like you on fb from a blog hop and hope you would please follow me back too:)

andy katz said...


Although this is a couple months old I thought I'd take a moment to post a differing man's opinion. I'm in my mid-fifties now & I've never liked pantyhose of any kind (nor even stockings, really). A woman wearing hose might as well be wearing jeans as far as I'm concerned (this isn't to say that there aren't a few outfits that do seem to cry out for hose or tights).

I don't think bare legs are any stranger, or more incomplete than bare arms, shoulders or back. Nor do a woman's legs have to match some fantasy notion of "perfect" in order to be attractive. Skin is sexy.

Even in business, a skirt suit worn with bare legs seems no stranger than a woman wearing a short sleeve blouse under her jacket. While it's true that grandma wouldn't feel dressed leaving the house without hose on, she would also not feel right without her girdle--are these coming back as well?

Some now decree that hose is coming back in & manufacturers of same are all over that like a ... like a cheap pair of pantyhose. Then there are the hose fiends who insist that "all men" believe that hose is sexier.

Really, pantyhose, who needs 'em???

Sure, some women will feel better (or warmer:-) covering their legs when wearing skirts or dresses, but hose as a fashion default again?

Absolutely not!


andy katz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fixitfaerie said...

Well I haven't worn panty hose in 13 years. I am 58 (did I really admit that?!?) daughter got married this last June and I had to do something. Sooooo, I bought thigh highs with lace tops. Sexy, huh? They are so much easier when you have to use the Ladies room, and I didn't have any problem with the grip on the lace.
So now if I have to ever wear hose again, that is my direction I'm going....thigh highs. (Target has them)Paula

Dad at Arms said...

Male here: this bare leg thing is such a turn-off, I find that I don't like daytime TV anymore because there are entire panels of female reporters or speakers with bare legs and open-toed shoes regardless of the season. I think it's ridiculous and over done. Hosiery enhances the look of THE best legs. It does! Would you see any of these women on TV w/o make up on their faces? So why are unadorned legs 24/7 suddenly so "Today" and "fashion forward"?

Jessica FantasyStockings said...

This can lead to health problems according to some nations. I always wear hosiery.

Jessica FantasyStockings said...

I am a hosiery blogger and I just did an article on this topic.

In Eastern Europe they say that it is bad for your health to go with bare legs.

Dayle @ A Collection of This and That said...

As for my opinion on this subject, I think bare legs cheapen an outfit. It's perfectly fine to wear bare legs with casual clothes, but to put on classy dress/suit, then go out with bare legs just looks cheap. I think the addition of hose completes the look. And to do it in the dead of winter looks just plain stupid.

Jasinn G said...

As a man, I can tell you that women who wear nylons (of ANY kind - thigh highs, pantyhose, tights, what have you) get more compliments than women with bare legs.

It just seems more polished and elegant. When my wife and I dress up to go out on a date-night, she a,most always wear nylons and I wear a tie. It adds to the overall sexy atmosphere of the night since we are both willing to go that extra step to look good for each other.

Incidentally, my wife wears thigh highs - she says they are easier to use when going to the bathroom, they are not constricting, and they don't make her sweat in what she calls "a gross place".

I don't have an issue with any of that when I wear a tie, but I can say they choke me and are extremely uncomfortable, but I have noticed that it also gets me more comments than just wearing a button-up shirt.

Nicole said...

I think bare legs can also cheapen an outfit. I'm 24 and I feel its inappropriate to go to an office setting in the dead of winter with bare legs. At least wear nude or black pantyhose. Even now, when it's April and going to be 60 degrees outside, I feel awkward going to work with bare legs. I think it's completely fine in the spring and summer, but it just looks awful in the colder months.

A few weeks ago, when it was 30 degrees outside, a ~45 year old woman was wearing a skirt up to her mid-thigh with bare legs to work (a business casual setting), and I was shocked. Never mind the length of the skirt, at least put some nylons on!!

Normalin said...

Are you kidding me pantyhose are the most uncomfortable things you can wear.They don't stay on they sag in order for them to stay in place I would have to put tight underwear after I put on the pantyhose. In the winter I wear tight with knee high boots they keep you warm.

0s0-Pa said...

I think I prefer tights, at least during the winter. Summertime, Im fine going with the bare legs.

Cshoe Meso said...

I googled this topic because the other day when I was in the department store looking at Calvin Klein dresses for know I just didn't know what to do or think about bare legs. But I'm a mature woman who grew up during the Kennedy & Vietnam Era and just it would be wrong, especially at my age, to dress up and then have bare legs...white naked show everything legs...ugg! Plus you want something between you and the inside of your hurts to wear heals without something on your feet. I purchased a pair of stockings with the gummy strip around the we'll see. Personally, I think bare legs should be reserved for toned young ladies in summer dresses!

Phyllis @Around the House said...

I guess it depends on where you live, in ca. haven't seen anyone wear panty hose in years, would seem strange, they are hot and matter what age nylons, panty hose or stockings are out...never to return ...yay

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