The Evolution of Pantyhose (or is it the evolution of ME?)

17 Oct

As my mom got older, she suffered with arthritis & osteoporosis. She eventually broke a hip that required surgical intervention & subsequent rehab therapy.

Following her recovery from the hip surgery she began wearing those disgusting knee high hose. She could get them in a multitude of colors &, she said, she mostly wore pants & slacks anyway. The knee highs were just plain ugly & I didn’t get it.

One Sunday she wore a mid-calf skirt & I caught a glimpse of the top of a knee high when we were in church & she crossed her legs. I was horrified & began nagging her to at least wear pantyhose. Having grown weary of my nagging, she finally told me how difficult it had become to get INTO pantyhose. Because she had her pride, she had preferred to just ignore me up until that point. She said, unfortunately, one day I WOULD get it.

I think about my mom all the time but especially on Sundays & some occasions when I dress less casually. I think about her a lot when I’m putting on my pantyhose. So today when I was dressing for church, planning to wear a skirt & putting on those pantyhose, I not only thought about my mom & her wisdom, I thought about my journey through life with hose.

Way back when I was 12, I got my first pair of heels. They weren’t really “heels” like those 32” heels girls are wearing these days that have the capability of doubling as a weapon should one find herself in the middle of a street fight. No … my first heels could never have gone up against a switch blade. They were more on the scale of today’s “kitten heels” but maybe not quite as high. Regardless, they were still “heels” & I was still crazy excited to get them.

Almost as exciting as that first pair of heels were the hose you had to get to wear with them. And to hold those hose up, we had to get a contraption called a garter belt.

The garter belt resembled a medieval torture or, God forbid, chastity garment. But we were excited to get one because it was what held up the hose that went along with that first pair of heels. If you could manage to coordinate the wearing of all three of those garments & accessories simultaneously it meant you’d arrived at “womanhood.”

The garter belt had a lot of drawbacks, not the least of which was “slippage.” What started off around our waist holding those new hose snugly around our legs, eventually slipped down past our slim young hips leading to a tug-of-war the likes of which was seldom equaled & that lasted all day. The end result was rings of hosiery wrinkles draped around young ankles that called attention to skinny, pre-adult legs & certainly detracted from the excitement AND the look of those first heels.

Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of the garter belt was this: if you stood close to a cabinet or a piece of furniture that had a knob or projection in just the right place, that rubber strap that led from the garter BELT to the garter that hung at the bottom of the strap & gripped the top of your hose would get caught on the knob or projection. If you didn’t stop but kept walking, the rubber strap thingee would snap your leg with a force that would cause quite a lot of pain, likely blisters & possibly, if you were thin, slingshot you into the next room, if not the next county.

Fortunately, for girls of my era, the garter belt soon lost its place riding the hips of young women everywhere in deference to the panty girdle. Although many a mom protested that a girdle would somehow cause weak abdominal muscles in the years ahead, we wore them anyway… in comfort & multi-colored style.

The panty girdles of my teenage years could not hold a candle to today’s SPANX, which could choke off an aneurysm. The number one purpose of the panty girdle then was to hold up our hose & not our buttocks … or our belly. In my teenage years my girlfriends & I were physically active & really didn’t need garments that pulled us up, sucked us in or flattened us out. We just needed something to hold up our hose that would keep them from wrinkling at our ankles in our very first several pairs of heels.

Panty girdles worked really well for quite a while & there were no exposed parts or straps that were likely to become caught on protuberances & slingshot us around the sun. Life in the land of hose, heels & the riggings that held them up was finally good.

I can’t really remember when pantyhose burst forth on the horizon. What I DO remember was the tremendous amount of comfort there was wearing them & how costly they were in comparison to an actual “PAIR” of hose. I also remember how frustrated my mom became at having to buy a whole new pair when I got a run in just one leg, which I frequently did. While for me it was all about comfort, for her it was all about economy.

My mom resorted to using laundry products that were especially for hose & promised to “strengthen” the fabric with each washing & prevent runs. After a couple of washings I remember the fabric becoming hard & uncomfortable. The kicker with the fabric strengthener was this – not only did it make my hose board-like, as well as I remember I couldn’t bend my knees.

One day my mom got a package in the mail that contained several pairs of pantyhose for me. They were RUNLESS pantyhose & were guaranteed not to run even if your legs were exposed to the fire spray of an erupting volcano. And for a while that worked.

The hitch to those runless pantyhose was that they didn’t run but they DID get holes in them. This kept me constantly watching where I was stepping, attempting to only get picks & holes above the skirt line & staying very far away from erupting volcanoes.

Since then & over the years I’ve sort of settled INTO today’s pantyhose. I’ve been comfortable wearing them when I needed to & wearing the support kind when working during my Operating Room nursing career. I especially have enjoyed those Sheer Energy pantyhose that massage my legs all day long.  I’ve come a long way from that first garter belt, hose & heels.

This morning as I attempted to pull on my Sheer Energy all day massage pantyhose for church, all this was going through my head. As a nurse I’ve worn out my knees, have had one knee replacement & need another, which makes the leap into my pantyhose much more of a struggle. I thought about my mom & her infinite wisdom & I understand now her cryptic statement to me about pantyhose, “One day you WILL get it …”

This morning was the beginning of that day as I reflected on the evolution of pantyhose (& the connection between my OWN evolutions). I realized it as my Sheer Energys snapped from my foot when I was attempting to insert it in the right leg side & propelled me off the bedroom chair, through the doorway & into the master bath.

The thing that was more of a wake-up call was not so long ago when my husband became aware that knee high hose were circling my calves. I tried explaining to him how much easier they were to wear with slacks & that I could get them in a multitude of colors.  He told me he didn’t really like the look of pantyhose, even when viewed purely aesthetically in the privacy of our own home … but he liked them better than knee highs.

I love you, Mama. Now I GET IT …









4 Responses to “The Evolution of Pantyhose (or is it the evolution of ME?)”

  1. Anthony G. Moshonas October 17, 2016 at 1:07 am #

    Thanks for sharing Linda.
    I’m glad you finally got it. 😊
    Always better late than never. 😃


    • heimdalco October 17, 2016 at 1:16 am #

      Thanks for reading this. Sometimes we just have to have the “experience” before we can truly understand it …


  2. Willy October 18, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    I can only imagine what it’s like to pull those things on … I know I’ve tried to get them off you (but tha’s another story). I remember my mother wearing that belt but had no idea at the time what it was used for (and didn’t want to ask). But your story taught me the progression of panty hose and how we as men should appreciate the efforts (I’d be wearing knee hi’s for sure!)


    • heimdalco October 20, 2016 at 2:00 am #

      LOL … Thanks, Willy. Glad you’ve developed a new appreciation for hose, if not necessarily the panty or knee high type. Thanks for reading this.

      Love you


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