Fashion: The history of... Hosiery - Life before Lycra
Sunday 11 October 1998
In the 15th century, early tights were crudely constructed from woven stockings joined together with a cod-piece, sometimes soled on the feet with leather. The 16th-century saw hand-knitted stockings from Spain coming to England.
By the 18th century, women started wearing stockings too, - prior to this it was mostly men who wore them. The upper classes would wear white or coloured stockings, whilst the lower classes would wear black. But by the 1800s, men were moving away from stockings and breeches into trousers and the industrial production of stockings from around 1860 made them more available.
The introduction of synthetic yarns in the Twenties revolutionised the industry, making hosiery sheerer than cotton and cheaper then silk. Early fish-nets appeared in the Thirties and in 1938 Dupont introduced the first nylon stockings. By 1949, seamed nylons were all the rage in the UK.
Tights came about in the Fifties, introduced by Aristoc, the longest established brand in the UK. They were formed by sewing nylon legs onto a pair of crepe nylon briefs. Tights really came into their own in the Sixties, worn under mini-skirts created by designers such as Mary Quant.
In 1968 Pretty Polly developed one-piece tights and they became more of a fashion item than ever before. In the early Eighties, patterned tights appeared on the market and Lycra started being incorporated into hosiery in 1985. The new Lycra 3D process, where Lycra is knitted into every stitch, not just every third, was introduced in 1994 and now makes hosiery super smooth with a perfect fit.
The future of tights is looking back to the past, with the launch of Wolford's first range of tights designed for men.
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY - An outstanding high level opportunity...