My friend Phoenix just messaged me an underpinning dilemma, specifically, where to find stockings with that signature 50's backseam. Visions of Varga-style pinups danced through my head. Hooray! Phoenix is getting saucy.
Before recommending brands or retailers, I launched into a (somewhat erroneous) history lesson which I heretofore correct:
I had thought there was some anecdote revolving around wartime rationing, recalling movie scenes in which desperate heroines drew their 'seams' with eye kohl when they could no longer afford to buy new pairs. How it really went:
- 1957 - performancewear company Bear Brand begins manufacturing tights with the newly developed material, Nylon. The product was marketed successfully to dancers, actors, and children. These 'fully fashioned' tights were expensive to construct, due to several knitted pieces being sewn together up the back.
- 1958 - the invention of circular knitting makes seamless stockings a reality, and accessible to the average woman. Still, many women favor their stay-ups and garters.
- 1959 - Lycra is invented.
- 1967 - Mary Quant launches the mini skirt. Men go crazy. Women go crazy for tights in any colour or pattern.
- 2008 - Lindsay Lohan stumbles drunkenly around LA wearing tights as if they were pants.
If you're looking for backseam fishnets, they are easy to find. Get the most durable pairs at Dancesport shops. Brands like Mondor or Danskin make top-quality legwear, available year-round (tap dancers and Liza Minelli impersonators need tights, even in the summer!)
If you're looking for sheer, then things get a bit trickier. Denier ranges from 3 (impossibly sheer and very rare) to 40+ (super opaque). I recommend either a 15 or a 30. American Apparel has a wall of choices, one of which is a mid-denier backseam version. For higher quality, try:
Wolford's 10 - they're $50 so make sure to take a emery board to your nails and lose the cocktail rings!
Spanx - a very reasonable $28, with a little tummy taming to boot!
Oh, and by the way: Wikipedia states: "For people who are either very large or very thin, pantyhose can be extremely uncomfortable and unflattering." Thanks, but I think I'll take my chances.