The Ultimate Coverup

The other day a friend of mine was going on about how poorly nylon pantyhose hold up these days. She was lucky, she said, to get one or two wearings out of a pair before they ripped. "At five dollars each," she grumbled, "that can put quite a dent in my clothing budget."

As off-handed remarks sometimes do, this one took me back in time to the Great Depression when my father worked as a knitter in a hosiery factory, a job which probably few Jewish boys hold today. He was one of hundreds of workers who turned out silk hosiery (no pantyhose in those days) with thick seams running down the back - seams which seemed always to need straightening by the women who wore them.

And then came the war - the big one - and silk hose were scarce and nylon which had been invented in the late thirties, was being used to make parachutes. Ingenious women, however, did not let a little thing like a war affect their sense of fashion. Someone invented leg makeup and women everywhere began schmearing the tan stuff on their legs. For added realism, some even penciled in seams.

Neither of my bubbies was affected by the shortage of silk and nylon stockings, because both wore thick cotton hose that made their ankles look like they were rubber banded. Back then I was convinced that, when a woman reached old age, (40 or so) all were destined to wear those unattractive leg coverings. Yet today, heavy stockings are seldom seen on women. Maybe some do wear them, but it’s difficult to tell since most of the time, they’re covered with slacks, attire my two bubbies would have gladly worn had they only been in fashion.

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