Posts Categorized: accessories

Reader Request: What About Pantyhose?

when to wear pantyhose

Reader Natalie sent me this question:

I’m a bit unsure about legwear – not tights, but stockings. As a kid, my mom and grandmother taught me never to go out in a dress without them. It isn’t proper. As an adult, I am noticing that the rules for legwear aren’t as clear cut anymore. I have been challenging myself to reflect on how I feel about stockings. My feelings are mixed. I’m worried that I either look unprofessional without them, or dated and old with them. Are there any rules on how to wear stockings? How can I make them look young and fun, rather than old and dowdy?

I could’ve sworn I’ve written about this topic before, but can’t find any posts that specifically address the question of pantyhose. So. Let do this.

Bottom line: If you feel more comfortable wearing nude nylons, then by all means do so. As you may have heard, the Middleton ladies wear them frequently, and both are current style icons. Plus I know lawyers are generally required to wear them in court. Hose have come a long way over the years, and today’s nudes can really disappear against your skin. If you wear them, try to find a high-quality pair/brand that works with your specific skin tone.

Now. In my opinion, wearing pantyhose with a casual sundress and sandals may look a little awkward. Wearing pantyhose to a business casual office might seem like overkill. And nowadays most women do bare legs in summer, tights in winter, and hose only for very specific occasions. (Here in the States, anyway.) Nylons are, to some extent, representative of an bygone era and wearing them may date you. Especially if they’re obvious and/or worn in a casual context.

I’m not gonna hand down any rules for the wearing of pantyhose because I don’t really dig rules. This is a question that many women feel very strongly about on both sides, and there’s room in the world for nylon-wearers and nylon-shunners. Some women may prefer to do hose because of scarring or discoloration in their legs, to add color without tanning (fake or otherwise), or because they just feel more pulled-together with them on. Others love tights – and wear sheer patterned tights for transitional seasons – but see hose as a thing of the past. Wherever you fall, you’ll have supporters and naysayers. So you must decide for yourself.

Over to you: What are your thoughts on nylons/pantyhose? Always? Never? Only for formal occasions?

Images courtesy Kohl’s

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How to Switch Handbags Quickly and Easily

Not so long ago, I owned one handbag. ONE. It was a black hobo with two external pockets, and I used it for everything. But when I began to want my bag to align more closely with my outfit, I realized that one slouchy black leather hobo didn’t actually feel right with everything I wore. And now, several years later, I’ve got a lovely collection of bags. I would say that I generally swap bags every day or every other day, even on the weekend. My bag choices are similar to my other accessory choices: I want them to feel harmonious with my chosen clothes. And that means the one-bag-fits-all philosophy no longer works for me.

I’ve gotten loads of questions over the years about how I swap bags so frequently without leaving items in various unused bags, wasting gobs of time in transferring items, or just getting frustrated and fed up with the process. I’ve tried to answer them individually, but now I’m going to answer them generally and visually. And the answer I’ll give? Compartmentalization.

how to switch handbags

This is what you’ll find inside any bag I carry every day of my life. OK, in the dead of winter there might be gloves/mittens and sometimes I’ll shove a book in there. But this is the bulk of it. Eight items: Sunglass case, wallet, makeup bag, checkbook (I’m old-fashioned) handkerchief (I’m allergic), phone, keys, miscellany pouch. All of them easy to grab and transfer. When switching, I’ll dump everything on the bed, put the previous bag away and pick my new one, pop everything inside and go. Usually takes three minutes or less.

makeup bag

The black bag is my LeSportsac makeup bag and there are probably five or six glosses and balms floating around in there, but I also keep a Tide pen, Band-Aids, fashion tape, a pill case, a foldable brush/comb combo, anti-shine powder, nail clippers (no lie), and lots of other stuff. I may not have kids, but I’m as prepared as many moms for everyday personal emergencies. This little makeup bag came with a larger handbag, and it is one of my most valuable possessions. I have had bottles of hand lotion and cheek stain burst in there dozens of times, and the inner coating has prevented any leakage. I LOVE YOU, INDESTRUCTIBLE MAKEUP BAG.

compartmentalized handbag

The polka-dotted pouch is my real secret weapon. Inside is my gum, tissues (sometimes you need something disposable for your nose issues, ya feel me?), business card holder (I didn’t mean to match my phone case and card holder, it just happened), and ANOTHER pouch that holds the various loyalty/rewards cards that would otherwise bulk up my wallet. Many items, one pouch. Mine is Cath Kidston and the smaller one hails from Etsy. I recommend oilcloth or other coated materials that are water repellent. Not that it’s wet inside most handbags, but just makes them less likely to get gunked up quickly.

And there you have it: My not-so-secret secret to swapping bags on a near-daily basis. Could this system work for you?

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DIY-plus Fringed Handbag

fringe_handbag

I may have mentioned that I’m pretty useless when it comes to DIY projects. I can do some basic jewelry repairs and overdye the occasional garment, but anything more complex than that? I am more likely to bung it up than I am to make it work. So I buy things that are just right instead of almost-right, knowing that my attempts to “fix” them may render them useless or unwearable.

BUT. Sometimes I get a wild hair and things work out. And this bag represents one of those times, thank goodness. Because I kinda love the look of fringed bags this season, but all of the ones I wanted to buy were in the $300+ range. And I don’t mind ponying up for a quality bag, but since fringe is trendy and I may end up carrying this bag for two years or less, I wanted a cheaper option.

Enter this 100% leather bag, which cost a whopping $35:

orignal bag

Those are the stock product shots because I never expect my DIYs to work and always forget to take “before” shots. This bag has potential, but a couple of things about it bugged me. The slider on the strap seemed like a detail you’d see on a gym bag, not a trendy Boho one. And the plain top zipper opening seemed oddly utilitarian, too.

This photo is post-alterations, but will give you a sense of what the bag looked like in person initially:

fringe bag before

I happen to live in a town with an AMAZING fabrics, notions, and crafting supply store called S.R. Harris. Trinknitty took me there years ago, and I’ve since been back with Audi and Mark as well as my dad. Mark bought leather for his Etsy shop, Dad bought leather for the seats of dining room chairs he was building. So I knew I could get some quality, affordable leather there. I bought a small hide for $19.

Then I took my bag, my hide, and my vision to George’s in Arden Hills. (There is also a great place in St. Paul called George’s that does leather repair. The Arden Hills guys tend to be less busy, so I went to them. If I remember correctly, the two families are related!) They were very patient and game to give my project a try. In fact, the two young ladies and gent behind the counter seemed pretty jazzed to be tackling something other than a re-sole job. I wanted a rough, Boho look to the bag and it turned out that the reverse side of the hide matched the bag’s leather the best. So we mocked it up and I left it in their capable hands.

fringe bag after

They removed the buckle, reattached the strap, and stitched a portion of the hide onto the back of the bag’s opening. The flap conceals the zipper completely and tones down the fringe a bit. But plenty is still visible. These adds/changes cost me an additional $25. So $35 for the bag, $19 for the hide, $25 for the alterations. $79 isn’t super cheap, but it’s far less than I would’ve spent on any of the pre-made bags I’d been eyeing. And this bag is completely unique and exactly what I wanted.

fringe bag before after

I’m extremely pleased with the finished product. I’ll need to be careful of the raw leather flap as it won’t be water- or stain-resistant in any way, but I love how mottled and rough it looks and hope that any additional wear will just make it look cooler. Not a true DIY, I’ll grant you, but about as close as I’m gonna get!

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