We all love the many varieties of nylon stockings, pantyhose and thigh highs to add some sexy to our wardrobe. My favorite, as is that of many lovely ladies, is the back seamed thigh high stocking. What a way to add some “run your eyes up this” to a curve hugging pencil skirt. They are stylish, classy and sexy in any combination or simply a la carte… for hungry eyes only! Here’s a short history of our favorite accessory – the stocking.
Stocking materials – the sexy nylon stocking is born
In the late 1800’s the use of wool gave way to cotton, and by 1929 the vast majority of stocking production was in silk. Then at Du Pont laboratories came Dr Wallace Carrothers momentous discovery – nylon! Carrothers was a brilliant polymer chemist with a rather turbulent private life that led to fits of depression. Nevertheless his development of what was initially known as polyamide 6-6 with its extremely high melting point revolutionized women’s lives!
At the end of the Second World War nylon manufacture was geared back to the mass production of nylons. The demand was enormous – in 1945 Macy’s sold out of its entire stock of 50,000 pairs of nylon stockings in six hours!
The nylon seamed stockings were generally of the fully fashioned variety – that is the machine used to make then was designed to drop stitches where needed so that the leg was not simply a tube but was narrowed at the ankle and widened at the thigh. The flat material was therefore designed to fit the leg snugly, when wrapped and stitched down the back to produce the seam. Of course nylon (and its predecessors) does not have stretch so it became necessary to manufacture stockings in a variety of foot length and leg lengths.
Until the end of the second world war stockings were in short supply. Because the tell-tale sign of a fully fashioned stocking is the back seam, so it was common for ladies to use an eyebrow pencil to create an artificial seam up the back of their leg to simulate a genuine stocking!
The invention of the circular stitching machine enabled the advent of seamless stockings which by 1950 had surpassed the seamed stocking in popularity. However sizing was still an issue and, because they do not stretch, it is common to find some bagging behind the knees and at the ankles with both the original seamed and newer seamless stockings from this era. This was all to change in 1959 when lycra, also known as spandex arrived. For the first time one size could fit a variety of legs, snugly and without bagging.
Pantyhose or stockings?
The advent of the ‘swinging sixties’ brought the hemlines so short that comedians would joke that it was less of a skirt and more of a broad belt. There was a brief time when stocking tops were frequently on show before pantyhose or tights took the hosiery world by storm. However it is the sensual nylon stocking that still holds the affection of most men – and an admittedly lesser percentage of women. Of course any woman who has been fortunate enough to feel the silky smoothness of the original fifties flat knit stocking cannot fail to fall under the spell of these wispy nylons.
Oak Tree Vintage hopes you enjoyed 1 of many posts to come on “Legs Made Sexy.” Be sure you visit our online store at http://www.TheOakTreeVintage.com and doll up with some of our products.