Part Nine: Hosiery
To quote my dear friend Jessica, “I don’t wear socks. I wear hosiery, thank you very much.” Indeed, there is a big difference between your run-of-the-mill athletic socks and fine stockings, although technically speaking, the term does encompass any covering for the foot/ankle/leg. But “hosiery” certainly calls to mind a finer form of legware. I wouldn’t dare insult our vintage silk knit thigh-highs by calling them mere “socks.” To complicate matters, the British lump all undergarments into the category of hosiery. There does seem to be a bit of confusion surrounding the terminology, so I thought I’d clarify a few things for anyone who needs help…
Denier: Thickness of the fiber, which determines the level of opacity; the lower the number, the more sheer the stocking.
Fishnets: Stockings made with an open-structured knit pattern resembling a fisherman’s net.
Knee-Highs: Socks that come up to just below the knee, typically comprised of some nylon or spandex to keep them from slipping down the leg.
Nylons/Pantyhose: Sheer, tight-fitting garment covering the body from the waist to the feet, made from some combination of lycra, spandex, microfiber, or nylon (Invented by DuPont in 1935.)
Seamed Stockings: Vintage thigh-highs that were knitted flat then sewn up the back, usually ending in a french or cuban heel, resulting in that sexy seam that is synonymous with pin-up girls. (also referred to as “Fully Fashioned.”)
Thigh-Highs: Stockings that cover the entire leg (see above photo); may or may not need to be attached to a garter belt at the thigh, depending upon their elasticity. Click here for more info on Garters.
Tights: Opaque, or semi-opaque, tight-fitting garment covering the body from the waist to the feet.