I belong to what might be one of the longest running women's groups in the country. We began during the era of consciousness-raising (mothers in our early 20s, we discussed nursing bras as much as bralessness) and supported each other through divorce, death, and contemplations of cosmetic surgery. (So far it's a no.)
We have eternal loyalty and ferocious debates.
We've argued over Hilary vs. Obama. The safety of hormone therapy. And whether to go barelegged with business and fancy dresses. What to do in the summer? Winter, thank goodness, is tights season -- and tights season seems to stretch longer and longer. Don't you think there is a reason? Few will admit it, but there is a growing group of us who want to say 'hell yeah' to pantyhose. Sheer, lovely, shimmery pantyhose. Yes to hiding the signs of aging that, unlike wisdom and increased empathy, do not delight: Veins waving hello. Leg 'freckles'. Creepy bits of crepe.
By simply slipping on sheers, even the cheapest Brand X, our legs could match our Spanx-smoothed torso. If only the fashion police would allow.
And yet... (back to the women's group and our argument soon) in the past decade or so, freedom from pantyhose somehow segued into an iron-clad rule against wearing panty-hose, unless one wanted to mark oneself as 1) elderly to the point of coffin-bound, 2) prudish as a Victorian, or 3) so fashion-dumb as to likely be wearing an un-ironic beehive.
I'd look at photos in Vogue, et al, of graceful women in magnificent dresses. Beautiful women of a certain age, make-up perfect, shoes costing more than my entire spring wardrobe, jewelry--whether bold or understated--impressive. And then. Pan down, no, not the shoes...up a bit. Why are those lovely shoes paired with uncomfortable, no doubt blistering, feet? Bare feet are comfortable in Tevas and Naot. Not so much when the skin is scraping and smothered in a pair of heels. Are those ropy legs shown by choice?
I rebelled. I wore sheers. I was warned (via the daughter-alert-via-women's group:) "No one wears pantyhose. No one!" I embarked on my fashion funeral. But what was my alternative: sumptuous cocktail dresses ruined by gardening-scratched-sun-worshipping-youth bare flesh?
And now, finally, (thank you Boston Globe, thank you Beth Teitell, now I know why I subscribe to three newspapers -- so as to never miss news like this) a new day dawns: Kate Middleton, it seems, is wearing sheer pantyhose.
"Her knees did not look dirty because she'd un-artfully applied a self-tanner. Prickly hairs were not showing. Pastiness was not an issue."
Thank you, Princess Kate. Perhaps we needed royalty to say no to the emperor's new clothes, to face down the prospect of pretending that shaving nicks looked good with taffeta.
Thank you, Princess Kate. I am willing to say it now: I don't just want freedom not to wear pantyhose. I also want the freedom to wear it if I so choose. And your message came just in time. I tried self-tanner on my legs yesterday. Trust me. It was more like self-delusion. Choice. That's all I'm saying.