Do You Recycle Your Pantyhose?

High on the list of complaints about pantyhose is that it just doesn’t last long enough. But from an environmental point of view it lasts too long once a discarded pair moves from your household trash to the landfill. Efforts at recycling can include using old pantyhose to stake tomato plants and make sachets, but there’s a small snag considering that sheer hosiery sales alone exceeded $1 billion over a recent 12-month period, according to the NPD Group, a market research company.

Some hosiery companies have moved toward more environmentally-friendly manufacturing, says Sally Kay, president and CEO of the Hosiery Association, a trade group. Open a package of No nonsense pantyhose and you’ll find a green card encouraging you to gather your old pantyhose and mail them to the company, where they’ll be sent to recycling facilities to be used to make park benches, ropes and playground equipment. “Our current goal is to recycle five percent of our sheer hosiery shipments, the most popular kind sold,” says Steve Brinkey, director of marketing at Kayser-Roth, maker of No nonsense.

The company accepts all brands and colors of stockings, tights, and knee highs for recycling. The program was inspired, in part, by Nike’s recycling of athletic shoes, turning them into playground and athletic surfaces. Nike’s website claims the company recycles more than 1.5 million pairs of shoes a year.

Pantyhose Recycling [No Nonsense]
10 Ways to Recycle Your Pantyhose [Treehugger]

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  1. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    What the… this rope, park bench, and swingset smell like feet and crotch…..

  2. little stripes says:

    That second link … I really hate when people make lists and don’t put a space after the name of the bullet point, and before the sentence begins. Awful.

    That said, this is pretty excellent. I wear tights sometimes. I had no idea they could be recycled! I’ll start saving them to ship them off once or twice a year.

  3. gparlett says:

    Do women still wear pantyhose?

    • little stripes says:

      In some corporate offices, yes. Lots of high-end lawyers I’m sure do. I even see them occasionally here in Phoenix, which is always weird because we’re pretty casual (and the heat in the summer makes them uncomfortable).

      However, I know a LOT of women, including myself, that wear tights. Which I find comfortable, but only if they are stretchy and don’t have control tops or whatever on them. And I don’t wear them during the summer, haha.

      • chiieddy says:

        Dirty little secret: I’m overweight (see fat people do know their fat) and until I lose it (5 lbs since Christmas, thanks) my fat-ass thighs will rub together when wearing skirts (or short shorts, just to give the guys a really nasty image to thrive on). In colder weather this isn’t an issue as much, but in hot weather I get the WORST heat rash.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Fat man here – I sadly have no male version of this to work with.

          • pop top says:

            Some men wear pantyhose under their pants.

            • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

              When I was in the Army, many of us would wear spandex under our pants to deal with that problem. And lots and lots of Goldbond.

        • mobiuschic42 says:

          I learned last summer that putting baby powder on my thighs helps with this problem. I also wear shorts under dresses a lot

          • chiieddy says:

            I use shower to shower (same thing) or a small baby powder on vacation, but sometimes I forget to bring it with me to the pain of my thighs.

    • pop top says:

      What are the $1B/year sales from if they don’t? What an asinine question.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i personally don’t. but the story doesn’t specify and i know plenty of drag queens who wear them

    • brinks says:

      Hardly.

      Pantyhose are for older ladies and people with really strict dress codes at work. Most women are either going bare-legged or wearing tights. If dress code prohibits bare legs and tights aren’t going to look right, I think many women would just opt for pants.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I used to have a boss who wore white pantyhose. And my grandma used to wear pantyhose all the time. Nowadays, women wear tights. Different colors, opacity, and patterns make it a lot easier to cover your legs without looking frumpy.

    • little stripes says:

      Agreed. But now that I know they can be recycled, I will start doing so.

    • Don't Bother says:

      I’m wearing tights right now, as a matter of fact!

      I always found that hose, when I’ve worn it before, gets runs in it too easily. Tights usually are easier to keep looking nice. And it’s what all the hip, cool women are doing. Or so they tell me.

      • little stripes says:

        I’m wearing tights, too! They are green. And I agree about them being less likely to tear. I can usually get two, sometimes even three, wears out of them, and I only buy the $5 tights from Target. They tend to be thicker than most pantyhose at a comparable price.

        • Don't Bother says:

          That’s what I buy too! I buy Hue tights when they go on sale around the end of the season as well. : )

          • little stripes says:

            Oooh, I just googled, those are pretty!

            Target has slightly higher-end tights around $8 that I sometimes buy, too. They tend to be the patterned/textured ones.

            • Don't Bother says:

              One thing to be said about Hue is that I have several pairs that I have worn for two years without tears developing. They might be more expensive, but they actually hold up over time. Just a tip if you ever need to get a fancy new color or pattern!

              • little stripes says:

                I’m so clumsy, though, that I’m afraid I’ll spend $20+ on a pair of tights, only to snag them! So I’d only get them on sale.

                • Don't Bother says:

                  Exactly. If there’s a Macy’s around your neck of the woods, wait until they go on a nice sale. I think I bought two pair for the low low price of $16. At that point, it’s nicer to have these tights that’ll last more than a season then pay for several pairs.

                  • little stripes says:

                    I work right next to Scottsdale Fashion Square and I’m pretty sure there is a Macy’s. I’ll keep that in mind!! $16 for two pair would be worth it, as I’ve spent that much for Target brand. Thanks for the tip. :)

                    • BrownLeopard says:

                      eBay has some sellers that have a ton of colors for $2.99 a pair (free shipping). My wife gets a few pairs of those at a time.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          Are you not wearing tights properly to only get two or three wears? I have cheap tights from Target that I’ve had for years. None of them have holes, either.

          • little stripes says:

            I am really hard on clothing. :) Sometimes I can get 4 wears, but generally 3 is about the max. Also, I tend to wear boots that go up mid-calf and they tend to rub on the tights and cause snags in the area. After a couple wears they aren’t so pretty anymore, or I can’t wear them with other shoes because of the snagging. And I have a bad habit of catching them on stuff and ripping them (I keep clear nail polish in my purse haha). Also, sometimes they accidentally end up in the wash instead of my hand washing them, which can cause them to snag sooner. A lot of it is just that I’m not that gentle (and I don’t want to be ‚Ķ I’d rather have the freedom to move). At $5 a pop though, and because I only wear them a couple times a month, it’s fine.

            I have no idea how anyone can wear *tights* for *years* unless you only wear them like, twice a year, and you’re super, duper, duper carful and fragile and I’m just ‚Ķ not.

            • pecan 3.14159265 says:

              Are you sure you’re not wearing a type of pantyhose that’s just a little thicker? My tights generally develop holes, not runs (so there wouldn’t be any need for nail polish), and don’t really need to be handwashed. I’ve been tossing mine into the washing machine for years because they’re durable and they seem to retain their elasticity better.

              I wear boots a lot and they don’t usually catch on tights. Try wearing a pair of high socks with them. Even if you have to fold them down, they’ll provide a buffer between your legs and the boot edge or zipper.

              • little stripes says:

                Nope, I tend to buy those tights that are rolled, from Target. Some of them are footless, so they stop at your ankle (I prefer those but they seem to sell out quickly in black and purple, which is what I mostly wear). They aren’t pantyhose. They are tights.

                And I guess they get holes more than rips, but like I said, I’m clumsy (or maybe I didn’t cut my finger nails well enough and there is a sharp edge; that happens a lot).

                And when I wear the footless tights, I wear socks, and they still snag, but I’m not about to wear socks so high they show which is the only real way to stop the snagging. The boots I tend to wear are very loose around the ankle/lower calf, though, so they rub more than if they rub more, maybe? I put on a new pair of tights this morning and there is already a bit of snagging where my boots rub against the tights. It’s not that noticeable yet but will be in another 2 wears.

                • pecan 3.14159265 says:

                  Ahh, that’s your problem. You’re buying the super thin cheapo tights. I avoid those like the plague because they never, ever last. Buy the Hue brand or buy Target’s Merona line. Those will last you a whole lot longer.

                  High socks can be folded down. I wear high socks with my knee high boots and they’re always too high for the tops of the boots. I fold them down so I don’t rip my tights.

                  • little stripes says:

                    I buy the higher-end tights from Target sometimes, and I still eventually ruin them. They would never, ever last years. I might get double the wear from the cheaper tights. And I’d buy Hue on sale, but not full-price, because I WILL ruin them. It’s just not worth it. If I wore them all the time, maybe, but I only wear them a couple times a month during the cooler months, and not at all during the spring and summer. And I’m not that into textured tights; I just really like solid colors. I probably buy 5 pairs, TOPS, each fall/winter, in two or three different colors (purple, sometimes magenta, sometimes green, and of course black). Same price as the higher-end stuff, same amount of wears when it comes down to it, and I get a variety of colors. So it works for me.

                    I am just too clumsy and hard on clothing to buy the more expensive stuff, unless they are on sale.

                  • little stripes says:

                    And um, yeah, I know socks can be folded down. Duh? But, I mean that they’d still have to show to stop the snagging, because the snagging happens at the very top edge of the boot, not below the edge, when the top rubs against the tights. So they’d still snag, or the socks would be visible, and that’s ugly.

                    I do wear socks with the footless tights and I fold them down a bit so they don’t show and I still get snags.

                    Of course it’s because I’m wearing $5 tights, but I’m okay with that since I don’t wear them often and I like a variety of colors and the thought of spending $20 on tights makes me nervous when I’m as clumsy and hard on clothing as I am.

              • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                Ohh! Girl talk!

                (grabs popcorn in fascination)

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      I do not understand the distinction between pantyhose and tights. I thought they were the same thing …

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        “In American English, the difference between pantyhose and tights is determined in the weight of the yarn used and the thickness to which the garment is knitted.”

        So basically, tights are usually thicker than pantyhose and are usually more opaque. Part of it is a generational association. I never wore pantyhose because it was something I associated with my mom and grandma, but I wore tights, which was fine because other girls my age wore them too.

  5. SerenityDan says:

    Fill them with gelatin, add fake blood, use as intestines for a zombie movie.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Excellent.

    • TomClements says:

      My dryer exhaust vents to my garage and creates a major lint problem, but a panty hose stapled over the vent provides a great filter and since both legs fill with air they don’t restrict the flow. Replace as needed with a few staples.

  6. Sweet As π says:

    This documentary mentioned a story about the durability of pantyhose. It’s very interesting and I encourage that it’s worth a watch. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1825163/

  7. Rebecca K-S says:

    What I’m learning from the comments here is that “women don’t wear pantyhose anymore.”

    No one told me.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I believe that statement to be missing the qualifier of “young.” Most women under the age of say 35 don’t wear hose unless their job commands it. For example, I used to work at a big department store where the manager was a huge nit-picking bitch. She would demand that all female associates on the sales floor wear hose while on the clock, even if they were wearing pants. She would make us lift up our pant legs to show her that we weren’t just wearing socks. She was in her late 50′s (in 1999). 90% of the associates were women well under 30. It was the single biggest point of contention for the staff.

      I just think it’s a generation thing.

      • little stripes says:

        Wearing pantyhose under pants is so uncomfortable, ugh. That said, there are thigh- and knee-high “pantyhose” that I sometimes wear when I’m wearing fancy slacks and nice shoes. Were those acceptable to her, or did they have to be the full pantyhose?

        • crispyduck13 says:

          I remember spending a portion of my meager paycheck on “trouser socks” just to shut her up. She actually said on day 1 that those were unacceptable and only “full hose” was good enough, but I guess we were lucky she never made us take our damn pants off.

          Not that I would have dissuaded her from landing me a very lucrative sexual harassment suit. Sigh…missed opportunities.

        • JennQPublic says:

          I like wearing hose under slacks, because the materials slide against each other and the pants hang better. Not in the heat though.

      • Rebecca K-S says:

        I’m certainly part of that demographic. I don’t often wear any sort of stockings, because there’s just not that much opportunity for it in my lifestyle, but I have plenty of outfits that really call for hose, not tights.

        • little stripes says:

          black pantyhose can sometimes look really nice, but i think any other kind tend to look … awful and ugly.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          It probably depends on what you’re wearing. In the winter, I wear a lot of boots and I’ll wear tights with them because they allow me to keep my legs warm and still wear skirts and dresses. When I’m wearing a dress or skirt without boots (like with just regular heels or flats) I’ll still wear tights that are a little more sheer, but never pantyhose (unflattering, too thin, tear too easily, don’t keep my legs warm at all).

          • Rebecca K-S says:

            Hm. Yeah, I have quite a few dresses that I can’t imagine wearing with anything but nude hose. They’d look ridiculous with tights. I’m definitely pro-tights, but they don’t work in all situations.

      • Emily says:

        That could be, but I think you’ve set the age bar too low. It’s not the under-35s. It’s at least those up to 50… the Woodstock generation may have been the beginning of the end.

    • JennQPublic says:

      I think it was here that I read a comment where someone said they could identify which women didn’t wear hose by looking inside their shoes. S/he was right- going barefoot in your shoes makes them icky.

      I’m under 35, but I wear hose when dressing professionally.

  8. Jacquilynne says:

    Is mailing pantyhose across the country better or worse for the environment than simply letting them sit in a landfill?

    • little stripes says:

      Probably depends on how many pantyhose you’re sending. One pair? Probably not. But 100? Maybe.

      Good question, though.

    • Cacao says:

      How can it be bad? Recycling hosiery and supporting the USPS at the same time?

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      That mail truck will be making the journey whether or not your packet of pantyhose is on there, so you may as well.

      • Jacquilynne says:

        That’s true of any individual piece of mail, but more mail means more mail trucks, so there is a net cost of adding additional mail, even if it seems fairly small.

  9. Captain Walker says:

    I use the old ones on the drain hose from the washing machine, to keep the lint from clogging the sink.

    Get 5-10 loads/leg out of ‘em.

  10. little stripes says:

    Serious question, ladies: Do you wear underwear with your tights/pantyhose? :P

    • crispyduck13 says:

      Oh my god yes! I find going commando with hose gives a very uncomfortable sensation, especially with a skirt. Nothing but the finest pure cotton Hane’s for my tulip!

      • little stripes says:

        haha! i’ve found it depends on the tights and their thickness and the type of underwear you tend to wear. i like to wear boyshort underwear which doesn’t work so well under tights, but i do have 100% cotton bikini underwear that are okay for under tights.

        and sometimes i wear tights with a skirt because i’ve run out of clean underwear … i can’t lie, lol.

      • tiatrack says:

        Agreed :)

    • Don't Bother says:

      Fruit of the loom over here!

    • delicatedisarray says:

      Under tights no, pantyhose yes.

  11. HearsMusic says:

    I looked over this card in the last package of hose I bought–first, you have to provide the stamp, which is fine I guess, but couldn’t they at least have sprung for the postage? Even the inkjet cartridges I return have a postage-paid label on them. Also, if I am putting a stamp on the package, that limits how many pairs I can return at once. A first-class stamp is only good for up to one ounce.

    Maybe this is strange, but I just feel weird sending my worn nylons to a recycling center. The thought of someone handling them just skeeves me out a bit.

    • pop top says:

      If you aren’t using them anymore, who cares? Do you not donate clothing for the same reason?

      • Don't Bother says:

        There’s a difference between donating your old gym shirt to a Goodwill and your used boxers. Or at least there’s a difference for some of us. I’ll buy anything at a Goodwill if I like it… except for underwear.

        • little stripes says:

          If they are clean and you are no longer using them … I’m honestly not sure what the difference is. It’s not like whoever buys them will know you were the previous owner. Just seems a weird, random thing to get creeped out over. But humans get creeped out over the weirdest things sometimes…

        • pop top says:

          What is the difference? Do you really care what happens to your used clothing when you are done with it?

          • Don't Bother says:

            This is response to little stripes and squinko:

            I guess my grossness from donating my used underwear comes from the fact that don’t see why someone would need to donate used underwear. Yes, I understand for some families, three dollars for a pack of underwear is too expensive. I respect that. But I’d rather give people the money to buy new underwear than have to take my hand-me-downs. Besides, I’ve never not worn a pair of underwear into oblivion. We have dogs, and let me tell you, ours will do anything to get their teeth into some used undies. (TMI?) The only time I stop wearing my underwear is when it’s unrecognizable.

            Other than that, my aversion to used underwear and handing it to someone else is all in my head. I’ll fess up to that much.

      • little stripes says:

        It reminds me of that excellent Louis CK joke (I think it’s on his Live at the Beacon show, which you can get for $5 sans DRM on his site, via Paypal or Amazon):

        He’s dead, so what does he care what is done with his body? Just put him in a room and let people pay to do whatever they want for like an hour!

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      If they had to pay for the stamp, take a guess as to how much more that package of hose would cost you.

  12. Emily says:

    They can go straight to the recycling step (or just not manufacture them int he first place) for all I care. I hated them and was glad when they went away. Talk about your useless, vaguely sexist garments: “Here is this easily torn, uncomfortable thing you will wear over your legs to make them look like legs but slightly less like legs so as not to offend people.”

    • crispyduck13 says:

      LOL yes! I always thought they were the “proper” thing worn by “proper” ladies because they were such a pain to get on and off there was much less chance you’d sneak down an alley for a quicky or something. It’s the thought that somehow, even though you’re wearing a skirt, it’s just that much more between your vagina and the rest of the world. I hate them like poison.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      I like them because they keep my legs warmer than going bare-legged without covering me up like pants or tights.

  13. The Bunk says:

    Yes, I put them over my head when I go “discount shopping” at various “local merchants.”

  14. PercussionQueen7 says:

    My policy for nylons/tights: If you’re not dead or getting married, I’m not wearing nylons. I will *occasionally* wear them for performances, but I’d do most anything to not wear them. I also only get one use out of them – I am way too hard on things to keep them nice.

  15. chizu says:

    What I really want to know is — how do you recycle old bras? They aren’t exactly things you would throw into the Goodwill bin…

    • little stripes says:

      I think Bras are fine for the Goodwill bin as long as they are clean and in good condition.

      • pop top says:

        I agree. I donate my old bras to Goodwill all the time. Charities that take in clothing donations always say that they are lacking in women’s undergarments. Why not donate them?

        • little stripes says:

          People get weirdly hung up over undergarments. I can see not wanting to buy underwear from Goodwill, but I don’t get not wanting to donate. But bras? What the hell. It’s not like there is a mucus gland on your boobs, unless maybe you’re nursing, but even then … clean them properly and they are FINE. People get hung up on the weirdest shit.

          And poor people need undergarments, too. :/

          • Jules Noctambule says:

            Used bras can be stretched out in all the areas that contain anything stretchy, which will make for a non-supporting ill fit.

            • little stripes says:

              Depends on the bra, and sometimes, a slightly ill-fitting bra is better than no bra when you can’t afford anything else, but … your privilege is nice, I guess.

    • orion70 says:

      I donated a bunch of bras recently that I had purchased without trying on, or had worn once and for whatever reason, never wore again. All in new or like new condition. I figured if they didn’t want them, they can toss them.

  16. friesentl says:

    Good to know, especially since I just accidentally threw a pair in the washer. They’re now totally unraveled and like 5 feet long. Woops.

  17. JohnDeere says:

    keep a pair in the trunk for an emergency fan belt, also use them to wrap chicken livers in for cat fishin. they look like they were made for legs or something though, a city thang i reckon.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      also use them to wrap chicken livers in for cat fishin

      THIS! Hose are the best way available to keep those slimy things on the hook.

      Also, I put some cattle cubes in a minnow trap and put it on the bottom where I’m fishing. Attracts them like crazy but they can’t get to the cubes and get filled up.

  18. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    They should put drop-boxes in department stores. That would be a significant boost to recycling.

  19. Sad Sam says:

    Yes women where nylons, to court, to church and at formal events. Supposedly they are making a strong comeback on the red carpet b/c of Duchess Kate (who seems to always be sporting them).

    I wouldn’t mind wearing them if (1) you could get more than one wear out of them [come on its 2012 for sure better hose can be manufactured] (2) they fit women over 5 foot tall.

    • little stripes says:

      You can buy high-end pantyhose that last longer but they tend to be pretty expensive. You tend to get more bang for your buck with tights, and they also tend to be more comfortable, and there is more variety.

    • NCB says:

      With her I think it’s a protocol thing. Like the hats.

    • dulin says:

      If you get the correct size, they should fit someone over 5′ tall. With tights and hose, always size up if in doubt. The color and fit will be better.

      I’ve found that slightly nicer hose lasts much, much longer. You can go to Ross or T.J. Maxx, or similar stores and find decent hose for $3-$5. Little holes will appear over time, but if you patch them up with clear nail polish, they won’t run. Drugstore hose gets holes every time I put them on, and the holes grow quickly.

      Also, there is apparently a product called ladder-free hose. You can still put holes in them (always make sure your nails are smooth before touching hose. File them if necessary), but they won’t grow. I found them here: http://www.mytights.com/us/tights-4/ladder-resist-tights.html but I’m sure they’re sold elsewhere. They have good reviews, but I’ve not tried them.

  20. yurei avalon says:

    Hmmm it seems like a lot of men I’ve talked to have some sort of fetish for women in pantyhose/tights/thigh high stockings. Maybe us girls need to wear them more often? :D

  21. dragonwerx says:

    A good use for pantyhose: I’m a jeweler, and during stone setting operations, sometimes you lose the dang thing. We’re talking 1.5mm to 4mm objects…very hard to see, especially if there’s any kind of carpeting. You know it’s within 3 meters of you, but where…? Or, you are a bead artist and the tube dropped and you have beads all over your carpet.

    Take a double thickness of pantyhose – either folded up, or one foot inside the other (works with knee-highs too), make it like a condom for the hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner, and then vacuum the area of interest. Turn off vacuum, search the pantyhose, and find your gem(s)!

    A note: HOLD ON TO THE PANTY HOSE REALLY WELL. Otherwise, the vacuum sucks it out of your hand and down the hose, whereby you search for another set of pantyhose. Or, in the case of a jeweler who shan’t be named by name here, you get it out of the vacuum cleaner and try again. (Oh dear, are my cheeks red?)

  22. milehound says:

    The No Nonsense mailing label isn’t postage paid, and the customers aren’t compensated for their efforts in any way (eg, coupons). This is unacceptable for a for-profit company who is presumably selling the derivative product of recycled hosiery. Until the drop-off locations are up and running, stick to DIY recycling.

    Regarding Goodwill donations: all that matters is that the clothing donated is clean. Unsold clothing is recycled; either as equipment used at local stores, or sold to for-profit recycling companies.

  23. Hailey says:

    Women still wear pantyhose or tights, but it seems that media doesn’t show them. It pisses me off as a designer to see that happen.
    How often do you see a woman with absolutely atrocious looking legs? Yeah, that wouldn’t happen if she wore hose. I’m the only one at my gym in workout tights.

    • lettucefactory says:

      As someone with atrocious-looking legs (they are a nice shape, but I have pale pale skin and prominent veins) I haaaaate this “hosiery is for old farts” mindset. Sometimes an opaque tight just does not work with an outfit, and I don’t accept that the only other possible stylish option is to blind the public with my bare legs. In fact, I’m never comfortable with bare legs at the office. I will never voluntarily give up my hosiery.

  24. Darkneuro says:

    I’m planning on gardening with mine this next year…Mom taught me long ago to keep pantyhose for random things and I’m planning on using them for tomato ties and hanging onions.
    I keep a pair in the glove-box of the car-I’ve been told they can pinch hit for a fan belt.
    Pair over the washing machine hose.
    I use them (cleaned…VERY cleaned) in cooking; I have the frame from an old sieve that I put in the legs… Works to strain things.
    I’ve braided tights into a rag rug before (I was bored and mom had a huge bag of stockings/tights).
    Non stick cookware scrubbies.

  25. Dallas_shopper says:

    I don’t wear pantyhose often enough to consider what happens to it after I’m done with it, but I usually save ruined pantyhose, tear it up, and use it as plant ties. I buy maybe 1-2 pairs a year.

  26. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I wonder if they would take my old skating tights. They’re similar to pantyhose, only thicker. I never know what to do with them after they are all torn up.

  27. thor777 says:

    I’m saddened by the steady decline of women wearing stockings/pantyhose….. :( I love how they look on women’s legs