In defense of the fishnet tight
In a Midwestern climate that brings so many to shamelessly wear cargo shorts with a dozen pockets, why do people still rag on the indispensable layering staple that is the fishnet stocking?
Imagine if you will: you’re in a concessions area where the only seating options are plastic chairs that have been sitting in the summer sun all day.
Those who dare to emit pure Dad energy in their knee-length shorts of many pockets – do you dare to sit down? That chair is probably hot. Do you worry about how long you can sit there and still get up gracefully?
No, probably not.
That’s why I’m here: to fight for my right to wear cute shorts without sticking to my seat, writing in defense of fishnets. They’re the tried and true prevention against having to peel oneself off of summer seating without looking like you just stepped out of Abercrombie & Fitch in ‘97.
You see, just this past April, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden received a lot of flack online about donning fishnet-esque patterned tights while returning from a trip to California. But, it’s not like Madonna invented fishnet in ’83 to shine on your heavenly body tonight. Sure, they do look hot on a night out, but they’re practically a historical garment. They’ve been popular since the early 1900s!
Far earlier, around the time the pyramids were built in Ancient Egypt, the Westcar Papyrus was penned with history’s earliest reference to fishnets as a garment. It tells the tale of the turquoise pendant, in which the pharaoh Snefuru sets sail with twenty beautiful women dressed in only fishnets. Sounds like a pretty good-looking girl gang, if you ask me.
The earliest modern reference to being clothed in fishnet was in “The Peasant’s Wise Daughter,” a German fable published by the Brothers Grimm in 1846. In it, the king challenges the peasant’s daughter with a riddle: “Come to me not clothed, not naked, not riding, not walking, not in the road, and not off the road, and if you can do that I will marry you.”
The peasant daughter ends up freeing her father from prison and becoming queen by stripping down, wrapping herself in a fisherman’s net, tying the net to a donkey’s tail and having the donkey drag her through the rut of the road, “so that she only touched the ground with her big toe, and that was neither being in the road or off the road.”
These are not my plans for wearing fishnets this summer.
But, this story was a predecessor to fishnet hosiery’s rise to popularity in the 1920s, when showgirls and flappers at the height of fashion wore them not only because of the appealing look but also because of the flexibility the garment afforded them.
Even today, the reason why one would want to wear fishnets with their summer outfit instead of full stockings or tights is not only because fishnet is more breathable, but also because you can move around much easier without worrying about rips or snags.
Fishnet stockings continued their prevalence in midcentury America, thanks to pinup models like Bettie Page and fashion icons like Marilyn Monroe. They became a hallmark of punk and counterculture styles in the seventies and eighties, with punks tearing big holes in their fishnets and huge stars like Madonna bringing ballroom culture into the limelight.
Everyone so mad about Jill Biden’s fishnet stockings: 1) they are not fishnets. Here is Marilyn wearing fishnets. @FLOTUS was wearing patterned stockings that looked great. 2) I like a beautiful First Lady with a PhD who loves her husband, personally. pic.twitter.com/NP7d82YGdY— Anne Margaret Daniel (@venetianblonde) April 5, 2021
Nowadays, fishnets come in all different cuts and colors of stockings, as well as shirts, bodysuits and other forms of clothing. They are a staple in American fashion and are popular worldwide.
So why, in plenty of circles, is it uncouth for me to wear fishnets under my shorts or skirts? Sure, the backs of my legs may look like a honey-glazed ham once I take them off, but these bad boys are my last line of defense between my legs, sweat, and chair creating a literal vacuum that I have to pry myself out of once I’m done inhaling a walking taco.
Plus, they look great. And that’s a major win in my book.