What is "Hosiery" - Definition & Explanation

Hosiery describes undergarments worn directly on the feet and legs.

Types of hosiery

1.Socks: 2.Stockings: 3.Pantyhose


A sock is a baglike covering for the foot and/or lower leg, which is designed to:

ease chafing between the foot and footwear , keep feet warm , absorb sweat from the feet. Sock lengths vary, from covering only the foot, to knee level. Socks are usually made from cotton, wool, or nylon. Although socks are sold in pairs, and contrary to shoes, the two socks are usually the same. A sock is also the term given to the inner lining of a shoe, distinct from the garment


A stocking is a close-fitting, variously elastic garment covering the foot and lower part of the leg, but usually not intended to conceal the leg. It was formerly made of woven cloth but now of knitted wool, silk, cotton or nylon (see Hosiery). The word stock used to refer to the bottom "stump" part of the body, and by analogy the word was used to refer to the one-piece covering of the lower trunk and limbs of the 1400s—essentially tights consisting of the upper-stocks (later to be worn separately as knee breeches) and nether-stocks (later to worn separately as stockings.

Half-stockings, covering the foot and part of the calf only, are commonly called socks. This word is an adaptation of Latin soccus, a slipper or light shoe. It was the shoe worn by the actors in Roman comedy—and so was used symbolically of comedy, as buskin, the high boot, was of tragedy. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1911) Stockings were originally an exclusively male piece of apparel. In the 17th century women who took up the masculine fashion of wearing stockings were associated with aspiring to learnedness and other protofeminist causes, which led to the derogatory term blue-stocking.

In modern usage, stocking generally refers to forms of women's hosiery like pantyhose (one piece) and thigh high nylon stockings (two matching pieces), and can, depending on the design, be quite sexually attractive (particularly to stocking fetishists). Modern stockings come in a huge variety of colors and styles (fishnet, back seamed, etc).


Pantyhose (known as Tights in the UK) are tight fitting coverings of the body from the waist to the feet, normally worn by women. Like stockings they are usually made of nylon. The term 'pantyhose' is exclusively American, referring to the combination of 'panties' (an American term for women's undergarment) with hosiery. The one-piece pantyhose was a substantial improvement that appeared in the 1960's because it provided a convenient alternative to separate underwear and hosiery.

In North America, the term tights is used to describe a garment similar to pantyhose, but which is thicker and more commonly worn by girls, dancers, and athletes. Pantyhose are worn for a number of reasons. Sheer pantyhose that match the skin color of the legs can enhance the appearance of legs, making them look smoother. Darker pantyhose can enhance the legs by outlining the shape. Pantyhose also has practical use, as it can provide warmth in colder weather and let women go "bare-legged" even in the winter. Pantyhose can even enhance blood circulation by applying even pressure on the legs throughout the day.

Pantyhose are available in a wide range of styles. The sheerness of the garment, expressed as a numerical 'denier'/'dtex', ranges from 3 (extremely rare, very thin, barely visible) to 20 (standard sheer) up to 30 (semi opaque). The terms denier and dtex refer to the weight of the yarn in grammes at a standard length: for denier, it is 9,000, for dtex, 10,000 metres. Thus, 1 Denier = 1g of yarn when 9,000 metres long.

Pantyhose also come in a variety of colors, from gray/black or skin tone common in business wear to brightly colored styles fashionable among young women.

Most pantyhose are composed of nylon and spandex, which provides the elasticity and form fitting that this characteristic of modern pantyhose. Unfortunately, the nylon fabric is somewhat prone to tearing and it is common for very sheer hose to 'run' soon after snagging on something sharp.

Pantyhose worn for fashion have a standard construction. The top of the waist is a strong elastic. The part covering the hips (boxer/brief area) is composed of a thicker material than the legs. The gusset or crotch is also a stronger material, sometimes made of cotton. The legs of the pantyhose are made of the thinnest material which has a consistent construction down to the toes, which may be reinforced to guard against wear. To see details of how pantyhose are manufactured, check this site:


Interestingly, hose for the legs were a male fashion (for example among European and American aristocrats during the 16th Century), while women hid their legs from public view. This trend reversed, however, with men wearing pants and women exposing their legs. In the 20th Century, pantyhose have been marketed to women exclusively. However, in recent years some versions for men have appeared in the marketplace, touted for warmth as well as for appearance, improved blood circulation, and comfort.

All articles which are knitted fall in this category
Defined as "knitted covering for the feet and legs". A general term covering tights/pantyhose, stockings, socks etc.
Hosiery describes undergarments worn directly on the feet and legs.
Hosiery describes undergarments worn directly on the feet and legs.The types of hosiery include socks, stockings and pantyhose.

Some other terms

Some more terms:

Bell bottoms are trousers that become more wide from the knees downwards. It is believed that bell-bottom pants were introduced in 1817 to sailors working on deck. The flare at the end of the pant...
A lightweight plain weave cotton fabric with a striped, plaid, or checked pattern. A true madras will bleed when washed. This type of fabric is usually imported from India. End-uses are men's and...
Ability of a fiber to spring back to its natural position after folding, creasing or deformation. Loft is related to resiliency; it is the ability to return to original thickness after being...
The process of dyeing yarns prior to weaving or knitting fabrics. Generally used for patterned fabrics or stripes but poplular for knitwear. Two general methods are Hank (for bulkier yarns -...
Applying color(s) in definite, repeated patterns of fabric by any one of a number of printing methods. Color is deposited in thick paste form and treated with steam or chemicals to cause it to...

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