Men In Tights

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June, when she isn’t being a “wanton sex goddess,” asks her readers about thigh-high pantyhose.  (Although the two things are probably related.)

She asks.

Thigh high pantyhose… sexy? or another way to make you look horrible with the fat that bulges out over the top?

Not having an opinion of thigh-thighs past thinking that if they involve sexy red garters they can’t be a bad thing, I thought I would talk about something in the same ballpark – Mantyhose

For more than a decade, Mack wore women’s pantyhose under his clothes to keep him warm while he worked as a landscaper. But four years ago, Mack, 35, discovered “mantyhose” —pantyhose for men.

“It’s nice because they are specifically made for men, so I felt less weird about it,” said Mack, who declined to give his last name (because his wife does still feel weird about it). “They are tougher, less delicate than women’s pantyhose, but not as bulky as long underwear.”

He says that he enjoys the fit and feel of the “mantyhose” so much that he wears them year-round, even though he now holds an office job.

Mack is one of a growing number of men — from construction workers to athletes and businessmen — who’ve found a passion for pantyhose, claiming they wear the hosiery for support, comfort and aesthetic purposes. Luckily, there are now pairs made specifically for men so that they don’t have to ravage their wives’ or girlfriends’ dressers to nestle into a pair of nylons.

Maybe it’s just me but what fun is it if you can’t ravage your wife’s dresser when you have that “pantyhose nestling urge?”  I particularly enjoy playing with the bras but that’s just me.

Coming to America

European men have been sporting hose for several years, but the trend has been slow to catch on in the U.S. (It is important to note that the trend has no connection to men who wear hose to cross-dress, since they prefer to wear pairs that are more feminine.) The “mantyhose” is also part of a larger trend of untraditional men’s underwear designed to lift, sculpt and suck in that beer belly — from the “mirdle” (man-girdle) to Australian designer Equmen’s Core Precision Undershirt, touted as the “Spanx for men.” A small group of male pantyhose enthusiasts from America, Canada and Europe even set up a Web site, the U.K.-based e-mancipate.net, “to speed up the mainstreaming process of male pantyhose” for men all over the world.

Atlanta-based Luxelegwear.com, which makes European hosiery brands available around the world, has sold 75 to 80 percent of its products to men since it started in 2005, according to managing director Deborrah Ashley.

Steven Katz, co-owner of Ohio-based Comfilon, which creates and distributes men’s pantyhose, says that while the market for men’s pantyhose in the U.S. is “tiny,” 2008 has been “our best year ever.”

The “mantyhose” comes in a variety of colors and designs, but, Katz says, basic black holds the title as most popular.

Katz came up with the idea for creating men’s pantyhose after surfing the Internet and finding complaints from men who were frustrated about their lack of options.

There you go. Capitalistic Americans taking advantage of much of socialist Europe’s (especially the French) foo-foo need for male pantyhose. Damn, I love this country.

“Men were being told by their doctors that they needed compression legwear for knee problems,” Katz said. “So they were sent to buy women’s hosiery, and that was embarrassing for them.”

One such man was 55-year-old Steve, who suffers from restless leg syndrome; he declined to give his last name for publication. “My legs would ache at night and I wouldn’t be able to sleep,” he said. “I thought they would help with my circulation, so I ordered a couple pairs, and my legs haven’t bothered me since.”

Four years later, Steve, a coffee shop manager from Greenville, S.C., can’t imagine life without wearing men’s pantyhose.

Nothing like being served coffee by a guy wearing pantyhose. Except for maybe being served coffee by topless women.

Not your mother’s pantyhose

Katz, who was looking for a way to boost his company’s sales, said he wanted to fill a void in the market and cater to men like Steve. He began designing pantyhose styles that had masculine proportions and fly openings, and in 1998, Comfilon’s Activeskin Legwear for Men was born. The company now sells hosiery and intimate apparel for men only through the Internet, and also distributes a men’s pantyhose line from the mainstream French hosiery company Gerbe.

That’s what Dave Andrews, 40, found when he first tried a pair of “mantyhose” in 2006, after he had worn women’s pantyhose for six months.

“The benefits were there — you can’t argue with the muscle support when you’re on your feet all day,” said Andrews, a sales representative from Indianapolis, Ind. “Plus, it’s made for the male anatomy, so there’s added comfort, and the control top makes you look better.”

Katz says his Activeskin line isn’t sold in stores because there is continued stigma about men wearing pantyhose.

“There are a lot of guys who like wearing the product because of the benefits — the support, the warmth — but the gender hang-ups about pantyhose are still so pervasive,” he said.

Many men who wear “mantyhose” say it isn’t them or even other guys who are embarrassed —it’s mostly their wives and girlfriends.

Wives and girlfriends are embarrassed? Go figure.  They should just be happy they don’t have to share because I can only imagine how dirty those things are when they return them.

“My wife was really uncomfortable at first — she was nervous about going out with me in public when I had them on,” said Andrews. “But then we went out and she saw that no one noticed or had any adverse reaction.”

Mack says his wife still isn’t keen on the world knowing about his hosiery.

“I understand how people can be taken aback by it, but men used to wear this legwear before women ever did,” he said. “No one’s gonna stop me from wearing what I need to wear.”

Andrews often gets positive reactions from people when they see that he’s wearing “mantyhose.” And for those who are still turned off by men wearing hosiery, Andrews responds with a couple of clichés.

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, and don’t be afraid to take the leap,” he said.

Leaping men in mantyhose.  Now there’s a Kodak moment for you.

So what do you think folks? A legitimate product meeting a legitimate need or just a sneaky way to make cross-dressing more acceptable? Not that I give a hoot if a guy wants to cross-dress in the privacy of his own home. But it seems to me if you just wanted some support for your “jimmy legs,” you would think they would make some pantyhose like the thigh-highs June mentioned that would serve that purpose. Then again that just brings us back to the sexy red garters.  It’s a vicious cycle I tell ya.

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6 Comments

  1. Okay, I have to do it… I am posting this on Monday. Too funny.

  2. I’m another of those guys who’ve been wearing pantyhose for about 10 years or so. I wear them for leg support, because I’ve got some leg circulation issues and started getting some varicose veins in my late 30s. Regular men’s support socks weren’t too helpful because they don’t go above the knee and usually have elastic tops that cut off circulation. My doctor recommended wearing women’s support hose (i.e., Leggs Sheer Energy, etc) but I discovered ActivSkin by Comfilon–which are sheer and opaque hose made for men. They’re a little more expensive, but they last a long time and are sized for male body proportions.

    At first, I was self-conscious about wearing something traditionally associated with women’s wear–but before long became convinced that there’s nothing about pantyhose (except possibly the name) that makes them automatically a female garment. Men have legs just the same as women do. A few centuries ago, they (in the form of tights) were considered to be exclusively a male garment. They fell out of fashion and were later picked up by women in the 20th Century. It seems that they’re falling from favor with women in recent years, at the same time that men are wearing them more and more.

    It might be helpful to remember too that pants for women was considered pretty audacious before WWII required them to go to work in the munitions factories. Even then, it was quite a while before society in general stopped looking crosswise at women wearing pants. Likewise, men wearing earrings was pretty scandalous as recently as the 70s or 80s. Gradually, they’be become something that no one even notices anymore. Your grandpa might even be wearing an earring these days.

    There have been scores of news stories on this trend from 2000 onward. I, myself, was quoted in a significant front-page article the Wall Street Journal ran in 2002 (2/19/2002) about how more men were taking to wearing pantyhose for vaious ‘mainstream’ reasons. There’ve been countless articles describing various aspects of the gradually growing trend–such as how many different guys wear them in their work or livelihood that you would never suspect (i.e., horse riders, motorcycle cops, truck drivers, etc.) since they keep it under wraps for fear of being labeled as less than masculine.

    The big hangup comes from the common misperception that men are wearing them for some fetish or cross-dressing purpose. Wearing hose also does NOT mean the guy must secretly be gay, either. In fact, from what I’ve read on a number of blogs, gays as a group tend to dislike pantyhose to about the same degree as younger women. While some small segment of the male population might wear pantyhose for sexual reasons, those who are wearing them on a day-to-day basis, such as myself, are doing so for ‘legitimate’ reasons such as: leg support, added warmth w/o bulk, athletic performance benefits, or just plain comfort.

    That last item will strike a lot of the ladies as out of sync with their experience. But, if they would try buying better quality hosiery, and in a size that fits them, they would find them to be a lot more comfortable than they might believe. I wear support-style hose under my dress pants every day to my office, and they aren’t itchy or constricting. If you wear control-top, you won’t have to fight them falling down all day, either. Since it’s an air-conditioned environment, the heat’s not an issue either. In warm weather, I’ll wear them with shorts until it gets really hot.

    In answer to the inevitable question: yes, it helps if you shave your legs. Matted hair under hose would tend to be a fairly ugly sight, to be sure. Also, hose tend to slide down a lot more on hairy legs. But, the trend for guys these days is leaning heavily away from hairiness. While shaved legs may not be widespread yet, there’s a lot of guys who feel a need to remove all that back hair, and the mucho hairy chest tends to draw snickers these days, too. Phillips has been marketing a ‘body-groom’ shaver for a couple of years now, from what I hear. So, shaving the legs–or at least trimming it short–isn’t that big of a leap, in reality.

    I’m fairly optimistic that the men’s legwear trend will continue to grow, even if slowly. Us guys are kind of timid when it comes to things like this. Fending off knife-wielding attackers or hunting large game is one thing–but defending ourselves against sarcastic remarks and insults… that takes real courage!

  3. Steve,

    I hope you understand that I am just joking here and not making fun of guys who have legitimate medical issues. Hell, I don’t really care if guys just want to wear them because they feel good or it makes them feel pretty or whatever. And I would never make fun of someone I didn’t know. If my old pal Chuck was wearing them, however, I would give him hell though. In fact, he probably does wear them. It would explain so many things.

    TRO

  4. Hey, man… it’s cool

    No, seriously, I liked the article/comments inserted. It’s OK to poke a little fun at new and unusual things. I just wanted to contribute some stuff to add some insights to this. If you’re going to wear hose, you’d better be ready for a little ribbing, I say.

  5. I’m another of those guys who’ve been wearing pantyhose for about 6 years now. I wear them for legitimate medical issues. I have poor circulation. My doctor recommended wearing women’s hose while sleeping, but I did not like the way they felt while trying to sleep. So, I started wareing them in the day time. I had no bad effects at all. Even with shorts on.

    I drove a truck, and just sitting was real bad for me, so hence the hose. They really helped too. I have a hard time finding hose to fit me due to my big size, and then finding them for comfort as well. (I am not giving up hope though.)

    My doctor told me not to ware knee-hi’s because I have had a blood clot in my legg, and the band would be real bad and cause more clots. He recomended pantyhose to prevent the clots and keep from restricting the flow as well. I have real trouble with swelling too. I have to use them for that, and like I said it is hard to find them to fit me, so they don’t last long.

    I talked to Steve Katz, and he told me that right now, they don’t make them big enough for me. He said they are working on that for a later date. ( I hope they can do it soon )

    When you have a physical condition, you go to the doctor, take medication, get better. What is the difference? You ware them to get better, and it works. If you had to go to the hospital to get better you would do that too, so, suck it up, put them on, and feel better.

  6. I know a few men who wear pantyhose for medical reasons, some that wear them for support and 1 or 2 that just like wearing them. I myself have worn them a few times. I’m a fashion model and have been in several fashion shows and each have been different in how they want to show off thier line of clothing. To get o the point… when modeling dress cloth, there have been times that I had to try on many different pants before the right one was found for the show. I always wear boxer briefs not only because I like the comfort & the not so tight support but I like the look and they were usually the style we were recomended to wear under dress pants. I’m not trying to be perverted or offend anyone but I’m somewhat well endowed and it’s only natural that I show a good bulge in dress pants and in certain styles (plain fronts) & fits I’ll show even more. Boxer briefs do help conceal a man’s package some but a bulge will usually always be present. For me it was never an issue if I was showing more than other guys while walking the runway, it was a plus for some shows & at times we were even told to make sure our bulges were evident when walking. And of course there are times when it’s not appropriate to show a lot or a big bulge. Durring my first 2 years of modeling I had not had to deal with the issue of showing to much bulge in dress pants until 4 months ago. I was in a fashion show were we had to model from underwear to formalwear. Well I was praised for selling the underwear… my big bulge actually helped in making the pairs of underwear look good & show off the fit they were made for. Now when it came to choosing what dress/formal pants I was going to model was a totally different thing & a bit embarrassing for me. They did not want me modeling thier dress/formalwear and looking like I stuffed my boxer briefs, wantting all eyes focused on my big package & not on the fit & style of the pant. They had me try different styles of underwear to see if any would help reduce my bulge but most of the one they had available although were more tight fitting for support & compression had a pouch in the front of some sort or another for the goods to lay in, well having to pack all I have hanging in the pouches only caused my bulge to pop out more and look bigger… the pouches were not made for my package. Anyway, to get to the end & not go into much more detail, one of the other big bulge, male models who was given the only pleated pant so he didn’t show as much… he said that in a few shows that he’s done they made him wear pantyhose for the simple purpose of concealing his bulge, but the result is not achieved just by wearing the fitted pantyhose, although they do compress the male package more than most underwear do the conceal that we were wanting was only achieved when my fellow male model told me that I needed to stuff my penis down either one of my legs and allow the hose to hold it in that position, up aginst my thigh. I’ve used them 5 other times in shows after that and this past winter I used them a few times under jogging pants for more support than what boxer briefs give me…they did stop the bit of bouncing that my underwear didn’t. I have/will only wear them under pants, not shorts & for the sole purpose of providing better support when working out or jogging & depending on the pants I wear & the location/event I’m going to then I’ll use them to help reduce my bulge, which I’ll only do when it’s a formal/business situation…don’t want people thinking crazy and getting offended, anyother time, I don’t worry about the amount of bulging that’s gonna show.


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