By Lynda Hollenbeck
I'll never forget the first time I wore pantyhose. I felt as if I had been freed from bondage.
This new style evolved from the infamous garter belt used to secure individual stockings or, even before that, garters to hold up the leg coverings.
Pantyhose were the new frontier. Women were ecstatic, and I was the leader of the pack.
I don't recall when all of this occurred, but I do remember the joy with which I embraced the contemporary legwear. And now a lot of women shun them for the barelegged look, which, I'm told, they believe to be more attractive.
I wonder about their mirror time — or the lack thereof.
To each her own, but I know I wouldn't leave my boudoir in a dress that wasn't accompanied by pantyhose.
Look at dancers. They present the perfect example of a nice, leggy look. With few exceptions, their legs are smooth and silky in part because of the hosiery they wear, whether it be opaque tights or sheer pantyhose.
Every garment has its season, I suppose, and I don't know when — and certainly not why — pantyhose began to fade from the ordinary woman's fashion scene.
With slacks, of course, there's no reason to wear them, unless it's done for warmth. Knee-highs or trouser socks complete that look with style and comfort. I applaud it.
But for those who are past a certain age — and I can't even say what that is — pantyhose are your friend, even if you don't know it. Make that your best friend.
The fact is, any female's legs are more appealing with hosiery. Betty Grable and Angie Dickinson knew this and were wonderful flag-bearers for the cause.
Call me old-fashioned, odd, a blast from the past, whatever. It's just true that legs older than 20 or so are prettier with some glitz and glamour.
As I was perusing this issue, someone informed me that pantyhose currently are making a revival. Yea! I haven't seen evidence of this yet, but I'll be applauding it when I do.
I never plan to stop wearing them. If I wear a skirt or dress, it will be with pantyhose —every day, even in hot, humid weather.
At one time, it appeared that wearing hose or not wearing hose was influenced by "class." I don't think that's so anymore. But in earlier days educated, professional women wouldn't have considered wearing a suit or nice dress without appropriate legwear.
Their mothers taught them this is what nice women do. They prided themselves in looking tasteful.
Another kind of woman rarely bothered, and this style apparently has infiltrated into the overall feminine scene.
Here's the way I see it: Pantyhose are like makeup for your legs. If you put on eye shadow and/or lipstick to go out, you also should put on your pantyhose. A good rule of thumb.
I do have a pantyhose horror story that comes close to rivaling the first terrible time I wore hose with garters and spent the whole evening pulling up the things.
I had gone to the old Sam Peck Hotel in Little Rock for a state music club convention. The event included daytime and nighttime events, the latter of which was semiformal.
My day dress was a silver and white polka dot filmy thing that I wore with pale silver hose. My night frock was chocolate brown and I, of course, had hosiery that blended with it.
The brown hose were still in the plastic bag when I was getting ready for the evening banquet. After I had switched dresses, I began to change pantyhose. And that's when I found out I was in trouble.
The pair I had picked up specifically to match my dress apparently had been sized incorrectly. At first, they wouldn't come up past mid-thigh. I worked and worked with them until I got them up to my hips, but not over them. That was as far as they would go.
It was the equivalent of walking in a straitjacket in reverse.
Some people reading this are wondering why I didn't just run out and get another pair. There's a reason. This was at a time when stores closed about 5 p.m. in downtown Little Rock, and it was past that hour. No one else had a spare pair, and I wasn't about to put on the silver pair with a dark brown dress. That would have been just too tacky.
Suffice it to say I wore them, but I walked in the style of what I imagine Chinese girls did back in ancient days when their parents bound their feet.
In spite of my suffering, I have to say it beat going barelegged. That would have violated the code breathed into me at birth by my Southern mother.
Some dogma is just too mighty to challenge.
Lynda Hollenbeck is senior editor of The Saline Courier.