3 In Getting Dressed/ Style/ Women Now

Hosiery, the confidence building accessory

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I love having plenty of time at the airport terminal because I have things to study, like studying other people’s great travel outfits. While some people choose sloppy casual as their travel attire, others wear outfits that will take them directly from the airport to their first meeting or romantic rendezvous.

The woman (above) seated just outside the international terminal at SFO certainly was chic in her print dress, trendy hosiery and laced up heeled booties. I wanted to know more about her!

I’m seeing lots of hosiery choices for fall. A fashionista’s treat is to shop on Maiden Lane in San Francisco, stepping into the Wolford store where you just can’t help but feel more courageous about trying patterned or colored stockings. They have walls of choices and displays that jump forward at you. I guess one reaction would be to get scared and run out vowing to only wear pants, but I’m hosiery-friendly even if I may not be as courageous as the woman at SFO.

When I was a teen, I was on the Herbst Teen Board in Fargo, North Dakota. I represented my high school, West Fargo High. Besides being involved in lots of community projects, I worked on the weekends and some evenings at the most upscale store in Fargo. I floated around the store and filled in in different departments but the one that I fell in love with was the hosiery department.

I felt like I sold confidence at that hosiery counter. A woman would show up with an outfit challenge and I’d help her choose hosiery that harmonized with her look, polished her outfit, and set the stage for her to walk into any room and let her inner light shine.

I left Fargo, North Dakota after my high school graduation to follow my best friend, Patricia, to another corner of the world called California. There was nothing about California that was like North Dakota. When I needed to find a summer job, I interviewed at Gottschalk’s, a brand new department store that was just opening up. The one thing that felt like home was the hosiery department and that’s where I landed.

I was 18-years-old. The women working with me were so much older, maybe even as old as 40 or 50! It was a big department and I dove right in learning all I could. I made a few back and forth trips between ND and CA before settling in Southern California in my early 20s. I was always able to get my job back in the hosiery department anytime I wanted it.

Fast forward a few decades and hosiery is still on my radar. There’s nothing more fun than visiting the hosiery department at the start of a season and finding out what’s new, what the trends are, what the best sellers are. I like to make sure my clients have their hosiery needs covered before we end a shopping trip.

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Does a strong hosiery pattern make you nervous? Check out this nude one. When I flew to Fargo, North Dakota last January to visit the folks, my best friend Patricia (who ended up leaving California and moving to Minnesota) picked me up at the airport and we stopped at one of our favorite Fargo spots, Nichole’s Fine Pastry.

That’s where we met this lovely woman all bundled up in her fur and boots. She loves vintage and was wearing a lot of it–her coat, her DVF dress. I loved the patterned nude tights she was wearing with her outfit. The way the graphic element in her dress related to the graphic design in the tights made me swoon. I wanted to know all about her life! But our visit was cut short. Patricia said, “Brenda, we have to leave! It’s starting to storm!” She was right. We had 75 miles to drive to my parent’s home and just as we got off the freeway they closed it. It was one of those events I hadn’t experienced since leaving North Dakota and getting my first California driver’s license. Mom and dad are asking if I’ll be back next January. I’m not so sure.

With fall coming up, will you step into some great hosiery? In case you need a little more inspiration, take it from the authors of the book Paris Street Style. They say about tights, “If you’re afraid of making an error of taste, go for black opaque; but colors aren’t the sole preserve of little girls. Abandon red (which can be dangerous when associated with black); opt instead for violet, anthracite gray, luminous fuchsia, lilac … all are superb with khaki and fall colors in general.”

Do you have some hosiery tips or stories to share? Bring it on!

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  • Reply
    Kathy Mazza
    September 30, 2014 at 7:14 am

    I would like to know when are you too old for patterned hosiery?

    • Reply
      Brenda Kinsel
      September 30, 2014 at 8:54 am

      The short answer is never. Although this woman in the photo is quite young, the picture I wish I would have snapped was of a woman close to 80 years old shopping downtown San Francisco. She was lingering in the jewelry department at Neiman’s when I spotted her. It was a “what are you waiting for” moment for me. She looked so fabulous and chic and fashionable. She made me feel old and stodgy by comparison. Hosiery may be one of those things that is on the “If you’re still breathing, you can do this” list of fashion do’s for any age. In my humble opinion…

    • Reply
      Brenda Kinsel
      November 13, 2014 at 10:01 am

      I saw another sighting! Again, a woman well into her 60s, and she looked great in her patterned stockings!

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