Hosiery Basics & FAQ
What do all the different hosiery terms mean?
Pantyhose: are sheer, close-fitting legwear, covering the body from the waist to the feet.
Stockings: are a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg.
Thigh Highs: very similar to stockings except thigh highs typically have two silicone bands found on the inside which keep them up without a garter belt.
Tights: are a snug stretchable garment covering the body from the waist down.
Leggings: are similar to tights except they do not have feet, you can find ankle length or capri length leggings.
Welt: A welt refers to the top portion of the stockings or thigh highs, welts come in all different styles; plain knit, lace, diamond, triple band, decorative and more.
Garter belts are lingerie worn to keep up stockings. Most common garter belts are 4 strap garters. Six strap garter belts usually hold up traditional nylon stockings more securely without bagging and for longer periods of time, especially if they are seamed. The six straps keep your seams straight!
Fully Fashioned: are non-stretch and knit to fit.
They are knit flat and seamed up the back. Fully fashioned stockings can have either a Cuban Heel (squared off at the top), or French Heel (pointed at the top), and all have a keyhole opening in the back. Fully fashioned stockings are made on original 1950's machines and are truly perfect reproductions of hosiery from that era. Our Marissa seamed stockings are a perfect example of a traditional fully fashioned stocking. Since fully-fashioned stockings are a difficult and time consuming to manufacture, they are usually more expensive, but we think they are worth it! Authentic full fashioned stockings are pure nylon and non-stretch.We have seamed stockings that are not full fashioned with a faux seam that have Lycra knit in for stretch if desired.
Seamed: Hosiery 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 look.
Opaque: Hosiery that is made of yarn which gives them a heavier appearance on the leg. (usually 40 denier or greater is considered opaque)
Sheer: Hosiery that is completely see through. (usually a 7 to 30 denier)
Sandalfoot: These have a sheer heel and toe so you can wear them with open toe or back shoes.
Reinforced Heel and Toe: more commonly referred to as RHT, this is vintage style hosiery and has darkened /reinforeed knitting on the heel and toe.
Microfiber: is nylon yarn that is finely chopped and re-spun for a soft, matte finish.
Lycra: is elastic fiber that is knit in Legwear and hosiery to increase clingability and wear.
Fishnets: Hosiery knitted with a very wide open knit resembling a fish net.
What is the difference?
Stretch Stockings vs Nylon Stockings: Stretch stockings are made with a blend of Nylon and Lycra while Nylon stockings are made of 100% nylon. Stertch stockings with Lycra tend to look smaller when removed from the package, but will stretch to fit. Pure Nylon vintage style stockings fit much differently then stretch stockings. Traditional vintage style stockings such as our Trisha nylon stockings or our vintage Hanes style rht stockings look very long when removed from the packages, but are much shorter when put on. Please inquire if you have a size question, we are happy to help.
Sheer vs Opaque: Opaque hosiery is heavier and less transparent. Our opaque stockings are 50 denier, which is generally the lowest that opaque hosiery can be. As the denier number rises, so does the opacity. So 100 denier microfiber or Lycra tights would be very opaque. 40 denier would be semi-opaque.
What is denier?
This is an measurement for knitting yarn which equals 5 centigrams per meter of yarn. The weight of the denier is obtained by weighing 450 meters of thread of nylon, silk or rayon. If 450 meters weighs 5 grams, the thread is called a 100 denier thread. The base of 450 meters being the standard measure, the weight of the thread will determine its caliber. The lighter the thread (the less number of deniers) the finer the weave. A 15 denier yarn is twice as fine as 30 denier yarn. The most popular denier for day/evening is still 15 denier, 30 denier has been popularized as "business sheer", 70d as "service sheer". "ultra sheer" or "evening dress sheer" stockings can be 15d, 12d or 10d. The sheerest practical denier is 7d, which is so wispy sheer that it literally disappears on the leg!
What is denier count?
Stockings and pantyhose come in various fabrics such as pure nylon, nylon/lycra blends, polyester, viscose, wool mix, lace, etc. But to know its level of transparency, the denier count is important. Denier is a French term which is a calculation of the thickness of the thread. A stocking with a 10-20 denier has transparency aspects. While a stocking knitted with a higher denier i.e. 20 or more, will be less sheer and usually more durable. 40 denier stockings or tights are opaque.
What is gauge?
There is much confusion about the meaning of "gauge" in the determination of stocking quality and sheerness. Gauge is an English unit of measure. It is a characteristic of rectilinear knitting machines. It corresponds to the number of needles in a 38-millimeter section of the knitting bed, circular or flat. A 60 gauge knitting machine has 60 needles to a 38 mm section. It is obvious that, the more needles you have in this standard invariable 38 mm section, the finer the needles must be, and the tighter the weave. The monofilament or flat pure nylon thread of 15 deniers was the thread most widely used in the knitting of fine stockings.
The two most common gauges in fully-fashioned knitting were 51g and 60g. 60 gauge stockings have smoother, denser look and feel and are highly prized! 51 gauge stockings were easier to knit as the machines had fewer needles and ran more efficiently than the 60 gauge. These stockings were still highly desirable, but were slightly less expensive, and used for "fashion" and popular priced stockings.
What are the different types of knits?
Regular flat knit: This is the original knit made on all stockings until 1945. It is a smooth stitch that is silky and soft to the touch. It has a wonderful shine and is the premier knitting technique of the era.
Kant run: This knit was developed to help prevent runs in the stockings. It is a lock-stitch and has a slightly rougher texture.
Micromesh: This stitch was developed to create a matte finish on the stocking that was very popular during the 60's. It is soft and smooth, but not as silky as regular flat knit.
Pebble mesh: A very rough knit to prevent runs used in teen and utilitarian stockings.
Textures: Patterned stockings. Diamonds, herringbones, and waves were the most popular. These styles were very popular during the 60's. Hosiery companies began to buy modern knitting machines which had infinite knitting possibilities that allowed enormous variations.
Modern Stockings: As modern knitting techniques improved and the machinery became more expensive and complicated, stockings evolved through several phases. Modern machines knit tubes that are boarded, or "heat set" to the shape of the leg; the heel pocket was no longer knit-in as in the 50's. To improve fit, the yarn companies came up with several "improvements" that would forever change the future of classic hosiery.
The first was the stretch stocking, actually a crimped yarn that was knit and packaged unboarded in a limited size range that conformed to the leg when worn. Popular brands were, Cling-Along, Agilon, and Cantrece. The ultimate fit solution that effects the stockings made today, is to add Lycra, another Dupont invention that creates an elasticized stretch stocking that clings to the leg to the knitting yarn. This is used in almost all modern stockings and pantyhose. The effect is to create a support stocking effect. This type of stocking is not as sheer as the flat knit version of these stockings.