Pantyhose Step Up To Adventure

April 23, 1992|By T. J. Howard | T. J. Howard,Chicago Tribune

Buying a pair of pantyhose used to be about as exciting as purchasing postage stamps. Today, it's become high adventure.

Want to energize an outfit? Try some neon lime leg wear. Looking for romance? Try a soft rose opaque. No longer neutral ground, hosiery departments have been transformed into garden spots of color. It's as if Ted Turner moved from the film front and into legwear.

Hue, a New York legwear manufacturer, is selling 35 different colors of lightweight opaque pantyhose this spring and plans an equal slew of shades for fall.

"When short skirts were first introduced, everyone wore black opaques because it provided a little more coverage," says Lisa Ferraro, marketing director at Hue. "Now that women are more comfortable with short skirts, they're ready for some color. After all, black can get pretty boring."

In addition to the explosion of color, texture has made hosiery headlines this spring.

"Mesh is hot, hot, hot," says Chris Gentry, fashion spokesman for Bloomingdale's branch stores. Mesh madness takes shape in fishnets, floral lace patterns and dots. "It's a nice way to soften man-tailored looks," says Ms. Gentry.

Texture will stick around for fall, but will take a more masculine turn with tweeds, cable knits and ribbing. The call of the jungle also roars via animal prints.

"Hosiery has moved from necessity to accessory. By updating legwear, you get a whole new look for a lot less money," says Ms. Ferraro, suggesting women try teaming new daisy lace hosiery with last year's sheath.

Besides saving money, fashion hosiery can save time. Going out for dinner and can't make it home to change your outfit? "Sexy hose can transform a simple day look into a racy evening one," says apparel designer Donna Karan.

Thanks to new textile technology and the expanding role of Lyrca, hosiery has become an easy way to improve a figure. This spring, Ms. Karan introduced Mini Body Toners, a sequel to her Body Toners that debuted last fall. Both are made from nylon and Lycra spandex, offering extra control to thighs as well as the stomach. Mini Body Toners have an abbreviated leg panel so it can be worn under the shortest skirt, says Ms. Karan. Both are priced between $12.50 and $18.

Control features, once available only in basic shades of hosiery, are starting to show up in fashion colors. Hue offers six different styles of control-top legwear this spring, including its "Bodyshaper Short" which can be worn under clothing or teamed with a blazer or long blouse.

The mother-to-be is also getting attention. Hue plans to launch maternity hosiery this fall, featuring a unique waistline geared to sit higher over the stomach and not dig in. The maternity pantyhose, geared to fit until the baby's born, is available in opaque and sheer styles.

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