They’re a staple in my wardrobe, and I’m sure many other women’s wardrobes too. My research-loving brain sent me down a rabbit hole to find out why pantyhose have remained such a popular item of clothing in our wardrobes for so many decades.
Pantyhose are worn for many reasons, which include:
- Warmth in winter
- Keeping cool in summer
- Prevention of chafing and blistering
- Appearance and confidence
- Prevention of sweaty, smelly feet
- Avoidance of panty lines
- Prevention of varicose veins
Before we head into all the reasons to wear pantyhose, let’s take a brief look at the history of hosiery.
The History Of Pantyhose and Hosiery In General
The term hosiery came from the Anglo-Saxon word “hosen”, which means covering. European noblemen wore these early versions of pantyhose in the 15th and 16th centuries to make for easier horseback riding.
The first recorded woman to wear stockings was Queen Elizabeth I. She was given her first pair of knitted silk stockings in 1560, and she loved the softness and comfort of the accessory. These early versions were made of silk and wool and had to be held up by garters or custom-made for the wearer.
Throughout the next few centuries, hosiery in some form or another was worn by women for modesty, warmth, and protection. Dresses were long, and stockings were hidden under clothing.
In the early part of the 20th century, hemlines became shorter, and hosiery increased in popularity to cover bare legs. The typical 1920’s stocking came to just above the knee and was held up by a garter or a suspension belt. Women started to embrace fishnet and embellished hosiery as a style and freedom statement.
With the 1930s came the invention of nylon which changed the hosiery world. Nylon was cheaper, and its elasticity allowed for hosiery to fit women of all shapes and sizes.
With World War II, nylon was in short supply, and women began to use self-tanner and similar options to create the illusion of stockings.
During the next two decades, as hemlines continued to rise, pantyhose were developed. Pantyhose are a single garment consisting of two legs, a gusset, and a waistband. Back then, all nylon hosiery were called “pantyhose.” Nowadays, the term “pantyhose” refers to the style and not the material.
In the late 1960s, the first “hold-ups” were developed – self-supporting stockings that were an alternative to pantyhose, garters, and suspenders.
These days, hosiery options are endless.
Reasons Why We Wear Pantyhose
Let’s hone in on pantyhose and all the good reasons why we wear them.
Pantyhose Keep Your Legs Warm In Winter
Pantyhose allow us to wear our skirts and dresses throughout the year, even in the coldest winter months. Their material retains heat and distributes it around your body. The closed toes keep your feet warm because they prevent air from entering between your toes.
Pantyhose are also a great alternative to tights because your ankles are protected. Wearing a pair of pantyhose under your pants and jeans is also a great option to keep your legs warm throughout the day.
Pantyhose Help You Stay Cool In Summer
We might wonder how something that keeps you warm in winter also keeps you cool and dry in summer? The reason why pantyhose keep you cool is that they reduce sweating. Studies have shown that wearing pantyhose can reduce sweating by up to 40%. They are mostly made from thin nylon, which wicks moisture away from the skin and helps you stay cool.
Pantyhose Stop Your Feet From Becoming Smelly
Similar to how pantyhose keep your legs cool by reducing sweating, they do the same to your feet. Yay for no smelly feet.
Pantyhose Reduce Friction On Your Legs, Which Prevents Chafing And Blistering
Possibly the worst thing about wearing dresses and skirts with bare legs is the possibility of rubbing and chafing between your legs. By reducing the friction, pantyhose will prevent painful thigh rub. For the same reason, they can also protect your feet from blisters caused by your shoes.
A tip if you do want to wear a dress and be bare-legged on a hot summer day – wear a pair of tight boy shorts or bicycle-style short pants!.
Pantyhose Help You To Look Professional And Polished, And Feel More Confident
Pantyhose are perfect for a day at the office or a formal event to finish off an outfit. Nothing looks quite as smart as a black pencil skirt with a pair of black pantyhose. And for a cocktail party, nothing is as perfect as a little black dress with black pantyhose.
They’re a great confidence booster because they make your legs look longer and shapelier, and their sheerness can be very alluring.
Pantyhose Can Provide Shape Support
To add to the confidence factor, a pair of shapewear pantyhose can help hide any lumps and bumps on your hips, thighs, and stomach, especially under body con dresses.
Pantyhose Can Hide Panty Lines
Because they’re tight enough to feel like a second skin, they can hide panty lines pretty well under fitted outfits.
Pantyhose Are Stylish
Pantyhose have been around for hundreds of years. They are timeless and somehow have never gone out of style. Fashion has dictated variations over the years – from fishnets to seamed to patterned and in every color under the sun. One way or another, there is always a fashionable option to wear if you’re a fan. They can finish an outfit and are a fun way to add visual interest.
Pantyhose Prevent Varicose Veins
Support pantyhose help to prevent varicose veins because they help your veins work correctly and avoid bad circulation and clots.
Pantyhose have been around for hundreds of years in one form or another, and they have a fascinating history. Their timelessness means they’re a staple item of clothing in many of our wardrobes. We wear them for a wide variety of reasons, both practical and style. Do you love pantyhose, and if so, what is your favorite reason for wearing them?
Fashion Quo: Reasons to Wear Pantyhose
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Vienne Milano: History of Hosiery