Are Nude Stockings Posh or Passé?

June 1, 2012

You might wonder why I am writing about this now as we go into the summer season when bare skin is the norm.  Well, I’ll tell you. It’s all very personally motivated.

You might have heard me mention that my legs are not my favorite feature.  Since we all teach what we have to learn, I have spent time doing the inner work necessary so I can honestly say that I have come to love and appreciate them.  Will they ever be the legs of my dreams?  No.  But am I thankful that they are relatively long, strong and take me where I need to go?  Yes.  And, part of my accepting them the way they are is the knowledge of how to dress them in a way that makes them look pretty good – (the magic of illusion is a wonderful thing!).

That’s where nude stockings come in.  I can hear a collective groan as I say that, but please don’t stop reading.  Trust me, I too, am not a fan of pantyhose either.  Since I was a teenager I have not been able to stand anything tight around my waist, and I spent decades cutting the waistband of my pantyhose so I could breathe (yes, you can still do that as long as you don’t buy “sheer to waist” pantyhose and you don’t cut them so much that they fall down (I never had that happen so don’t worry about it too much)).  And, there was no chance that a pair of control top pantyhose would come anywhere near my body!

Then, along came the current generation of young women who reject any suggestion that nude stockings are the way to go.  In fact, they snicker at the idea that they should ever consider wearing them!  They see it as wearing fake legs and just the idea makes them kind of squeamish.  In their opinion, bare legs is the only way to go. Obviously, this is a fashion topic that is highly polarized, and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.

I am not going to try to change someone’s mind who is firmly ensconced in the belief that bare legs are the only option (although I’m sure they wear tights of various colors). Let me just say that I believe strongly that in a conservative professional setting stockings are appropriate.

So, back to me since I suspect many of you can identify with my experience.  I am writing about this now because for years I did not wear many dresses.  For those of you who know me, I can see you checking your memory for times when you’ve actually seen my legs!  The truth is there haven’t been many occasions.  But that has changed this season, and it’s exactly the reason nude hosiery is on my mind.

Let’s talk about the 5 reasons nude stockings have disappeared from so many women’s wardrobe AND 5 new ways to invite them back in:

1. They Make You Look Like an “Old Lady!”  Ask any 20-something woman, and she’ll gasp at the mere suggestion that she wear nude stockings.  They are so not cool.  As with most fashion trends it’s really just because they didn’t grow up with them.  I mean, really, just look at those young men who wear their pants down below their butt with their boxers showing and you can’t tell me it’s not a fashion rebellion.  The same is true for nude stockings.  When worn well there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing them (and often you can barely tell someone is), but it’s more the idea of them that offends young women–we did the same thing with bras 30+ years ago)!

Solution: You’re probably not surprised to hear that my new favorite celebrity is Kate Middleton.  Not because I know very much about her or follow her every move.  I don’t.  But, I do appreciate her bringing nude stockings (ooops, they are now called nude tights!) back into favor (at least more than they were).  Sales have increased significantly since she entered the celebrity fashion scene.  She has proven that nude tights don’t have to look obvious or matronly.

2. Pantyhose are Uncomfortable.  I don’t think that most people will debate this.  This is arguably the #1 reason pantyhose fell out of favor with those of us who used to wear them.  In fact, I still have bags of pantyhose left over (I used to buy them in bulk because they cost less!), and I am the first to admit that they are not my favorite accessory.  Yes, I wore them for years because that’s all there was, and it was an expected part of our wardrobes in the 80’s and 90’s.  However, instead of embracing the bare leg fashion statement, I just covered my legs in a different, more comfortable way: pants.

With dresses being such a huge fashion trend now (yay!) I was beginning to feel the pull to wear them.  But, after having one or two of them sit in my closet for a year or more because I never felt right wearing them with bare legs, I finally decided I had to do something about it and solve this dilemma.  And, I have!

Solution: Bear with me on this one.  The solution is thigh-high stockings (just breathe and keep reading!).  They are super comfortable (no waistband to squish you) AND when you are wearing an A-line skirt or dress (or one that just flows softly over your curves) no one can see the band on your thigh (even if it does cause a touch of a muffin top).  Trust me, I have a muffin top with it and no one can tell (except now you all know).  More on brands coming up.

3. They are so 80’s.  Give this one up!  Half of the 80’s styles (e.g., bright colored pants paired with other bright colors or black, peplums and flashdance style shirts) have made a comeback this spring so shouldn’t nude stockings (when worn well) feel right at home?

Solution: If you remember the 1980’s as well as I do, you might not want to revisit all of those styles – especially not all at once – but bringing the stockings into your current wardrobe with a pretty pair of platform shoes, for instance, or with a fabulous patterned dress will feel current and elegant.

4. They are a Huge Expense.  Why do you think I bought them in bulk years ago?  Invariably, after just a wearing or two, I’d put my toe through one or catch it on something and have that unsightly “laddering” – the new term for runs.  One other word of caution…the stockings are meant to be “nude” so they should match your skin color and not change it noticeably (“suntan” stockings should be outlawed on someone with very fair skin) or you run the risk of looking very dated.  (And, the good news about laddering in your stockings is that when truly nude stockings run, it is less noticeable because they blend in so well with your skin.  And, there’s more good news.  When you get a run in thigh high stockings you only have to discard one leg of the pair!)

Solution: You can buy them in bulk (once you determine the brand and color you like) but I have noticed there isn’t a huge savings on them – unless perhaps you can get them at a Hanes’ outlet (that’s what I used to do). My two favorite colors were “Barely There” for Fall/Winter and “Little Color” for Spring/Summer.

I was also just introduced to stockings.  Yes, they are way more expensive but rumor has it that they don’t run easily.  I just ordered my first pair so I will keep you posted.

5. You Can’t Wear Stockings with Sandals:  This was another reason I stopped wearing stockings for a while.  What do you do about the webbed toes?

Solution: Enter my favorite kind of stockings – toeless!  Donna Karan makes a good brand and you can even get the Berkshire brand for less (it’s not as smooth and silky but will do the job).  Yes, you have to play with the band around your toes to be sure you can’t see it when you put on your sandals but it’s amazing how it turns invisible in many strappy sandals.  Be sure to try them on ahead of time with the sandals you want to wear to be sure this is true – sometimes they are obvious and that’s worse than webbed toes.

Can everyone go bare legged with skirts?  This is where the debate gets tough.  Women with long, slender, evenly tanned legs are so quick to say yes, but for the rest of us the answer isn’t always so straightforward.

I’ll just use my legs as an example.  I’ve never had a tan in my entire life.  Burns, yes.  Tan, no.  Being a redhead this is not surprising but what also comes with my red hair (which I wouldn’t trade) is super pale and translucent (you can see a mix of freckles, purple undertones, red and white so my skin never looks smooth and even.  And this has little to do with aging – it has been the case since I was a kid).

Some well-meaning women will say, “So get a spray tan.”  Okay, so I could do that, but do I really want to commit to something that I have to do so often?  It gets expensive, time-consuming and, to be honest, since I’ve never had a tan, having even slightly tanned legs looks very foreign on my skin.  Not to mention that I don’t know exactly what is in those spray tans and I’m not so keen on repeated applications of something I feel so unsure of.  Trust me, I do enough “beauty treatments” without adding one more!  But, that’s just me.  So, more than anything, what the stockings do is smooth out my skintone and create a sleeker line (and, yay, they also smooth out any dimpling).  Quick and easy!

If your skin is unevenly colored can you still go bare-legged?  Yes, of course.  It’s certainly a personal preference and, yes, I do go bare-legged with skirts when I’m being very casual (but I’m even more hyper-vigilant about the fit, length of the skirt and shoes I wear so that I feel good in them).  That said, I also know that my legs will draw more focus when they are bare because they are not as smooth, and that’s not my preferred place to have the eye go.

It’s clear to see that the stocking debate is here to stay for now.  There is certainly no one perfect answer for everyone.  And, while I’m sure this information did nothing to change the minds of those who are firmly entrenched in their no nude stocking beliefs, hopefully, for those of you who are on the fence and looking for a solution, these 5 options above will give you food for thought and may bring you the solution you’ve been looking for!

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