If I doubted that I was out of the mainstream, I’ve got new proof. I wrote to my friend Danielle and said, “I’m so done with pantyhose – aren’t you? I found a pair in my dresser drawer and I threw them in the garbage. Unless it’s a wedding, I’m not wearing pantyhose, and that’s that.” Danielle wrote back, and said “Are you kidding? I wear ’em every business day – Earth to Liz, pantyhose are alive and well, although maybe not in Boulder, Colorado.”I hadn’t realized I was that far out on the bell curve. But when I’ve travelled recently not only to Danielle’s city (New York) but also to Washington, DC; Boston; and Dallas, I heard the same thing: pantyhose aren’t going anywhere soon. It’s too bad! What’s the difference, really, between a woman’s plain old bare leg and the same leg with a hundredth-of-an-inch of nylon covering it?
The pantyhose example is a perfect illustration of the Great Clothing Divide that is happening all around us. Some businesses are going more casual every day – one friend of mine, a VP at a large real estate firm, wears jeans into the office every day. Other businesses are every bit as formal in their dress standards as they were in Miss Hathaway’s day (leave a Comment below if you don’t remember Miss Hathaway!).
I realize I push the envelope a bit – it was at least ten years ago that I realized that if a long, sweeping skirt covered my ankle, I could slide without pantyhose – but I’m no clothing radical. I have enough black, navy and gray crepe blazers in my closet to choke a [clothes] horse. But I don’t wear short skirts except for very formal events (because of the pantyhose requirement). I wear long skirts or slacks – I haven’t worn a suit (as in, jacket and skirt same fabric, manufactured together!) in ten years at least. My work doesn’t require it – for which I’m hugely grateful. Plus, there’s that pantyhose thing.
What about you? Have you loosened your personal formality standards where workplace dress is concerned, or not? Do you buy $300 suits for your job, and if so, is that your choice or a tacit requirement of the position? What’s up with modern businesswomen and their clothes?