2/21/11

Fads #15: The Mysterious Fall of Hosiery

vintage hosiery package

Evidently, I’m not the most observant guy in the world. A couple years ago, I went clothes shopping with my wife and decided to hang out in the undergarments section (what? it was nearby). I asked her if she needed any, and she replied that no one wears them anymore.

ZOINKS! She was right. I guess I hadn’t really stopped to think about it until then, but she was absolutely right. I started looking around my office, around the mall, the grocery store, everywhere. I discovered rather quickly that the only people wearing them are old ladies! Here and there, you might catch a black pair with a long dress, but that’s it. What the hell happened?

I grew up on hosiery. All the foxy babes on TV wore them: Charlie’s Angels, Daisy Duke, Chrissy Snow, Tara King (The Avengers), Isis, Wonder Woman, Julie Barnes (The Mod Squad), Marcia Brady,… the list goes on! And now, suddenly stockings and pantyhose have gone bye-bye. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a perv with a stocking fetish. I just grew up with them, and like most guys my age, am sorry to see them leave.

The question I always ask on Retrospace is “why?” - or to be more precise “WTF?” I’ve asked a few ladies and come up with a few theories of my own.



vintage hosiery package

1. They have simply gone out of style.

We are all fashion followers, so it stands to reason that what is not marketed in Cosmo, Vogue, etc, as trendy and stylish is not purchased.

That’s the obvious answer. But dig deeper and ask why they went out of vogue in the first place…

2. Hosiery is an annoyance and inconvenience to women.

They often have runs, which require frequent purchases. Also, a run can cause embarrassment.

I am told they are uncomfortable. They have a tendency to slip down, and can create annoying wrinkles in your shoes.

vintage hosiery package

3. They are basically pointless.

Since women don’t wear short skirts anymore, there is much less leg shown, so there isn’t much need for hosiery which improves the appearance of the leg.

But these answers still don’t get to the core. I mean, women have always had these issues with hose; and skirts haven't always been super short; however, they were fine with wearing them back then… why not now?

vintage hosiery package

4. We have all gotten a bit more slovenly.

If you look back, you’ll see people dressed up more. Men wore hats and kept their shoes shined. Women wore gloves and were rarely seen outside the home without makeup on. The change from well groomed and “dolled up” to today’s state of shabbiness was a gradual transition. The hippie counter culture were the first to make strides in this area.

You always hear that today’s society is overly concerned with outward appearances. However, it’s interesting to note that we’ve never cared less about the way we present ourselves. It was only a matter of time before hosiery bit the dust.

Of course, this begs the next question. Why have we gotten so slovenly? That, I’m afraid, is a question best addressed in another post. I’ve already gone on a tad long. I’d love to hear your theories on the decline and fall of hosiery.

Meanwhile, Make way for more vintage hose packaging...

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

vintage hosiery package

42 comments:

  1. I think Hooters Girls are the last bastion of youthful pantyhose wearers.

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    Replies
    1. First, bare legs are soooooooooo 2006. Pantyhose have made a big comeback over the last two years thanks in large part to Kate Middleton. The fashionistas for years have been telling young women that only grandmothers and old ladies wear pantyhose, that nude pantyhose makes your legs look like they're encased in a sausage, and that it also makes your legs look orange. LOL. Kate has proven that all wrong.
      Young women who have been fed such propaganda all their young lives now are seeing and experiencing something totally different when it comes to hose. Plus a lot a clebs have taken to wearing hose again.

      Second, women have been wearing leg hosiery for over 500 years. The "bare leg look" has been around for 10 years. So which is the fad?

      Third, fads and fashion change as we all know. Just as young women today make fun of their mother's "mom jeans" so to will the bare leg look suffer a similar fate. Do you really think that young girls coming of age today are going to copy their mothers, aunts, and older sisters and go with the bare leg look that was arguably at it zenith 10 years ago?

      Hal

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  2. From a female's perspective yes, the top panty section part of pantyhose is what I've always found uncomfortable...and I am skinny. During the warmer months it's simply not needed as you stated and I think I stopped wearing nude pantyhose in the 90s. However, I still wear tights/hosiery in the winter when wearing a skirt to keep my legs warm and because it's more appropriate. For that reason I don't think women will ever stop wearing it completely. You can also find winter tights in a lot of fun/sexy patterns and textures today.

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  3. lots of younger women tan now and like you said fashion has become much more casual.

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    Replies
    1. AnonymousJune 30, 2014

      Yes more tan in eye of all the evidence of suntanning and milignet melanoma. Yes life has become much more casual, like college graduates not finding work, people showing up for job interviews dress extreamly casual, flip flops and other inappropriate forms of dress. Yes they will eventualy find a job but many years from now.

      Delete
  4. Off topic a bit, I forgot about the alluring packaging they used. Another source for much sought after photos of naked ladies, when I was a kid, along with my sister's Cosmos, Glamours, the underwear section of the Sear's catalog and or course, National Geographic.

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  5. I think this is kind of sad. Women are such amazing, beautiful beings. I totally get the comfort thing, but anything that makes them look more leg men is a downer.

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  6. I wear them, and just order them online since I can't find them in the stores anymore.

    But then, I don't wear pantyhose, I wear stockings. I also wear slips, dresses most days and run around in dress shoes, so what do I know?

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  7. Why you ask? I believe you answered your own question with reason No. 4.

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  8. I wore silk stockings and a BIG cocktail hat to the grocery store yesterday. It actually frightened people. LOL they pushed their carts to the other side of the isle. Not to mention the looks. ONE lady told me she liked my hat, but did so in a whisper while she kept moving.I strive to bring back old-school glamour to the world, including picking up milk wearing a cocktail hat. Yes, I noticed leg wear has gone out of style and you are right about the above reasons. Women bitch and moan about them. Women also used to wear girdles everyday also. The 60s changed all that as women gained control over the mass marketed female images and fashion industry. I for one want it all to come back, this dull world needs some style. Uggs and tracksuits are NOT style. LOL

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  9. Speaking as a perv with a stocking fetish, I can only hope that women's hosiery eventually comes back into style, as many other things that went out once have done.

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  10. My wife was just looking for a pair in her dresser Sunday to help keep her legs warm, but complaining about how they always get runs (especially with kids).

    But my main theory is that at first, they were to avoid showing bare skin, but now we are comfortable with that much bare skin.
    RetroHound.com

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  11. I should mention that I work on a college campus and the students from oriental countries still wear them, usually black.

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  12. i still wear them in skin tones and bright colors, but then i have such pale skin i need to wear them to avoid being loaded into a paramedics van and taken to the morgue.

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  13. I feel sorry for you, Gilligan. Here in the UK we've got an abundance of short skirts and hosiery; neither are out of style over here and yet in the US it's all jeans and sweatshirts for women. Our cup runneth over and yet yours is practically empty. You need a holiday to the UK and France.

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  14. Pantyhose are expensive and uncomfortable, they look ridiculous with open-toed shoes and they make that embarrassing swishing noise when you walk.

    We are more comfortable showing the skin of our legs, women's razor blades actually provide a smooth finish without carving your legs like a turkey and self tanners are abundant even in your local drug store.

    The thicker, more reliable cousin to stockings - Tights - are nice in the winter and making somewhat of a temporary comeback with the young girls right now, due to the emergence of some 80's influence on current teen fashions.

    I say goodbye and good riddance to pantyhose!

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  15. I live in a college town. I see girls wearing black tights with nothing underneath, or short dresses, or cut off shorts with nothing underneath all the time.

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  16. Whenever I wear dress shoes I do wear some sort of stockings; my feet feel uncomfortable and sweaty in high heels if I don't have stockings on.

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  17. Sorry to gross everyone out, but two words will clear up the mystery of the vanished hose:

    Yeast infections.

    Hoisery encourages the pestilence like nothing else. Any good gyn will tell you. Basically, the same conditions that promote jock itch for you guys - tight, constrictive clothing - will do it for us gals as well.

    Good riddance! Although I do sometimes wear tights, in solidarity with posters above. Looking back upon all the "fashion" we subjected ourselves to at the time -- hose, ankle-twisting heels, sweat-inducing fabrics -- the 80s are well worth laughing at. Thanks for all the good times, Gilligan.

    And, to those guys lamenting the illusory glamor of a bygone era, consider that perhaps women who are comfortable are more sensual (sexier)...?

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  18. Chadwick said...
    "I feel sorry for you, Gilligan. Here in the UK we've got an abundance of short skirts and hosiery; neither are out of style over here and yet in the US it's all jeans and sweatshirts for women. Our cup runneth over and yet yours is practically empty. You need a holiday to the UK and France."

    Chadwick, where should I book my hotel room? It is time for this American to visit the UK!

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  19. I think this is one of the best group of comments I've ever read on retrospace. funny.

    Gilligan, from what I've gathered, I think we are roughly the same age (I'm 41) and I just noticed last year, so don't feel bad.

    I always thought panty hose were kinda goofy because the colors girls wore rarely matched their natural skin tone.... but then again, those pictures are pretty damn sexy.

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  20. Lets face it, we have all gotten more slovenly! In the summer, women wear flip flops to work (yuck!) nowadays...so pantyhose it out of the question. As a woman, I've always loved the look of pantyhose but I mostly wear tights in winter. I'll occasionally wear pantyhose from fall through spring when the weather is cooler...summertime its just too hot...I blame global warming!

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  21. I wear panthose when i wear vintage. anonymous- we did not need to know about your nasty yeast infections. gross.

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  22. "...anonymous- we did not need to know about your nasty yeast infections. gross."

    Gross, but true. Anonymous is right.

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  23. they haven't gone away so much as just been replaced by leggings. which are much more comfortable, and supports your thesis :D

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  24. As a leg guy, I dig stockings, but not pantyhose. Pantyhose do make legs sexy, but looks kinda restrictive. I leave the restrictive to the bondage fetishists. Now stockings are much more sexier and very titillating. Especially with garters. I can't think of anything more titillating than a woman lifting her skirt and adjusting her garters and stockings. It may be a simple adjustment to the ladies, but to us leg men...wow.

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  25. If you want to avoid yeasties wear thigh highs. Jebus.

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  26. Well, I *wasn't* a perv with a pantyhose fetish until I browsed through this post and it's gallery of vintage packaging. Thanks retrospace!

    But seriously, I remember being very self-conscious about not looking when I walked past the pantyhose aisle with my mom.

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  27. There's an astonishing amount of sexism going on in this thread. I look forward to a post that I am just sure that is coming up very soon about how men nowadays are disgusting, "slovenly" creatures that should sacrifice comfort so they can be ogled by women.

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  28. I never was a fan of ordinary thin or skin-toned hosiery, pantyhose, nylons, whatever. If I wear a skirt or dress, I prefer tights, whether black or some other fashion color that isn't anything like a skin tone. The whole no-hosiery thing baffles me. I don't care who you are, I think it's trashy. Nothing like a professional woman in a suit with expensive pumps and then - no hosiery. And no slips, either! They'll wear dresses and skirts that you can clearly see through, with NO foundation! What is going on with this trend? What's next? Another generation that won't wear bras?

    Which brings me to this: You call it "sexism" I call it "being a woman." Wearing hosiery of whatever kind, jewelry, makeup, perfume, keeping my hair shoulder length, etc. are all things I enjoy and they make me feel good. If men appreciate those elements on me or other women, then it's a bonus. Why shouldn't they? Sadly, I think a lot of men nowadays are used to the way women no longer put any more effort into their appearance than guys do. I don't know when the change happened, but I feel like a relic just for wearing makeup! I think I understand now how my grandmother felt in the 60s when women stopped wearing hats and gloves, and started wearing pants! I get that it's cooler to be oh-so-natural, but there is no creativity in that at all. All these young women look alike now, so drab and uninteresting. Maybe that's why so many young men are seeking out women who are a bit older...

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  29. I agree with some people above.
    This seems like a typical US topic. Porbably because the combo Jeans-tshirt-sweatshirt is the most common.
    Most of my female friends (at least those who wear skirts) wear pantyhoses (rarely stockings) in winter/spring/autumn.
    And you find here a huge variety of them in stores: skin colours, pink, black, blue... polka dots, patterns, etc.

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  30. Thank you, Trixie, there's nothing like a woman wearing pantyhose to draw my eye. :)

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  31. AnonymousMay 10, 2012

    bare legs look awful!

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  32. Rather late to the party, but...

    ...this must be an American phenomenon, because as Chadwick mentioned, over here in the UK short skirts and pantyhose (tights to us Brits) are in no way out of fashion! You can buy tights anywhere over here, in any style, thickness, colour, pattern, whatever! I'm a 27 year old woman and I wear them pretty much every day with dresses or skirts. Colourful or lacy ones for outside of work, and nude or black (depending on the time of year!) for work. Maybe it's just the changeable British weather that feeds the tights trade?! You never know if it'll be warm enough to go without so you go ahead and put 'em on anyway...!

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  33. Sorry, but most U.S. chicks are morons...I saw a very cute woman today with a great dress, nice heels, and of course, no pantyhose...why in God's name do you think that your fake tan sauce, boney feet and veins popping out look better than actually knowing how to dress?...I don't care what Brittney Spears or Oprah tells you girlies...put some hose on! Try to be a little feminine! If you can't tell, I especially think that heels without hose looks incredibly retarded. Chicks complain about them all the time; but, what else is new? Come on, the bare leg thing is a been there-done that phenomenon. I also think that women don't wear them because "no one else is wearing them"...well how about this one: think outside the box, and for yourself for a change.

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  34. I never bought the comfort argument, as the function of hosiery was replaced by Spanx, runny spray paint, and crack hugging thongs. And those still don't fix your veins and bony knees.

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  35. Why can't women be that sexy anymore!
    Veins, stubble, nicks, and hairy/fungus toes are a big turn off!
    Opaque tights? Sure! But a majority wear them with granny pants underneath! Isn't that what the cotton crotch panel is for?

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  36. I remember the days when women always wore pantyhose, be it with a dress, shorts, or under jeans, I never cared for the bare leg look, I lady in nice suntan pantyhose will always get my attention, there is nothing sexier.

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  37. You will all probably call me a perv but here goes. My wife, who is an attractive fashionista type, hardly ever wears anymore with a dress unless it's tights. She DOES wear nude pantyhose with boots and a knee length for warmth. If you were a woman who was fashion conscious in the 70's, 80's and 90's, you wore pantyhose ALL THE TIME, and if you're like my wife, you got used to how they feel so the comfort thing is out the window. She also told me that women frequently go for too small a size which she says is very uncomfortable.

    But here's the perv part. Like the 1st commenter talked about; all the hotties wore them on TV when I was walking around with a boner 24/7. So I LOVE how they look. they were part of our adolescent fumbling when we tried to cop a feel when we were kids and they were exciting. So my wife wears them all the time for me when we get frisky. Try it sometime. If your wife is a MILF like mine then you still like seeing her in stuff like a man's dress shirt or whatever is sexy to you. Now ask your wife to put on a pair of nice (not cheapo, Wolfords or something nice and European) pair of sheer to waist nude pantyhose. You will be shocked by how your heart flutters. And be honest girls because I don't think my wife is alone here; she says it feels awesome when I lightly rub her legs when she has pantyhose on. She loves it.

    And then you can make a good game about undressing sensually and it takes you back to high school. Isn't that what we all are after in our sex? That youthful butterfly feeling in our stomachs? I am anyway and we use pantyhose all the damn time. And then if your wife likes to get a little kinky, you can take them off and tie the wrists together.

    Who doesn't remember going into a health club in the 80's and not being turned on by the women in the major high cut leotards (which they couldn't wear with out tights) and not being turned on by all the nylon covered butt cheeks hanging out of thong leotards? I know I was, badly. I picked up more than one girl from Vic Tanny's and 'got in her pantyhose' and it was a major turn on. Maybe it's just me but I freaking loved that era and those images still get me aroused in a big way. So vive la pantyhose but you can't just have them everywhere all the time. Use them as a prop or whatever but they ARE sexy I don't care what anyone says. No they are not on a bunion footed old lady with reinforced toes hanging out of her Naturalizers but on a nice looking woman (hopefully your wife!) they are hot as hell and always have been!

    Wolfey

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  38. Another factor to consider for the decline of hosiery is the rise of the internet in the mid to late 90s allowing many people to do their work away from the workplace. As a result of this phenomenon, workplaces loosen their dress codes as casual friday morphed into casual everyday. TV shows such as Sex and the City brought the tacky bare leg look to the mainstream causing the fashion industry to adopt the trend, and declare pantyhose out of style and fashion, even wearing them with open toes would be considered a fashion faux pas.

    That would cause many women including celebrities to abandon hose and go out bare legged even during the colder months of the fall and winter. All of this contributed to the decline of hosiery in the late 90s and early 2000s. Even pantyhose companies such as Sheer Energy, Hanes, No Nonsense that used to advertise on TV commercials and magazines throughout the 70s, 80s and early to mid 90s were no longer advertising due to the decline.

    Pantyhose is still in fashion but it has not been in the mainstream in the last decade thanks in large part to the so called fashion experts (Stacy London, Clinton Kelly, Tim Gunn, etc.)and the media brainwashing women into the belief that hose is out of style, fashion, and that nobody wear thems anymore. Thankfully, there are women in other countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and here in Canada that continue to wear them, and are not exposed to the tacky, lazy, and trashy bare leg look in the USA. They don't wear them to attract men or as a fashion statement, they wear them as a culture and tradition of dressing feminine. (If only American women can learn from women from other countries how to dress feminine including wearing pantyhose.)

    It is not just Kate and her sister Pippa Middleton that brought pantyhose back into the mainstream, but there are other celebrities like Beyonce, Zooey Deschanel, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Jessica Alba, and Rihanna that have all wore pantyhose even during the bare legs era, and before the Middletons entered the spotlight. Even young celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Victoria Justice, Ariana Griande, Blake Lively, Taylor Momsen, AnnaSophia Robb, and Miranda Cosgrove all wear pantyhose at various events. These are celebrities in their early to mid 20s. There are also TV shows such as Gossip Girl, where the young female characters are are always wearing pantyhose. This all proves that hosiery is alive and well among the young generation.

    There is a site called Act Sensous where Robyn Maryland is the president of the companty who sells her products online, and has a blog where people can comment on everything about pantyhose even their hosiery sightings, and celebrities wearing hose. There are also pictures of celebrities and various women wearing hosiery especially with open toe shoes proving that pantyhose is pretty much in fashion, and that statements such as "pantyhose out of style and fashion," "Nobody wears them anymore," and "pantyhose/opentoe shoes are fashion faux pas" are complete myths, misconceptions, and falsehoods made up by the fashionistas and media to discourage women from wearing pantyhose. Here is the link to the blog:

    http://actsensuous.wordpress.com/

    Brian W.

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  39. I've always found women's legs to look far more sexier in hose than bare.

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  40. FYI; Isis did not wear hosiery even as Andrea. I don't know if this was because Joanna Cameron (the actress that played her) didn't want to, or the producers wanted an "authentic" ancient mythic goddess look for the character. Too bad, Joanna had great legs too. I know that the other actresses on the show wore hosiery (if they were wearing a skirt or dress...kind of hard to tell if they were wearing hosiery under those flared pants then you might could tell by getting a brief glimpse at the ankles). You would notice a lack of "sheen" on their legs as opposed to Joanna's legs.

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