The Disappearance Of Hosiery

An article from and selected comments below 

September 2014


For decades upon decades, women wore hosiery.  All through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, this is simply what the ladies wore… but then, suddenly, it went away.  Indeed, it happened so fast (perhaps somewhere in the late 1980s) that I didn’t even notice until hosiery had all but vanished from the face of the earth.  What the hell happened?

In the UK and much of Europe, hosiery has made a comeback in recent years, but in the United States it is entirely absent.  I grew up surrounded by hosiery, so I must admit, I’m a bit sad to wave it goodbye.  In the 70s, all the foxy babes on TV wore them: Charlie’s Angels, Daisy Duke, Chrissy Snow, Wonder Woman, Julie Barnes (The Mod Squad), Marcia Brady,… the list goes on and on. 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, was sorry to see them leave.

The question is “why?” – or to be more precise “WTF?”  I’ve done a bit of research by asking a few ladies and come up with a few theories of my own.  Feel free to offer your own explanation for their mysterious disappearance, and together we can solve this mystery.



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. 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. Kate Middleton helped change that conception in the UK, but it’s still pervasive in the States.

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.



3. Tan legs are “in”

A function of hosiery (especially nude hose) was to improve the tone of the leg.  Now that most women in the US tan their legs and “tan in a bottle” is abundant, this function of hosiery became no longer necessary.



4. Women gained control over the mass marketed female images and fashion industry

What women wore and what was deemed fashionable used to be dictated exclusively by men.  If men thought legs looked better in hose, then by God, women are going to have to wear hose.  Once women had a say in the process, the inconvenient pain-in-the-ass hosiery was kicked to the curb.



5. We’re comfortable showing bare skin

For a time, hosiery basically served to censor a woman’s bare leg.  In other words, it was more than a little bit naughty (and in poor taste) to show off a bare leg; now that that taboo is long gone, yet another function of hosiery is gone.



6. Razor blade improvements

It’s easy to overlook this factor, but vast improvements in the comfort, ease and effectiveness of modern razors definitely has had an impact.  Women’s razor blades of today actually provide a smooth finish without carving your legs like a turkey.  The need for hosiery to mask the effects of unfriendly razors is long gone.



7. Skirts aren’t as short

The heyday of the miniskirt is long since gone. With much less leg shown, so there isn’t much need for hosiery which improves the appearance of the leg.



8. That annoying “swishing” sound

It’s certainly not the primary reason hosiery went kaput, but according to the ladies in my informal poll, it is a contributing factor.  The swish-swish-swish with every step was often a source of embarrassment.



9. They look bad with open-toed shoes

Even the biggest pantyhose enthusiast will have to admit they look a little ridiculous with open-toed shoes.

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?



10. Americans have gotten slovenly

If you look back a few decades, 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 was the first to make strides in this area.  For whatever reason, this casualness just got more and more casual.

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. In this climate, it was only a matter of time before hosiery bit the dust.

Of course, this begs the next question. Why have Americans gotten so casual? That, I’m afraid, is a question for another day.



Things certainly have changed since the seventies when I came of age. I can remember actually being excited as a girl when my mom bought me several pairs of pantyhose to wear rather than the opaque tights that I’d always worn up to that time. They seemed much more “grown up”, and I wore them quite often.
Fast forward forty years, and while I still like to wear hose to work and when I’m dressing up, I’m definitely in the minority.

Good for you, CRaeJ! At least you’ll have better looking legs than the majority of women who go bare-legged looking “slutty,” which is my personal opinion. I’ve been an avid admirer of legs in nylon hosiery since seeing Mary Tyler Moore in a few episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show as well as having a mother who wore nylons on a daily basis.

I still wear them. Like you I came of age in the seventies and my first pair just made me feel so grown up!! I don’t mind going bare legged in shorts and summer dresses but never bare legged when going to work or dressed up – in ANY season.

I work in an office. I am a receptionist. So many men in that office tell me how much they like my pantyhosed legs. The wish their wife or gf wore them. I like the attention.

I think its important to remember a few things before you count pantyhose out: for the last 500 years, women have worn some type of leg hosiery. The bare leg look essentially came in vogue around the year 2000. It reined supreme for about 10 years before pantyhose started to make a sneaking comeback. So tell me– what’s the aberration? For years the fashonistas said that pantyhose “made your legs look orange” and that “they make you look like an old woman”. Well, Kate Middleton came along and proved that one wrong in spades. Additionally, the fashionistas said that pantyhose were expensive, that they ruined easily, and were downright unhealthy to wear. Well, the same thing is true of high heels, and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. Finally, you have a whole generation of young women coming of age who really know nothing about pantyhose except what they’ve heard from Mom, their Aunt, or maybe older sister. However, they know this: Mom is now devoutly bare leg. So is Aunt Jane. And the bare leg look is going to be the new “mom jeans” fashion faux paus to avoid at all costs. I’ll even say it plainly: The bare leg look is SOOOOOOOOOOOO 2006………

Hosiery – Not just for weddings, church or other “special” events.

Black sheers – Not the only choice! Nude sheer or ultra-sheer hosiery, when closely matched to skin tone, looks absolutely amazing!

Sheers and Ultra-sheers actually make a women’s legs look younger, healthier. The bare leg look which shows off veins, bruises, scrapes, bony feet, bony knees, spider veins and other blemishes do NOT make you look younger.

Set up a poll that features a non-model women’s legs (waist down, showing part of the dress or skirt) in various heels, pumps, flats, etc. Same women, same shoes. One pic of her in sheer hosiery that matches her skin tone and one bare legged. Pics side by side. Then one with pics of a women in opaques (tights) and bare legged, same women, same shoes, same picture distance and angle. Do several of these, using the same women for the side by side comparison, in various combinations of skirts/dress, heels/flats/boots and hosiery, ultra-sheer to opaque, etc.

Do the poll without notifying the participant that it’s a poll about hosiery (or bare legs), but start the poll featuring sheer (or ultra sheer) vs bare leg pics and then opaques vs bare leg. Some women (& men) will know right away what type of poll it is, but not all.

100% guaranteed, the majority of women & men will say the legs with hosiery look better, even though its the same (non-model) woman. And, most likely, the sheer hosiery would win the most “up” votes (vs the opaques). And, more than likely, a higher percentage of men (than women) will like the hosiery look in dresses and skirts vs. bare leg.

You intentionally pick out a beautiful dress and sexy, gorgeous shoes and then go bare legged? Doesn’t look good.

This would be similar to a man dressing in a nice suit or even a nice shirt and slacks with a nice pair of shoes and then not putting on nice dress socks, simply going without socks all together. A terrible look whenever he sat down or worse then crossed one leg over the other.

Hosiery completes the look for women. Legs looks better, smoother, more elegant, etc. More complete.

Bare legs are…well, bare. Great for shorts, great for swimsuits, great for wearing with flip flops. You know, the casual or beach scene look. Not so great for paring with dresses or skirts. Looks incomplete and too raw when matched with a dress or skirt.

There is a poll on stylebistro called “What Do You Think of Wearing Tights Under Shorts?” As of now, 81% like and only 19% dislike. Mind you, this is about the more casual look of opaques (not sheer/ultra-sheer) with shorts (not even dresses or skirts). Hosiery does look better than bare leg, in many situations.

Besides, there are so many new types, new technology out there since prior to the 90’s. The sheer/ultra sheer skin tones look far more natural and appealing than before. As a bonus, there are of course many options for giving the appearance that you’ve lost a dress size (tummy control, especially with high waist, bum lifting, leg messaging, etc). There are even some that are made specifically for hotter climates such as the Silkies 65 Degree Control Top Sheer Pantyhose (in regular & toe-less). There are even hosiery that have a G-string affect made by Trasparenze (& others), if your into that, anti cellulite hosiery made by Solidea (& others), moisturizing hosiery made by Solidea, Cette (& others) and non-slip sole hosiery made especially for high heels by Marks & Spence, Frappe, Verano (& others).

Like Kate Middleton, Beyoncé, Zoey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and many of the younger 20 somethings from Disney, many more young and middle aged women should take notice that hosiery just looks better with dresses and skirts and has come a very long way in the last decade or so!

““You suddenly have flawless legs without having to do anything,” said Ms. Dahan, 33, a Montreal-based mother of two and co-designer of Mackage, a brand of downtown chic outerwear. ”
““there are a lot of stars wearing them and you just don’t know they are because they are so well done — it’s one of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets,” said Mary Alice Stephenson, a stylist and fashion commentator who said she wears sheer hose to black-tie events or when she thinks she might be photographed in a short skirt.”

Here is my take on some of them:

1. American women are known to follow fashion trends religiously from fashionistas, media, and celebrities on tv shows, movies, books, magazines, and the internet. Some people said that the bare leg trend originated from the TV series “Sex and the City” where Carrie Bradshaw and her friends are always seen bare legged in designer shoes year round in New York causing many women including celebrities, fashion models, various tv personalities from news reporters, anchors, talk show hosts, and US first lady Mooch…Michelle Obama to abandon hose in droves and go out bare legged, regardless of the weather. The so called fashionistas may have declared pantyhose out of style, but there are a number celebrities such as Beyonce, Katy Perry, Zoey Deschanel, and Ariana Grande that wear pantyhose at various events. Would these women be considered granny if they wear hose to an event? If these fashionistas are considering them granny, they are showing a lack of respect towards these stars who are being themselves by dressing very classy and professional for an event. The negativity from the fashionistas about Ariana Grande’s pantyhose caused her to break down in tears at the Grammys a few months back. Hose is pretty much in style in Europe, not because of Kate Middleton, but they never went out of style, even in Eastern European countries such as Russia, Estonia, Poland and Asian countries such as Japan and Korea where women wear them as a culture and tradition of femininity as opposed to fashion influence in America.

2. Women are wearing the wrong size and style of hose. Instead, they are wearing the cheap brands of hosiery from the dollar stores, supermarkets, drug stores instead of well known quality brand names of hosiery. Another factor is that the American hosiery companies are not following the European method in investing in new technology to producing nylon in order to make hose soft and silky. Instead they were too focused on sticking with the old method of stitching the nylon to gain profit, causing hose to be tight and constricting eventually causing runs on legs, and women to hate wearing them. All of this contributed to the downfall of hosiery in America. Even the pantyhose advertisements that were seen on TV and magazines throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s disappeared as well.

4. The feminist movement may have played the role in allowing women to gain power over men. Not only women are controlling the fashion industry, but gay men who only care about dictating what is in and out of fashion, and pantyhose was no exception.

5. Unless they are toned, not all women have the legs to pull off the bare leg look. Some women have various skin blemishes such as pastiness, blotchiness, and veins on their legs, thin and knobby knees, crusty and undeveined toes. If a woman tries to pull off the bare leg look with all those blemishes, it would look downright tacky, disgusting, and unprofessional.

9. What is wrong with pantyhose and open toe shoes? If the fashionistas think that pantyhose and open toe shoes are a fashion faux pas, what is the point of making sheer and sandal foot pantyhose then?? To me, this is just a myth, misconception, and pet peeve to discourage women from wearing pantyhose with open toe shoes. Women wearing pantyhose with open toe shoes is still elegant and common today like it was in the 70s and 80s, even in some European countries as well.

10. This is the most common part of all. American women have gotten lazy when it comes to dressing up nowadays. Instead of dressing like a lady, they decided to dress like a slob and skank which is showing a lack of class and professionalism in America. They are also giving America a bad name and reputation around the world in caring less how they dress even in other countries where it is considered etiquette to dress classy and professional at an event that calls for wearing pantyhose with their outfits. One example is Actress Rita Wilson (Tom Hanks’ wife) who did not know that she had to wear pantyhose at an Royal Event in the presence of the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Rita later admitted that she does not own a pair of sheer hose herself. Another example is hose hating US first lady Michelle Obama who was criticized for not wearing hose at an event in the Czech Republic that calls for women wearing pantyhose, despite the fact she previously wore them during her husband’s first presidential inauguration in 2009. The ever increasing presence of the internet has casualized the workplace environment causing some workplaces to loosen their dress codes, and employees to conduct their work away from their workplace. As a result of loosened dress codes, women are now dressing more casual by wearing less skirts and dresses, and wearing pants even flip flops to work like if they are going to the beach. Women can’t dress too casually in a business setting in a European or Asian country, where dress codes in some workplaces are known to be strict due in large part to their country’s business culture.

I fully agree, I started watching this tv series called Fresh Meat on hulu here in the USA. The female cast ALWAYS has some sort of nylons or tights or leggings on. Never bare legged, if more shows like this are brought to the States I’m sure the fashion trend will revert to more wearing of nylon hose, hope so because nylon hose does make legs look much better.

Brian: I enjoyed your comments & agree with you 100%. I am an “old lady” (69), so old that I wore hose with garter belts in high school. That was our dress code, dresses, skirts, dress shoes & legs covered. Sitting with the garters digging into our legs all day was not pleasant. So when pantyhose came out (around 1961?), they were wonderful!!! I can’t believe how women dress now days in an office. Last week I saw 3 women in a hospital office wearing skirts, bare legs & beach sandals, all 3 of them. They were in their 40’s. Also, stringy sloppy hairdo’s. Geez, It’s a total shame how women dress these days. I worked in a bank 10 yrs in my 40’s & we all dressed & acted appropriately. I miss those days. We were told in high school that the dress code was enforced to prepare us for the future. Women today haven’t a clue. Again, I enjoyed your message.

mary in michigan….. I fully agree with you. I’ll be 70 this year and I hate that women have abandoned hosiery in their dress just because some fashion designer (male who already hates women) decided they weren’t necessary. When my younger sister came of age, nylons replaced her socks and she became a young lady.

gjm11653… I too wore garter belt with hose. I had 4 sisters and keeping us and my mom in hose was a chore. I remember on Saturday night several pair of hose hanging on a line in the kitchen. When I married and wore pantyhose I was in heaven! I am seeing many very pretty women newscasters sitting displaying their legs and they appear bare. Not really terrible looking but not real attractive either. I think hose are pure class. A sundress or similar can go without, but nothing says class in a suit or dress like great hose and shoes or heels.

I am that person who wears sandal foot pantyhose or stockings with sandals–it’s a weird thing, but meh. And there’s no way that I’ll wear a skirt or dress without stockings. No one needs to see the mosquito bites and other scars on my legs, so why not cover them up a bit. I don’t wear pantyhose very often though–I have skinny ankles, and I can never get them to fit correctly. (Also, if you’re over 5’8, but not “Big Mama” Pantyhose sized, you are doomed to have a very uncomfortable day, with your pantyhose sliding down your legs all day long!)

I think another reason is that hosiery doesn’t look good poking out of the impossibly ugly shoes women wear now. Hosiery is sexy; ugly shoes are not. Plus I’m not sure women know what sexy is anymore. Seem to me like being half naked means sexy for far too many of them. As for sexy stocking well the world’s most fetching TV personality right now, Rachel Riley, could use a bit of saucing up when it comes to her gams (see how old I am???). I’ve been watching the 80’s unfunny sitcom Sledge Hammer lately and marvel at how lovely inspector Doreau is in her classic mid-height pumps (and tight mini skirts of course). 🙂 Ladies, the next best thing to a pair of perfectly tanned legs is a pair of sheer black stockings. After having written all that I realize I haven’t helped with finding out why! I don’t know!!!!!!

And of course, it is true that more and more people dress like they live under a bridge. Maybe they don’t want to get mugged? 🙂

If a woman goes out with me she WILL wear hosiery if she’s wearing a dress with pumps or there won’t be a date. BTW I’m a gentleman in every respect and I have class and there aren’t a lot of us out there. So she will wear hose or sit at home alone on Saturday night if she wants to go out with me……

I am a woman and I agree with all the men here. The way women dress these days is disgraceful! We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. And yes, I would dress nicely if a man asked me to. It’s called respect for the other person. I would hope the same from a man if I asked him to dress a certain way for an occasion. I have been online for the last 3 days looking for a slip! I cannot even find a simple slip to wear underneath a dress. That’s another issue I could go on about as to why women need to wear slips! I am a 38 year old woman, and not some old granny who wears slips and hose. But over the last decade or so, my wardrobe has become more classy, sophisticated, and age appropriate. I wear them because it is the proper thing to do. A slip makes your clothing look nice, hang better, and gives a hint of modesty. Hose make your legs look attractive. They are classy and appropriate. Ladies, please bring back hose and slips!

I was actually born in the 90’s and I do know of them. I actually have a few pairs. Typically, pantyhose are just worn for dresses and skirts. It’s usually optional if it’s casual, but if its a formal event you must wear pantyhose. Im half and half with my opinion if them. I love them and the patterns they can have but as a women for big hips, big thighs, and a smaller waist, it is so damn hard to find a fitting pair. Plus when your thighs rub against each other with them on it kinda hurts. Also, I’m really pale, so nude hose are just so contrasting it looks orange and just… Not good.

It is true that in Europe especially, Women wear hosiery including the “New Old Fashioned” Nylon stockings with garters or suspenders. Men especially find it very sexy for a woman to wear pantyhose/tights/stockings along with heels of course. Women here in America are just too inconvenienced and could care less if it looks sexy. I’m lucky in that women I date wear them. Something I read on the net stated that there are now men’s pantyhose and a fair number of men too wear nylon stockings! Fascinating.

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