Hosiery describes tight-fitting garments worn directly on the feet and legs.
Most are made by knitting methods. Modern hosiery is usually tight-fitting by
virtue of stretchy fabrics and meshes. Older forms include binding to achieve a
tight fit. Due to its close fit, most hosiery can be worn as an undergarment,
but it is more commonly worn as a combined under/outer garment.
Hold-ups or Stay-ups (also referred to as Thigh Highs) are stockings with a band
of silicone and elastic sewn to the top. This ensures that the stockings stay in
place when worn. With hold-ups the wearer doesn't need a garter belt.
A stocking is a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and
lower part of the leg. By analogy, the term is also used to describe a type of
horse marking in which the white coloring extends from the horse's hoof to just
above the knee.
The popularity of stockings increases and decreases with fashion. It was
formerly made of woven cloth but now of knitted wool, silk, cotton or nylon (see
hosiery). The word stock used to refer to the bottom "stump" part of the body,
and by analogy the word was used to refer to the one-piece covering of the lower
trunk and limbs of the 1400s—essentially tights consisting of the upper-stocks
(later to be worn separately as knee breeches) and nether-stocks (later to be
worn separately as stockings). (See Hose.)
Half-stockings, covering the foot and part of the calf only, are commonly called
socks. This word is an adaptation of Latin soccus, a slipper or light shoe. It
was the shoe worn by the actors in Roman comedy—and so was used symbolically of
comedy, as buskin, the high boot, was of tragedy.
In modern usage, stocking specifically refers to the form of women's hosiery
configured as two pieces, one for each leg. The term hold-ups refers to
stockings that stay up on their own, while the word stockings is the general
term or refers to the kind of stockings that need a suspender belt (garter belt,
in Am English), and are quite distinct from tights or pantyhose (Am English).
Thigh highs are often perceived as preferable to pantyhose for various reasons,
* Aesthetics — garters, lace, top fashion, applique, exposure of the thigh,
complexity (though it is possible to make tights with fake stocking tops near
the top of the legs)
* Easier and quicker access to the genital area — enhances sexual spontaneity
* Message — as more detail is involved, a perception of erotic intent is raised
* Health and cleanliness — less sweat, more ventilation; reduction of fungal and
* Personal convenience — it is considerably easier and quicker to go to the
toilet while wearing stockings
Stockings and hosiery are worn primarily by women, although they are also
sometimes worn by men (see cross-dressing).
Stockings are typically supported in one of three ways. The most common way is
to wear a garter belt (known as a suspender belt in Britain) that goes around
the waist and drops extensions (known as suspenders or sussies in England) that
are clipped to the tops of the stockings. The second most common means of
support is via 'stay-up' technology, where the inside of the top of the
stockings has added to it a band (typically silicone) of elastic but highly
tractive material that resists slipping down the thigh. This is considerably
less reliable in the sense of assuring that the stockings do not fall down, and
depends a great deal on the geometry of the actual leg. Further, the elastic can
be uncomfortably tight, leaving red marks and possibly aggravating varicose
veins. The least common means of support is the circular elastic garter that is
slipped up over the top of the stocking and which is intended to hold the
stocking by essentially clamping it to the leg. These are the garters typically
seen at weddings. They have much the same disadvantages as 'stay-ups'.
In circumstances where the tops of the stockings are visible, some people prefer
the look of suspenders. Others feel that hold-ups (aka stay-ups) have less
distortion of the top band, an important aesthetic consideration if this band is
The most convenient (and presently fashionable) way to wear stockings is to wear
panties over the stockings and garters. If the panties are reasonably full, this
pins the garters to the body, which makes it less obvious exactly what is being
worn. (This may be desirable to imbue a sense of mystery.) It also enhances
convenience, as going to the bathroom or getting involved in erotic play simply
involves pulling down the panties rather than going through all the steps
required to detach the garters and re-attach them after the moment has passed.
Some do choose to wear panties underneath instead, and it is ultimately a matter
Main article: pantyhose
In 1959, pantyhose were invented by Allen Grant, Sr. These consist of both leg
coverings woven together with a panty or girdle configured upper section that
serves to obviate the entire issue of garters and garter belts. The primary
benefit of pantyhose is the convenience of not having to adjust them as much,
and the fact that they leave a smoother line under close-fitting clothing. In
the United Kingdom, the same garment goes by the name of tights or occasionally
pantihose (with a slightly different spelling).
Most women find pantyhose or tights far more convenient than stockings. This has
led to a sharp decline in stocking wearing, especially since the 1960s, when
women started wearing miniskirts; indeed, nowadays stockings are more often worn
for their erotic virtues. The invention of hold-ups has led lots of women to
wear stockings again. Thus the number of women who wear stockings instead of
tights is slightly increasing every year.
* Cuban heel - A stocking with a heel made with folded over and sewn
* Demi-toe - Stockings which have a reinforced toe with half the coverage on top
as on the bottom. This results in a reinforcement that covers only the tip of
the toes as opposed to the whole toe. These can be with or without a reinforced
* Denier - The lower the denier number the sheerer the garment. Stockings
knitted with a higher denier tend to be less sheer but more durable.
* Fishnet - Knitted stockings with a very wide open knit resembling a fish net.
* Fencenet - Similar to fishnet, but with a much wider pattern. These are
sometimes worn over another pair of stockings or pantyhose, such as matte or
opaque, with a contrasting colour.
* Full-Fashioned - Full-fashioned stockings are knitted flat, the material is
then cut and the two sides are then united by a seam up the back. Full-fashioned
stockings were the most popular style until the 1960s.
* Hold-ups or Stay-ups - Stockings that are held up by sewn-in elasticated bands
(quite often a wide lace top band).
* Matte - Stockings which have a dull or non-lustre finish.
* Mock seam - A false seam sewn into the back of a seamless stocking.
* Nude heel - Stockings without reinforcement in the heel area.
* Opaque - Stockings made of yarn which give them a heavier appearance (usually
40 denier or greater).
* RHT - Abbreviation of reinforced heel and toe.
* Open-toed - Stockings that stop at the base of the toe with a piece that goes
between the first and second toes to hold them down. They can be worn with some
open-toed shoes, especially to show off pedicured toes.
* Sandalfoot - Stockings with a nude toe, meaning no heavier yarn in the toe
than is in the leg.
* Seamed - Stockings manufactured in the old Full-Fashioned manner with a seam
running up the back of the leg. In the past they were manufactured by cutting
the fabric and then sewing it together. Today stockings are generally fully
knitted and a fake or mock seam is added up the back for a particular fashion
* Seamless - Stockings knit in one operation on circular machines (one
continuous operation) so that no seaming is required up the back.
* Sheers - Stockings generally of a 15 to 20 denier.
* Knee-Highs - Stockings that terminate at or just barely below the knee.
* Thigh-Highs - Stockings that terminate somewhere in the mid-thigh.
* Ultra Sheer - A fine denier fiber which gives the ultimate in sheerness.
Usually 10 denier.
* Welt - A fabric knitted separately and machine-sewn to the top of a stocking.
Knit in a heavier denier yarn and folded double to give strength for supporter