A History of Hosiery

A quick overview of the history of hosiery brought to us by The Telegraph. We really enjoyed it and thought that you would too.


Once considered a rare luxury, tights and stockings are now at the forefront of fashion and come in an array of colors and deniers


The Twenties: Super synthetics
Several centuries ago, it was men, not women that donned stockings of the knitted variety, but as men took to breeches and trousers in the 1800s, stockings became the norm for women.

In the Twenties, synthetic yarns transformed the industry, making hosiery sheerer than cotton and cheaper than silk.

The Forties: Nylon mania
The first nylon stockings hit the market in 1940, with a reported 780,000 pairs bought in the US on the first day they went on sale. They featured a seam at the rear and were commonly referred to as “nylons”.


Wartime Britain: Nylons no more
Nylon stockings were rationed during Second World War, when the flexible fibre was reallocated to the production of essential parachutes, ropes and tyres. Some women would paint seams on their legs to make it look like they were wearing them.

Fishnets in the Fifties
Fishnets had been around since the early Thirties but were mainly worn by performers such as Ava Gardner (pictured) to accentuate muscle definition on stage and in publicity photographs. Fishnets are still as popular with performing artists today, such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga.


All hail Lycra
In the Fifties, Du Pont invented Lycra and discovered that it could add stretch to nylon. This dramatically improved the fit and comfort of hosiery and helped introduce seam-free stockings to the market.

No-suspender Sixties
In 1967, British brand Pretty Polly brings hold-ups to the market, doing away with suspender belts and the unsightly bulges they created. This launch helped turn the brand into the number-one hosiery label in the UK.

Swinging Sixties and the launch of tights
The most revolutionary launch of the Sixties, however, was the advent of one-piece tights as we know them today. With the trend for hemlines creeping higher and higher, model Twiggy and her peers needed a product that worked in harmony with their Mary Quant miniskirts.


Flower Power
By the Seventies, tights could be used as a form of self-expression. Whether they were patterned, printed with flowers and diamonds or displaying a riotous use of colour, everyone from Littlewoods to Givenchy was experimenting with motifs and colourways.

Punks in tights
Fishnets enjoyed a resurgence in the late Seventies and Eighties as the tights style of choice for punk rockers. Often heavily ripped, fishnets became synonymous with the tribe.


Opaques for the Noughties
As with every aspect of fashion, tights are subject to the whims of passing trends. The Noughties was arguably dominated by thick black opaques, which was seen as the more modern and flattering alternative to low-denier styles. Opaques got bonus points for being warm and durable, too.

The mock suspenders
The 2000’s brought the sexy suspenders back into the spotlight, and trend that Erica M. was quick to pick up on. But these were of the trompe-l’oeil variety, allowing for the look without all the pieces. Affordable and loved by celebrities such as Lily Allen, they’re an accessible and sexy addition to any outfit.



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