The Image Professor

Where the Visual, Verbal, & Behavioral Get Graded

Pantyhose at Work: A Woman's Bondage or her Best Behavior?

Pantyhose at Work: To Wear or Not to Wear?

PANTYHOSE AT WORK: A WOMAN'S BONDAGE OR HER BEST BEHAVIOR?

My professional image PowerPoint presentation is over. I've shown slides of women in blue suits, beige blazers, and the sloping curves of cleavage on display. I've explained the difference between men's single-breasted and double-breasted jackets and (attempted to) justify whether men should wear wingtips, cap-toe oxfords, loafers, or some other shoe type on the job.


But now comes the time I most relish: Audience Q & A.

And here we go, the question that is always asked, no matter what:


"Do I have to wear pantyhose?"


Most women view pantyhose as constrictive instruments of torture. They're friends with nylon fibers on the job as long as said fibers create computer carrying bags. But when nylon binds the belly, nylon is kicked to the curb with a resounding thud.


Meanwhile, other women don't feel completely attired until pantyhose (control top, no less) completely cover their bottom half. What's the right choice?

I've concluded there's no magical answer. One size does not fit all. Pantyhose are a contextual issue. However, here are some factors that may help guide your decision:

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.


DRESS CODE OR LACK THEREOF: I'm surprised that many companies don't have official dress codes with clear guidelines. I've worked with offices that prefer female employees to wear hose, but offer no clear mandate. The end result? Some women will wear, and other women wear anything but. While some dress codes demand strict parameters, others need flexibility. I once taught in a school where pantyhose were required during the cooler months. But during summer quarter, we could switch to sandals sans hose. While a compromise of this sort may not be for everyone, it worked here, which was the whole point.


AESTHETIC OF FEET & LEGS: I'm being honest when I discuss this segment, so please decode with that in mind. Some legs just look best when covered with pantyhose, tights, socks, pants, or a long skirt. Leg stubble, calloused foot skin, and a chipped pedicure don't convey polish. Some people, such as myself, are naturally pale-skinned. My uncovered legs look shockingly white when contrasted against a strong-colored skirt or dress. Some may shrug, and conclude it's no big deal. But to the extent that my glaringly white legs are a distraction, it's then a work-related issue. Women in workshops will often say their bare legs look perfectly acceptable. What they don't notice are the raised eyebrows disbelieving colleagues direct their way.


OCCUPATION: I'm a college professor and a definite job perk is relaxed attire. As long as I'm wearing a top and a bottom, I'm good to go. If the university president requests my presence in his office, however, I'm reaching for my Hanes. Traditional fields (banking, law, finance) have an expectation of formality and pantyhose help achieve that purpose. But women working on a construction site don't need hose; they need steel-tipped work boots. Creative fields might even encourage hose in bright colors and textured patterns, where the legs and feet then become works of art.


Other variables exist, of course, but these three factors should be considered before shoes are even placed on one's feet. "Women want...three-dollar pantyhose that won't run," comedienne Phyllis Diller once joked. I sense women would also like a once-and-for-all answer on the pantyhose debate, but while that declarative conclusion may occur in the future, at the moment, it's anyone's guess.

© 2009 The Image Establishment, All Rights Reserved

About LisaMarie  |  LisaMarie's Company Website  |  LisaMarie's Newsletter   | LisaMarie's Company Services  |  Follow LisaMarie on Twitter  |  Connect with LisaMarie at LinkedIn

Email LisaMarie:  professorlml@aol.com (subject line of "Psychology Today")

 

LisaMarie Luccioni is an adjunct professor of Communication at the University of Cincinnati, a business etiquette expert, and one of 100 Certified Image Professionals in the United Statesmore...

Subscribe to The Image Professor

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?