There’s a lot wrong with women’s fashion, but torn stockings rank pretty high on the list of annoying quirks I’ve just learned to shut up and deal with. Seriously, anything will tear pantyhose. Is your toenail hideously long? Tear. Did you walk too close to a sharp table edge? Giant hole in your thigh. Did you simply sit down with too much gusto? Prepare for your stockings to split at your giblets. Were you lazy and decided to stick your one good pair in the washer instead of washing it by hand? Goodbye pantyhose!
So when Sheertex emailed me before CES to say they had unbreakable pantyhose made from the same fibres as bulletproof vests, I was intrigued. Despite the $US99 ($138) price tag, I’d be willing to shell out if it meant I could stop wasting money on the $US5 ($7) two packs at the drugstore. While cheap, they’re essentially disposable and you’ve got a 50-50 chance of one of them tearing as soon as you open the package. Over a year, I probably end up spending about $US100 ($139) on pantyhose anyway.
To my surprise, Sheertex actually lived up to its promise. The fabric felt thick and sturdy to the touch, yet sheer when actually worn. I stuck my entire arm in one leg, tried to rip it apart with my pointy, unmanicured claws, and even stuck it through a zipper to see if it’d snag. Nada. Even when I thought the fibres were about to finally give way and stretch apart, it turned out I almost broke my nail instead. And with the zipper test, I was shocked to see that you could just massage the warped fabric back to its original shape.
For comparison, I tried ripping apart a normal pair of pantyhose. It was laughably easy. The $US20 ($28) department store pair disintegrated when I poked it with my nail and completely ripped apart when I pulled. Gizmodo video producer Eleanor Fye tried a “stomp” test—that’s when you put on the nylons and really pull—and the Sheertex did not rip. The regular pantyhose, however, tore to shreds with minimal pressure.
Full disclosure, if you use scissors or a knife, the Sheertex will eventually break. Just not without a fight and multiple tries—which is pretty impressive for a piece of clothing. As for longevity, Sheertex told me one pair is estimated to last up to ten times longer than competitors. Which, at the very minimum, means you can wear it at least 10 times before needing to replace it. I have never in thirty years of living on this green Earth owned a pair of pantyhose that lasted ten wears.
And while it isn’t necessarily the flashiest innovation—you can’t really tell the Sheertex from regular nylons at a glance—it is pretty cool when you think about potential applications. Lightweight yet tear-resistant fabrics could be useful in improving a wide range of products beyond fashion, including you know, inventing an actual superhero cape. Or more practically speaking, in things like parachutes, emergency worker uniforms, or sails.
But for now, I’d settle for throwing out all my hole-y, ripped stockings.