Tag Archives: formal wear

MS: Pockets and Sundry

So, Dalrock recently had a series of posts concerning pockets in women’s clothing (or lack thereof) and the general moaning from women about it.

Now, I made a transition from wearing almost exclusively jeans to wearing skirts as often as possible and quickly bumped into the whole pocket issue. Me being me, I naturally began seeking out alternatives that could be worn with skirts. I found all manner of very fancy “pocket belts” meant to be worn over skirts which are great if you like to rock that kind of look. For more simple options there was the HipKlip, which was a pretty good solution, but it didn’t drive enough business to stay profitable and they closed up shop (at least, last I heard they did). There are also medicine pouches that can be slid onto any belt you care to wear them with and other holster style solutions. However, I quickly realized that the most functional option was in fact the humble apron. Funny how when women gave up keeping the home they also gave up pockets in the process.

All this ignores the solution that women typically prefer, the purse. Because, honestly, when they leave the house women are toting around way more stuff than just their phone and their wallet. Pockets won’t accommodate everything the average woman carries, even assuming she wanted to put all of them in pockets where they could accidentally fall out or get intermingled with other items. Fashion designers are smart enough to know this and therefore don’t go out of their way to add excessive numbers of pockets. Most women just use purses and get on with their lives because it is a better solution anyway.

Another simple reason that most of women’s clothing doesn’t feature usable pockets is because the fabric won’t cope well with their addition. When darn near everything is made of stretchy polyester, adding pockets will create some really weird bulging and downward stretching when you put anything in them. I do have skirts and dresses with pockets, but they are all made out of sturdy material that won’t stretch when you put something in said pockets. Jackets are the big exception to the polyester regime and naturally feature the typical hand pockets and the weird breast pockets that only survival horror game protagonists use. The only fake pockets I’ve ever had on a jacket were on my horse show jacket, where I wouldn’t want to put anything in them anyway.

For the rich ladies there are these wonderful things called “tailors” who can make you a nice suit jacket with real pockets if you want them. Not that anyone at your job would blink if you carried a purse into the office with you, so that would be down to personal preference as opposed to the office dress code. Even for the non-rich ladies pockets are a possibility if you have any inkling of how to sew and a conveniently placed seam on the clothing you wish had pockets. Maybe I’ll write a little tutorial on how to do that.

So, overall, to the surprise of no one, women (in the media) are complaining about nothing again.  More surprising perhaps is the fact that by giving up the home and the knowledge that went with keeping it, women gave up their two primary sources of pockets: Aprons and homemade (or home adjusted) clothing.  Any woman who cares to find a solution has many options available, but they already know that.


MS: Notes on Nylons

Since writing my initial post on hosiery I realize that I’ve left out some more specific details about nylons that may be helpful to others.  I come across a lot of product reviews of nylons that indicate that most younger women could use a few tips in their actual use and care.

Tip #1: Consider them to be disposable. There’s a reason that you can buy nylons in basic colors at chain grocery stores. I’ve heard that at best you can expect about 6 months worth of total wear out of any pair of nylons. So when you pay more for a nice pair, understand that you’re paying for a fancy color or design and the higher price won’t guarantee better quality overall.

Tip #2: If you’re going to wash them, there are two things you can do before washing them the first time that may strengthen the fibers. I’ve never done either of these things, so I can’t vouch for whether they work. One suggestion is to soak them in warm salt water, the other is to put them in the freezer. I hear the salt water one more often, so I’d give that one a try.

Tip #3: Actually hand wash them and hang them to dry, don’t put them in the washer or dryer. Just a few drops of detergent or shampoo should do the trick. Some people suggest using conditioner as well. Using fabric softener or vinegar can help preserve the flexibility of the fibers.

Tip #4: Make sure your nails and fingers are free of stuff that will snag your nylons as you put them on. Hangnails, overly rough skin, sharp corners on your nails, chipped nail polish, etc. Put on gloves if necessary to avoid snagging.

Tip #5: Shave your legs before putting them on. It makes them a lot more comfortable.

How to put them on:

Step 1: Sit down. You don’t want to be hopping around on one leg trying to put these on.

Step 2: Take the first leg and gather it up, your thumbs inside the leg and your fingers on the outside. You want to be able to put your toes straight in without wiggling through the leg.

Step 3: Put your toes in while holding your leg close to your body. Slowly move your leg outward, releasing the nylon as you go until you pull it up over your knee. Then stop.

Step 4: Repeat step 2 and 3 with the other leg.

Step 5: Stand up. If they are thigh highs, adjust them to the height you want. If they are full pantyhose, gently pull them the rest of the way up, gently pinching the fabric between your thumb and side of your pointer finger. Never pull with your nails and never pull sharply.

What to do about runs:

Dab both ends of the run with clear nail polish. (This is the standard advice).

Spray the run with hairspray, let dry, repeat. Some  suggest spraying the nylons down with hairspray after putting them on in general.

Dab with anything sticky that will dry clear.

I have no personal experience with any of these on account of never having gotten runs in any of my nylons. So let me know how these work if you try them.

That’s about as much advice as I can give on nylons at this point. Here’s a relevant song to finish off the post:

Sources: http://www.thesimplehomemaker.com/3-tips-on-how-to-stop-a-run-in-nylon-stockings

http://voices.yahoo.com/how-keep-stockings-getting-run-4097469.html


MS: Slips

I’m not sure precisely when I discovered the usefulness of slips, but luckily for me it happened before I started trying to wear skirts and dresses full time. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a few episodes when I wore tights and a full length skirt and was rewarded with being hobbled by said skirt. Being resourceful and pragmatic like I am, I sought some advice and found out about slips.

Now, I’m not lucky enough to own a full slip, so I’ll just direct you over to a wonderful post by BB and carry on telling you about what I do know, half slips and pettipants.

Like last time, some quick picture reference:

Half slip: Basically an underskirt, generally made from an antistatic material. Comes in many lengths, may have lace trim or a slit. Normally comes in white, beige, and black.

Illusion’s Classic 32″ Half-slip

Pettipants: Also called Culottes or Bloomers. Serves the same function as a half slip, but is split down the middle. Normally comes in two lengths, knee length or mid-thigh.

Illusion’s Classic Soft Cotton Pettipants

All forms of slips serve many functions. They keep you modest in sheer dresses by hiding your precise form and by keeping underwear from showing.  They help prevent static cling and snagging on other fabrics. It gives you an extra layer of warmth in winter. It gives you something other than just your underwear to stand in if you should need to hastily wash a stain out of your dress or skirt in a public bathroom.  Also for you married ladies they can count as lingerie.

Truth be told there isn’t a lot more to say about these than that. They go over your tights or underwear and under your skirt. Nothing more complicated than that.  Go grab a couple at a second hand shop or shell out a little more for some new ones. They’re not as common anymore and some dresses and skirts have them built in, but they’re nice to have. Especially when that built in slip isn’t doing it’s job.

I’d also talk about petticoats in this post, but presently I know nothing about those. Maybe someday.


MS: Leggings and Hosiery

I know I said I wouldn’t be around for awhile, but darnit I need something to do and I don’t feel like drawing. So I’m going to write about something generally inoffensive and something even I’ve figured out. Feminine dress. I have tried to keep the pictures in this post as modest as possible, as I don’t wish to lead anyone astray.

So, for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, cold weather is on its way. So what is a gal who’s dedicated to dressing femininely to do? Skirts and dresses can be rather, er, drafty. The answer to the question of how you keep from freezing to death in the winter seems rather painfully obvious when you hear it, but rest assured I had to ask the same question around a year ago.

Tights.

Before I carry on I’m going to lay out a few definitions, because I don’t want anyone to get confused as they read. I must emphasize that these are the names that I use for these items and are not necessarily what you would call them.

So, some definitions:

Tights: A catch all term for any tight, form-fitting piece of clothing that you wear on your legs, except socks and tight jeans.

Leggings: Tights made of opaque material. Normally leggings cover the hips and legs all the way down to the knee or ankle. May cover the feet or have “stirrups”, but generally don’t. Despite popular opinion they are not a suitable replacement for pants.

Leggings

Black and White Striped Pattern Stretch Leggings from Blue Pearl World.

Nylons: Tights made from predominantly Nylon. A group term for stockings and pantyhose. Generally more formal and/or alluring than leggings.

Pantyhose: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. May or may not cover the feet, but do cover the hips.

Pantyhose

Pin-Up to You Tights on Modcloth

Stockings: Translucent tights made of mostly Nylon. However, unlike pantyhose, they extend up from the feet to the mid or upper thigh. They are held in place either by a garter belt or by elastic/silicone bands.

Stockings

Have a Confetti to Make Thigh Highs on Modcloth

Now, on to the actual subject. As I said earlier, one of the first steps for a skirt or dress wearing lady to take towards keeping warm in the winter is to throw some tights on underneath. Not all forms of tights are built with this in mind, but in the age of the internet it’s pretty easy to track down leggings that are made of the right stuff to keep you warm. Especially since there has been a growing trend towards using leggings as pants, but that’s not something I condone unless there is a yoga or dance class involved.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen leggings from time to time in the mall and not been very impressed with the color selection. Lots of black and a few toned down colors. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, but if you like color and don’t want to put black with everything it can be disappointing. When it comes to all varieties of tights, the internet is going to be where you do most of your shopping. These days you can find tights in all colors, styles, and materials. Just spend awhile looking and pick some out that suit you. There isn’t much specific to say about leggings, so I’m going to spend some time talking about nylons.

These days it’s pretty unusual to see a women wearing nylons of any kind, but not that long ago they were a staple in every lady’s wardrobe. One of my teachers in high school talked about how when he was a bank manager he would have to send women home if they weren’t wearing nylons. Being a history teacher, he also talked about how during the silk shortage of WWII women would take eyeliner pencils and draw seams on the backs of their legs, so as not to look unladylike. The particularly industrious would spend all night drawing fishnets on their legs. While I’m not going to spend time contemplating why they were so quickly tossed aside, I will mention one aspect of them that hasn’t changed. Nylons make a woman look like a lady. While bare legs with healthy skin have a raw allure, nylons give that extra sense of polish. And these days you don’t even have to concern yourself with keeping your seams straight or being limited to black, white, and nude. They still take some gentle handling to avoid runs, but they are almost disposably cheap and the trick of dabbing clear nail polish on the origin of the run is well known.

So, there’s no reason to not have a pair or two in your wardrobe. If you go to a lot of formal events or like me, your legs are you best feature, then these are a necessary staple to your wardrobe. Do understand that regardless of where you get these, you most likely won’t be able to try them on or return them. So make sure to look at a sizing chart, which should fairly accurately tell you what size you wear. Some follow a small, medium, large, etc labeling, but most I’ve encountered use A, B, C, etc. to label the different sizes. The chart should look something like this:

A hosiery sizing chart.

Find where your height and weight intersect and that will tell you what size you should be wearing. Obviously the closer you are to the upper edge of a size means that it will be a tighter squeeze. Given that this is women’s fashion we’re talking about, there will be some variation in what height/weight combos will fit into the sizes. So again, if you’re on the upper edge of a size you should check with different brands.

I’ll be following up on this post with one on slips and another on legwarmers. If you have further questions on this topic I’ll be glad to answer your questions in the comments.