Aug 20, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade. English Tights edition

To many women, cross dressers and leg enthusiasts in general, the very American word, Pantyhose, is how shall we say, just a little gauche. Perhaps more so for the English, than any other group. And no national group is so off-handedly able to deploy very French words like, for example, “gauche” to suggest disappointment that many foreigners do not simply use a perfectly good English word, like for example “Tights”.

Well, I like tights and I like the English. England is after all a country bent in so many lovely ways that you wonder how cross dressers stand out for attention at all. And so, the focus of this weeks Trial of the Tights are an entry recently liberated from the very ancient city of Nottingham, the
Aristoc Ultra Shine 10D Sheers.

First, all the good news. This is a well made, sheer to waist dressy tight that imparts a sure feeling of durability. A very elastic and firm grip on the legs, and surprisingly so for a mere 11% Lycra content. Lots of snap back and certainty in the weave, and practically no propensity to sagging even after a long day under my withering, wondering glare.

And they are nice to glare at. They glare and glimmer back (cheeky things) just as the name Ultra Shine might lead you to believe. Sleek is a fine word, and polished is the word employed by Aristoc themselves to describe the visual effect. The tested shade is a nicely tanned and charmingly named "Illusion".
And who can compete with the cross dresser for harbouring illusions after all? To my eyes, the effect is unique, having a matte finish that bounces and reflects just enough light to get noticed. These tights don’t shout, and don’t need to.

The hand seamed waistband is broad, comfortable and stays in place. Great finish on the sandal foot too. And, for a ½ boarded leg, really a terrific fit, at least on my frame. I feel as though I have found a pair of tights that exhibits many of the very best qualities of the English themselves. Sturdy, reliable, nicely turned out and quietly proud. Sound as the Pound. Nothing operatic or flashy going on here. That’s for other folk surely. I, for one, hope always that there is room to cultivate and appreciate these enduring but threatened virtues in our increasingly faddish and throwaway world.

And now, to snap out of my reverie and report the bad news. A tad warm, dear dear friends. We pay for durability with a loss of ventilation and moisture wicking it seems. More bad news has, I suspect, something to do with just how sound the Pound is. Between the relative weakness of the US$, and shallow distribution channels available to the Aristoc brand in these United States, this everyday pair of tights flashes a mid range price ($9.95) that cripples them in my ranking machinery. Even with good-to-strong rankings for fit, finish, style and feel they muster up a respectable, but far from winning 131.9 Petra Pantyhose Points, and earn 12th place amongst all tested tights.

Now, where with the limited distribution do we find them? You might try, like I did, a little visit to Shapings carry a very broad line of hard to find imported hosiery. Hard to find, and in some cases I am sure, hard to willingly take off. On some recent business travel I was close enough to their Burlington, Ontario shop to drop in, in drab to say hello. I was greeted warmly, asked if I required help, and encouraged to take my time looking around. Jammed to the rafters, an intoxicating ocean of lace and silk, of cups and clasps. As it happens the shop specializes more in custom fitted and high-end bras, corsets and the like, and did not, after all, stock much of the vast hosiery selection beautifully featured on their web site. The store manager, Dawn, was considerate, and suggested that next time I call ahead so that they could dash things over from the cross town warehouse. Alas. Of the smallish selection in the shop, she asked what I might be looking for.

“I like what you are wearing” says Petra.

Aristoc Ultra Shines as it turned out. Dawn did look terrific. She has other great things to show you online including Fogal, Pierre Mantoux,
Cette, Pompea, and more in a breathtaking selection of over 400 brands. I encourage you to visit. Shapings does ship to American destinations, and I was assured, quite regularly and reliably too. If you, dear friend do order from Shapings or have in the past, please drop me a line so that I know how the online experience was for you. If my experience in their lovely shop was any indication, yours was or will be first rate.

Next week. Something operatic and flashy from Italy.

Happy dressing and everything else…

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