A brief history

  • The first stone age socks were made of animal skins tied around the ankle.
  • By the 8th century BC, socks were made from matted animal hairs.
  • It's widely believed that the first woven socks were made by the Egyptians during the 3rd-6th centuries AD
  • During the middle ages, coarse cloth was woven, tied around the skin, and held up by garters.
  • By the 11th century, britches were the height of fashion. Fitted cloth like modern tights were cut to the shape of the leg and sewn up along the back.
  • During the 14th and 15th centuries, tunic hemlines rose further and further requiring longer hose.
  • By the end of the 15th century hose was extended to the waist, making them one piece.
  • 1589 - Reverend William Lee made the first frame knitting machine. Queen Elizabeth received her first pair of silk stockings.
  • During the 16th and 17th centuries the Spanish influence was felt. Silk stockings were worn. Men's socks were embroidered.
  • Early Americans wore heavy woolen stockings in earthtones. Gradually they also used cotton with the growth of the southern cotton industry.
  • The 19th century saw breeches fall out of fashion. Men's socks were shortened to ankle length to accompany the long pants again. Gradually they extended back up to calf length for warmth.
  • Flat fabric knitting of socks changed to circular knitting and the seam disappeared
  • 1935 - Dr. Wallace Carothers of Du Pont synthesized nylon.
  • 1939 - Nylons debut at the 1939 New York State Fair. Over four million pairs were bought in the first few hours. (little known fact, the "ny" in nylon comes from the words, New York)
  • When the US enters World War II, production is stopped and diverted to the war effort for parachutes, belts, etc. Silk stockings were too expensive so women resorted to finding substitutes. Girls painted black lines along the backs of their legs
  • 1945- after the war, production exploded. San Francisco was mobbed by 10,000 women in search of stockings.
  • By the 1950's seamless stockings, held by snaps and corsets, were a must for the fashionable woman
  • Waist high nylons were introduced in the 1960's along with the arrival of the miniskirt. They appeared in psychedelic colors, fishnet, lacy patterns, white embroidered flowers, and opaques among other styles.
  • Men settle down to basic black, blue, and white for a while. Athletic socks took off. The tube sock sky rockets because of its ease and cost effectiveness to manufacture.
  • Today, Lycra is blended into nylon pantyhose allowing for the perfect skin hugging fit.

The pantyhose run problem

Pantyhose run because it is made with one continuous thread. If you catch it with your fingernail, the edge of your desk, your car door, etc, you make a hole. It will unravel, hence the "run".

If they were woven with interlocking threads they would be stronger, true, but they would also be heavier and decidedly unattractive to the modern day woman. You may as well wear cotton tights in that case.

Nylons with spandex don't run as easily as regular nylons because they cling better to the legs. They still run but they do not catch as easily on your fingernail, the edge of your desk or your car doors.

So why are stockings so sought after?

They are sexy. There is an allure to them. The woman's skin is sensitized wearing them. It's got that whole tactile thing going for them. The man's imagination goes hogwild seeing them. They are sensuous.

Info gleaned from the following sources:
www.support hosiery.com

She sits there demurely on the edge of the freshly made bed, bare legs crossed, left over right, berry painted toenails to match the berry/black plaid mini skirt. She is filing her nails unhurriedly.

"We have a meeting in 20 minutes" I remind her tapping my watch.

"I'm putting on my stockings" she says petulantly biting her lower lip.

I arch my brow quizzically. She tosses the board upon the bed as she stands and turns. It is a production, this putting on stockings.

I watch her carefully roll up one leg of the hose. She raises one foot onto the bed and slowly slips it over her toes and unrolls it carefully up over her ankle, along her calf, over her knee, and up her thigh, slowly unveiling a thin black line tracing it's way gently up the back of her leg. It's as if a fine paintbrush were stroking it's way along her skin. She clips them onto her lacy black garter.

She repeats this performance with her right leg, her back to me, painted lines leading up and under her skirt. She runs her fingers gently over her legs smoothing out the wrinkles.

"Perfect" she says as she looks over her shoulder to smile at me.

I am undone.

Ten minutes on, ten seconds off.

Meeting missed.
Next time, I'll wait in the kitchen.

Ho"sier*y (?), n.


The business of a hosier.


Stockings, in general; goods knit or woven like hose.


© Webster 1913.

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