Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Compression sock chic: Part 3

Tuesday: Sad Schoolteacher

I told you at the beginning that I'd be wearing compression stockings for 7 days. But if you're counting, you will have realized that today is day 8, and I'm still going strong. The reason is that my appointments were in the afternoon, so I actually had to wear my compression stocking outfits for 7 full days and 1 half day. Today was the half day, and it was half in every sense of the word. I only wore a stocking on my right leg, meaning that I'd have to do another outfit of full leg coverage. I've been wanting to wear this yellow midi skirt ever since I bought it at the thrift store (3$) about a month ago, so I designed my outfit around it, choosing brown knee-high boots to ensure my legs didn't show, and a brown blouse. Overall, I'm not thrilled with the look, feeling it makes me look frumpy, but I guess we can't win 'em all when we're forced to wear compression stockings!

Still, I have to give my compression stockings props for being actually more comfortable than I thought! I couldn't bend my legs in them. They made sitting uncomfortable. All week, I felt confined in them and looked forward to the day I could go without them. But then, when I did, I started noticing how much my leg hurt. The site on my calf where they inserted the laser feels stingy and tingly. My upper thigh feels bruised and achy. I never noticed this pain when I was wearing the stockings, and indeed, the right leg which is still socked up feels just like it has all week: a little stiff, and pinched where the stocking gets wrinkled at the back of my knee, but not at all sore. I've also been suffering from a particularly bad case of eczema on my legs all winter, but the entire time I wore the compression stockings, my legs never itched. The first day I went without one, an instantly itchy leg! So I learned a valuable fact about compression stockings today: They definitely keep pain from the procedure under control, and they might even be beneficial for eczema sufferers!

Actually, I learned a lot of valuable facts about compression stockings over the past week. And, in the interest of being a font of information for other fashionistas who may be contemplating a vein treatment, I will share them!

Compression Stocking Style Tips

  1. Putting on your compression stockings is the hardest thing you will do all day. They cling to your legs like a second, very slippery, skin. You will have to use all your dexterity and a good bit of strength to get a grip on the fabric, and then you will have to do it multiple times as you work them slowly up your leg. And if you happen to misjudge the position of the heel cup, you'll have to pull them all off and start over. And if you happen to put them on inside out (twice in a row on Monday, OMG!), you'll have to pull them off and start over. If you're going to be wearing them as part of a recovery, practice putting them on before your legs are all sore and covered with band-aids. 
  2. Compression-sock muffin-top is real! If you have any extra flesh on your thighs, it's going to bulge out at the top like a balloon. Don't expect to wear any short skirts or tight leggings while your compression stockings are on.
  3. You can mitigate your muffin top by pulling up your compression stockings lower than you ordinarily would. But be warned, if they are loose, they'll wrinkle...and wrinkles at that degree of tightness hurt!
  4. You could also mitigate the muffin top by wearing waist-high compression tights (I assume), but I advise against it (scroll down to read a slightly digressive story on the relative merits of pantyhose and thigh highs). Sure, the stockings limit you more in what you can wear, but the convenience factor makes it well worth it. Whether it's the surgical-grade silicone they have dotting the top, or the boa-constrictor tightness, compression stockings stay up all day, and you'll never have to pull them off to go pee and then fight them back on again.
  5. Unless you're a masochist or really fond of peep-toe boots, don't get toeless compression socks. I did some reading on the subject; aside from a few cases where doctors want to be able to check the circulation in the wearer's toes, the only reason some compression socks lack toes is because some people prefer them that way—and I can't imagine why. It is a truly unpleasant feeling to have half your foot neatly encased in a sock, while the other half slides around sweatily in your shoe. The open toes also mean that they ride up your foot, looking mighty dumb on shoes with a low vamp. I almost always had to double-up my toeless socks with a pair of regular socks, which seems like overkill when the compression socks are so thick already.
Toeless socks not looking great in my shoes

A related (but not very) story

For those of you who have not experienced this particular joy of femininity, wearing pantyhose involves a tedious process of slowly hitching a tissue-thin veil of tight fabric over your legs, all the way to your waist, taking excruciating care not to pull too hard, lest you rip it. Now imagine doing this multiple times a day, every time you use the bathroom, and you will understand why pantyhose has gone out of vogue.

But when you're required to wear it to meet a dress code, you do what any sensible woman would do: complain. In college, I sang in a choir, and I remember being involved in a discussion of how annoying it was that we had to wear pantyhose. And one of my choir-mates, with a boisterous air of authority, offered us a solution: "Thigh-highs." I was struck by her wisdom, and for many years afterward, tried to make thigh-high pantyhose my leg covering of choice.

It never worked; the things were always falling down. I remember distinctly scurrying into a job interview, already running late, but having to stop at the bathroom to reposition my errant stockings. At that point, I vowed never to wear thigh highs again. Of course, I did just that when over-the-knee socks came into fashion, and have been struggling ever since to find ways to keep them from falling down, but fortunately, compression stockings are not like ordinary stockings.


  1. It took me 2 days to realize this comment was a statement on my use of the word "font" and not a criticism of my typography choices!