Fashion Friday: Black Patterned Stockings

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ways to be sexy and still be age-appropriate. (A larger topic I’ve written about before, and one I’m planning to write more about soon.) And one of the strategies I’ve come up with is black patterned stockings.

For years, if I was putting together an outfit and wanted to call attention to my legs, I did it with colored and colorfully-patterned tights. But now that I’m getting older, that seems too youthful for me. I still wear them if only a few inches show between the top of my boots and the bottom of my skirt — that can give a nice splash of color and vibrancy without being heavy-handed — but a full-length leg with planets or clouds, with bright green or bright blue, just doesn’t seem age-appropriate anymore.

Black patterned stockings are another story.

Black patterned stockings are sexy, and at the same time they’re elegant. They call attention to your legs, but in a way that’s not flashy. They’re subtle, sophisticated, graceful. (Depending on the style, of course. I have seen some tacky ones.) But at the same time, they exude swanky, womanly, glamorous sex appeal. That balance between sex and elegance is often what I’m going for these days, and black patterned stockings can be a good way to get there. They also give me a lot of options — I can go for a more swirly pattern if I’m feeling fluid and feminine, an angular pattern if I’m feeling more snappy and sharp, darker patterned tights if I’m feeling more subtle, patterned fishnets if I just want to fucking well go for it.

And — very importantly for me these days — they don’t specifically say “youth.”

Colored and colorfully-patterned tights say a lot of things that I very much want to say: cheerful, playful, exuberant, joyful. But I think they also say “youthful.” And I don’t want to say “youthful” with my style any more. I want to say “middle-aged woman who’s comfortable with her age and loves her body.” So I need to find other ways to be cheerful and playful and exuberant and joyful in my clothing. I need to let my legs tell another story.

And black patterned stockings have been telling a good one.

(P.S.: Very fine-meshed fishnets can accomplish much the same effect. From a distance, they look like good-quality pantyhose, and people don’t even notice that they’re fishnets until they’re up close.)

Fashion Friday: Black Patterned Stockings
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33 thoughts on “Fashion Friday: Black Patterned Stockings

  1. 5

    I’m still trying to get past the phrase ‘age appropriate’ when talking about what an adult woman chooses to wear … but reading your earlier pieces I see you’re using it as a shorthand for ‘clothing I feel is appropriate for me at my current age’ – not applying it to anyone else.

    But patterned stockings – see, these were in fashion when I was a teenager (oh for the electric blue fishnets I wore through my last year in high school), so for me wearing them would have shades of trying to recapture my youth. I much prefer sleek opaque tights in muted blues and greens (tones with the rest of my wardrobe). I also think patterns make my legs look chunky.

  2. 8

    I have the unfortunate ability to snag any pair of tights I own after one wearing, so I don’t buy them as often. That said, I love my gray patterned tights. I don’t like solid color tights, and any tights that have stuck around are all patterned. They are the best.

  3. 10

    I’m a fan of layering patterned tights over colored tights, particularly bright tights. It mutes the bright color, and adds a little distinction to the lacey/patterned tights. Plus, for those of us who suffer “fatgirl thigh rub” the layering prevents chafing.

  4. 13

    GeekGirlsRule @ #10: That sounds wicked cool. I’ve done black fishnets over solid colored tights, and colored fishnets over black tights — very cool effect, btw — but that sounds like it would look awesome.

    ‘Tis Himself, OM @ #7: I like gray patterned tights, too! But I just did gray last week. đŸ™‚

  5. 15

    I really appreciate your fashion posts, as a woman approaching middle age with more poundage than I started adulthood with. That’s because you seem to alwways emphasize the funof it all. It makes me want tobreak out of the cardigan/khakis/sensible shoes rut.

  6. 16

    Damn. Lost the comment I had.

    Okay here goes again.

    Where is the determining line for middle age? I have trouble with things like that because…I don’t know, I’m just kind of out of it. I’ve never been much of a clotheshorse, and have only recently started adding colorful items to my wardrobe, as well as patterns, mostly due to a dearth of the things that make me happy, fashion-wise, in black. I’ve never worn much color or many patterns, at least not once I was allowed to pick out my own clothing. Same, too, with skirts and dresses, and even trousers, unless of a weight heavy enough and fabric with stiff enough body to approximate denim.

    Ummm…all kind of beside the point, I guess. How do you determine what’s age-appropriate? (I’m 36 this year, btw.)

  7. 19

    Kate, I am also 36. I don’t “dress my age” as the standard goes. For instance, right now I have green hair. Why? I dunno. I get a lot of complements on it. I have considered lying about my age, since I could totally get away with it. Then I remember Gloria Steinem saying “this is what 50 looks like”, so I say that instead. Well, inserting my age, obvy.

    Age-conscious dressing includes lifestyle, too. For instance, anything at all that makes me feel matronly (mom jeans?) I immediately put back on the shelf. But for a person who is a mother, maybe they’d like it? Also, someone in the midwest might dress more conservatively than a person on a coast. East coast is more dressy than West. I am single, and a lesbian. In my idea of myself and who I am, I try to tone down too much femme, usually. There are so many factors, not just age.

    Wear what looks good and feels personality-appropriate, and worry less about age, is my opinion.

  8. 20

    I think much of the “middle age” designation is an artifact of 60’s youth culture. Before then, there was young and old, and old meant you were in a wheel chair. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration, as there has always been the acknowledgement of chronological age, but youth culture dating from the 60’s (remember: “don’t trust anyone over 30”) definitely exacerbated it. I’m very ambivalent about the concept of “age appropriate.” You might discover that being alive after 80 might come under the same type of rubric. There are way too many people who live their lives on the schedule of consensus opinion. The more conscious you are to fashions and modern trends, the more susceptible you are to that type of…I want to say “prejudice” — I think you know what I mean. I think it’s all a terrible mistake. This is one place where I think it’s better to buck the trend. If you don’t live your life as your own impulses guide you, you are really at risk of going over a cliff like a lemming. “Age appropriate” has intrinsic overtones of group connotation and conformance.

    Sorry, hope this didn’t come off too obnoxious. It’s just one of my peeves.

  9. 21

    I love these. To look at, and to wear. They (mostly) look sexy and elegant on mature women of any age. I really ought to get me some more, in different patterns. Too bad my wife thinks they never look right, regardless what I wear them with.

  10. 23

    I’ve always been a fan of those!

    Having worn stockings/tights playing characters in more than one historically-themed stage play, I do have to say that if society would let me get away with it, I would wear them all the time because they’re just damned comfy.

    Plus, I was very surprised at how well they keep your legs warm in the winter, too!

  11. 24

    May I ask where you obtain these sexy stockings? I’ve looked all over but can’t find them. It’s a tad awkward for me to be staring intently at stockings (male-bodied individual studying packages of stockings – kinda creepy? I try to go for confused boyfriend if people ask…)

    I think a nice pair of patterned stockings would be helpful for the latter half of the month if I were wearing a skirt or something of that sort. I get my legs waxed, and leg hair not so sexy. Instead of the opaque look, I’d love a nice pattern like that.

  12. 25

    File under What Not To Wear: In the summer of 1988 my family visited us in Heidelberg and, of course, we took them to the Heidelberg Castle. While there we encountered another multi-generational family, German, and they were obviously taking a break so that Omma (Grandma) could have a little sit-down and catch her breath. Omma was wearing obviously and distinctively patterned black hose and I was curious as to what a 65+ year old German woman would find appropriate for a day out. As I sidled my way closer and closer I checked for butterflys? spider web? geometric design? No, no and no. Eventually I’d come to within 5 feet of her and was was on the verge of concluding that they were either a totally random free-form design or really bad factory-seconds when it hit me: they weren’t patterned hose at all – they were black sheers over unshaved legs, and I don’t mean stubble; I mean bona-fide hair, over an inch long. The trauma has faded over the years to the point that the shuddering is nearly under control and I can work in the occasional giggle, but it still makes me wince a bit.

  13. 26

    @Kartherine — I’ve had good success at TJ Maxx/Marshall/that other one. I recently found a 3 pack that were surprisingly tall enough for me, for $15 I think? Also, DKNY brand makes tights that are tall also, which can be bought many places (I don’t know if you’re tall, but there ya go).

  14. 33

    I wish there were a law sayin that every women on Earth should wear stockings and pantyhose, I love you ladies wearing them thumbs up if you do.

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