A lot of women prepping for their boudoir shoots tell me they have never worn thigh highs. I should mention that it's by no means mandatory to bring these to your shoot if you don't find thigh highs to be your particular brand of sexy. They are however very popular, and many women do choose to purchase a pair for their shoot. It's all fun and games until you realize exactly how many options there are... here's a little guide to your legs' new best friends!
1. TYPE (Stay Up vs. Traditional). This is the most important thing to know when in the market for thigh highs! Any given pair is either of the "stay up" variety which means that it has a silicone band inside the top to keep it up, OR they are the traditional plastic-free variety that require a garter belt.
STAY UPS (most popular)
PROS: These are a great option if you don't want to wear or purchase a garter belt, it's one stop shopping! They also tend to be more useful in "real life" scenarios due to the fact that garter belts can't be worn under tight dresses without showing. They are also much more popular in our modern day hosiery market so you will likely have many more styles to choose from, including different patterns, colors and designs. Eighty percent of my clients bring these into my studio. The nice part, is that even though you don't need one, you can still wear a garter belt for photo purposes!
CONS: This is a big one - they tend to create a bulge. Think: muffin top for your thigh. While we can definitely work around this through a combination of posing, styling, and retouching, if you're self-conscious about your legs looking chubby, you're probably not going to feel very confident in these.
PROS: You can completely avoid the leg "muffin-top" bulge, as these do not squeeze your thighs at all! Garter belts oftentimes prove to be a more secure method of keeping your hose up than the sticky plastic you'll find in modern stay ups, especially depending on the quality (cheaper pairs tend to fall down more frequently).
CONS: They tend to be a little harder to find and with considerably fewer options. The options, however, are usually classic and beautiful (backseam is a hallmark of classic thigh highs, pictured left). You MUST wear a garter belt in order to keep them up, which can limit your clothing options (no tight dresses for you!).
2. PRICE: There are several different brands to fit every style and budget! Here are a few of the most popular....
High end ($50+): For the woman who wants to wear thigh highs on the regular, you truly get what you pay for when it comes to hosiery. These are snag, rip, and tear resistant, and are incredibly luxurious to the touch. It's best to never grace your legs with these sumptuous silks if don't want to pony up $50 or more, because speaking from experience, it's very hard to go back.
- Maison Close
Mid level ($15-30): These are great brands to try out in the $15-30 range because you'll get the quality you want for semi-regular wear without the price tag you can expect from higher end brands. You'll find plenty of different styles and designs to choose from.
Low end ($8-15): Here's a great place to start if you have never worn thigh highs before and suspect you will never wear them again after your shoot. You can find these brands online and in stores like Marshall's, or at most department stores at the mall. These will definitely last the duration of your shoot and likely for a few more wears if you end up deciding you like them (or you start getting requests from your partner...).
3. FIT: It's really important your thigh highs fit properly, so make sure to read the sizing chart provided with whichever brand you are purchasing. If you are between two sizes, try them on or just purchase both - you can always return the ones that don't fit. Too small and your legs will look like sausages in too small a casing (!), too big and they will fall down, driving you insane in the process.
4. COLOR & STYLE: For my boudoir shoots, I really recommend black or nude. Red and white tend to look costumey, so unless you've got your heart set on either, I'd opt for black or whatever nude is for your skin tone. The other styling elements are up to you! Scalloped lace tops are very popular (shown below), you can also find satin top bands if lace is not your thing. I am a fan of both sheer and fishnet materials (sheer on left, fishnet on the right). The other most common styling option you'll see is "backseam" (featured in the Gerbe package above) and is exactly what it sounds like - a seam running up the back of the stocking. It's a very vintage sexy look that will go well with most any outfit - especially something classic (think black dress or bra and panty set with pearls!).
Now you have all the facts! So go forth and find the perfect pair(s) for you! I even have a few emergency back up pairs at my studio - but if you do decide to buy some for your shoot, I'd like you to buy a pair you feel comfortable in and will wear again, If only in the bedroom ;)
[EDITOR'S NOTE: I purchased 3 pairs while researching for this blog post... #workplacehazards]