Stockings, in a form that we would recognise, have been with us since 1589, the year that Reverend William Lee invented a knitting machine capable of producing wool, cotton, linen and silk versions of the garment, mainly for the men of the time. They came by their name uncreatively as the word stock referred to the lower part of the body. Little changed in nearly 400 years, as stockings were worn for warmth more so than fashion. It was only in the 1920s, when women’s hemlines rose, that silk stockings became more of a feature.
Stockings at the time were made by joining a seam at the back, a look that today, although unnecessary for function, adds a fashionable edge. Another major change for stockings came in 1937 when scientists created Nylon, a cheaper alternative to silk. Nylon stockings appeared in shops in 1940 and within months had overtaken silk stockings in sales and brought about the near collapse of the Japanese silk industry. The next major development came with the invention of tights in the 1960s. In a similar progression to the effect that nylon had on silk, tights took over the market almost overnight and it’s taken nearly fifty years for stockings to return to fashion.
I fell in love with stockings when I was about 7 years old and watched “Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the very first time. I had to wait few years before buying my very first pair of hold-up stockings, because according to my mother it would have been very inappropriate for a child to wear them and yet she had seen nothing wrong in buying me corset when I was 10. I’ve never been particularly fond of tights, because of their un-sexy appeal until I discovered Wolford and Chantal Thomass. Last winter alone I bought 11 pairs of tights from both brands and most of them are still waiting to be opened from their original packaging. It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that I tend to buy tights because of how beautiful or crazy they look, regardless of the fact if they will go or not with anything I have in my wardrobe. Stockings on the other hand I always buy with the sole purpose of wearing them every single day.
What do You prefer; stockings or tights?