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$500 socks? High-end hosiery has holes

Hosiery is finally receiving the luxury treatment to which its intimate siblings — bras, underwear and lingerie — have grown accustomed. Don’t be surprised if you come across pantyhose that cost nearly 100 times more than your average drugstore pair.
/ Source: TODAY

If you’re looking to buy Christmas stockings, you might want to skip over Rodarte — the high-end fashion label unveiled $500 hand-crocheted socks that are literally full of holes. Made of multicolored angora goat mohair, the delicate items are “spot-dry only,” which means you can’t wash them along with your regular athletic socks.

“I don’t know who’s spending that kind of money of socks,” said host Hoda Kotb during Tuesday’s TODAY.

“Donald Trump,” responded co-host Kathie Lee Gifford.

Rodarte isn’t the first label to mark up women’s hosiery: Stella McCartney sells $625 lace knit tights; Rick Owens’ merino wool-blend footless tights fetch $870, and Oscar de la Renta’s cashmere silk tights go for a whopping $990. Hosiery, it seems, is finally receiving the luxury treatment to which its intimate siblings — bras, underwear and lingerie — have grown accustomed. Don’t be surprised if you come across pantyhose that cost nearly 100 times more than your average drugstore pair, which generally range from $4 to $15.

“With any trend, you can be sure creative minds will explore the limits of luxury and a specific woman willing to splurge,” said TODAY style editor Bobbie Thomas. “However, the average American woman may not consider something so delicate with a short life span an ‘investment’ item.”

It helps that stockings snagged a moment on the fall fashion week 2010 runways. Several heavyweights pushed their pantyhose lines, with everything from colorful socks to luxury-material stockings: Anna Sui debuted her new line of whimsical printed hosiery, Rebecca Taylor released Crystallized-Swarovski embellished tights, and fashion darling Alexander Wang featured models in slinky leg warmers. Designer Abigail Lorick took it one step further by styling sheer tights over models’ ankle socks and shoes.

But while quirky designer hosiery might be in style for chic fashion circles, will it take off for the everyday shopper? What was once a rightful component of a secretary or CEO’s uniform is now simply a matter of ceremony. It may have been a workplace staple in the ’70s and ’80s, but today it’s more of a mere accessory for working women.

In fact, just last year, first lady Michelle Obama declared pantyhose a has-been necessity. “I stopped wearing pantyhose a long time ago because it was painful,” she said during a 2009 taping of “The View.” “Put ’em on, rip ’em — it’s inconvenient.”

But as always with fashion, everything that goes “out” eventually comes back “in.” Perhaps hosiery is simply making a more extravagant, pricier return.

“Women want men, careers, money, children, friends, luxury, comfort, independence, freedom, respect, love, and a three-dollar pantyhose that won't run,” comedian Phyllis Diller once mused. But if women do indeed want to have it all, they might need to pony up a bit more cash.