Must-have hose: Stocking up on stockings
Recently, I got together with a few girlfriends for an impromptu home-based photo session. We compiled all our sexy looks and took turns in front of the lens.
Our pre-game preparations included a trip to our favorite major lingerie store, where we were overwhelmed to discover the insane number stockings options. There weren't just thigh highs or regular pantyhose: There were fishnets, wide-laced, back-stitched, furry-topped, diamond-cut gartered and ungartered -- it was like being in a candy store.
So much stocking selection
When did stockings become so complicated? Resourceful ladies that we are, we went with the normal thigh-highs... well, what were as "normal" as sexy, sheer, underthings can be (more bang for our buck, and we were going for quantity at the time) -- but how do you begin to guide yourself through the maze?Perhaps it's not necessary to choose. Leslie G Ungar of Electric Impulse Communications (ElectricImpulse.com) works to supercharge the communications of executives and professionals. "I have not owned or worn a pair of 'normal' stockings in 30 years. I'm so glad to see women finally catching up!" she says.According to Ungar:
- Stockings are a way to make a statement, to personalize any outfit, put your own stamp on it. At last, women are beginning to take advantage of this option.
- So many choices no little time? Not really. Every day is an opportunity to experiment. Women wear hose every day so why not make a statement every day?
- Textured hose can last for years, so these are not your mother's stockings -- you know, the ones that run the first time you wear them.
- People often say to me that I can wear them because I have good legs. Nonsense, anyone can wear them. If you don't like your legs, stockings are a way to call attention to your hose -- not your legs.
- In Paris, you even see 70-year-old women wearing great patterned hose with their vintage Chanel suits!
Textures and patterns
But with so many brands, features, and styles out there, how can you maneuver the maze and not feel lost?"A way to have fun and still be dressy at work or at a formal event is use stockings that are textured or have a small fishnet weave. Why wear black pantyhose if now you can wear ones with great texture and pattern on them?," asks Rachel Fauman, a personal shopper based in San Francisco. "They are fun and add a little sexiness to any outfit." She adds that black textured or fishnet woven stockings are still seen as being very dressy, but notes, "They may not be right for a casual dinner, but they would be great with a black cocktail dress to spice things up a bit." (How are celebs wearing their stockings? Take a look at British model Agyness Deyn at right, or Desperate Housewives actress Eva Longoria below on the left!)"Fishnets are great if you want to catch a guy's attention. Thigh highs are also extremely provocative and appropriate for a romantic interlude," advises celebrity matchmaker Shoshanna Rikon. "Back-seam stockings can look elegant and stylish and go well with any little black dress for a dinner party."Brous says that patterns and textures are great, but we need to keep it simple. They only work with solid colors and too much contrast shortens the legs and draws attention down to somewhere between your outfit and shoes. "Better to save that for good boot weather," she says. Sexy wide lace-top stockings from Shirley of Hollywood's HOT line are great, as well as their spider web and back seam designs. Frederick's of Hollywood also has some smoldering styles in this fashion, and we are in love with their fishnet thigh-highs adorned with white bows as well as their solid opaque thigh-highs.
Going to great lengths
Fauman says there are a lot of ways to play with length when it comes to tights, stockings, and leggings. "I would try mid-calf for a shorter skirt or dress to add an extra layer of warmth or sport to the outfit."Another great look is to wear tights, stockings or leggings that stop at the ankle -- this way you can wear a great pair of flirty summer sandals or flats. But Brous believes that unless the top edges are safely hidden under your skirt, thigh highs are generally inappropriate "unless you are a hip teenager in a baby-doll outfit" -- then standard fashion rules do not apply. Many are also expressing their personality through stockings with color. Fauman says these can be great to accent your outfit with another layer of fun. "Why not let your funkier side show through?" Nancy notes that colors follow a similar rule to patterns, but in reverse. "Keep it simple and wear with a patterned dress, lest you look like a cartoon character with blue or red legs."
Expecting lovely legs
Mothers-to-be who want to stay sexy have a lot of options in their own right. Motherhood Maternity offers styles of Lycra sheer hosiery with an expanding rib panty that adjusts as your shape changes. They also offer footless tights and opaque tights in a variety of styles and colors.
Make sure you get a great fit
Hose need to fit, like any other clothing. "Wrinkly knees or baggy ankles are a no-no.""My mother used to buy hose in a style called 'sandal toe,'" says wardrobe stylist/costume designer Nancy Brous. "While the rules about open-toed shoes and hose vary with the trends, seeing the toe seam in your peep-toe pumps is like seeing the hem of your slip under your skirt or a visible panty line." She says if you have to tug the seam down and pin it under your foot to make sure it doesn't show, do so.
A little extra support
Sexy styles aside, support is a crucial component many can't ignore. For some, problems such as varicose veins (a common ailment for over 40 million Americans), spider veins or leg swelling can occur. Luckily for these women, compression hosiery is now being designed with beauty and fashion in mind. Ames Walker is a specialist in graduated support hosiery. Products include Patterned Knee-High Support Socks, Sheer Support Hosiery and Thigh-Highs with lace stay-up band.Another example of fashion meeting function is Solidea, an Italian support stockings company, who offers support leg wear for men and woman as well as styles for expectant mothers that help reduce cellulite and increase blood circulation (which can help with those swollen ankles). Also check out their MicroMassage line, which is clinically proven to aid in cellulite reduction by synchronizing with the wearer's body movement.
Stocking up on fun
"The rule -- if there is one -- is to have fun, be sexy, and show your playful side," Rachel says. Well, for my next photo shoot, my playful side is going to be rocking some H.O.T. stretch-fishnet and purple marabou fishnets. Care to join me?