They can be delicate or the last word in woolly comfort—from the waist to the toes. They can also be budget-breakers and shortlived indulgences. But bright, patterned and textured pantyhose have caught the imaginations of Canadian women of all ages. This fall, at prices that can easily reach $50, women are wrapping their legs in plaids, stripes, ladybugs, dots and houndstooth check in a stunning variety of colors. And according to Lynda Sniderman, a sales
clerk at Legs Beautiful, a Toronto hosiery store, retailers cannot stock enough of the patterned stockings. Indeed, the women’s hosiery industry in Canada generates sales of more than $300 million on 180 million pairs each year—with patterned and textured hosiery currently accounting for at least 25 per cent of those sales.
Women all have their own reasons for choosing patterned leg wear. Declared Mary Burns, a 30-year-old Vancouver arts administrator: “Legs are considered very sexy, and anything you can do to heighten their appeal is great.” And men are interested observers of this female fashion. Said Charles Milgrom, national sales and marketing manager for Toronto-based hosiery manufacturer Phantom Industries Inc.: “There are a whole lot of men out there looking at women’s legs—and the more women do to them, the more attention they get.” Still, despite the ever-present risk of ripping
and running delicate fabrics, sheer hosiery still dominates the market. And according to Milgrom, it is regaining ground lost to patterned pantyhose. As well, Milgrom predicted that there is a new trend on the way: a conservative look with lighter textures, enlivened with subtle sheens from such yarns as Lurex.
Milgrom’s prediction of a return to more traditional styles comes as a relief to those who dislike the flash and glitter of current fashions. David
Newson, a fashion editor at Maclean Hunter’s Toronto-based Flare magazine, says that he rarely uses patterned hose in his fashion spreads because he finds them unattractive. Said Newson: “There is something really unnerving about an unusual pattern or color on a woman’s legs. Why they stick those hideous hose on is completely beyond me.” But according to 42-year-old Vancouver actress Penelope Stella, who collects patterned pantyhose: “There’s nothing more boring than plain nylons. They make your legs look like dead animals below your skirt.” And Alexandra Grant, a 26-year-old nanny and Vancouver nursing student, recently paid $69 for patterned pantyhose because, she said, “they were fabulous.” Said Grant: “Expensive hosiery looks better, feels better—and I feel better in it.”
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