I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want some decent people watching, look no further than the Seattle Symphony.
Last Sunday my in-loves took us to Benaroya Hall to celebrate my sister-in-love’s birthday. Shortly after arriving, I was absent-mindedly sipping my champagne while silently eyeballing every outfit in the room. Outfit? That’s too generous a term; some of these women were in capris and Tevas.
I saw two young women (the only other people under 30, we noticed) in super-short dresses, bare legs and high heels. I immediately recoiled at the display of flesh. It’s 2PM, I thought; where are their nylons?
I was in a gray sweater dress with brown boots to the knee, and had worn nude nylons so I wouldn’t be flashing my thighs to the over-60 crowd on a Sunday afternoon. I didn’t even think twice about it. So as soon as I saw these women sans-pantyhose, I expressed my surprise.
The birthday girl quickly pointed out to me that not everybody wears pantyhose; in fact, she confirmed that she didn’t think she even owned any.
This nonchalance provoked the obvious question: are nylons necessary? Is it just my East Coast upbringing that forces me into such propriety?
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t think of many times I had seen people my age in nylons. The recent exception being last fall’s trend of dark black tights with any type of boot, bootie, or pump. Aside from that, who wears them? Am I being modest, or just 150 years old?
Before Rachel and I could discuss further, her husband interrupted us to tell us to stop saying “hose.” “It sounds like you’re saying ho’s,” he said, looking around the room, “and you shouldn’t say ho’s at the symphony.”
Fair point — after all, the vast number of words for this sheer, leg-hugging fabric is mind-boggling. Nylons/pantyhose/stockings/tights/leggings…and I’m sure they’re not interchangeable at all, but we toss them around like the underwear they are, regardless of accurate terminology.
As far back as I can remember, my mom insisted on tights for every occasion, for something as regular as church to formal family holidays. They were always uncomfortable, always protested by me, and always required by her. “Don’t you want to dress like a lady?” she’d ask.
Even when I was a teenager living on the West Coast, she would stare, horrified, as I left for the Homecoming dance in an above-the-knee dress without stockings. But no one in Seattle ever wore nylons, so why would I?
And yet here I am at 26-years-old pulling on my nylons to go to the symphony. Apparently the stodgy East Coast formality stuck.
But midway through the show I got a run. A huge run. I leaned over to Rachel and informed her that my nylons were running so fast they could win a race.
Suddenly it occurred to me that getting a run takes all of the modesty and tastefulness I associate with nylons and rips them in two faster than the fabric itself. Could anything look less classy?
The run started at mid-thigh but by intermission was straight through my knee and headed for my ankle. Mike looked at me like, seriously? Don’t you carry a spare?
No. No, I do not. Instead I stood like a child preventing an accident: one leg tucked behind the other out of desperation.
As soon as the performance concluded and we had been seated at The Brooklyn for happy hour, I dashed to the ladies room (the irony!) and dumped my nylons in the garbage.
I am totally convinced that God had a hearty laugh at my expense as the woman who judged naked legs at Benaroya ended up sitting at a bar with bare thighs at The Brooklyn.
Update 7/26/11: I rest my case. Hosiery is back.