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Vintage Stockings

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Looking at Ebay the word Vintage seem to be applied very loosely yo a lot of products.

Stockings are no exception.

Can anyone here give a guidelines on dates,names, brands and qualities of Vintage stockings/tights.

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I don't know much about tights as I don't wear them, but I've been wearing vintage stockings for years. 

For a true vintage look and feel, stay away from the more modern yarns like stretch nylon, Cantrece, Vectra, or anything containing Spandex. Look for 100% nylon stockings. 

In seamless stockings, look for a reinforced heel and toe for a vintage look. Nude heel, demi toe stockings were made back in the day, but were not popular. 

In seamed stockings, look for fully fashioned, which means the stocking was knit flat then sewn up the back. These will always have reinforced heels, toes and soles with various heel designs like point, square, Cuban, etc.  Many modern seamed stockings are seamless stockings with a fake seam sewn in. These came out in the 1970s. To be vintage, they must be fully fashioned  

Vintage stockings were knit two ways; flat knit and mesh. Flat knit look and feel more elegant. Mesh stockings feel rough to the touch but are more durable. 

Most importantly, vintage stockings are sized. By foot length in inches, leg length, and sometimes leg girth. Leg length is usually expressed as short, medium and tall. Leg girth choice was mainly available in premium stockings. It was often described as slim (or teenage), average, shapely, and statuesque. Some British stockings use a 1 to 6 sizing system with 6 being the largest. Modern stockings are seldom sized in this much detail. If you see one size fits all, petite, average and tall, or some such sizing, the stockings are likely modern. Realize that modern stockings have some degree of stretch to them so the sizing can be less exact. Vintage stockings need precice sizing or they will wrinkle, bag, sag or be uncomfortably tight. A typical vintage stocking might be sized 9-1/2 Tall, for example. And that 9-1/2 is foot length, not shoe size. So you need to measure your foot.

Selecting the right vintage stocking that will look and feel right is something of an art. And the sizing is different depending on where the stockings were made. Stockings made in Europe, the UK and the US are sized differently. You can find vintage stocking size charts on line to translate your height, weight and shoe size into stocking size. 

Some high quality vintage brands inthe US are Hanes, Glen Raven, Gotham Gold Stripe, Kayser, Mojud to name a few. Some top quality UK brands are Aristoc, Charnos and Kayser Bondor. 

The stockings I've referred to above, were generally worn before 1970, before tights took over. But they were manufactured into the 1990s. 

Sorry if this sounds complicated, but it is. I was fortunate to be taught all this by my Mom over 50 years ago when I became old enough to first wear stockings. 

I'd be happy to try to answer any other questions you might have. 


Edited by OnyxPointex
Added brand names and dates

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Greetings there Mr&MrsRM.

Not a lot to add to Karen's fine explanations as she is a wealth of pure info. As one to deal or more properly have dealt with antiques and vintage curios by definition Vintage is that which is 50 plus years old and Antique is 100. Classic is a lesser used term and generally is something 35 years or more old with the exception of vehicles (as in Classic cars and Trucks though could extend to motored bikes, cycles and the like) in which case they are considered Classic at 25. This last is a Stateside thing so I know not should that term extend to across the pond. 

As to "Vintage" pantyhose and tights, there are a few around though as you have made note, Vintage is quite liberal in use. The more modern versions of pantyhose/tights came on the scene around 1966ish so there are some samples to be found. Generally, these would have reinforcements (oft refereed to as heel and toe-RHT for short) and generally would sport a larger reinforced panty section with considerably longer reinforced thighs. Perhaps ironically these could be so long that with a few lassies this section would show with a short hemline (or shorts as gals strove to wear hosiery almost as much as not today) which defeated the original purpose of the garment which was to allow wearing hosiery with a high hemline and not have that dreaded welt flash, a bane or delight depending upon whether one was a watcher or a wearer. I use the term "modern" with regards to pantyhose/tights as they were first introduced in the Fall of 1959 and were a flop due to ill fit and fashion lengths of the time along with expense. Karen knows considerably more in the area so I'll add that I have never seen a pair of this nature well enough handled them nor ever found them on eBay or elsewhere leading me to believe they to be quite rare (another mis/overused) term on eBay and elsewhere.

One last about pure Vintage stockings. Back in the mid 1950's to even mid 1960's there were marketed a number of stretchy Full Fashioned (mostly Seamed) nylon stockings that did not have Lycra nor were of the wonderspun yarns that came about later that generally were in a plain knit weave and were quite forgiving as to fit and size as lets face it, not all of us have a "classic" body shape and there were as now women that had a hard time finding that which would fit. Generous thighs is a common phrase even should it border on the crass is none the less accurate as "average" or "regular" stockings were way to tight in the thighs and National's (which I consider quality wise right up there with Hane's) are one example- great stockings though not should you have thicker limbs. The stretchy types I mention came in fewer sizes and actually fit well for the intended purposes. The marketing strategy had that they would take up less room on a business as back when, even small stores devoted space to hosiery with the bigger stores having large departments. Obviously the bigger the store the more sizes they could afford to keep on hand though all of this took a certain amount of space. The idea had that fewer sizes that would still work for most would leave more room for other wares. These stockings despite being of a stretchy nature are actually not too bad. Admittedly they are far from a plain flat knit though do not feel all that bad and are not unattractive to the eye. These show up on eBay every now and again and I've had a few go through my hands over the years. Alas, though a nice concept they really never caught on and most of the examples I've seen have been from Penny's, Sears and Ward's (under the Carol Brent moniker.)

Anyway, I'd hope this additional info to be of help.

Happy Trails, 


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