Pantyhose: It’s (still) what to wearSusan Scafidi in North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, October 11, 2012
When the results of a LinkedIn survey regarding outdated office equipment and practices pinged around the internet last week, we at Sidebar quickly zeroed in on the most crucial item: 27 percent of 7,000 respondents predicted that formal business attire like suits, ties and pantyhose are likely to vanish from offices in the next five years.
Of course we noted the other results – that the majority of respondents believe the end is nigh for tape recorders (79 percent), fax machines (71 percent) and standard working hours (57 percent). But no more pantyhose? Could it be true?
Signs point to “no.” Female lawyers in the North Carolina, don’t toss out your stockings with the Rolodex (also voted on the wane by 58 percent of survey takers).
For years, hosiery sales have sagged like old-school nylons. But recently, the numbers stabilized. Media trend spotters point to the popularity of “Mad Men” style and Kate Middleton, whose stockings may be required by royal protocol — but c’mon, she’s rocking them.
For help divining the direction of legwear, we consulted attorney Susan Scafidi, a professor at Fordham School of Law and founder and director of the nonprofit Fashion Law Institute. Scafidi says we are witnessing a generational shift that offers us a new set of stylish but formal choices.
She writes: “Sheer, skin-toned pantyhose have been on the run for the better part of a decade, and in particular since Michele Obama began flashing bare legs on the campaign trail during the last presidential election. That being said, courtroom styles in particular are slow to change — judges are still wearing medieval scholars’ robes, after all. And despite the fact that trousers are standard office attire, many women prefer dresses and skirts as style statements or for formal settings, so simply skirting the question with tailored pantsuits isn’t a satisfactory solution.
“But there is a via media. Rather than dare to go bare, especially in cold weather, leading lady litigators can instead slip on fashionable legwear options like nude fishnets or opaque tights matched to shoes or suits.”
We should make clear that Scafidi understands that North Carolina is not New York. She earned her undergrad degree from Duke and clerked in Little Rock, Ark. Nude fishnets, in the right shade, she says, are more subtle than you’d think.