Tights, stockings, hold-ups or pantyhose. Whatever you call them, they are just another widely available fashion accessory to most of us, yet they have a long and dramatic history.
Men In Tights
The breeches of 12th century European men were close fitting and worn much like modern day tights but held up with laces at the waist.
In the early 17th century, “hose” were commonly worn by men as you will often see in the period dramas based on this era. They were made from wool, silk or cotton and remained in fashion until the end of the 18th century, when long trousers made an appearance.
The Arrival of Nylon Stockings
It wasn’t until many years later that it became more acceptable for women to show their legs, and with the invention of nylon in the 1930’s stockings became more accessible to ladies who couldn’t afford the silk version.
DuPont patented the process of making nylon – invented by Dr Wallace Carothers – and the first nylon stockings hit New York department stores in 1940.
At the time of nylon invention, only stockings existed. They were known as fully fashioned stockings; they did not stretch and were made to the shape of the leg, with two sides knitted flat, then joined manually with a fine back seam.
Nylon stockings became a huge success with more than 60 million pairs sold in the first year, but with the onset of the Second World War, the production of nylon went solely into the war effort and stockings became scarce.
To maintain a sense of style and sophistication during these tough times, ladies took to painting a seam onto the back of their legs so that it looked like they were wearing nylon stockings. In August 1945 nylon stocking production resumed and up until the 1960’s nylon stockings usually had back seams. Although seamfree stockings with a reinforced heel and toe were available during this time, they didn’t really take off until the mid 60’s.
Seamed Tights Today
Fast forward to the present day and hosiery technology has come a long way, with the invention of Lycra, body toning tights, hold ups and even amazing fat-burning caffeine tights to help slim those thighs.
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