Friday, 22 February 2008

The Stocking Problem

Warning: girlie post. Here I discuss the practical and aesthetic question of what to wear on your legs when dancing.

I have three pairs of dancing shoes, and two of them are open toed. I would have bought closed toe if I could have got them, but nobody sells tango shoes with closed toes. My Werner Kerns (designed for ballroom, and now my much-battered class shoes) are the only ones I can find, and they're nice, but a little bit dull. My experience with shoes designed for tango suggests that buying them on the internet is a bad idea, and I have very little time and inclination for offline shopping. Life's too short to fight your way around Covent Garden on a Saturday.

With an open-toed shoe, there are essentially three options. Option 1 is bare legs. As far as I'm concerned, polishing my legs or having them polished to that degree is just too much trouble most of the time. Option 2 is making a feature of the hosiery; a good option, and works well in winter with a bit of extra glitter, or with fishnets at any season. Option 3 is wearing the kind with unreinforced, invisible toes. That works out expensive, because in the absence of the usual reinforcement the chances of both toes lasting more than one evening of tango are small, and at £2.50 per leg for hold-ups that does get vexing. It's cheaper if you buy tights, but I personally don't like tights, except warm woolly ones in cold weather. If the purpose is mainly aesthetics - a smooth and unified appearance of the legs - rather than warmth, I prefer to let the air circulate. Stockings are a possibility, but they're rarely sold and you have to faff with the engineering.

My favourite solution are the skin-coloured fishnet hold-ups. They're as tough as opaques, and their visual noise conceals a thousand irregularities. The silicone grips are much better than they used to be, and very reliable these days, especially now I'm not quite so painfully thin as I was in the 90's. It's best to buy the same brand all the time so they're interchangeable - then you don't get orphaned legs when you accidentally heel yourself in class. But finding enough pairs of the the right sort can be a real problem - nobody ever seems to have more than two in the right size and style, or stock the same kind twice. And it's such a pain to fight your way through the crowds, not finding the thing you want.

But look! Someone has realised that for the grown-up woman, these things are commodities that are better bought online, just like disposable contact lenses. I've just ordered five pairs of my favourite kind - I'll let you know how I get on. Tights & More were the cheapest for the ones I wanted - there's also Stockings Direct and FigLeaves Hosiery if you want to have a go. I notice that Tights & More have a parent organisation, Stockings HQ, which is probably worth a look if you are exceptionally particular, or you are a bloke secretly reading all the way to the end of this post. Go on, make it a present for someone. They have the proper Forties style.


tangobaby said...

I have a not-so-secret fixation with seamed stockings and Cuban heels. Thank you for providing me with complete distraction for the rest of my day.

I agree with you that fishnet stockings cover a multitude of sins and I am devoted to them. They are the only legwear I can't destroy immediately. A lot of us here do the opaque leggings and bare feet, too, which is easy and apparently somewhat fashionable at this time.

One more choice, a bit off the beaten path but a great idea for warm weather, is a seasonal product by MAC called Sundressing. It's not a fake tan (so you will not turn orange and have streaks) but a brown pigment that you apply with a body buffer brush (they sell that too) and it gives an extremely natural looking tan that does not rub off. It's a great product and the best one of it's kind, imho.

msHedgehog said...

I've never been sure what the purpose of painting on a tan is. I suppose it's like wearing foundation on your face, to smooth out the variations, but if so, why would you want to choose a shade different from your natural colour? But I know people who would love that product.

The leggings are all over the place here too - still - the leggings-and-a-short-dress thing survived all of last summer - I can't quite bring myself to do it. Perhaps if it survives next summer too.

Anonymous said...

"Vexing"? "Faff"? "Get on"? "Have a go"??!!!

I LOVE the way you speak! Um, type!!

I just can't bring myself to wear ANYTHING on my legs. My solution: longer skirts (or pants - er, trousers?), and those little half, toe-stockings for slip-ons.

tangobaby said...

The good think about the MAC body product is that if you have very pale legs, like too too pale, it does give them a little color. You don't have to make it very dark. And it does help blend in the "imperfections" a little better if you are self-conscious about bare legs.

And, it doesn't snag or run.

msHedgehog said...

My order has arrived - prompt and correct - I'll post again. Very handy service.