By Jamie Femgirl
It’s news when Kate Middleton wears them and also when Michelle Obama does not: stockings, tights, nylons, hold-ups, pantyhose, stirrups, footless, leggings, activewear…whew, for an industry that is supposed to be in decline, there are more options for tight, stretchy legwear than ever before for women today. Some are in, some are out, some are making a comeback, but all are not accepted by all women everywhere as a part of their wardrobe. So if you are a male-to-female (M2F) crossdresser (not to ignore our F2M friends, but, for convenience, I’m going to just use “crossdresser” now) living in a society that embraces Western culture and ladies fashion – and particularly a crossdresser on a budget – what is the importance of all this legwear – or what I prefer to call “feminine hosiery” – supposed to be to your own wardrobe? It’s expensive enough with all the wigs, shoes, makeup, dresses, skirts, tops, jewelry and lingerie of all types – but then to add on each of these feminine hosiery garments, which apparently much of the female population considers optional (at least in my corner of the world, with the exception of leggings), it just drives up the costs even further.

Here’s the thing: everywhere I look in social media, there is no feminine item which gets more attention from crossdressers than hosiery – the greater the perception of femininity attached to it, the better. Whether it is photos and groups on Facebook, dedicated sites on Tumblr, photos on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest, by looking at crossdressers and their interests you would think that no clothing item is more in fashion and critical to a woman’s dresser than (usually) sheer feminine hosiery. I could bore you and me with the statistics to prove it.

Why is it crossdressers have such a strong attraction to undergarments many (most?) CIS women claim to detest wearing? By exploring various areas such as where feminine hosiery has come from, how they fit into fashion today, and where the industry appears to be going, I hope to shed some light, if not draw any conclusions, on their role in today and in the future in the closets and clothes bins of crossdressers the world over.

There is some hope now that many of today’s popular female pop singers have made feminine hosiery a frequent part of their live performances and music videos. Ariana Grande (once mistaken in a photo as a transgender by a Pinterest board I followed – a photo which I myself repinned, showing my own age), one of the hottest pop singers today for the teens and 20-somethings, has frequently been captured wearing *gasp* pantyhose, even *double gasp* nude pantyhose, in public and in her performances. The most despised color of the most loathed feminine hosiery garment (White Hose, I’m ignoring you for the moment…) is being worn by perhaps the fastest-rising female pop star of the mid-decade. In the early decade, Katy Perry was smashing records with her Teenage Dream album, quite often wearing hosiery while performing and occasionally in public. The same could be said for Lady Gaga and Beyonce. Miley Cyrus has outdone them all by appearing in advertisements for a European hosiery company.

However popular hosiery seems to be on the music stage at the moment and with the Paris designers that continue to use them on their runways often enough, the lack of them in Hollywood movies and on the red carpet continues to affect the industry. In the 70s, no less than “Broadway” Joe Namath was seen on television pitching Hanes BeautyMist pantyhose. The core issue facing the feminine hosiery industry today is that it lacks the Hollywood star power in its advertising to really bring the feminine masses back. Until either a starlet decides to become the face (or rather the legs) of feminine hosiery, or they are regularly worn by many visible starlets where the average woman wants to wear them again, the industry will either continue its decline (at least in the more traditional categories) or remain flat at best (Zooey Deschanel’s preference for tights not withstanding – she’s alone in this). Some uptick of sheer hosiery was seen recently when they made Yahoo! headlines, Good Morning America, and celebrity/fashion blogs all over the Internet when Princess Kate wore nude hosiery more often than not on a North American tour not so long ago. The benefactors of this surge in sales were primarily in the UK, but the US noticed a bump as well. To this day, the mere mention of Kate’s hosiery choices on blogs will generate dozens of comments, both pro and con, about nylons, and speculation on the brands she may be wearing. One particular article on, which gave the results of over 4000 votes on Kate’s “dress of the year” and another mention of what brand of hosiery she is likely wearing, appears to have generated five times (5x) the number of comments about the hosiery than the dresses.

In a future article, I’ll explore the modern trends which phenomena like shapewear and leggings have meant to the industry and what they are likely to mean to the future of crossdressing. For now, I would like to largely focus on the impact of the more traditional categories which appear to continue to dominate the sock drawers of my crossdressing sisters.

As I have mentioned in my bio on this site, my gateway drug into the world of crossdressing was L’eggs pantyhose. I am far from unique in this: my personal estimate is somewhere between 30-50% of crossdressers were lured in by hosiery, either our mother’s, our sister’s, our wife’s or probably an easily accessible drugstore shelf (the only item I have ever shoplifted was hosiery I was too embarrassed to buy, even though I could afford them). Despite the industry downtrend, pharmacy stores and department stores everywhere continue to stock cheaper feminine hosiery, largely due to promotional spending to keep them there by Hanes, I’m sure. Although the first pair of hose I wore I found laying in my bedroom as a pubescent 7th grade boy (a deadly combination), my fascination with feminine hosiery started far earlier in my life. I had the fortune and unfortune of growing up in a conservative, religious environment for both church and school in the latter 70s and throughout the 80s. The fortunate part was that every girl was essentially required to wear skirts and dresses, and, growing up in the cold Midwest, most younger girls wore tights. White tights were the most popular, but patterns and colors were also popular then. For my part, I was an athletic boy with good grades, but I was not really “popular”, so I was bullied by the older boys. Despite being athletic, I lacked self-confidence and was prone to crying on a moment’s notice about anything. Coincidence or not, I yearned to dress like a girl – mentally I felt I couldn’t be shamed about crying if I was a girl. I particularly wanted to know what it was like to wear the cute tights the girls wore. I didn’t have a sister at the time, so I had no ability to obtain any, and probably wouldn’t have thought to wear them if I did.

Around 6th grade I noticed the move of my female friends from the little girl tights to the sheer feminine hosiery adorned by the adult women in church. My own girlfriend in 6th grade was the first to make the move to nude hose, and I passed my school days that year staring at her legs. Once I got to 7th grade, feminine hosiery was required wear in school for the girls, and they had all moved to the adult variety. Back then the color options seemed pretty limited to nude shades, off-white, white, off-black or jet black. My favorite at the time was the white for some reason. I heard it said at the time that ladies weren’t supposed to wear white hose after Labor Day until Memorial Day – they would wear “off-white” instead. Even our cheerleaders had to wear nylons for practices and games, although that was not done in the public schools or other religious schools we played.

Little did anyone know that I was wearing feminine hosiery as well – except my parents who found them in my room twice. I was desperate enough at times to get my mom’s discarded, laddered hose from the garbage. I didn’t know what a denier was back then, but I did start to learn about the differences in feel between hose with lycra (loved them) and 100% nylon hose (did not like them). That’s when the lightbulb started to turn on for me…

In my next article, I plan to share some poll results from the crossdressing community on Facebook about the importance of feminine hosiery in their wardrobe. This poll is being taken now (closing on 9-Mar-16), and I hope it will provide us a glimpse into the future of hose for new generation of crossdressers. We’ll also contrast this to available poll data from CIS females. We will also examine the state of the industry. It’s all about the statistics! I’ll begin to share my own adult journey through my 20s, 30s and into my 40s with feminine hosiery. How has time, fashion choices, age and other factors affected this crossdresser, and how do my experiences match with the experiences of others in the community?

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