When I am getting dressed to go out, I arrange each leg of pantyhose by bunching it up into accordion layers before slipping my foot into the gossamer hole. Pantyhose wind up as tight as an elastic around my waist, and like an iron-hot suction up against my crotch. While I am definitely in awe of that sheer and immaculate curve from my heel to my hip, the gusset is, admittedly, the most uncomfortable part of wearing hose.
The gusset is the insert in pantyhose, the “panty” at the top of the thighs — a diamond-shaped, two-by-two cotton patch that protects and obscures the crotch of the wearer. If you catch a glimpse beneath the skirt of a tights-wearing woman, you can discern that thick-weave, opaque pad that sits in contrast to the filmy-smooth way her thighs shine. The gusset is the bull’s eye of pantyhose, where a woman’s crotch gets flattened and stopped.
The thrill of seeing up a woman’s skirt, called the “upskirt” in erotic imagery, can be the very thrill of trying to demystify the gusset, that is, fathoming the form and ultimately the essence of what is behind this tiny, equilateral panty. Surrounded by nylon-clad thighs, the gusset is the dark, privileged centre of all women’s hosiery — from the glossiest, sheerest designer nudes to the run-prone, control top, no-name tan hose.
Since they were manufactured in the early ’60s to replace the elaborate stocking and garter, pantyhose have evolved as a part of the standard professional and “evening out” dress code for women. So silky and harmless before they go on, these taut, nude sheaths that swish under a skirt speak of the timeless female effort of dressing up to be admired.
It remains difficult for me, however, to get much pleasure from the delicate and feminine way a pair of pantyhose enhances my legs when all I can feel is my crotch suffocating. I suppose this is what turns the eroticism of wearing pantyhose for me a bit more violent. Instead of peeling them off at the end of the night and slipping them, limp, back into my dresser, I crave to hear that nylon split open and running. Standing tall, my skirt off, in diaphanous hose, I’ll admire the seam that leads straight to the gusset. I want that extra-thick diamond ripped open by force to reveal what is needy and hot underneath.