I'm sure you're aware that nylon hosiery went out of style sometime last year and is showing no sign of coming back into fashion favor. If you wore opaque tights all winter, you were still a hip old lady. But now that spring is here (officially, though not physically around here!), women over 50 are supposed to resist the temptation to pull on nylon hose. So...I wasn't surprised when a Flattering50 reader emailed me and wrote:
I have an evening wedding to go to the last day of May. Now let me ask a question that definitely separates my generation from my kids': What about hose? Is it totally 70s to wear hose? I'm quite fair and pretty sure my legs were never intended to be seen. What to do that doesn't date me? My husband and I are very close to the same height, so I don't usually do much of a heel. If I go with a longer length and a lower heel, then that feels frumpy to me and I prefer to feel "dressed" for such an occasion. I want to look sharp because there will be family pictures.
First off, sweet reader, you're not alone! My over 50 girlfriends and I are grappling with the very same question this spring. Recently, a friend reminded me of a Hercule Poirot Mystery Classic in which the detective solved the crime by looking at the bare knees of the criminal and realizing she wasn't the young thing she pretended to be. "Ouch!!!" said my friend. Ouch, indeed. That said, I'm a big believer that one of the perks of being over 50 is that I don't have to be a fashion slave, if I don't want to. I have options. I've come up with a few, but would love to hear what other over 50 women are doing these days. For a few leg options, click...
THE DRESS, THE SHOES, THE HAIR
When it comes to leg styling, I think your dress, shoes and hair are the most important things. My Flattering50 reader sent me links to three lovely lace dresses--one black and the other two in a gorgeous spring color--she's considering for her wedding guest outfit. I believe if you have a gorgeous dress, a stunning pair of shoes and your hair has been professional coiffed for the special occasion, you are 99.9% done. At that point, you should feel like a million bucks and confidence is just about the greatest distraction for any little over 50 imperfection.
You don't, however, want to shake your confidence by styling your legs in a way that you're not personally comfortable with. If you really, really can't imagine feeling good with bare legs than fashion be damn. Do what feels good and is the most flattering for your legs. If, however, the special event isn't for a few weeks or months and you're on the fence in terms of what to do, here are a few other options...
If your legs look good and you're thinking about going bare legged to an affair, you might want to consider a fake tan: either a tanning parlor or tanning lotion tan. The former makes me super nervous, so you'll have to investigate that one yourself. I'm not crazy about the potential chemicals in a tanning lotion either, but I figure it might be okay to do once in a blue moon. (Hopefully, this 'no hose' trend won't last much longer.)
Rumor has it that tanning lotions have greatly improved--smelling better and not turning legs orange--in recent years. An over 50 girlfriend recommends the Estée Lauder Bronze Goddess Golden Perfection Self-Tanning Milk for Body. It's also one of the tanners featured in Oprah's The Season's Best Self-Tanners.
Just can't wrap your head around the bare leg trend, especially for an evening event? Then, by all means, it's time to move on to your hosiery options. Honestly, for an spring evening wedding, I would probably go for the hose. My reason: I'm under 5'5" (and shrinking!) and my best hem is, unfortunately, just above my wrinkly knees. If I wear a dress that covers my old knees, it adds 10 pounds (at least!). Who wants to look heavier? So...I might try...
- THIGH HIGHS
She finds thigh highs super comfortable, especially on warm spring evenings. She hates the panty part of pantyhose. She has good legs and wears her hems a couple of inches above the knees. Sometimes, when she’s dancing or lifting a glass of champagne, a little of the lace at the top of the thigh high peeks out. It’s rather sexy. But again, she’s got good thighs—I do not.
Ultimately, if I were going to wear thigh highs to a wedding, especially one where I intended to kick up my heels, I wouldn’t skimp—I’d want to make sure I got a pair that would stay up. The thigh highs above are from Shopbop.com. You'll also find thigh high styles at Freshpair.com. I might try Donna Karan thigh highs. I saw a good review of the DK version somewhere. That said, I might test out a pair of inexpensive Hanes Silk Reflections Thigh High Pantyhose (below) to see how I felt in a pair before splurging.
- SHIMMERY PANTYHOSE
Personally, I love the “control top” pantyhose—they really help keep things tucked in. If I decided to thumb my nose at the current “no nylon” trend, I would buy the best quality pantyhose I can afford. I love the lux feel of a silky pair of hose. The hose above are Modern Control Top Tights (was $20, now $15.99) from Ann Taylor.
I would also check out a shimmery nude or pale grey stocking. For an example, click on the Calvin Klein 'Shimmer' Sheer Control Top Pantyhose at Nordstroms.
- BACK SEAM PANTYHOSE
IT'S ALL IN THE PLANNING
The thing I really admire about my reader who asked about styling her legs for the May wedding, is that she's thinking ahead. When I was in my 20s, I would grab a few garments, throw them on, and run out the door. Later, I often laughed at how ridiculous I looked. But I was young and what did it matter? Well, fast-forward a few decades and ridiculous is an adjective I'd like to avoid (as much as possible) when describing one of my get-ups--especially for a fancy party. I think I'm much more successful in terms of creating a flattering look for myself, if I plan ahead, think a little before tossing something on and running out the door. If she chooses to, my reader has two months to experiment with different leg options. I think that's great!