The preoccupation with black hosiery

Black StockingsOne of the things that I can’t quite figure out in the history of modern hosiery is why the colour black became so omnipresent. It began in the mid-1980s and continues without constraint to the present day. Mind you we have seen a resurgence in sheer flesh-toned nylons of late particularly for spring/summer. But black still seems to hold sway most of the time. From the 1940s through to the 80s flesh-toned or nude stockings ruled the day. Black was worn only for funerals or by old Italian women perpetually in mourning. Then black took over. Why? I have some theories – that black covers a multiude of sins (women don’t have shave their legs as much, black covers embarrassing bruises or veins, black has a slimming effect). Perhaps some women can enlighten.

– I think the three theories you mention at the end of your post are all true, particularly the one about hiding a multitude of sins. In my early 20s when I was working in high end retail, we were all required to wear either dresses or suits every day. Most of the time we wore plain black skirts and black heels, so that we could get more than one day’s worth of wear out of the skirt. I recall my reason at the time for wearing black hose was that I considered it a little more sophisticated looking – short black skirt, heels; flesh tone seemed out of place.

Also, with Boston winters, you got used to wearing black. Where I worked, black came out of the closet in September, and didn’t go back in until June.

Having switched from hose to stockings I’ve discovered that fleshtone is easier to keep, and you cannot tell where the snags are. I’ve discovered in my old age that now I actually prefer my legs in fleshtone stockings. Perhaps I’ve gained a little wisdom over the years?

– I have to agree with you. Up until 12 months ago the only skintone stockings I wore were ones with contrasting black or red seams. About 90% of my hosiery was black. I guess it was because my generation was brought up on black opaque tights. Over the past 12 months I have gradually switched to skintone (although I still wear black for a special occasion) which not only do I find very flattering, but as you say, the snags don’t show.

– I’ve noticed that there is black and then there is black when it comes to hosiery. Some blacks look bloody awful, while other blacks look okay. I think the difference is a combination of denier and the actual dye.

I think that the dark plum colour is a far more practical colour as it works with Navy, but I am not sure what goes best with a black outfit.

On Monday my wife came out ready for work wearing a black mid-calf dress, white blouse and black jacket but wearing brand new black stockings. I couldn’t help but tell her she looked like a Nun from the 1950s, so she went and changed to flesh coloured stockings, and agreed that she hadn’t tried that brand before and they belonged in the bin.

– I think most of us follow the fashion trend. On one occasion when I looked into the mirror about 18 months ago, my legs in black, did not impress me at all. Black has a strange sensation of actually making the legs appear thicker, especially around the calf area. With today’s high class fashions, a large percentage of women seem to go for a “black with everything” look. I only own two pairs of black stockings which I wear very rarely. Light shades enhance the legs, and my personal favourites are light tan and mid tan.

– Actually, if anyone is interested in my random trivia, I believe I’ve read somewhere that black stockings at one point were the cheapest colour to buy. Therefore they were the ones that many streewalkers and women of ill repute would wear.

As for the modern preoccupation with black, I agree with everything said so far, but I think there are subconscious reasons. For example, black is the colour of the night and the archetypal colour of the femme fatale. Of course, my practical reason is that I can only buy FF stockings online, and my skin colour is very difficult to match, being naturally dark, so I safely stick to black. *sigh*

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