Panty Hose, the once-adored object of liberation for women raised by mothers in stockings, girdles and corsets, passed away this summer, 43 years after first making its appearance. According to a recent survey on wowOwow.com, the new website for women 40+, only 21 percent of its audience answered "yes" to the question, "Do you wear stockings to work?"
Panty Hose had been on life support for years. But the now nearly complete rejection of the garment at work by even the baby-boomer generation is the single factor that most symbolizes its final demise.
The miracle garment was invented by Glen Raven Mills of North Carolina in 1965. First-wave feminists of the era immediately embraced Panty Hose as emblematic of their rejection of what were then called foundation garments, an artillery of fearsome-looking torpedo bras, slips, garter belts and girdles with bones, and seamed stockings held up by heinous-looking metal clips.
Panty Hose appeared in stores at the same time that miniskirts and micro-minis were making their way from chic shops in London and Paris to America's cities and towns. They became an instant sensation among young women flocking to college and the workplace for the first time.
Fittingly, it is the daughters of those first-wave feminists who are behind the demise of Panty Hose this summer.
Panty Hose suffered from the same ailment that bedeviled the garters and stockings they replaced: the coming on the scene of an even more emancipated, less formal generation of young women. The flip-flop-wearing daughters of the same feminists who so embraced Panty Hose as a symbol of liberation have now decreed them as the uncomfortable, restrictive, overly formal, symbols of repression.
As one of the wowOwow survey respondents commented:
"… Attending a very high-line fashion show with my southern belle mother-in-law. After a few models had made their way past us, she tugged at my sleeve and whispered, "Oh my word!! Not one of them is wearing stockings!" I leaned over and whispered back, "The last time I wore stockings was the day I married your son."
Rebellion, in all of its forms, is still very much alive.
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