Sometimes when it comes to clothing history our memories are just not the most reliable indicators of fact. That may sound odd coming from me, seeing as how I’m always writing my memories here. I am a big champion of oral history but you should always keep an open mind when someone older tells you about some aspect of how she or he dressed in the past.
The history of pantihose is a great example. The ad here came out in the spring of 1960, and Glen Raven Mills’ new product had been on the market for several months. But if you were around in the 60s, chances are you would swear that pantihose did not out until later in the decade.
I first started wearing stockings in 1967, when I was in the 6th grade. I don’t remember pantihose even being an option. I had my little garter belt and my stockings and I hoped the skirt was long enough to cover the hardware. In junior high, some of the girls were coming to school with the “new” pantihose, and did they ever catch on with the rest of us! Skirts were getting shorter, and it was becoming harder and harder to keep from looking like a pin up girl with the tops of the stockings showing. Stockings and garters were decidedly O-U-T!
So why did it take so long for stockings to be replaced by pantihose? It was mainly a matter of economics. Look at the ad, and see that the price of one pair was $2.50. According to the inflation calculator, that amounts to $18.20 today. For years women had been buying their stockings by the box, purchasing multiple pairs that were identical. If one leg became badly snagged, or if it developed a run, then only one leg had to be discarded. I can remember my mother and grandmother being shocked at the prospect of throwing the entire set away when one side was still good. Many girls I knew would cut off the offending leg and pair it with another one-legged set, wearing two of the panty portions!