Month: January 2011

The price of a dream

… is $175,000. 

Sorry, I should have been more specific. The price of my dream closet is $175,000. I always wondered, you know. Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later – someone has commissioned a copy of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet from the Sex and The City movies (all 400 square feet of it), and the price tag was … not that much of a surprise, actually. After all, you can’t shove 400 plus pairs of Manolo’s in the back of an IKEA self-assembly contraption. Anyway, you can read all about it here. Sounds like the guy just raised the bar for “just because” gifts … and, okay, I am just the teensiest bit jealous. Not just of his wife, but of him too – he’s getting his own matching closet. 
Time to buy that lottery ticket. 

Legs with a view

It is only appropriate that I would follow up Cat’s earlier post with one inspired by her.  Last year, I converted her to the “cult” of belts (no brainwashing involved!) and she returned the favour by convincing me that pantyhose is not just a painful necessity but a potentially cute accessory too. As a result, for the last few months, I’ve been looking for a pair of pantyhose with back seams – perfect for the retro aesthetic I love to rock. 
[As a total aside, I love anecdotes about the lengths to which women in the 1940s went to deal with the wartime shortage of pantyhose (then predominantly made of silk). If they couldn’t get their hands on the real deal, one of the ways to fake the look was by using gravy browning to “paint” their legs, then drawing a line in eyebrow pencil on the back of the leg (for the seam). Think women these days go to extreme lengths for fashion, huh? Necessity is the mother of invention, indeed!] 
Seamed pantyhose are harder to find these days than you might think, unless you’re going to specialized stores. At last, however, I tracked down a pair at Blu’s clearance sale; at just over $20, they weren’t exactly a steal, but they are a good brand (Voila), and boast some nice added touches. Although this is a sandalfoot pair, the sole of each foot is opaque (with scalloped edges), as is the panty/top; the sole extends up the ankle to connect with the back seam. If you look closely, you can see it’s actually a lace pattern. Neat!


Here is a look at the back. [I’m still working on mastering the skill of putting on my nylons so the seam is straight – Cat, maybe a tutorial is in order]

Back seams always seemed to me a bit too sexy for everyday, but I did wear this pair to the office recently and no one raised an eyebrow … at least not till after I was walking away. 


The best part? No control top!

Those of you who share my fascination with seamed nylons – and 1940s pin-ups – will understand my gasp (of appreciation and delight) when I recently saw this Twitpic posted by Dita von Teese of the new diamond-back seamed stockings in her hosiery collection (yes, she has one)  available at secretsinlace.com:

Dita’s Diamond Backseam ($59.99US)


Who’s ready for a stocking revival?

The legs have it

Guest blogger Cat R. is back, this time with a comprehensive look at one of the most frequently over-looked aspects of a woman’s wardrobe – her hosiery.
 
A male friend of mine recently proclaimed himself to be a “leg man,” earning him my instant gratitude and admiration. After years of popular obsession with everything from boobs to abs to the derriere, those of us who were not blessed with underwear-model proportions can breathe a sigh of relief. Perhaps it’s the vintage influence of Mad Men, or maybe the return of the miniskirt to the runways, but legs are back, ladies, and legs are where the shapely girl comes into her own. And what better way to show off your secret weapons than with a collection of fabulous tights?

BCRL has done a lot to alleviate the fear of belts and scarves harboured by the ladies of Edmonton, but so often we pair perfectly nice skirts and dresses with a pair of plain old ho-hum nylons (or forgo them altogether), completely forgetting that legwear is an accessory in its own right. Moreover, when your legs are whiter than the moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, they’re practically a legal obligation. There is a mind-boggling array of options out there, which can make a trip to the hosiery department a daunting proposition. To wit, a tutorial:

Pantyhose:


Pantyhose are what most of us think of when hosiery comes to mind, and they are the arch nemesis of many a woman. Perhaps it’s the crushing effect of the now-ubiquitous  control-top that has turned ladies away from legwear, or the constant sagging at the ankles (and, erm, higher elevations) that have led to the “bare legs” trend, but pantyhose do serve their own purpose. Pantyhose are sheer, generally found in shades of nude, black, or grey, and boast any number of styles and features that you can tailor to your own needs. They may come with a reinforced panty or reinforced toe for added durability. A reinforced panty is not recommended with shorter hemlines as the edge of the panty may show when you sit down, and a reinforced toe should never be worn with open-toe shoes. “Sandlefoot” hosiery do not have a reinforced toe, and are generally more versatile as they allow the wearer to sport an open-toe shoe or a closed-toe. You may only get one or two wears out of this style, however, as your toenail is likely to go through the end fairly quickly.

Stockings:

The term “stockings” refers to legwear consisting of two separate “socks” that come up to mid-thigh or higher, and are not held together by any sort of panty or girdle. A perennial favourite of husbands and boyfriends the world over, and although they are undeniably sexy, stockings require a garter belt to hold them up and are thus a less practical choice for everyday wear.


Stay-ups or hold-ups are stockings with bands of sticky elastic lining the upper edge to grip the leg and hold the stocking up on its own. Hold-ups are my personal choice, as they allow a certain measure of freedom and convenience, without the uncomfortable waistband of pantyhose. Hold-ups are arguably a more economical choice than pantyhose. If you get a run in one leg of your pantyhose, the entire pair must be discarded; with stockings and hold-ups, a run in one doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the other. Here’s the secret: once you find a brand you like, buy two or three pairs. If you tear one stocking, you can pair up its mate with one from another pair.
They key to wearing hold-ups is to make sure that the elastic around the top is a good fit. Hold-ups are an excellent choice for petites, since they can simply pull the stocking up higher on the leg if it is a bit too long. Too-tight bands, however, will be most uncomfortable and lead to a rather unflattering “muffin-top” look, while a band that is too loose won’t stay up. I find that hold-ups with a broad, lace band tend to have the best “give” in the elastic.  If you notice your hold-ups starting to slide down after a few wears, just wash them gently in warm soapy water to refresh the elastic grip. Leggy ladies – you lucky ducks – may wish to avoid stay-ups with shorter hemlines, as the upper band may show when you sit down. Check to see where your hem rises to before going out to avoid any potential embarrassment.


Plain, nude-coloured hose are the standard go-to when you want to show off the main part of your outfit, and help you to look more “finished” than with bare legs, especially in cooler weather. Read the packet when you buy them – the lower the denier, or thread count, the more natural-looking your hose will be. This isn’t isn’t to say that sheer hose have to be boring – stockings with a sexy back seam a la the ’40s and ’50s are the hosiery equivalent of the mullet – business in the front, party in the back – and are a subtle way to add a touch of intrigue to your look. 

Business in the front, party in the back

Tights:


Tights are a thicker, opaque style of pantyhose that come with or without a control top or reinforced panty. If you’re looking to add a touch of pizazz to a winter outfit, tights are an excellent way to do it, as they lend more warmth than regular nylons and come in a dazzling array of colours and patterns with which to accessorize your look. Black, opaque tights are a fashion staple that comes back year after year, and it’s easy to see why. Versatile, elegant and universally flattering, black tights slim the leg and pair well with everything from denim minis to little black dresses and brightly-coloured party skirts. Grey, cable-knit tights are another popular winter choice that look particularly great with sweater-dresses. 
Tights can be dressy or casual, depending on the outfit. A hot look for the past few seasons has been to pair brightly-coloured party dresses with black tights and black shoes, for a fun yet sophisticated evening look. Plain black tights are entirely office-appropriate and will pair well with sombre skirts or dresses, or you can wear them with tall boots and a denim shirt for a fun weekend look. To really step it up a notch, try pairing coloured tights with a dark-coloured outfit to make your fabulous legs the focal point of your outfit. Notice how much more interesting this plain black knit dress became with the addition of bright purple legs: 


Fishnets:
 
Maybe its the last vestiges of my teenage goth years hanging on for dear life here, but I love fishnets. The shadowing created by the pattern really accentuates the shape of the leg, and if you happen to snag them, small holes can be subtly mended and hidden by boots or a longer hemline. Fishnets are an excellent fashion choice for a number of reasons, and they don’t have to be trashy. The smaller the netting, the classier they are. A pair of black, mesh “micronet” stockings is entirely appropriate for most offices, as long as the rest of your outfit is fairly conservative. The standard, medium-sized netting can also be office-appropriate if you can find them in a subtle nude colour, while black or brown adds a hint of sexiness to an outfit for a night out paired with high-heeled boots. Large-sized fishnet is almost universally trashy, and is best left to magazines and the runway. This style is rarely flattering, as your pudgier parts will squish through the netting – not a good look. I often pair the nude fishnets in the photo below with a conservative, retro-style dress to add visual interest below the hemline without being overtly sexy. Paired with lavender, 1920s-style shoes and a printed skirt, they move easily from office to weekend.

 

Fishnets at the office

Workin’ overtime


Patterned:

You will want to consider patterned hose of any style in the context of your body type. I personally don’t buy into the commonly-held belief that vertical lines are slimming – in fact, as someone with rather curvaceous proportions, I find quite the opposite. Anything with prominent vertical lines – such as cable-knit tights – are best left to our more willowy sisters, as the lines will bow in and out with each contour of the leg; the exception to this rule would be hose with a single back seam, which will elongate the leg as long as the seam is kept straight. Thicker stripes and large patterns will stretch out noticeably over voluptuous thighs, an area that few women are eager to draw attention to. Essentially, the rule of hosiery patterns is the opposite to clothing patterns – the bigger the wearer, the smaller the pattern should be.

The diagonal pattern on the front of the tights on the right accentuates the curvature of the leg, while the v-shape down the outside of the leg creates a slimming vertical line. The holes in the netting are small enough not to stretch out too noticeably over thighs, and the overall impact adds flare to an otherwise conservative outfit.

As far as material is concerned, you have a few choices. First of all, you will want to consider the “gloss” factor of your legwear, whether you choose sheer hose or opaque tights. All but the very leanest of us will want to avoid anything with a sheen to it, as any kind of shine, as with other articles of clothing, will draw attention to any lumps or bumps that you may wish to conceal. Most hosiery is made with a nylon/Lycra blend, which helps it hold its shape and prevent wrinkly ankles. However, the Lycra results in a more delicate stocking, so it runs more easily. Rarely, you may come across a pair of pure nylon stockings. They tend to relax out a bit by the end of the day much as a pair of jeans would, which can be annoying, but they will be much more durable. I paid an exorbitant sum for a gorgeous, seamed pair at Agent Provocateur a few years ago, but they were so tough that I wore them regularly for over three years before I finally ripped them.

So there you have it, ladies, your winter-fashion saviour. No more pant legs dragging in the snow, or bunching up awkwardly over boots. It’s time to embrace your inner Joan Harris and show those stick-figure models what it’s all about!