It used to be a fact of life that when women wore skirts and dresses, they wore nude panty hose or stockings. Even to the point during WWII when there was a shortage of stockings, women drew the seam (because stockings had seams back them) up their leg in eye liner so that they would at least LOOK like they were wearing them. I confirmed this with my grandmother who worked as a secretary in New York City during the war. My mom started working in the late 60s and wouldn’t have dreamed of going to work with bare legs and wouldn’t have dared prooooobably until the 90s?
In fact, it was so ubiquitous that the original 1922 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette even addresses them. Even my 1967 version of Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette only says:
A woman is well-groomed when she looks fresh, neat, clean, and well-pressed. This means a daily, and often twice daily, shower or bath, fresh underwear and stockings daily or twice daily, competent home or professional hairdressing at least once a week, well-manicured hands, no chipped nail polish, runless, wrinkless stockings, and shined shoes at all time, even for housework.
I do have a book called How to Be a Lady published in the year of our lord Two Thousand and ONE that says, “If a lady expects her legs to be seen, she either shaves her legs or wears hose.” Granted, a book called How to Be a Lady is probably a little bit behind the times, but I can’t imagine a modern etiquette book insisting that it is de rigeur to either be freshly shaved or wearing hose. And thank goodness for that! There is absolutely no reason for anyone to insist on that and I think a large portion of the US at least is coming around to it. Outside of a few extremely conservative and stuffy offices, you NEVER see employee dress codes that specify that women must wear hose with skirts and dresses. And to think, pantyhose was a HUGE improvement on wearing a girdle with garters and stockings.
However, you can pry hose away from my extremely pale, cold, dead legs. I LOVE them! Like I said, I’m very pale with very sensitive skin so bare legs take me straight to chafe city. And I hate sweaty, bare feet inside my shoes. I think the key to understated hose is to try to match your skin color- so I don’t have Rockette-suntan legs clashing with my Irish white arms and face, and to try to get anything that is labelled something like “silky sheer.” The sheer helps your natural color come through even more and the silky has a tiny bit of sheen so your legs aren’t weirdly matte, plus they feel nice.
Anyway, the great thing about the modern world is that we have options and we can rock our legs au naturale, shaved, or clothed in nylon prisons (to hear some people tell it). Tell me all your preferences in the comments!