Nov 17, 2012

The return of hose?

Was it really ever gone?

{Falke's 20 den hose in Crystal}

The fashion committee at the NYT has decreed hose to be acceptable again. I don't yet know if this is one of those rather spurious NYT trend pieces or if it's a real thing - but then again I never got all the hose-hate in the first place.

I'm definitely pro-hose: at its best, it's like makeup for legs. Even though I'm happy with my legs, I'm well aware that they are pretty pale, with dark freckles and scarred knees. Plus, I get cold easily, and goosebumps on mottled skin isn't a good look. So for client meetings, job interviews, and other occasions of that ilk I always wear hose - though if I had tanned legs and it was sweltering, I might make an exception. So when the NYT quotes an interviewee gushing about how "You suddenly have flawless legs without having to do anything!" as if it's a big revelation, I am...surprised. Did people really forget or not know this about hose?

However: I do think it's good that the "rules" on hose have loosened up a bit over these last years. When we lived in the States, my mother would always hose up before business meetings with Americans. And though the NYT article says female professionals started abandoning hose in the 1990s, this wasn't true for the conservative office environments she frequented. Hose in the summer was definitely strange to my mother, coming from European workplaces where most women went bare-legged in the warm months - including at her own D.C. office (albeit a European entity). And in retrospect, I understand why: in D.C.'s swampy summers it must be like having your legs in a steam room.

But to swing to the other extreme and abandon hose entirely for the sake of "fashion" seems like a poorly thought-out scheme. The NYT talks about "a certain class of Manhattan socialite [which] became known for venturing out even on freezing nights with bare legs" - why would anyone want to do that to themselves? Similarly, it seems that at least in the UK most girls discarded hose in favor of thick black tights. And though I'm a big fan of black tights in fall and winter (especially under jeans when it's super-cold), they look off in the summer / Memorial to Labor Day period. Especially when paired with sun dresses.

And of course, hose needs to be worn correctly to look good. Hose paired with open-toed shoes can ruin an outfit (especially when the toes are reinforced), and shiny, visibly cheap drug-store brands in shades that don't match anyone's skin tone just look tacky. So the NYT article is right that the best hose looks practically invisible.

Similarly, the NYT seems to think that until very recently, hosiery was stuck in the Mad Men era. "Softer yarns, new knitting techniques (more open weaves and seamless finishes), and other innovations (like microencapsulated moisturizers) have made putting on and wearing hosiery a more pleasurable experience, companies say." However, brands like Falke and Wolford (my favorites) have been making great hose for ages to match various skin tones, and even Marks and Spencer has some good options.

So basically...I don't think hose ever "went away," and investing in a few quality pieces is definitely worth it. And I think it looks best for the hose to look as inconspicuous and close to your skin tone as possible...though sheer black sometimes works for more formal occasions, other non-skintone sheer options easily look frumpy.

PS: M&S is jumping on the "hose is back" bandwagon and leveraging it as a sales opportunity. And like the NYT, they consider the Duchess of Cambridge a major influence behind the trend (note that royal protocol generally bars her from bare-leggedness).

No comments:

Post a Comment