It’s oppressively hot this week. A scorcher. Another record-breaker in a year unfavorably full of cruel weather. Some of you will be able to go about your work day in “summer business casual,” but for others, you’ll soldier on in full battle gear. And for many women in our unfairly unfashionably maligned city, that means pantyhose.
Though sales of pantyhose have been on the decline since the mid-nineties, there are still offices that require them for women’s dress year-round. The excuse normally given for such a dress code is that they give the wearer a “polished, professional look.” As they are more precisely termed actual underwear, I find it a bit vulgar to be told by anyone other than my mother that I should be wearing pantyhose. Wear hose when the garment requires it – something form-fitting and unlined, for example – but with a knee-length lined skirt? If one is well-groomed there should be no need.
And in disgusting 100-degree weather, there is no need to wear pantyhose other than to cover what is bare – which implies that it’s wrong to bare your legs in an office. Why? I’m by no means a radical feminist, but I can’t stand rules with no discernible logic, and especially not rules that are based on perceptions rather than facts. After all, it’s not so long ago that business women in this city were told never to wear pantsuits, only suits with skirts. What was the logic there?
Let’s step back for some history, a fun fashion tangent on clothing codes, before we shred more hose. For example, high heels. Did you know high heels started out as a male fashion necessity?
Back when everyone rode horses as the main means of transportation, heeled shoes were essential for men. Women just followed their trend. Eventually men gave up wearing high heeled shoes everyday when the Enlightenment kicked in with radical ideas about equality – male equality, that is. Women kept on wearing them, and we began to fetishize them. Fascinating.
Hose? Everyone used to wear some form of high stockings or tights. Eventually, men discarded them when long trousers became the norm. Women kept wearing them, and when skirts began to rise, they were deemed necessary to hide bare legs – because heaven forbid a man sees your bare ankles, let alone knees! As the decades passed and skirts got higher and higher, it was harder to hide the garters that kept stockings up. So, the invention of the pantyhose – stockings and underwear together at last!
Problems? Well, there are several health hazards with wearing pantyhose, exacerbated in the summer. Not to completely disgust you, but because of nylon’s tight non-absorbency the medical issues noted can range from just inconvenient (like red chafing thighs) to downright unpleasant (like urinary tract and fungal infections… how delightfully polished and professional!). Easily ripped, snagged, ruined just by putting them on – they also are certainly not economical, and definitely not green.
But, they do hide imperfections and give the torso and leg a clean line under garments. I will agree to that. In the winter they can be a help with warming you up – but then winter tights can be made in more forgiving, breathable fabrics like cotton or wool. There are also actual medical pantyhose for dealing with varicose veins and circulation problems.
Ugh. Can’t wait for that day.
I did a bit of informal polling of the WLDC authors and came up with some reactions to summer office dress requirements of hose in DC. Several women refuse to work in offices with such dress codes, especially a year-round hose requirement. Erin even noted once being required to wear knee-highs with pants (Knee-highs?! There can be no logical reason for that. None. God forbid some senator sees your bare ankle. Shocking!).
But Tiffany won the hose horror story round-up:
“Several jobs ago, I worked at an office where the Executive Director was so crazy and concerned about appearances that if you were pregnant, you had to produce an actual note from your doctor to excuse you from the pantyhose requirement.”
On the flip side, Rachel’s mother raised her to wear hose whenever the occasion called for “classing things up.” Rebecca J noted, and quite rightly too, that “Americans have become sloppy dressers and will go out of the house in pretty much anything (jorts, airbrushed wolf t-shirts, booty shorts, scrunchies, etc.) A little ‘guidance”‘on appropriate and logical attire could be a good thing for us all.” I’m completely on board with that, as long as it has a logical basis. I just can’t see the logic behind pantyhose in summer.
Such guidelines are also no indication that the wearer will still manage to interpret them with a “polished, professional look” – I see plenty of women wearing hose in line with a dress code only to look completely outdated (white hose is still a scourge on Capitol Hill). I also see plenty of sophisticated women in DC wearing suits and dresses with no hose – baring their legs and yet still managing to look professional. It also obviously varies by field as well – those of us in the design fields can get away with or are even required to be a little more daring in our dress, while some in IT need to dress for comfort and crawling around with cables.
The WLDC men wondered if the pantyhose requirement was equivalent to the full suit requirement for men. I’m very curious to get your reactions on that. Ever since men’s dress was codified to the classic coat and trousers – over a hundred years ago! – there’s been very little change in the basic male office uniform. But just as a hosiery rule is no guarantee a women will be made sophisticated by wearing them, a suit rule is no guarantee a man will look professional. There are a lot of ill-fitting suits in this town.
So, any summer office dress code horror stories inspired by the pantyhose brigade? Think you can beat Tiff’s? Sound off.
I’d point out that pantyhose really only provide a clean line for the torso on women who are, shall we say, proportional in body type. For those who are not, it tends to bunch and roll and create lines in unflattering places.
In the late ’90s, I worked for a bank where we were supposed to wear pantyhose every day – even with pantsuits (knee highs would *not* do). I couldn’t figure out how this could be verified in a manner not involving sexual harassment, so I flouted it pretty regularly.
And speaking of harassment, there was the manager at one of my waitressing gigs who would make sure we were wearing hose by pinching our legs…
So yeah. I no likey pantyhose.
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These photos are awesome.
Over a decade ago I took a pretty substantial pay cut to accept a job that included a no dress code perk. There were several other reasons why that job was the right one but the idea of no pantyhose or women’s suits was a big factor.
Photos are all fellow WLDC author Erin McCann, who gladly ripped up an old bag of nylons for illustrative purposes. And beautifully done too. :)
Something that came up on our pre-article discussions was that several of us definitely do consider dress code seriously as a factor in deciding whether to take a job. I currently work in an office that has a fairly generous business casual dress code, so I wouldn’t run for the door JUST based on casual dress elsewhere, but as a dotcom refugee, I do frequently feel as though casual dress is the birthright being denied me.
I wear hose every day — even in the summer — because my office is freezing!! I couldn’t work here without them. I tried one day and had to sit on my legs, with a blanket.
If the above description is to be taken as fact (which I am; I’m not so stupid as to disagree with women complaining about clothing :O), than the suit requirement for men does not compare. A suit can be stiffling, but it is not much more than a regular dress shirt and tie. In fact, I find that it’s a starched shirt collar that is the worst in hot weather. Also considering men can take off the jacket of the suit, so the cotton shirt can breath, makes all the differenece. So, congrats, I guess: women sacrifice more comfort for clothing than men, once again!
I understand how women feel about pantyhose, But lets face it. Pantyhose look soooo much better!! I think I would take a job just because women had to wear panyhose….what do you think abbout that?
I wear Pantyhose everyday. The fabrics today make them easier to put on and more comfortable to wear then in the 70’s & 80’s. On avg I get 6 wears or more out of tha newly opened package. I wear them in the summer (even in this heat) with short & Snorks, and I wear them with pants and skirts other days. I like the way they make my legs look and feel, and I have received nice compliments from men, and some ladies when I have a skrit or shorts on. To prove my point I went to the local mall with my husband (who loves to see me and other lady in hose) and walked through with skirt and bare legs, and not one person made a remark or gave me a second look. The next day we went back to the same mall, and this time I had Tan color silky hose on, and a skirt, and my husband walked a few steps back, and men kept doing double takes my husband told me. When we went to the food court, 2 different guys came up and asked for my name and phone #.
Think of hose as make-up for the legs. If you take a 10 – 30 minutes in the morning to makeup your face and do your hair, and pick an outfit, then why not take an extra 5 minutes to makeup your legs.
More and More younger women are wear hose again, and they are showing up on the fashion runways too.
They are making a come back. All be it slow, I do see more women wearing them latly.
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I don’t mind wearing a pants suit year round, but a skirt suit requirement, or hose underneath pants? Why, for goodness’ sake? So that I can involuntarily have men check out my legs (how professional), sweat more (how attractive), or so that I can have my shins/thighs/waist cinched by elastic nylon? No, thank you.
If everyone in an office is told to cover their legs for the sake of looking “professional”, that is fine, but being required to simultaneously show legs and squeeze them into unbreathable fabric is degrading. And being told what to wear under my pants is even more so. The time for those kinds of requirements is quite past.
All I can say is, as passionate as Jenn is about hose, I am the same about ties. Nothing like going to work with a noose around your neck already pre-knotted…
I probably am in a large minority having lived in Florida for nine years. Away from the big city life I have not had to wear panty hose not even to a business meeting!
Going to a formal dinner and wearing a lovely short skirted dress I put on my first pair of hose in years…it was aweful!!! I went to the ladies room half way through the evening & took them off! You don’t realize how aweful they feel until you’ve been free of them for a while!
Hope pantyhose is making a come back. Everybody should wear pantyhose when they are going out for a night on the town or just sitting around on the sofa , with their panties on over their pantyhose.
I’m a guy that wears them everyday and has legs better than 95% of the girls. I tear a hole in the cotton crotch for coolness and convience so I can do EVERYTHING in them without having to pull them down from my gorgous little hips. Want to see my pantyhose pics? firstname.lastname@example.org
Haha the comments have taken an interesting turn…
Jenn, I think you make a very good point – it’s really more about looking professional, and not the mandated items of clothing themselves. Do what’s best for you, people!
That being said – I would like to comment on men’s work fashion. I do feel bad for them, since testosterone tends to physiologically make you warmer than estrogen, that men tend to have to wear more layers and heavier fabrics than women to work. Men stereotypically are more likely to be “in charge” too – so why does this trend continue if none of them like being hot and stifled?
Plus, then, if men are less stiffled, they’ll turn down the air conditioning, and poor yellowliner won’t have to wear hose to keep her warm anymore. Win-win!
I take issue with Brian’s concession that women have the worst cross to bear when it comes to comparing wearing pantyhose to work with wearing a suit and tie. As one of the growing minority of guys who are wearing men’s pantyhose (aka, ‘mantyhose’) on a regular basis–AND as one who’s worked in an environment requiring a suit and tie–I will take the hose over the tie any day and twice on Sunday.
As it was so well put by Donna from Philly, today’s fabrics are longer lasting, more comfortable, and aren’t necessarily as hot if worn with loose, light clothing over them. Especially in an a/c office. In fact, women have it made in that they can wear hose under a skirt to the office, which is not an option for guys–nor is it usually an option for guys to wear them under shorts to work, either.
When I’m not working I wear them with shorts most of the time. Since the fabric is thin, it allows air flow to cool the skin as moisture evaporates from it.
and what’s a “radical feminist”? And why do you need to put the disclaimer out there first that you aren’t “one”?
No matter how young you are, how good your skin is, and how well dressed you are otherwise, bare legs look jarringly, aggressively casual, like going tie-less. Nothing can substitute for the sleek, finished, polished, professional, and attractive look that a high quality pair of hose provides.
People notice! I’m one of the few my age who wears them every day (in a skirt suit 4 days a week) and not only do I get compliments, people are positively effusive with relief that someone in the “flip flops to work, even to the White House” era still knows how to actually dress up. I’ll admit they usually don’t mention the hose directly, especially the men, but it’s usually after they glance down and see that I’m wearing them.
Not a single complaint about pantyhose holds up, if you do your homework and take the time, effort, and money to do it right.
Too hot? Wear ultra sheer, summer hose. Some have a polyurethane blend that is extra airy.
Too cold? Semi-opaque hose in the winter looks sheer but is much warmer. If it’s bitter you can wear wool tights for the commute and peel them off on arrival.
Either way, you’re going to be outside for just a few minutes, probably just seconds, between vehicle and climate controlled office. Please.
Poor fit? Admit your true size to yourself and buy hose accordingly. Very high end hose is “fully boarded” – that is shaped to fit legs and feet rather than being simple tubes.
Runs? Higher quality hose helps. Also pre-wash them in Hosiery Mate, which makes them not only stronger but softer. Better fitting hose won’t have to be tugged at as much, reducing runs. For tips on how to be extra careful with high end hose, see the “How to Put on Pantyhose” page at Shapings dot com, or just click on my name (hope I did it right). No I don’t work for them.
Scratchy? Don’t be so cheap – hose isn’t an afterthought. Invest in silky hose with a pleasant, smooth-gliding texture. The more lycra, the silkier it will be.
I don’t know how so many women dropped wearing hose, but it looks awful. What’s next, skipping makeup? You could say a lot of the same things – it’s stifling, hot, won’t let me breathe, the colors are unnatural, etc. I sure hope makeup isn’t next.
But if it is, I’ll keep wearing it too, and looking that much better than my colleagues as a result.
What an interesting and well written comment from Aurora. I think she is dead on with her thinking.
It seems that the pantyhose debate heats up every year around summer, and the arguments against them are all the same. However, a lot of the complaints can be eliminated if the proper pantyhose are purchased. Even if you are in great shape and have blemish-free, toned, and tanned legs, the look of bare legs with skirts or dresses is not becoming at all. Spend the extra money and buy quality hosiery instead of the $3-$5 specials at CVS or Giant. Also, give some thought to wearing thigh highs. They provide the polished look without the controlled top feeling.
Fashion is cyclical, but I believe that pantyhose will remain a mainstay.
Thank you, DC.
But we part ways on the thigh-highs issue.
I know they’re sexier because they’re less obstructive in the bedroom, but for everyday wear they’re annoying in comparison.
Because they’re much more likely to roll or side down down (lacking the barrier of a derriere to keep them up), they need a vise-like grip at the top that leaves an angry red ring.
Since I far prefer having the dry silky smoothness of hose to bare legs sticking to each other, I far prefer pantyhose giving me that all the way up rather than thigh highs instead making me notice the rubbery tops rubbing together and my thighs sticking.
There’s a reason pantyhose won in the marketplace compared to stockings!
Their only real advantage is that one leg getting a run doesn’t ruin the whole pair.
Yes, Aurora, you’ve very eloquently confirmed all that I’ve been saying/writing elsewhere (such as on my blog) about there being little substance to the arguments women have been lodging against pantyhose. Well done.
It’s ironic that guys are gradually discovering this for themselves as more are wearing the mantyhose, even as women are doggedly determined to fool themselves into believing their own anti-hose rhetoric.
Also, DC, on the “control top” feeling, not all pantyhose is control top! The two other kinds are:
“regular” (where the panty area is of thicker material than the sheer legs — as you’d expect panties to be — but is NOT extra firm or tight)
“sheer to waist”, where the panty area is just as sheer as the legs.
Steve Newman, how can I put this. Sorry, but I find men in hose disturbing, absurd, and unattractive.
Another well written comment, and I agree completely with your thoughts. I threw out the thigh highs suggestion to those who don’t like to wear panthose hoping that they would give this option a try instead of bare legs!
I too much prefer the silky feel of pantyhose and I love the feel “all the way up” and the way that they hold you in. Thigh highs, though, are convenient at times (not just in the bedroom).
Have you, or anyone else for that matter, tried Wolford? Aurora, I think you would love the Satin 20 brand. They are simply the best pair of pantyhose I’ve ever tried and I highly recommend!!
What are your thoughts on the recent mantyhose trend? Steve chimed in on that topic and I would be interested in hearing from you and others as well.
So let’s see here. We have Aurora, who links to a site about wearing pantyhose, and Steve Newman, who links to a site about men hose-for-men site. Uh huh. I think we’ve got two people whose living is made directly related to hosiery…
As for hose for men? Not just no, HELL no. Are you freaking HIGH?!
And, for the record? Ties are a noose around the neck of the working man and to be avoided at all costs.
Tom Bridge, I confess – I linked to a page about wearing pantyhose because …. (everyone assembled in the drawing room leans forward, crack of dramatic thunder and lightning) … this is an article and discussion about wearing pantyhose. My job has nothing to do with hosiery – I’m afraid you’re a bit more Inspector Clouseau than Inspector Morse.
It would be nice if I did benefit financially from higher pantyhose sales, though. For starters, I’d get back some of the considerable sums I spend on high-end hosiery. (Yes, DC, including Wolford.)
I’m with you on men in hose though. What happened to common sense?
But not on ties. Men, you look sharp, crisp, and well-groomed in well-tied ties. And your outfits are boring without them. Tip for the ignorant – if you find ties to be a choking, confining noose, it’s not the tie’s fault. Your neck is too big for you to button your shirt’s top button comfortably. Get shirts whose collar size fits you, meaning, they which let you button the top button without feeling confined. At that point you won’t even notice that you’re wearing a tie – it’ll be mere decoration like a pocket square.
So many myths, so much ignorance, all of it getting in the way of our looking our best.
Speaking of which – I’ve heard pantyhose accused of helping cause infections. But that dates back to before the invention of the now-standard cotton gusset, which lets air circulate. At this point, to the extent that this is a problem, all-nylon panties are probably the bigger issue.
But the claim about chafing is just weird to me. As I’ve touched on above, one of the chief advantages of quality hose is that it replaces the high-friction rubbing of bare thighs with the low-friction gliding of silky hose. If anything, hose reduces chafing.
I love your comments! You’re so dead on and I couldn’t agree with you more on your insight and analysis of the benefits of pantyhose.
I do have to disagree with you (and I guess the majority of the other serious commentators here) on pantyhose for men. I have no problems with men wearing pantyhose because I think pantyhose provide men with many of the same benefits they provide women. I recall reading an article in the Wall Street Journal about men wearing pantyhose for a variety of legitimate reasons. The article even mention professional football players wearing pantyhose in cold weather. I don’t see anything wrong with men wanting to wear pantyhose at all. Now, if he wants to wear your panties, bra, heels and satin teddy with pantyhose, then that’s a different story.
Jenn, you started this discussion. I would like to hear what you have to say in light of the recent comments, and I would like to hear what some of the guys at We Love DC have to say about men wearing pantyhose.
Aurora, I find most of the women who profess to hate wearing pantyhose often have several pairs of SPANX in their closet. Doesn’t this contradict every argument they assert against wearing pantyhose?
I’m one of the guys here at We Love DC, and I think I speak for all of us when I say: hose for men is never, ever acceptable. Ever. Ever ever.
Aurora, you’re totally in the wrong on ties. As for shirts, if the outfit’s “boring” it means you’re doing it wrong. Good shirts and pants do not require ties, nor should they.
I think the issue about high-end pantyhose is kind of a red herring. Yes, you could spend extra money on it, but so often these kinds of dress codes are established by people who make rather a lot of money to be observed by people who they pay considerably less. So arguing the solution is simply to drop more money on pantyhose is shades of Marie Antoinette. (As is the argument about admitting your true size- they just aren’t available in a particularly wide array of sizes unless you want to risk ordering your underwear on the Internet, and this is one area where online shopping has far more disadvantages than advantages.)
I personally find pantyhose considerably less attractive on women, as i think it makes us look like tarted-up high school majorettes, but that’s an issue of personal taste, coming as I do from a field where formal business attire is a guaranteed way to NOT be taken seriously. However, I’m fairly appalled at the idea that I should spend even a moment’s thought considering my coworkers’ opinion of my legs and underwear habits.
i think this boils down to ….. wear what you want as long as it looks professional. If you like hose, wear them. if you dont, then dont wear them. If you have a good suit, high quality shoes and your well groomed you will look more then professional with out hose.
And I have turned down job offers that require employees to wear hose. I take issue with a bose regulating my underwear.
I understand that nothing I will write here is likely to make much difference to the mantyhose detractors. However, I’d like to clarify a few things about the whole issue of men wearing pantyhose. The guys who are wearing them for the most part aren’t those wanting to ‘get in touch with their feminine side’. By and large they are wearing them because of a growing recognition that there are specific, practical benefits of hosiery that men can gain from as well as women–especially the support varieties.
Women wear support hosiery because they need something that will help improve leg circulation for tired, achy legs. Men don’t have access to anything similar, since support socks don’t quite cut it. Others have recognized benefits such as leg compression to help during athletic exertion, or warmth-without-bulk for runners, cyclists, hunters (beneath overalls), etc. They also help prevent chafing for horseback riders.
Most guys who are wearing them are still hiding them beneath trousers because they aren’t sure how well they’ll be accepted just yet. However, a growing number of ‘early adopters’ are showing up with them under shorts. But, they’re paired with otherwise masculine outfits. Often, when worn with skintone colored hosiery, they’re not even hardly visible in the first place.
You might try reading an article I wrote some time back on my blog, The Nylon Gene, “Mantyhose-What it IS/What it ISN’T”: http://www.nylongene.com/2010/03/mantyhose-what-its-not-what-it-is.html
It’s still creepy, Steve.
@Aurora – no, ties just don’t work on me. I wear correct sizes and everything – I dress well, for heaven’s sake, as my office has a “relaxed business attire” policy – but ties just don’t do it. (Neither do suits, but that’s another matter entirely.) And yes, I have turned down work based on wearing a suit and tie as the dress code. Did it once for over 5 years, and that’s enough time for me.
And I COMPLETELY agree with Tom – male pantyhose? I’m sorry, what planet are you from again? No. Effin’. WAY.
Wow. I’ve been covering Fringe all weekend, and to come back to such interesting dialogue on what I thought would be just a fluff piece is fascinating to me.
I am dead-set against everyday hosiery wear as mandated by an office dress code. That’s the focus of my article. The wearing of hose is a personal choice. For those of you very impassioned lovers of wearing pantyhose, that’s your choice. None of your arguments have swayed me, however, to be in favor of an office dress code requiring hose for women.
I object to the notion that it’s either Wolford or flip-flops. There is a fashionable middle ground!
Personally, as I stated in the article, I wear hose when the garment requires it, not when HR demands it.
As for the “radical feminist” joke, I had no intention of getting into the socio-sexual implications of an office dress code dictating women’s underwear/bare leg coverage.
@DC – Spanx are a special case. Based on my experiences and interactions, most are not pantyhose, and even those that are are bought solely for the shaping aspect.
And pantyhose are just as iconically feminine as the other clothing items you listed – there’s no chance that I can ever think of men in hose as being anything other than absurd and disturbing.
@Tiffany – Even as a poor intern I made whatever painful sacrifices I had to to look my very best. I was powerless in so many ways, but at least I had absolute control over how much effort I was going to make in presenting a polished appearance, and how good I was going to look, so I made the most of what little ability I had to control events.
Contrary to being oppressive, it’s liberating and empowering for young and low-ranking people to be able to look as grown-up and senior as possible, to maximize their chances of being taken seriously and considered for advancement. For me, the rewards in confidence and compliments were well worth it.
As for sizes, well, they do provide charts, and it’s usually wise to buy a size up if you’re near a border. If you have an odd shape, that’s unfortunate, but at some point you have to stop whining, accept that there’ll be some expense and hassle (rather than use them as an excuse to give up and coast downhill toward sloppy-casual), and embrace the challenge and adventure, the risks and rewards, of doing your best and of life.
You state you’re appalled that you have to spend even a moment considering the reactions of others to your appearance. I’m sorry, but not only is that (literally) inconsiderate, I also think that’s an immature attitude.
@KM, the whole point of my first post above was to directly contradict the central idea of your post – that pantyhose is dispensable and less vital than other formal items of dress. As for your boss regulating your “underwear”, a diversionary way of complaining about a legwear requirement since pantyhose is both, I think we’d all have a problem if some of us were flopping around and “headlighting” without a bra, and it would be more than appropriate for a boss to require one in response. Thankfully, that usually goes without saying — for now.
Finally, I find it baffling and depressing that adults would refuse work they would otherwise have accepted, simply because they were expected to dress like adults. I guess in a culture where fat men in their 50s and 60s waddle around the Mall non-ironically wearing little kid clothes (jean shorts, t-shirts, baseball caps, and sneakers), that’s to be expected. A friend of mine has a bumper car poster from an old amusement park – the smiling driver is wearing a suit and tie; the lady next to him is dressed up too. Sometimes I think I was born too late.
Then again, I like the Web, A/C, and modern healthcare. And they didn’t actually have pantyhose then either…
Evidently @Aurora feels strongly about her ‘legwear’. For me, i’ll keep my Brooks Brothers dress suit and well paying job sans hose. for @Aurora, keep wearing your hose and doing what ever it is you do.
Aurora, it’s great that you find pantyhose to be empowering and liberating. Many of us find not only hose themselves to be the exact opposite, but also the steadfast, old-fashioned assertion that HR knows best to be equally paternalistic and constricting.
I can and do dress like an adult, and I do it without being compelled to put on a layer of nylon when it’s 103 degrees outside. I am not putting my best foot forward at work or in life when I am uncomfortable in ill-fitting clothes pushed on me by outdated fashion requirements. Work should be about getting a job done well, not about a power struggle between employees who want to be comfortable and supervisors who spend too much time looking at female employees’ limbs.
Bravo KM and Erin.
I guess I just fail to see how it’s at all liberating to conform to dress expectations that originated when men decided they were the “rational” half of humanity and thus should give up such impractical frippery as hose and heels, but that it was fine for those silly, irrational women to wear it. I don’t have a problem with people wanting to look their best, but I take issue with the idea that the only satisfactory way to do so is by wearing an ill-fitting undergarment (because, you know, it’s time for me to “stop whining” and just accept discomfort for the sake of what someone else thinks beauty is) so that male colleagues will, theoretically, find me more pleasing to the eye. While I’m sitting in a cubicle and coding all day.
As a clueless, fashion-oblivious man I have no input on the issue of women wearing hose, although the idea of sewing transparent socks to your underwear has always struck me as odd. Men, however, should never wear pantyhose unless they’re robbing banks, and even then they should put them on their heads and not their lower extremities. Men + pantyhose – bank robbery = W R O N G.
“Finally, I find it baffling and depressing that adults would refuse work they would otherwise have accepted, simply because they were expected to dress like adults”
Aurora. I am a fairly successful adult. I’ve founded two companies, both of which are profitable, and both of which have exceeded the average life of a business in the United States. I am married, I own my own home, and I think at this point it’s fair to say that I’ve accomplished a lot in terms of making the American Dream my own.
At no time during any of those activities, save my own wedding, did I have to wear a suit. At no time during the formation and conduct of either of my businesses have I felt it necessary to wear a tie or a suit. At no time during either venture, short of an Inaugural Ball invite, do I think it necessary for me to do so.
You might weep for the loss of fashion. I thank God for the comfort that allows me to do my job without having to spend all of my money on suits, shirts and ties, and on dry cleaning bills. It’s ridiculous to be working on closets in anything more than linen and jeans. Yes, I do wear khakis, but the khakis don’t hold up to abuse the way that jeans do.
Don’t tell me I’m not an adult just because I prefer jeans and linen shirts to suits and ties. That’s flat-out bullshit, and you know it.
@Erin, I’ve addressed the excuses / non-issues of heat, fit, and comfort already above in post 20.
And if comfort is your greatest concern, why not wear some old sweats and sneaks, or a tank top, shorts, and Crocs? Getting the job done is all that matters, right?
I’m not a supervisor or in HR. And I find the timidity and loss of nerve of such people in failing to uphold proper standards in the face of creeping casual-ization sad.
The more my colleagues and peers dress down, the better I look in comparison, but that’s small comfort in an increasingly sloppy, ugly, who-cares world.
I’m drifting off-topic a bit, but as long as I’m ranting, why don’t more women realize that nothing is as powerful as a suit? And when we don’t wear suits while most men still do at least 4 days a week, we convey a much less confident, credible, impressive image? We look like we don’t really belong in the big leagues with the big boys making the big decisions.
And why do so few women wear suits? Because we’re not expected to. There are lower expectations of us. We are not expected to look as crisp and commanding as men. Not only is there no awareness or consciousness of how damaging this is, women tend to actively enforce lower standards.
I have found that while I often get compliments from both men and women for wearing a suit 4 days a week and hose every day, it’s only women, especially new ones or when I’m in a new job, that attempt enforce the low standards for us, who push back at me or apply negative peer pressure, usually in the form of backhand compliments or soft-aggressive questions:
“Aren’t YOU dressed up today!” “You don’t have to impress anyone, you’re settled in now.” “Do you have a big meeting or something?” “Are you interviewing for another job somewhere else?”
Nobody would ask this of a man in a suit – it’s normal for them to look their best. Why do we do this to ourselves?
I think part of it is a feeling that I’m breaking an unwritten agreement of mutual mediocrity. Nobody looks bad if everyone does, and everyone gets to skip the expense and effort of looking their best.
Maybe this helps explain why I don’t regard the casual culture as liberating; I find it oppressive, negative, and even degrading, and dressing up as positive and affirming.
Aurora, your steadfast insistance on seeing no area between pantyhose/suits and crocs/sweats/shorts (none of which I actually own, by the way) is depressing. I’m sure you think you’re giving the world a great impression by dressing the way you do, but I wonder whether that black-and-white approach has infected your work life in ways just as significant as your clothing choices.
We had a guy wear a suit to my office once. We laughed at him.
Re: Aurora, post 44
If anyone feels that to play in the big leagues with the big boys that you need to wear a suit, then by all means do so. But 1. realize that you’re just defining your career in terms of both a sports metaphor and as if you’re going to be spending your time catching up to adolescents.
And 2. The idea of a suit being the most power outfit because it’s worn by men is in itself a null argument. If you wear a suit because men wear it, then you’re simply attempting to camouflage yourself, to blend in rather than stand out. Why is that? Are your skills not up to snuff? Are you not able to work unless you are wearing a uniform that was created for a different gender? Because if you’re trying to show that you’re a competent, confident individual with talents to contribute, then there should be no reason to have to count on a costume to get your entre into the office. We’re not cookie cutter employees anymore, and our fashion decisions reflect that paradigm shift.
And a big fat no to pantyhose.
Based on the Wolford website, a standard pair of their pantyhose is $50. Let’s assume the wearer is very careful and gets 10 wears out of a pair. If you only wear them during the work week and take a 2 week vacation that is 25 pairs of hose for a yearly total of $1250. Telling women that dislike the feel of pantyhose to just buy better quality is not an economic choice that most can make.
I don’t really care one way or the other about guys in tights. I would expect anyone out in the cold for extending periods of time to dress appropriately in layers that could include tights. Compression tights do come in larger sizes meant for men as my grandfather wore them after surgery.
I wouldn’t find a man in traditional pantyhose such as the Hooter’s Girls suntan shade under a pair of shorts to be attractive to me. But no doubt there are people out there that do find that appealing.
Part of my intense dislike of pantyhose is seeing the results of the nylon melting into and adhering to the skin due to a fire. True, not your everyday rational kind of fear but car wrecks and metro crashes do happen.
Finally, I’m all for fishnets.
I don’t think a suit is powerful at all. A suit is what one wears when one has to impress someone. It is inherently the uniform of the less-powerful party. That’s why lawyers wear suits in the courtroom, but for all we know, the judge is wearing Bermuda shorts under that robe. It’s why you wear a suit to an interview no matter what the dress code of the job is. And that’s why your female coworkers make those comments- because you look like you’re preparing to suck up. And it’s why your male coworkers appreciate it- they think it’s for THEM.
If you’re in the stage of your career where you’re still having to do that to be taken seriously, then by all means do what you have to do to advance your career, because no one is paying your bills but you. But don’t defend the outdated structures that make it necessary for women to dress like men but still maintain their sex appeal to get ahead. They are both sexist and classist and the sooner they go away, the better.
I’m with Karon on fishnets.
The point is, if someone is weighing my career on whether or not I choose to shove my legs into nylon tubes every morning, there’s a problem, and yes, I would refuse to work at such a place. It shows a lack of respect for my intellect and ability.
Aurora, it sounds like you have received compliments from supervisors and older coworkers on your professional appearance – compliments which you attribute to wearing hosiery; I’m glad you appreciate them. I’m afraid I could not value them as you do. As a young, professional woman, the idea that I am not able or inclined to present anything other than a professional appearance, attitude and work-ethic unless wearing hose is insulting.
I am not blind to the importance of appearance in all aspects of life, but particularly in one’s career — it’s typically our first impression of people, however erroneous or spot-on such impressions may be. But there’s a very wide line between hose requirements and crocs in a place of work. To each his own — if wearing suits and hose (or for that matter, crocs) empowers you (man or woman) and makes you feel your best and helps you perform your work better, then that’s wonderful – keep at it. But some people have different priorities, which aren’t less or unprofessional for being different. Comfort is a very valid reason for forgoing pantyhose, as is expense, and, for me, (aside from the fact that even nude panty hose makes my legs three times darker than the rest of my body, which just looks weird) the very basic belief that my own skin is just as good as a millimeter of nylon.