“The Politics of Pantyhose”

“Corporate dress codes are barometers of the standards of polite society. Between the lines, they also articulate the limits within which power may permissibly intrude on personal space…
In the long run, the customer is always right. And now the customer can increasingly afford not to be one. A woman’s clothes are not simply her own in certain professional settings. As a rule, the more male-­dominated a work environment, the more likely it is expected that women in the ranks will make a gesture toward covering their skirt-­bared legs with fabric as thin as a gesture itself. A friend who is employed by a big bank with a conservative culture (and who declines to identify herself because she would like to remain so) tells us its women are made to understand that they should wear nude hose or black hose or maybe,maybe, opaque black tights in all but the sultriest heat…
The chic woman now inhabits a world in which the exposure of naked shins to the winds of February is quite the opposite of a ghastly mishap. It is a power move, one that indicates the vigor of youth and the muscle tone of Pilates and possibly further implies the brevity of a stroll from a hired car to a reserved table.”
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