When Did We Stop Wearing Pantyhose?

I lived in Southern California for a few years. The area I lived in was 120 degrees in the summer and a balmy 70 in the winter.  Nothing irritated me more than after my steering wheel melted and just sitting down would us all to sweat, a person who never lived there would say, “But it’s a dry heat!”  As if the fact that green grass never grew in the desert and the fact that I never once needed a sweater would be tempered by their gentle reminder that not only was it hot, but it was bone dry. I had a love-hate relationship with the weather; it was 367 days after I moved there that it first rained.  I ran outside like a lunatic, waving my arms around and throwing caution to the wind in the middle of the street.  The sheer joy of some kind of change from the perpetual sunshine lasted all afternoon, and I learned to slowly acclimate to the weather.

It was there in the Inland Empire (what’s up, 909?!) that I first discovered that women don’t wear pantyhose anymore.  Having come from the great state of Pennsylvania for theprevious 18 years, I wore pantyhose to church, to the prom, and to my first professional jobs.  Maybe it was a 1990’s thing.  Maybe it was a regional thing. I don’t honestly know. All I know is, I wore pantyhose under skirts and dresses with professional or nice clothing. All of my colleagues, friends, and relatives wore them as well, even in summer if closed toed shoes were worn.  I used to fix the run in my nylons with clear nail polish.

Nowadays “getting a run in my stockings” is a phrase current college students don’t even get the reference to. And that’s my question: when did we stop wearing pantyhose? I was in a wedding in Florida and the bridesmaids all wore matching closed toed shoes.  I showed up, ready to change with all the gals in the church annex area that was our dressing area.  As we fussed about, the Mother of the Bride was getting all choked up as she helped her daughter into an ivory slip style wedding dress.  One of my fellow attendants noticed me start the process of rolling up my stockings in one hand, slipping my foot into one side, tugging them up to my calf, then rolling up the other leg and repeating this process.  She came over to me and exclaimed, “Why are you wearing those?”  Everyone stopped, looked over, and joined in the chorus of “Who wears pantyhose?” and some sundry giggles. It was then I realized that no one else, not even the bride, was wearing hosiery.

Bare legs for those of us untanned goddesses in a bridal party can look not-so-nice. Most stockings have great shaping support for the calves, thighs, and tummy areas that help smooth out the look of some bridesmaids gowns. It seemed that in Southern California and Florida, the trend was not to wear hose–even to formal or church functions. However, I most recently lived in Philadelphia and was surprised that, even in winter, many women now prefer to go hose-less–just like their warmer climate sisters.

My only hope, since I prefer to wear pantyhose, is that the rumors are true about Kate Middleton: she’s bringing back nude stockings!

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