My grandmother wore fancy hosiery with seams running down the back of her legs even when she didn't leave the house

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

Back in the 1950s when my mother was still a child, women wore nylons all the time. Most of these nylons had a prominent seam running down the back. That's the kind that my grandmother wore. She liked them because they were "fancy."

My grandmother wore her fancy hosiery every day, whether or not she went out. She might be wearing a battered housecoat and planning not to leave the house, but she still wore her fancy nylons with the seams down the back of the legs with her slippers on her feet.

For a woman who never wore makeup a day in her life, wearing the fancy nylons with the seams was her one way of making herself feel feminine and beautiful. Sure, seamless nylons were already on the market, but my grandmother wanted no part of them.

My mother told me that my grandmother worked very hard to get that seam straight on the back of her legs. Sometimes frustration would set in, and my mother would hear her muttering to herself as she struggled to get that seam in a perfect vertical line.

It was fascinating to watch her put her nylons on, according to my mother. She said my grandmother thought of it as a challenge.

My grandmother would gather the nylons in one hand with the seam perfectly aligned with her fingertip. That way, she could arrange the seam on the back of her legs by touch.

"She could feel the seam hitting the back of her legs," my mother explained. "Sometimes her nylons had runs in them, but she didn't care about that. The only thing she cared about was getting those seams straight up and down."

As soon as she got her nylons arranged properly, my grandmother would ask my grandfather how they looked. "Are my seams straight?" she'd ask.

"Yes," my grandfather would reply, nodding seriously. "Your seams are perfectly straight, but your legs are a little crooked."

My grandmother always laughed at his joke, no matter how many times he told it.

Eventually, my mother convinced my grandmother to try more "modern" hosiery without the seam. My grandmother adapted quite well to the new seamless pantyhose, but she missed my grandfather's sense of humor now that he didn't have a reason to tell her that her legs were crooked.

My mother never wore nylons with seams running down the back of her legs. Once she saw how difficult it was for my grandmother to get her seams straight, she opted for the plain hosiery.

My grandmother passed away several decades ago. Wearing nylons has long since fallen out of fashion. Although some women may choose to wear pantyhose or stockings for special occasions, I am not among them, so I'll never know the struggle, challenge, or frustration of wrangling a stubborn seam from my heel to my thigh.

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