Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Quick and Dirty Guide to Vintage Hosiery

It's finally starting to feel like fall here in New York, which means I can no longer stand the cold wind on my bare legs. That means I'm digging into my big collection of tights, thigh highs and stockings to stay warm under my clothes. Most of my hosiery is modern but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to choose from or get inspired by when it comes to the vintage stuff. But first, a breakdown of the different types of hosiery:
Lili St. Cyr lets you pick all kinds of sexy pieces via

Thigh highs (also called hold-ups or stay-ups) come up to the thigh and stay up with the help of a silicon band. You don't wear a garter belt with this style, and you have to be careful not to lotion where the band will sit, otherwise they won't stay up. Thigh highs were first used in the 60s.

Colors! via

Pantyhose or tights are the ones that go all the way up like pants. With skirts getting shorter and shorter, women in the 60s starting wearing these a lot more than stockings. The colors got really fun then, which I love.

Anatomy of a stocking via

And last but not least, stockings. This is where it all started. You need a garter belt for these. In the 20s, women scandalized their elders by wearing sheer silk stockings that drew attention to their legs. They had people wondering, "OMG, are her legs bare?" Scandalous, indeed. In 1939, nylon was introduced at the World's Fair, making stockings cheaper and more delicate. In the late 30s and into the 40s, fully-fashioned stockings had the seams because they had to be closed in the back. In the late 40s and into the 50s, manufacturers were able to make them on round needles and make the parts that received the most stress stronger. That was the birth of the reinforced heel and toe (RHT) stocking. A lot of stockings you find today have a seam but aren't full fashioned, meaning the seam is just for decoration, not for actually putting the stocking together.


The different types of heels on seamed or fully fashioned stockings via

I love that even before the 60s, it wasn't all about plain nude hosiery. Even with just an embellished heel, there's so much added visual interest, making you quite a sight when you're walking away.

I was shocked to even seen an ad for polka dot stockings. I will definitely be looking for some this season.

There's so much inspiration out there when it comes to fun things to wear under skirts and dresses. What are your favorite hosiery patterns? Desiree runs the vintage fashion and lifestyle blog Pop-o-matic Deluxe. She tweets at @itsdlovely. Stop by and say hello!.

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