Sep 17, 2009

Petra’s Pantyhose Parade – Sheer Berkshire

If you have recently driven a car more than 10 years old, you may have felt a little sensory displacement when you noticed that the steering array lacked cruise and audio controls soon into your journey. Similarly did I feel when I smoothed up this weeks proud, throwback entry in my perpetual Pantyhose Parade, Berkshire Ultra Sheer Control Tops. Something just felt different, some ubiquitous modern convenience was absent, and I had to refer to the packaging to figure it out.

Look ma! No Lycra! That’s right, these nylons are all nylon!

Curiously, and without wanting to set off too many Freudian alarm bells, these are your Mothers' Pantyhhose. Or perhaps mine. I felt a little like a salmon swimming upstream to the spawn site of my own cross dressing.

The Berkshires were the only product I had not yet plundered the ample racks of Macy’s for over the last year, and were picked last for a simple reason. No pretty pictures on the package. I mean, for pity’s sake Mrs. Berkshire, would it kill you to hire a photographer, an art director and a model so that your prospective client has something to aspire to? Modesty in such matters is often interpreted as a lack of confidence, and my legs and I agree that you should shake that off, post-haste. Glad to meet you finally, and now back to your all-nylon construction.

Lycra© and other sythentic microfibers are employed to add elasticity to, and to soften the feel of most of the modern hosiery that we wear today. They add the silky feeling often referred to in product names where silk is nowhere else in the mix. Science in the service of womankind surely. Older milling and yarning machines cannot be economically refitted to manage this multiple fiber magic, and so I suppose with time we can expect to see fewer of these all-nylon entries on big retailer shelves. This is a shame. We will lose over time a refreshing change of look and feel in our wardrobes, looks and feels that are at heart nicely nostalgiac.

First, looks. You have seen it in silk stockings, a gentle darkening gather behind the knee when seated, and around the ankle when idly twirled. That alluring pinch of nylon at the narrow toe of a nice pump ... vintage Hollywood starlet stuff. There is a glimmer to them. Far from invisible, these are statement leggings and available in a nice array of shades harkening back to a different time. My middle brown “Utopias” seem lifted directly from the set of Mad Men, and while they look ready for business, they have capacity for a little devilment. I additionally love the dark and fully reinforced toe which would look quite at home with a fully fashioned heel. I have been fortunate so far, but I suspect that these are fairly fragile, and prone to runs, so don't rush your dressing.

Feel is a touch and go thing though. The all nylon boot (i.e. leg portion) lacks the smoothness that we have come to expect from our tights. For this trade, we are returned with some nice gifts. The proportioned fit glides easily up and down and around moving legs, and this is a nicely distracting pleasure. To the hand though, they are a little coarse. Through the midriff, the spandex rich control top panty is very secure, quite comfortable and cleanly finished. Snug, compact and not prone to either waistband peeking or gathering.

Berkshire has a mission, stated clearly on the package: “Dedicated to making Hosiery a Pleasure”, and I would have to say that unless you are completely dedicated to the latest and greatest that technology can bring, Berkshire will have succeeded nicely.
Excellent fit, strong marks all around except for feel, and a modest price of $6.50 for a nicely showy pair of legs all add up to a 7th (out of 21) place ranking with 166.2 Petra Points.

A closing note on Berkshire. I snapped up a pair of their Sheer Leg Thigh High stay ups that same day on a mad whim. For me, stay ups typically don't stay up, but I am happy to report that these did. Still 100% nylon, but somehow, much more glossy and smooth to the touch. More hosiery magic I am at a loss to describe, but suffice to say, if you are a stay-up or stocking kind of a gal, this is a product you might want to try. I will figure out over the course of the year just how to judge and score stockings as a class of hosiery, and look forward to sharing those findings with you all at some pretty point in the future.
Happy dressing, Petra


Anonymous said...

Petra, if you're really old enough to remember when all nylons were made like this, you should remember an old trick from way back when: Turn the pantyhose inside-out. You'll never believe the difference in the way they feel.

Petra Bellejambes said...

Dear Anon;

Thanks for your note. Of course, I am practically old enough, but a lady never refers accurately to ones own age....

Now then, I tried your kind advice, and did not note a big difference. A little coarser to the leg, and a little smoother to the hand. Messier seaming all around, and so it did not present much upside, at least in my view.

Glad you have something that works for you though! Drop a line anytime, but so much the better for everyone if you get a nice google id and follow the blog openly.

Happy weekend, sheer or otherwise... Petra

Couture Carrie said...

I was just reading an article about the show "Mad Men" (one of my absolute faves!) and it explained that every bit of the costumes used on the show are authentic vintage EXCEPT the pantyhose because the old-fashioned "nylons" were too fragile. Interesting tidbit, right?

Fab post, as usual, darling! Hope you are having a relaxing Sunday :)


P.S. Love the Freud reference!

phylisanne said...

i love wearing vintage girdles and nylon stockings.phylisanne

phylisanne said...

and as my mother loved wearing her nylons i really love wearing mine.phylisanne

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