Maven Moment: Reuse Ideas for Old Pantyhose & Stockings

girl with torn pantyhose standing in green grasse

Years ago, pantyhose or stockings were must-haves for a working woman’s wardrobe. No professional woman would consider going to work without wearing them. Even today, pantyhose and knee-high stockings make an outfit look finished and professional.

And knee-high stockings are so comfortable to wear with slacks. I accumulated quite a collection of them to wear with my cute flats. But recently, the lab where I work has mandated that we wear safety shoes, so I don’t wear my flats as often and I don’t need very many pairs of knee-highs or pantyhose. I save a pair of pantyhose in case I need to wear a dress. As for the knee-highs, I keep about 10 of the best pairs for when I can wear my casual shoes.

But what do I do with all the extras?

I can wear an extra set of pantyhose under slacks in a chilly office, even if it has a run in it. My great aunt in Italy actually sews up the runs in her stockings and wears them beneath pants in just this way — especially for her pricey support hose. I just cut the toe and heel out of an old pair to make a stirrup foot. Worn under socks in my boots, they provide a bit of warmth without the bulk of thermal underwear when it’s cold outside.

What can you do with the single mismatched knee-highs? You can wear them inside of boots (they don’t have to be the same color if they don’t show). Or you can do this old trick used by runners: Wear them under socks to reduce friction on your feet when you walk long distances or run.

Another thrifty reuse idea comes from my mother-in-law’s aunts. During World War II, when stockings weren’t the cheap items that they are today, they seeped mismatched singles in cool tea to dye them the same shade. Worth a try for single stockings! Or maybe consider making future stocking purchases in the same neutral tone to eliminate this problem and reduce waste.

What do you do with the nylons that have a run in them or a ripped toe? One of my favorite uses for them is to organize pairs of gloves and mittens. I can just grab a bundle on a cold morning and be sure that I have a matched set. I also like to use a single knee-high as a headband when I condition my hair (it would be good for when you dye your hair, also!).

Here are some more reuse ideas:

  • Make sachets to freshen drawers and closets by filling the toe or pieces of old nylons with potpourri or cedar shavings – or even coffee grounds.
  • Stuff a pantyhose leg with fabric or packing material and place it by a door as a draft stopper.
  • Use the legs of the stocking to tie up plants in your garden.
  • They’re also useful in DIY projects like making wool dryer balls or homemade paper.

With these and so many more reuse ideas available online, we can save money and reduce waste by extending the use of old pantyhose, stockings, knee-highs, and so much more.

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Joanna Lacey

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