Friday, June 06, 2008

Bare Legs At The Office?

I've talked plenty about the pitfalls of women's high heels, and how they affect a woman's professional appearance. And so, to move on to a new topic, the WSJ's Career Journal today tackles another uncomfortable clothing issue: legs--to bare or not to bare?

Call them what you will: panty hose, tights, nylons, stockings--whatever the name, they're a nuisance. It's difficult to find a good fit to start with, calculating one's height to weight ratio against the chart on the packaging. Then there are the ridiculous amounts of options. Control top? Sure it makes you look slim, but it makes any sort of bending very uncomfortable, including sitting down. If you skip a tummy slimmer top, then you run the dreaded risk of not enough elastic in the waist, and you'll spend all day surreptitiously trying to keep them from falling down. And let's not get into how easily they run, catching on the edges of desks and filing cabinets. Did I also mention the annoyance of keeping the seem straight on one's toes?

Personally, I will wear nylons or tights, particularly in the winter when it gets really cold. (I've been known to use them as an extra layer under trousers even.) But I'd much rather go without. It's much easier to walk around without the constraint of elastic around my lower abdomen. (Heaven help me if I'd lived in the days of corsets!)

In today's casual workplaces, many women have peeled off the panty hose, and it is now common to see bare legs even on conservative Wall Street and at business events. Yet the transition has highlighted a generational divide. For women who entered the work force before the 1990s, hose were considered as necessary as underwear. But many twentysomethings have never worn panty hose at all.

The fashion shift has left some baby boomer managers feeling that their hose make them look frumpy. Kathy Garland, the 54-year-old chairwoman of the Northern Dallas area for the National Association of Women Business Owners, says she finally threw out a bag full of hose last week. An executive coach herself, she noticed a few years ago that she was the only woman wearing hose at a formal business fund-raiser. "Younger women don't even think about panty hose," she says.

I wouldn't consider nylons frumpy, but I do feel that they should be a matter of choice in women's dress. The article quoted compares nylons to ties, but I feel this is a silly comparison. Ties are nowhere near as much trouble as nylons. They don't run, they don't fall down, they don't squeeze your middle, and they last a lot longer.

I think that as younger women push onward in their careers, this issue won't be an issue at all anymore. And besides, as long as your legs are clean, and you're wearing a sensible skirt, a woman can look fine with bare legs. It's not as if we're back in the Victorian era, where men drooled over a glimpse of a well-turned ankle.

1 responses:

mice said...

I sometimes participate in Victorian reenactments and dancing. One time I had arrived early and was walking around the neighborhood looking from something to eat. I was walking up the street and I perchance to see a young woman running across the street in her undergarments. I was shocked and at the same time interested.

Then I realized. She was covered from neck to toes in period undergarments. I think at that moment I knew what it was like to be a Victorian guy.


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