Pantyhose are worn for a number of reasons. Sheer pantyhose that match the skin color of the legs can enhance the appearance of legs, making them look smoother. Darker pantyhose can enhance the legs by outlining the shape and by making the legs seem slimmer. Brown colored pantyhose give the illusion of tanned legs; an ‘instant tan’. Pantyhose also has a practical use, as it can provide warmth in colder weather and let one appear “bare-legged” even in the winter. Pantyhose that are knitted with lycra enhance blood circulation by applying even pressure on the legs throughout the day.
Pantyhose are currently a standard sight in offices worldwide, where they have been accepted as part of a professional dress code for women. Though a barelegged trend is now popular amongst younger women, hosiery is still common in offices and places where formal dress is required. Schools with uniforms often require some sort of hosiery as a part of the uniform (usually pantyhose or tights).
Most pantyhose are composed of nylon and a small amount of spandex, which provides the elasticity and form fitting that is characteristic of modern pantyhose. Unfortunately, the nylon fabric is somewhat prone to tearing and it is common for very sheer hose to ‘run’ soon after snagging on something rough or sharp.
Pantyhose worn for fashion have a standard construction. The top of the waist is a strong elastic. The part covering the hips (panty area) is composed of a thicker material than the legs. The gusset or crotch is also a stronger material, sometimes made of cotton. The legs of the pantyhose are made of the thinnest material which has a consistent construction down to the toes, which may be reinforced to guard against wear. However, a constant complaint of pantyhose is that they “run” or tear frequently, which ensures that wearers must constantly purchase new pairs.
Pantyhose are available in a wide range of styles. The sheerness of the garment, expressed as a numerical ‘denier’/’dtex’, ranges from 3 (extremely rare, very thin, barely visible) to 20 (standard sheer) up to 30 (semi opaque).