20 Fun Facts About Stockings and Pantyhose

Did you know that women once stood in line for hours just to get their hands on a pair of stockings in the 1940s? And when the supply ran out, the women became angry and a full-fledged riot almost ensued!!

Don’t you just love how we get when we really want something. “Lady-like” behavior went out the door!

Check out our fun facts about hosiery below:

1. The wearing of hosiery dates back as early as the 15th and 16th centuries.

2. Before the 20th century, there are very few references to women’s hosiery because any public mention of women’s legs was considered highly inappropriate.

3. The term “hosiery” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon (Old English) word “hosen” which means covering.

4. Initially, stockings were worn by European kings and noble men to make horseback riding easier, and to show their financial and class standing because stockings were made out of silk.

5. Queen Elizabeth I was the first well-known woman to wear stockings in 1560 and they became a fashion statement. She loved the softness and comfort of silk stockings and continued to wear them for the rest of her life.

6. Stockings had to be worn by women because bare legs were highly inappropriate.

7. Stockings had no elastic and had to be held up by garter belts.

8. In the 1920s, flapper culture began to take over resulting in shorter hemlines. Women began to wear stockings for warmth and modesty. During this time, men gravitated towards socks, reserving stocking for women.
9. Towards the end of the 1930s, the U.S. imported four-fifths of the world’s silk. Of that supply, 75-80 percent went into the making of women’s stockings, creating a $400,000 annual industry (comparable to $6 million in today’s dollars).

10. The late 1930s brought political tensions between America and Japan. By 1937, there was a nationwide boycott of all Japanese products in the U.S., which included silk stocking. American women now had no choice but to switch from silk hosiery and nylon.

11. The DuPont Company debuted the world’s first nylon stocking at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. While American women loved them, production ceased when the U.S. entered World War II two years later. This was because nylon was needed to make parachutes, ropes and cords for the war.

12. After the war, DuPont began to produce nylon stockings again, but were overwhelmed by the demand. Women lined up outside stores to buy nylon stockings, but supply could not meet demand so the crowds grew angry when the stockings ran out and riots ensued.

13. On May 15, 1940 women flocked to stores by the thousands. Four million pairs sold out in four days!
14. DuPont sold $4 million pairs of nylon stockings in two days, and at a price of $1.15 each (at the time, a loaf of bread cost 10 cents) total sales reached $25 million in 1941.

15. Between August 1945 to March 1946, women across the America went to great lengths to get a pair of nylon stockings. On one occasion in Pittsburgh, roughly 40,000 women fought for 13,000 pairs of stockings.

16. In 1945, Macy’s sold out of their entire stock of 50,000 pairs of nylons in just 6 hours. Wow!

17. Those who couldn’t get a pair painted seams on the back of their legs or use self-tanners and “liquid stockings” to make it look like they were wearing stockings.

18. In 1959, pantyhose came along. This was a hit because it combined underwear and hosiery for complete leg coverage, which is how the name came about – panties + hosiery.

19. Pantyhose were first created by a man named Allen Gant Sr. who owned a textile company. He began manufacturing pantyhose when his pregnant wife, Ethel, demanded he create a stocking that combined underwear and hosiery when her pregnancy made it too difficult to adjust her stockings and garters. She created a prototype and had her husband do the rest of the work.If you are thinking of immersing yourself into jellyfish-infested waters, wearing a pair of pantyhose may prevent stings.

20. If you are thinking of immersing yourself into jellyfish-infested waters, wearing a pair of pantyhose may prevent stings!

Sources: Mental Floss, Inc., Smithsonian.com, VienneMilano

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