Fashionable Returns: Why Every Woman Needs Proper Hosiery

Do women today need to wear pantyhose? The garment, still seen occasionally in churches and offices, can feel anachronistic, and it’s true that they do have a long history. Nylon stockings were first introduced at the 1939 World’s Fair, but didn’t become widely popular until after World War II. For decades after that, women wore hosiery with just about everything, since they typically couldn’t wear pants. Since it’s become normal for women to wear pants to school and work, though, it’s been all over for tights. So why do they seem to be making a comeback?

Fashion Comes In Cycles

The primary reason we’re seeing hosiery become popular again today is that, like fashion more generally, everything comes around again. Bell bottoms were all the rage in the 1970s, but after a disappearing for a while, they made a comeback around 2010. Similarly, today’s athleisure trends echo some of the popular looks of the 1980s. Generally speaking, parents can expect to see the clothes they wore growing up come back to market as their kids enter their teens.

The New Shape Of Stockings

One thing that happens when styles come back around is that they tend to evolve to reflect other stylistic changes and cultural norms. The corsets of the 1800s, for example, have turned into today’s elastic waist trainers, and other types of lingerie are constantly becoming more fashionable with the changing times and materials. Stockings, which fell out of style but never quite went away, have done the same thing.

Today’s hosiery largely eschew nylon in favor of more modern, durable materials, and they come in different styles depending on the wearer’s needs. In addition to coming in many different colors, women’s pantyhose offerings include control top and butt-lifting options, sheer and opaque styles, and full-height and thigh-high options. Still, women continue to complain that hosiery is less than comfortable, and they’ve discovered they often have to pay more for comfort as a result of the aforementioned shift away from nylon.

Changing Norms In Pantyhose Prices

What is the cost of truly comfortable pantyhose? This is one of the questions Elle Hunt posed when she investigated women’s hosiery options for The Guardian. What Hunt found was that, while a basic pair of Marks & Spencer’s top seller tights might cost £6 (about $7.61 USD), the new expectation is that women today will spend at least £20 a pair ($25.38 USD) – and often much more. But, as one industry spokesman told Hunt, “Any customer who is willing to pay more than £10 for a pair of tights knows exactly what they expect from them.” This is where all the new features, like lifting and compressing, come into the picture.

Hosiery Hits The Catwalk

Not only have the features expected of women’s hosiery expanded, but so have the styles. Rather than childish opaque tights and sheer stockings, today’s hosiery tends toward high fashion. Ashley Graham wore glittering, crystal-covered tights to the Met Gala paired with a blazer in place of pants and sheer socks walked the runway at Prada’s Fashion Week show. These high fashion options are shaking up stockings and shifting them from stodgy to stylish.

The good news for women is that today’s stockings, while pricier on average, are more comfortable, and they’re certainly more stylish than those of the past. And, combined with shapewear elements, they bring visible benefits to your form and make your clothes fit better. Maybe they seem old-fashioned, but they’ve stuck around this long for a reason. Stockings aren’t going anywhere, but today they are certainly making a statement.


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