Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nylons: to Be or Not to Be

So there has been a debate as of late… “wear” do nylons stand today in the halls of fashion. Are they at the forefront on the marble pedestal... are they retired docents giving tours…or are they taking tickets in the coat check room? As one who has worked in the Intimate Apparel Dept TWICE…

Here’s the lowdown: Only wear nylons if

A) they MAKE the outfit
B) they are required (by rule or occasion...)
C) you have super hairy legs (in which case I would recommend fishnets in black or nude depending…NOTHING hides hair like fishnets…never think that just by wearing nylons your legs are “passing” for hairless…so says the lazy leg-waxer…)

These days, self tanner is the new nylon. No joke, look in the magazines and estimate the ratio of nyloned legs compared to bare… It’s not to say NOone is wearing them (see A). It’s just that SKIN is IN. (I totally just coined that phrase…) Bare legs can even fly in the wintertime with a little maintainance (i.e. a little color...).

Opposed to self tanner? Did you know that no two self tanners are alike? I used to avoid the stuff like the plague because it smelled SO bad on me. I then found out (through the modern revelation that is Vogue Magazine) that you need to try several different brands to find one that reacts well with your personal chemistry. It’s just like dealing with a man ladies...a gotta date ‘til ya mate. And you might be surprised that an inexpensive brand works with your skin! (I would recommend starting with Clarins, Clinique, and Bath & Body Works…my fave)

If there is anyone out there who is still attending the antiquated tanning booth, let me refer you to my forthcoming blog entitled “Oozing Lesions, Leathery Skin, and Other Bad Habits I Picked Up in the Eighties.”

But if you are determined to wear the nylons, let’s explore the options…

The World of Foundation Garments Part IV: Nylons and Hoisery according to c.a.o.r.


Appropriate When...they are required or for a super conservative or formal occasion. While by today's standards, anything goes, nylons add a level of decorum that is sometimes a necessary element to an outfit. The more sheer, the more sexy.

Inappropriate When…they are ill fitting whether they are too tight and constricting or too loose and baggy i.e. elephant anlkes. They are also inappropriate when they are of cheap and inconsistant weave. The nicer the quality of hose, the more expensive, sorry, no exceptions...

Rating (out of 5) 3

Control Top

Appropriate When... and IF you need them, explore types of control from only tummy to butt to thigh to all of the above.

Inappropriate When…parts of you bulge out of them. Suggestion: pull them up as high as you can and use as minimizing bra…

Rating 3

Sandal Toe

Appropriate When... hell freezes over or you are an old woman living in Florida. I know Stacy and Clinton said it was OK, but I question their judgement. Nylons are considered more conservative, and occasions to dress conservatively (court, funerals, and eagle scout courts of honor…) require more sensible shoes than the open toed variety...generally

Inappropriate When…Nevah!…(say that in an indignant tone of voice…and a Brittish accent…) That is so say they are NEVER appropriate in my fashion book. It's an oxymoron. Nylons for sandals? Think it through logically folks… Plus, I hate the seam...

Rating 0

Reinforced Toe

Appropriate need to wear nylons often and you don't cut your toe nails as often…
Inappropriate When…anyone can view them whether your shoes are on or off.

Rating 3

Support Hose

Appropriate are aged, on your feet A LOT, a diabetic with poor circulation, OR are in need of KILLER control. They are more like tights than nylons, and for young people who need the control, sheer black is an appropriate choice, but never nude!

Inappropriate When…you don't want to feel like astuffed sausage.

Rating 4

Thigh Highs: Self Supporting

Appropriate When...ever you need to wear hoisery. Honestly, why are you women even bothering with the pantyhose unless there is a dress or ourfit that requires them AND some support? They are GOD'S gift to women! Imagine this: no pulling them off and on to visit the bathroom, when one leg runs, so what? they come in packs of two often and you've got another leg! No uncomfortable waist line/rolling issues...And is there anything sexier than a little lacy secret?

Inappropriate When…they show.

Rating 6

Garters & Belts

Appropriate are allergic to the self adhesive of thigh highs. Or if you just can't stand the feeling. Garter belts can often privide a little tummy control. They're not only for the bedroom..though they do the trick there. Tip: wear your underwear ON TOP of the garter belt so the bathroom trip is not as complicated. Or wear split croch panties, but that's never classy...

Inappropriate When…they show, or when they can be seen through the clothes as lumps and bumps.
Rating 4

Knee Highs: Nylons

Appropriate When... you have a rare occasions.

Inappropriate When…you are wearing knickers or skirts where there is a possibility that they might be seen. Let me be more frank, NEVER WITH SKIRTS and low shoes.

Rating 1

Trouser Socks

Appropriate When... you need to wear nice slacks and nice shoes. Should generally be the same color as your pants unless you are trying to make some sort of statement.
Inappropriate When…ditto…

Rating 3


Appropriate are a grandma who no longer cares or notices, but who doesn't like sweaty feet.
Inappropriate When…you don't have a pace maker.

Rating 1


Appropriate When...worn with short to mid legnth skirts and boots. a staple of the 90's tights are losing their grip, but they are still popular and fashionable in colder climates.

Inappropriate When…the weather is obviously too warm or the occasion is too formal.


Appropriate When...something a little more sexy is called for, but the weather is still cool.

Inappropriate When…used as a substitute for sheer nylons.

Rating 4


Appropriate When...good fashion judgement is used. Subtle patterns worn with little or no pattern in the clothing is a great use of patterned tights. Great with boots!

Inappropriate When…they are printed with items that should NEVER be found on legs e.i fruit, stripes (unless you are a witch or a goth), balloons, cartoon characters etc.

Rating 4

Fishnets: Single Net

Appropriate When...they do not distract from the outfit. They should not usually be the focal point. Beware that a common visual cue for fishnets is one that is often associated with women of ill repute. So ignore the stares of the older generation, 'cuz times, they are a'changin'...

Inappropriate When…a more conservative hose is required. They are not a straight across substitute for nylons.

Rating 4

Fishnets: Double Net

Appropriate require a more chic look in hose, but when the fun and sexiness of a fishnet is desired.

Inappropriate When…there in the slightest hole in the hose (NOTHING is more tawdry than fishnets with a hole) or when you are actaully trying to catch fish.

Rating 5

And that's it folks. Not to leave our male audience out in the cold. If you are shopping for yourself or a loved one (we do not judge you here...), all hoisery should have a size chart on the back. It doesn't go by foot size, it is by height and weight. So if any of you are over 5'10" (Aiden?) you will need to check out the specialty sizes...


Anonymous said...

I just read this with a tremendously serious and concentrated look on my face. I almost took notes. Will all of this be on the final exam? I just wear whatever is in my drawer that I can still pull over my chubby tummy and big round butt. And you didn't mention that if there is a run in your hose, you can use finger nail polish at the base of the run to prevent further "runnage"...but try to use clear polish and beware that it will stick the panty hose to your leg.

Marcy Dibbleblotts said...

Wow. Very impressive. Thank you for this post. I think this no nylons in the winter is interesting and I can see how it would work in reasonable circumstances when the proper measures are taken. However, I have actually been upset the past few weeks at church that I have seen more bare legs (stark white) than hosed legs and we are walking around in 6" of snow. Maybe I will print out this post and pass out around Relief Society on Sunday.

Kacy said...

V. helpful Carrie Ann. I am kicking myself for not mentioning the self-tanner on Suzie's post, so I could get a modicum of fashion credit (I almost mentioned it), but then--who are we kidding? I have no fashion credit. But I have you. And for that I am grateful.

Carrie Ann said...

Growing up in my family, nylons, or some sort of leg covering was a mandate for Sunday worship services. No questions. The problem with going bare these days is that people think they are getting out of somthing, that NOT wearing hose is a subtraction to the dressing routine when actually it should ADD to the dressing routine. No leg should be bare in the winter without the proper absense of hair (unless you are trying to acheive that certain Granola je ne sais quois...and SOME color should be present. If you can't handle the proper precautions to wear the bare, you shouldn't even go there....

Good tip A. Nonymous, in times of emergency the nail polish is a quick fix, but I would have to be super strict and say that if you're PUTTING ON nylons with runs, we've got problems... they're expensive, but they're not made of gold.

Kacy said...

I am just too cold not to wear some sort of hose, for now. We need to have this discussion in YW. I don't think any of them wear tights/hose/trouser socks/footies. Its all bare, all the time. They must be so cold. Can I wear black boots with dark brown tights or nude fish nets. ie, can I wear black boots with something other than black tights. I don't dare. But I need to, I think, with my brown skirt that we discussed at an earlier date (in "real" life)

Carrie Ann said...

It may sound like I am way pro-bare, but 'tis not so. I am a believer of a time and a place. And winter is the right time for nylons or tights. I am also bugged by inappropriate shoes in the dead of winter (flip-flops are not an all season solution to footware.... Every woman should own a NICE pair of closed toe shoes.

As to the tights issue, Kacy. By all means, mix it up! Tights needn't match the boot or shoe. Just no fruit or cartoons, please.

mo said...

Speaking as Carrie Ann's one and only mother, when she was growing up, it used to seem like she was an expert on everything (not in an obnoxious way, just in a very self-confident low-key sort of way) I'm convinced she really is! Very good in depth anaylysis of the quandry and very sound fashion advice for all ages. Move over Stacy and Clinton! I happen to be in the "need to control the bulges" phase of life but in the summertime in Houston/Hot-as-hades I throw caution to the wind (except on Sundays....I AM over 50 and just can't seem to get away with bare legs at church). I learned from my daughters about the joy of self-tanners and use them liberally. My personal favorite is Clinique's Self Tan. Now if you could just help me figure out how to keep from turning my white knee-highs that I HAVE to wear in the temple a nice golden brown in the summer. You didn't comment on spray-on tanners--my hairdresser Monica swears by them. I may just have to try it and report back. Dang it, Carrie--you should have been on that Diva Show!!!

JP said...

So, Ms. CA...and fashion GURU...what if you are a complete IDIOT at self tanners? THIS IS A PROBLEM OF HUGE PROPORTIONS!!

I swear, I need help. It really is so sad.

Star said...

Carrie Ann, thank you for those wonderful tips. I know that I have been in need of some nylon/stocking/leg-wear advice. Very amusing too.

Alice said...

What a wonderful WONDERFUL post. Printing out and posting on the fridge for my almost all female law firm!!

For all of those in need of hose of all varieties this is the time to be making purchases at Banana Republic, almost everything is $2.00 and considering that at times the cost of very cute patterned, fishnet, and other forms of tights/hose can get up into $20 range I recommend stocking (get it) up on them when the cost is down.

Carrie Ann… can flesh colored fishnet trouser socks be an exception to the color of your pants rule? I am currently wearing my very darling purple crocodile print shoes with my black trousers and I am wondering if my fishnets are out of place. I don’t believe in showing up to work with out some form of sock on my foot, but a purple, or a pink, or a red shoe require a great deal of subtlety … please explain… have I errored here?

Ohh… and for you business suit ladies Ann Taylor is having a 40% off sale on all sale items…

Sorry for the long reply, but I just love talking about any form of clothing.

Carrie Ann said...

I say yes to nude fishnet trouser socks. Very subtle. And I will always and forever say YES LORD YES to purple crocodile heels...

Carly said...

Okay, so let's say you have a light colored skirt that you want to wear to teach a gaggle of freshmen at BYU. I have always felt that I should wear nylons while teacher. But I will not wear nude. I will not wear sun tan, either. What should I do? Black is ridiculous. I bought some bone colored nylons but they just look like white, and I don't think white is a good idea, either. Should I self-tan under the bone? Should I self tan and break my nylons-while-teaching rule? I need a one-on-one consultation.

Alice said...

You know… I have always been very against the nude hose, but then today while standing in line at Walgreen’s I noticed the women in front of me wearing nude nylons with her light colored skirt and her camel color shoes. She was carrying a beautiful bag. I kept thinking, “I wonder how she pulled off the nude nylons?” And then decided it must be that the rest of her accessories were so right on that the nude nylons couldn’t be questioned.

Alice said...

Oh… and could we talk about purses next? I own a million, but besided my clutches I really don’t like any of them. Carry Ann, where can I find a reasonably priced, sensible, spacious bag for work… something that could be worn with brown and black and something that doesn’t look too large for my small 5’2” self, yet still packs in all the work I take home at night…

Kaycee said...

Carrie Ann... After reading this post I feel a need to sit and weep over my unfashionableness. Here are the strikes against me... that relate only to my feet/legs:

1) All winter long I wear only two pair of shoes. Brown Doc Marten Mary Janes and Black Danskos. Usually the Danskos are scuffed. Oh and the Mary Janes are, too.

2) I wear patterned socks. They don't have cartoon characters on them (well, once in a while they do), but every single pair of socks I own has some sort of pattern or ornamentation.

3) I do not wear skirts very often because I hate to shave my legs. When I do shave, I still don't wear skirts because I hate my legs.

I sometimes think I should be on "What not to wear" and that makes me sad.

I really do want to try fishnets, though.

Carrie Ann said...

Carly: try the nude fishnets with the light skirt...

Rebecca: I'm not against mude either. When you go to the hoisery dept (and I'm not talking about the grocery store, Ladies...) look at the samples they have there. The problem with nude is that people generally try to fake a tan with nylons. Your nude hose should match your skin, if you are in between, go for the lighter shade. And yes I am already composing the post on purses.

Kaycee: Darling, no need to fear. I am also a lover of patterned socks and cannot get rid of them. I am too sentimental. But let's talk about the shoes... While I agree that Doc Martens are V. comfortable, and it took me a LONG time to get rid of mine, there other fish in the sea. Help me figure out how to post pictures, and I'll post good stuff...

Kacy said...

Please don't tell us we have to get rid of our danskos. I think they are passable, comfortable, quirky-stylish in a chef-at-a-fancy-restaurant-way and I can wear them without feeling too frou-frou (perhaps something only Kaycee and I worry about, but nevertheless.) I await your verdict.

Suzie Petunia said...

I am most definitely not baring my legs around you ever again, Carrie Ann, for fear of breaking a rule. I'll just wear jeans ALL the time. Oh, wait. I do that anyway.

Fabulous post. You should truly write a book. Then take me shopping for clothes. Oh, and you have to pay for them. Love ya!

JP said...

I'm sitting here weeping at my confusion. I need CA to come and live with me and pick out all of my outfits...go shopping with me...decorate my house, etc.


Sarah Marinara said...

fishnets are SO on my list of things to do in 2005. I'm sure there will be pictures. Brace youself.

Her Evil Sister! said...

I laughed so hard. I enjoyed your post so very much. I haven't thought about hosiery in so long. Your rules are dead on. I would like to add something to the rule. Never wear black hosiery into white shoes. It is horrindous and should never be done.

About the handbags, try a red one. Red works well with both brown and black. Or since you mentioned purple shoes, go with an eggplant colored bag. Eggplant looks so rich with brown or purple.

Smarta said...

Fantastic Post! I am so glad that living in San Francisco, I have never had to wear "real" hose. I don't own a single pair, and even gave away my emergency pair years ago.
I do own: white fishnets, black fishnets, european black tights with rings, europeand green patterned tighs, european black tighs with red/white stenccil (?) (I say european, only because they are cool, but I don't see them much here- although banana is coming up with more daring stuff this spring)