Back when I was first cutting my teeth as a buyer, I worked for Frederick’s of Hollywood. I worked in the home office, which used to be located smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. This was in the mid 90's before the place got cleaned up some. I’ll tell you, going to work at 7am and seeing the riff-raff still stumbling about from the night before was, uh…interesting. I have to admit though, it was all kinds of fun. We’d sneak away to go watch actors and musicians unveil their stars on the boulevard or down to Mann’s Chinese Theater to watch movie premier red carpet stuff. We’d hit up Musso and Frank’s after work for some Picon Punch and since the receptionist worked nights at The House of Blues VIP room, she’d always let us in to hob-nob with the stars. Good times.
At the time, I was a lowly assistant buyer, in charge of three categories: crotchless panties, hosiery and the plus size categories. Wanna know the best selling item in all of those categories combined? Get ready for it….the satin and lace, all-around zipper crotchless panty in size XXXL, red with black lace. Not something I can explain and not sure I ever wanted to know….at all. Anyway, since the assistant buyers were in charge of all the samples, we always got first dibs on things meant for the annual sample sale! I used to have a nice little cache of lingerie! I’ve since trashed a lot of the trashy lingerie and it hasn’t been replaced. I bought some cute thongs for the wedding, but they have been sitting in my drawers collecting panty-dust ever since.
My favorite sexy lingerie item is stockings. I love the idea of the garter belt. Through my years as a hosiery buyer, I learned a lot about the quality and craftsmanship of stockings. I had manufacturers sending me real silk stocking samples from Germany, France and England. Simply gorgeous! I had a really cool pair that was nude, but had these cool black designs trailing up the side of one leg. When I wore them, people constantly stopped me to ask me about my leg tattoo! These remind me of those a little bit:
Nude with black seam and “love” for $17.93 from ASOS.
For more “tattoo” style stockings, check out these on Etsy.
If you’re going to shop for quality stockings, you should know a little something about denier. Denier is unit of weight that measures the fineness of a textile, equal to the weight in grams of 9000 meters. Basically, it measures the thickness of something. Think of it like thread-count on your sheets, only the number goes down, instead of up. The sheerest you can find these days is around 7.
You might be tempted to splurge on real silk stockings, but forewarned is forearmed: silk stretches and then doesn’t un-stretch. Lots of sitting and standing and your cool silk stockings will be bagging around you knees and ankles. No bueno.
And here’s a little factoid: do you know why they stopped making silk stockings? They had to because of World War II. The number one supplier of silk to the U.S. was Japan. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, that trade route was closed. The small supply of silk that we did have went towards making parachutes for soldiers. And then the Mack-daddy of all things vital to women was invented: nylon (followed closely by Spandex). Nylon was a ton less expensive to make than silk, so it opened up a whole new world of availability to lower-income women.
Dr. Wallace Hume Carothers invented nylon in the 1930s and DuPont introduced the stockings in 1938 and promoted them at the 1939 World’s Fair as a rival for silk stockings. In October 1939, according to Sodibas.com, the entire stock of four thousand pairs was sold out in Wilmington, Delaware within three hours.
Dupont then designated May 15, 1940 as "Nylon Day" nationwide and four million pair were sold within four days.*
Can you imagine? FOUR MILLION in FOUR days. Can you say shopping free-for-all?
Here are some of my favorite go-to recommendations for luxury legwear:
Wolford – Home for luxury legwear. Founded in 1949 Germany, they are the go-to for great hosiery. They have co-branded with the likes of Jean Paul Gautier, Philipp Starck, Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld and Emilio Pucci.
Gerbe – French manufacturer since 1904. These folks know how to do it.
Girardi – Making them Italian style since 1933!
Here are some more of my favorites from around the interwebs, both bridal and otherwise!
$31.00 from SockBox via Etsy.
16.56 € from Trasparenze.
A little something blue in 15 denier? $49.99 from StockinGirl.
85.00 € from Cazar.
£ 54.95 from Lascivious.
There are a million, jillion places to buy this stuff at all price levels and in all kinds of styles. If you want to try stockings or thigh highs, I suggest buying an inexpensive pair and giving them a test run before seriously investing. They aren’t for everyone, comfort being the biggest factor.
I have a request though, nay a demand. Regardless of what you see in fashion magazines, hosiery with open toed shoes is LAME, even those marked “sandal foot.” I beg of you, do not do this.
So, what’s your take on legwear? Thigh highs? Stockings? Or are you simply going to rock some Spanx and call it day?