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What's the history of hosiery?

We've all heard the stories from the Second World War, there was a silk shortage and stockings were a luxury item that seemed just a little bit too luxurious, as such women of the time would stain their legs with gravy browning and use eyeliner to draw the seams on their legs.

Can you imagine all those women hitting the dance floor vaguely smelling of roast dinners? Fortunately, it was long before Nylon came on the scene, but have you ever wondered what the history of stockings is?

History of Stockings Before 20th Century

If you want to go right back, stockings weren't just worn by women, both men and women wore hosiery out and about, what's more if you went as far back as the 14th and 15th century you'd only find stockings on men, with women opting for the more natural approach.

It's interesting to have a look at the etimonolgy of the work stock, which refered to the lower half of the body. The stockings of the earlier periods were thicker than the ones women are used to now and being made of cloth rather than silk or Nylon they were designed to keep the wearer's legs warm. It was only later that stockings started to be made from other materials including wool, cotton and silk, however even then, it was still an item of clothing largely worn by blokes!

Before the 20th century women wore stocking for warmth in the same way that men would have done, however around the turn of the century saw women's hemlines getting shorter and women wore stockings no longer purely for warmth but also to cover the exposed parts of their legs, such as their ankles!

Originally stockings were made from traditionally available materials such as silk, however it wasn't far into the 20th Century before new materials where being introduced into the mix, it was in 1935 that Nylon was invented which pretty much changed the future of hosiery forever!

The History of Pantyhose

It's easy to confuse stockings with pantyhose, or what we call tights in the UK, pantyhose became popular in the 1960s and are one single garment, often made of nylon.

Pantyhose are still a popular choice, however more and more they are seen as the leg covering of our parents or grandparents generation, with more youngster taking the time to experiment with stockings and suspenders.

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