Nylon Hose: Celebrating A 75-Year ‘Run’
Tyrades!By Danny Tyree
A garment that has elicited a lot of wolf whistles is turning 75 years old.
According to the ideas4writers.com website, nylon stockings were sold publicly for the first time (on a trial basis) in a department store in Wilmington, Delaware on October 27, 1939.
The original purchasers of those hose can remember clear as a bell that they cost only five cents a carload, that they were perfect for walking five miles to school and back in the snow (uphill both ways) and that they didn't come off until the first wedding anniversary.
Nylon stockings and their descendant the pantyhose have made quite a mark on our culture. Nilon Hoze was the punny name of a "Dick Tracy" comic strip villain in 1946. In the chorus of "May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," Little Jimmy Dickens sang, "May your wife be plagued with runners in her hose." And how many packages are as iconic as the plastic egg of L'eggs pantyhose? (Thank goodness Alka-Seltzer was able to pull off its "Plop! Plop!" ad campaign without putting the product in a cow patty-shaped container.)
The sizing of nylons even has religious implications.After interviewing my wife for this column, I get the impression that hell includes special circles for women who steal another woman's husband, women who neglect their children and women who always find pantyhose that fit. (Of course those women are already in league with Satan, so...)
One of the main selling points of hose is that they hide physical imperfections such as blemishes, bruises, scars, stubble and varicose veins. Many a skirt-chaser has felt betrayed by the illusion of hose. I can just picture one of the guys as he sits there nursing a drink, with his belt finally loosened, his hairpiece slipping and the keys to a borrowed sports car jangling in his hands.
Since hose were once indispensable for business professional attire, one has to wonder what sort of things we were being distracted from during their heyday. ("Yes, Mr. Peavyhouse, your universal life insurance policy IS full of varicose veins, but Miss Abnernathy's gams were supposed to keep you from noticing.")
According to USA Today, a steady decline in pantyhose sales began in 1995, leveling off in 2006. Pantyhose are only half as popular as at their peak. The decline has been attributed to bare legs in fashion, changes in workplace dress codes, the increased popularity of trousers and the intelligence community failing to tell President Obama that nylons exist.
The only thing that could depress sales further would be if the Centers for Disease Control suddenly advised the public that nothing could possibly go wrong.
Some people refuse to wear pantyhose for ecological reasons. DuPont didn't bother to make nylon biodegradable or recyclable. Centuries from now, ZZ Top wannabes will be sorting through our landfills and humming "She had L'eggs/And didn't know how to dispose of them..."
Although sales in pantyhose in general are down, there are bright spots with fishnet stockings (yes, the business code is less "wear stockings" than "Stop Googling fishnet stockings on company time!"), opaque tights and hose for men.
Yes, many males proudly wear hose, for reasons such as thermal protection and therapeutic relief. There is ample room for sales growth.
"Dude! What if they came in cow patty-shaped containers? How cool would that be?"
© 2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.
Download Danny Tyree's color photo - Download Danny Tyree's black and white mug shot photo