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Do you wear hosiery?

I know many women these days don’t, at least not in summertime. However, hosiery has a few big benefits that make it worth considering if only for the more important or dressy events in your life.

A Brief History

Hosiery originates from an old Anglo-Saxon term ‘hosen’ meaning to cover or covering and is a term that encompasses a variety of legwear, including tights, socks, leggings, stockings, thigh-highs, and pantyhose. The earliest hosiery found is a pair of red, knitted socks that were discovered in a tomb in Egypt. has existed, as far back as the 9th century.

While hosiery is worn by women today, it was originally a male garment and worn for both protective and adornment purposes. It was only in the 18th century that women started wearing hosiery. From that time onward, hosiery was worn by women and men started wearing trousers and socks, rather than stockings and breeches.

The 1920s heralded in a new era in hosiery with the invention of synthetic fibres. Synthetic fabrics as opposed to natural materials like cotton, made hosiery more durable and easier to produce and to wear as well.  “Nylons” became the generic name for all hosiery manufactured during the ’40s and interestingly, when nylon production shifted to the WWII effort, women would paint seams on their legs to make it look like they were wearing nylons.

Hosiery Timeline

In the 50s, full coverage tights were introduced into the market. Tights/pantyhose became extremely popular in the 1960s, largely due to the mini skirt and tights combo that Mary Quant pioneered. Since then technology has advanced hosiery and fibres like Lycra which stopped ugly wrinkly knees and ankles and the ability to weave intricate patterns into hosiery has made it an enduring piece in stylish women’s closets.

In the 2000′s, it would seem that hosiery especially in summer and in now ever more casual work places is now a passé item. Personally, I think that it’s just a temporary phase and hosiery will return from time to time as fashion temporarily elevates it to a must-have. In addition, for women like myself with less than perfect legs, hosiery makes a world of difference to how I look when I have not tanned my legs.   


These are the most common types of hosiery:

  • Anklets: ankle length socks made from sheer hosiery fabric.
  • Knee Highs: Hosiery that reaches to the knee and designed to be worn under pants.
  • Stockings: reach up to the upper thigh are are held in place with a girdle or garter belt and are usually sheer. Hold-ups are stockings that are held in place with an elastic band typically with some silicone that acts as traction
  • Tights: thick full leg hosiery.
  • Pantyhose: goes from waist and covers the entire foot, made of nylon
  • Fishnet: hosiery that has a cut-out fishnet pattern

Hosiery Lineup

Denier and Expectations

A denier is a unit of measurement for tights. It is used to convey the thickness of hosiery by measuring the unit of density. The lower the denier of a pair of hosiery is, the more sheer it will be since the material or the yarn is finer and less dense.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for you:

  • Less than 10 denier = ultra sheer
  • 10-20 denier = sheer
  • 25-35 denier = semi-opaque
  • 40+ denier = opaque

Denier is also a good factor in determining the longevity of any hosiery. Anything less than a 12 denier usually doesn’t last beyond one wear. The higher the denier, the more durable and resilient it is. When a pair of hosiery has more synthetic material than natural, you should expect that it will have more wear i.e. Nylon tights will last longer than cotton blend tights. Hosiery with shapewear built-in will also last longer. Wear expectations also depends on how you care for your leg wear and whether or not you bought the right size or not.

Denier Lineup

Size and Toes

Like clothing the size of hosiery varies from brand to brand. Buying the right size will not only be more comfortable but will also add to the longevity and look of your hosiery. With that in mind all hosiery packets come with a size chart on the back as well as specialty ranges for pregnant and plus size women. Take the time to check out your best size.

Likewise hosiery comes with a variety of different toes. From toe-less to reinforced there’s a style of toe to suit all needs.

If you wish to wear hosiery when wearing sandals make sure you select sandal toe for the best possible look. Sheer toe and open toe are good for peep toe shoes. Reinforced is good only for closed toe shoes.

Hosiery Toes1


There are three prevalent finishes for hosiery: matte, sheen, and shine. When you want to look polished or dressy (in the formal sense) go sheen. Shiny hosiery while very dressy is best reserved for glamor and evening affairs and then only of your legs are slender. Shiny hosiery is great at making legs appear larger. 

Surface 1

Finding The Right Nude Hosiery For You


The right nude hosiery is a wardrobe essential. There’s nothing worse than nude hosiery that is different to your natural color; you can go a shade darker if you want to look a little more tanned but one shade max.

Match the shade


When it comes to selecting the best color for your hosiery go with nude and shades of black for professional occasions. Other than that you can:

  1. Add opaque hose to a skirt or dress that is too short (A)
  2. Match the color to an accessory (B)
  3. Match the color to a color within a print (C)
  4. Go monochromatic (D)
  5. Make a statement with a bold color (E)


Put Your Hosiery on With Care

Though technological advancements have made hosiery more durable than ever, you should still take care to put them on correctly, especially when they are sheer.

First of all, make sure take any rings and bracelets off and ensure your nails are smooth to prevent snags. If your hosiery is ultra sheer consider wearing cotton gloves if you don’t have a spare pair handy. 

  1. Start by sitting down and roll down the tights down to the toe area.
  2. One leg at a time, slip your foot into the hosiery and curl your toes downward to prevent toe nail snags.
  3. Gently roll the hose up your legs. Always use both hands and stretch the hosiery up each leg carefully.
  4. Lastly, when both legs are in, stand up and carefully pull hosiery over the waist.

Hosiery Care

Finally, here are some basic do’s and don’ts of hosiery care:

  • Hosiery should be hand washed with in warm water using a mild detergent.
  • Do not bleach.
  • Do not leave to soak
  • Do not put your hosiery in the dryer, instead dry flat between two towels or drip dry.
  • Do not dry using direct sunlight or direct heat.
  • Fold flat or roll up when storing in your bureau. Make sure to place away from items it may snag on.

Want More: How to Style Fishnet Hosiery



If you enjoyed this week’s feature
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or leave a comment/question below.
Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP


  • Shirls says:

    Happy to hear someone with style still wears hosiery. I wouldn’t be seen in a dress (unless a sundress with sandals) without hosiery. You just look so much more put together and they give you that little extra support we all need. They are also comfortable with pants.

  • Terrie says:

    I have never understood the ban on hosiery, especially of women of a certain age – of which I am one. They smooth knee bags, camouflage imperfections, and overall just make your legs look great. You have inspired me to wear them again! Thank you for your informative posts. I look forward to the new and relevant info you impart. Have a great vacation!

  • Helen says:

    Thank you Ann I found that most interesting and informative. I was at 2 weddings this summer and had such a dilemma as to whether I should wear hosiery. In the end I did and was so pleased with my decision. I love summer clothes and the heat, but can’t wait to get back into my opaques and slightly shorter skirts!

  • Rhonda Kay says:


    I enjoy weaing pantyhose twelve months a year, and I must say that I wear them 12 to 14 hours a day a lot of days.
    I have have issues with my legs a need to wear support hose daily.
    My pantyhose are very comfortable, I usually don’t feel they are on my legs. My legs do look quite good inspite of the pains and circulation problems.


  • It sure got me when you said that a woman will look very dressy but glamorous at the same time if they wear a shiny hosiery for the formal event. I will be sure to consider this since I do want to look prim and proper for the even that my boss intends to show. This time, I want to wear a dress, and since I do not usually wear dresses, I want to know the best pantyhose to pair with it.

    • Style Clinic says:

      Hi Mina,
      I have been away on vacation. The hosiery colour depends on your dress colour. A slight sheen surface always works well.

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