Hose for men? This I gotta see!

Published 11:59 pm Friday, January 9, 2009

Wordsworth poetically wrote, “There are in our existence spots of time,” moments that are more memorable than all the other moments.

Here’s one of mine.

The phone rings on a Saturday evening. Elba’s mayor, Bob English, asks to speak to my father.

“You got your pantyhose on yet?” I overheard him asking.

It was the mid-1970s and someone had coerced my father and the mayor to participate in a womanless beauty pageant benefiting the band boosters. Having never worn these sometimes tortuous garments before, he knew not what was before him.

No, he told his friend the mayor, it was at least 45 minutes until they needed to be at the school.

“You better start now,” advised Mayor Bob, who’d managed to put his on, laughing loudly at the prospect of what was before his friend.

That spot of time came immediately back to me this week when I read this headline on MSNBC’s web site, “ ‘Mantyhose’: Not your mom’s pantyhose.”

For those who’ve never attempted putting on pantyhose, there is a definite art to it. They are generally designed to fit snugly, which means one generally tugs at them while trying not to twist or tear them.

Twenty years ago, women wouldn’t dream of going bare-legged to the office. Today, hose appear to be reserved for cold weather and the most formal occasions. Even there, more and more women are opting for the natural look.

It makes the whole hose for men thing almost unbelievable.

Steven Katz, co-owner of Ohio-based Comfilon Activeskin Legwear for Men, said he was looking for a way to boost his company’s sales and wanted to fill a void in the market and cater to men when he began designing pantyhose styles that had masculine proportions and fly openings in 1998. The company now sells hosiery and intimate apparel for men only through the Internet, and also distributes a men’s pantyhose line from the mainstream French hosiery company Gerbe.

The article goes on to give examples of men who work outdoors and previously wore women’s pantyhose to keep warm. Said one landscape worker in praise of “mantyhose,” “They are tougher, less delicate than women’s pantyhose, but not as bulky as long underwear.”

Other examples were given of men who wear hosiery to the office.

“Mantyhose,” the article alleges, is also part of a larger trend in men’s underwear “designed to lift, sculpt and suck in that beer belly.” It seems there’s also a “mirdle” or man girdle, and a belly-controlling undershirt touted as “Spanx for men.”

I hope every man I know gets to try all of these at least once. Why should girls have all the fun?