So Tight: A History of Hosiery and Rising Hemlines

No matter what the groundhog predicts this Sunday, I’ll be adding a few dresses to my wardrobe rotation. Sure, chances are it’ll still be cold, but that’s what tights are for. Ahh, tights – the ultimate way to extend the life of your favorite dresses. Let’s take a look back at just how they became so popular.A History of Tights in Women's Fashion

Under the Big Top
The first trace of tights could be found on 17th-century performers. At the time, acrobats liked super-thin leggings for the full coverage they provided during risky routines. But beyond the stage, women’s pantyhose were a lot less comfortable – stockings were attached to garters and hoisted by girdles.

The Swinging 60s
Because the nylon needed to create better hip-to-toe tights was necessary for aiding in the war effort, women didn’t fully ditch this discomfort until the 1960s. Once mid-century scientists got the patent down, however, women were finally able rid their lingerie drawers of annoying garters and girdles. And thanks to the miniskirt, tights became quite popular during this era.

Today
Opaque tights are now a winter wardrobe staple – and with style icon Kate Middleton opting for nude nylons in the spring, even year-round hosiery is a thing.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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January 28, 2014