The Ultimate Hosiery Glossary
Here at The Tight Spot we understand the complexities of buying hosiery, so we've created this simple glossary to help you understand any hosiery term, style or finish. Learn something new and make sure you are fully informed and able to pick the right tights, stockings or hold ups for your occasion, body shape or style, so you can look and feel your best when wearing hosiery.
- Applying Hosiery
- Hold Ups
- Plus Size
The term denier is often referred to as the thickness of hosiery but, to be more specific, denier refers to the weight of the yarn that was used to produce the item of hosiery. A higher denier of yarn results in a thicker pair of tights. Hosiery items range in denier from around 8 up to as high as 200 or more.
When choosing hosiery you need to think about how much coverage you require, depending on; where you wish to wear the item, the weather at that time of year and what look you wish to achieve. For example, higher denier tights will feel thicker, which will keep your legs warm. Below are a number of common terms used to quickly portray the level of denier of hosiery:
Sheer hosiery is worn typically during the spring / summer months when the weather gets a little warmer, as they offer you coverage but the sheer yarns will keep you cool. Sheer tights offer a natural, smooth appearance, giving the look of perfect, silky legs with the added benefit of providing an even colour all over the leg - like make up. Available in subtle matt or high gloss finish, Sheer hosiery is anything with a denier between 5-30.
Semi Sheer / Semi Opaque Hosiery
Semi sheer / opaque hosiery can be anything between 30 and 50 denier and it's perfect for giving your legs a little coverage during the early autumn weather as it will hide sun deprived skin and keep you warm until the sunshines for summer!
Opaque hosiery is beautifully soft and extremely comforting. It makes the ideal hosiery selection for the autumn and winter months as the main benefit of opaques tights is their cosy, warming feel. Opaque tights usually have a denier from around 50 to 200 or more. Opaque tights with a higher denier can sometimes look very similar to leggings, especially if they're footless. However, due to the way tights are constructed around the hips and waist, you cannot wear them as trousers like you might leggings, so always check product details carefully to ensure you know how the product you order will function as part of your wardrobe.
Matt tights usually fall in to one of two categories.
1. Nude, sheer tights that aim to achieve a natural look without giving any shine or shimmer to your skin tone.
2. Opaque tights of 40 denier or more that give a solid, opaque colour without any shimmer or gloss properties to the yarns, particularly common with wool blend hosiery.
Ideal for causal daywear or a smart look at the office. Matt sheer tights tend to give a formal feel to your outfit as they offer the benefit of a perfect skin, bare leg look, but don't attract the eye like a glossy finish might.
A silk finish will give a bit of shimmer to the yarns used to make the hosiery item, which produces a slight sheen. Somewhere between full on gloss and matt, these items are ideal for achieving a luxury texture to your legs without drawing too much attention. In fact, a silk or slight satin finish is usually more realsitc than a full matt product, as the light reflecting properties of the tights can help you achieve a natural, healthy skin glow.
Products with a Shine or Gloss finish will give a highly polished, glamorous look. Think silky smooth, just oiled skin with sheers and high quality, silky yarns for opaque's. Highly popular for their look and feel, gloss tights are favoured by celebrities, royals and the fashionistas. They are also great for making a statement of your legs for a date night. Achieving a very high shine is technically difficult for hosiery manufacturers, however some brands have dedicated a lot of time to innovation in this area. For example, Cecliia De Rafael use a patented, Sevilla yarn for their tights that is sensational. They are quite literally the shiniest tights we've ever come across after more than 10 years in the industry. But don't just take our word for it, our customers have posted 100's of reviews about the ultra shiny Sevilla, Eterno and Super Lucido styles.
Cut & Sew
Cut and Sew means that the product has been created by sewing two pieces of knitted hosiery together to make one leg of the tights - resulting in a seam down the back of the leg or the inside seam of the leg. Usually this type of construction is found in high deniers or lace products where it is difficult to knit the product in a circular tube, which is how most hosiery pieces are knitted. It's more expensive to make items in this style so it's a technique used mainly for luxury hosiery items or by high quality fashion brands. Be careful to consider what you will be wearing cut and sew hosiery with as seams can show through close fitting clothing or cause irritation at the feet if wearing tight or high-heeled shoes.
Open toe hosiery runs from the waist and ends just before the toes, leaving your toes free, which has the benefit of allowing your legs to be covered with the tights but your toes free to show in sandals or peep toe shoes. The leg perfecting finish of the sheer tights and the bare open toes will create the illusioin that you are wearing no tights at all - so those even-toned, glowing legs seem completely natural.
Some toeless tights styles have an elastic toe loop, which helps to keep tights in place whilst others are simply finished with an elasticated trim. A necessary item for summer wardrobe and ideal for weddings or other summer occasions where you want to show of your best summer shoes and also enhance your leg look with tights.
This is the most common type of toe finish we offer. The benefit of tights with a reinforced toe is that they have been designed to protect your toes and increase the durability of the product so it should be more comfortable and last longer. The reinforced toe is very common on the lighter sheer finished items of hosiery as this will strengthen the hosiery from laddering at the toe.
When Tights have a sandal toe, the toe area is designed to be sheer without an reinforced seam. This means that it isn't always obvious that the wearer has closed toe tights on, even if their shoes are open toe, as no shadow or finishing is visible. There is however usually still a seam at the toe, which can be tucked under to disguise the fact you are wearing tights at all.
The brief is the part of a hosiery item that wraps itself around the hip area and lower pelvis. The brief changes from product to product and is available in numerous styles. Look out for the brief type within the product descriptions. Below are the three types of common briefs:
Sheer to Waist
The denier (thickness) of the tights is consistent and runs right the way through from the toes to the waist, hence the name sheer to waist. In effect, there is no styling to the brief area. This is beneficial if wearing light coloured clothing as no shadow is visible. Also, if wearing a high cut skirt or shorts sheer to waist tights will mean that no shadow would be seen at the top of the legs.
A boxer brief means there is a different denier at the top of the tights, shaped similar to a boxer short. The idea of a boxer brief is to create a reinforced finish and to provide greater comfort to the wearer. Often shapeware will feature a boxer brief which gives extra strength to the shaping element and helps give your figure a smooth, streamlined finish.
V Line Brief
The V line brief is not too dissimilar to the boxer brief, consisting of an even thickness up the leg and increasing in denier in “V” shape – similar to underwear around the hips and bottom. This brief mimics the look of knickers under the tights so beneficial for those who prefer to go commando or, as above, are wearing tights with high cut skirts or dresses. Lots of romance of fashion styles may incorporate some detail to the brief area for a fun twist - such as lace, flowers or criss-cross lace up motifs.
A gusset is often applied to the crotch area to give the wearer added durability and comfort. In a similar way to the brief, gussets come in a variety of styles. Below each type of gusset is explained:
A plain gusset means a panel is placed in the crotch of the tights that is made of the same fabric as the rest of the hosiery item. The purpose of a plain gusset is to give a fully flushed hosiery item that offers flexibility and comfort.
Cotton / Silk Gusset
Commonly, hosiery is crafted featuring a cotton or silk gusset. This type of hosiery is very favourable due to the hygienic benefits of having a gusset made from cotton. This type of gusset is sophisticated and offers the wearer a better-fit and extra comfort as it's soft on the skin and the natural fibres allow fresh air to flow.
Hosiery that consists of no gusset is simply finished with a seam at the join where the two legs meet. If you have large hips, you make struggle with rips in this type of hosiery as the width stretch puts pressure on the central seam.
The open gusset has hygienic and comfort benefits, especially in warmer weather. With this style, no gusset is placed in the tights and the join is not seamed, leaving the gusset open. This is a very popular style of tights for the health benefits. Wearing hosiery can cause yeast infections for women as the synthetic fibres tramp in heath and moisture - the perfect breading ground for bacteria. Crotchless tights with their open gusset have the benefit of allowing this area of the body to breath and so avoid such health concerns. Wear with cotton underwear for a natural, comfortable feel.
Hosiery can be a delicate item so it's important that proper care is taken when putting on or taking off your items. This simple guide will help your hosiery look great and last longer!
1. Always remove jewellery that may catch on the yarns causing snags or ladders. Also make sure nail edges are smooth and rounded.
2. Roll the tights completely from toe to waistband.
3. Put your foot into the rolled item and carefully unroll the item up your leg. Take care to get the rolling and unrolling straight so that the item sits correctly, particularly if it involves patterns or back seams.
4. Once placed correctly at the waist you can carefully smooth out the legs or straighten up the item if needed, being careful not to over stretch the item in any area.
5. When removing hosiery roll from the waist down and off at the foot, without pulling from the toe. Again be aware of jewellery and nails.
Here at TheTightSpot.com we have a huge selection of tights available. Tights are also commonly known as pantyhose, particularly in the USA. Tights (or pantyhose) are superb for giving your legs comfort and warmth, style and individuality. They're also hugely practical and go hand-in-hand with work wear. Below are a wide variety of tights that we offer, varying in thickness, style, and fabrics.
One of our best selling brands is Wolford Tights. For this reason, we have spent a bit of time putting together some useful tips and tricks to help you make the best possible purchase. For further information on their sizing, check out our Wolford Size Help Page. If you'd like advice on how to care for your Wolford products, check out our Wolford Wash & Care Page.
Garter Pantyhose/Suspender Tights
Suspender or Garter Tights can be one of two things. The Mock Suspender Tights, made famous by fashion designer Henry Holland and seen on celebrities such as Little Mix and Rihanna, are tights with a higher denier leg that comes to stocking height. The top part has a sheer finish as at a lower denier with mock straps printed or woven in a higher denier on top. These tights give the appearance of stockings and suspenders or holds ups but take the same design as a pair of tights- i.e. from toe to waist with gusset enclosed. (View first image) This has the benefit of the romantic stockings and suspender look without the fuss of clips and falling down stockings.
The term Suspender or Garter Tights can also be used when referring to a hosiery item that comes in one piece but is open around the gusset and waist area, as it would be when wearing stockings and suspenders. The waistband of the garment acts as a suspender belt. However the straps that reach down to the ‘stockings’ are attached permanently, which means no straps or clasps are required to hold the stockings in place. Sometimes called 'Strip Panty', these tights could be described as cut out tights due to the waist, hip and gusset area being cut out. (View second image) This style, similar to crotchless tights, offers health benefits due to the open area around the gusset for a more breathable wear. It's also a striking yet easy to wear style for a sensual date night.
Compression tights have a host of health benefits as they apply pressure to your legs and feet to encourage blood flow. This can help to improve swelling, fatigue and muscle ache as well as reduce the risk of blood clots. Compression tights are used to treat those suffering from deep vein thrombosis and have been seen to improve the performance of athletes by supporting the major muscle groups. Compression tights are also popular with pregnant women as they can help with tired legs and swollen ankles.
Stockings have been around for centuries and it's no wonder. This timeless, classic hosiery style is very similar in design to hold ups, except stockings have to be applied in a different way, using straps and suspender belts. Stockings are extremely popular because of their unlimited sex appeal and versatility. (View third image above)
Below are the different finishes of stockings on offer:
Hold ups are extremely popular in the UK as they're much easier to wear than stockings and suspenders. Many people refer to hold ups as ‘stay ups’ or ‘thigh highs’. They're usually decorated with a sophisticated welt / cuff, which can be plain, patterned or lace. Hold Ups are also great for those that suffer from thrush or other bacterial health issues as they give your legs coverage but do not cover or constrict the upper thighs and brief area allowing your body to breath. (View fourth image above)
Plus Size Hosiery
At The Tight Spot we've made a strong commitment from the word go to ensure that our hosiery collections are available and accessible to women of all sizes. Our plus size collection delivers high fashion tights, stockings and hold ups to ladies of sizes: Large (L), Extra Large (XL), Extra Extra Large (XXL), Extra Extra Extra Large (XXXL), 4XL, 5XL and more. Plus size hosiery is constructed slightly differently to comfortably fit extra thigh width and hip width. It's important to pick the correct plus size product so that the item is comfortable and durable - poor fitting products will rip or ladder more easily. Carefully check size charts and features of the hosiery item and consider what issues you usually face with fit to make sure you choose an item that works for your shape. Picking plus size hosiery from a specialist like Glamory will always be beneficial as these items are fitted and tested on real bodies and have been created to combat specific plus size concerns such as chaffing, leg support and waistband aggirvation.
Shapewear hosiery can help you create a streamlined and smoothed hourglass figure. It works by compressing your body in the upper thigh, bottom, belly and pelvic region. From bum lifting to thigh trimming, browse our range of Control & Slimming hosiery. Slimming tights can be beneficial in giving a sleek foundation under dresses or skirts for special occasions.
Control top hosiery can effortlessly help flatten the lumps and bumps that you're not comfortable with around your tummy area, creating a smoother silhouette. This shapewear is also popular for women to wear post-pregnancy as it gives support to the stomach area.
Thigh / Bum Control
Thigh and bum control hosiery is brilliant for creating smooth lines around your lower pelvic region, upper thigh and bottom. Often referred to as ‘Body toners’ this collection of hosiery can really boost your confidence in close fitting clothing as not only do you benefit from leg perfecting coverage, the shaping panels trim and lift your body so you look and feel your best.
Our range of control tights offer a number of different shaping techniques to achieve an elegant silhouette.
Within our legwear accessories category we have a number of popular hosiery options that are perfect for adding a little fashion and flare to your outfit. These include a variety of knee high socks, over the knee socks, leggings and suspender belts. Below each type of legwear accessory has been explored in greater depth for further understanding.
Ankle Highs / Anklets
Ankle highs (also known as anklets) are similar to traditional socks. Unlike socks, anklets are styled and finished in yarns that vary in denier or thickness, as tights do. They often feature patterns or lace detail. They are very popular to wear with trainers, heeled pumps or with work shoes. Thinner than socks, ankle highs have the benefit of protecting your feet without making your shoes tight - as well as being super stylish. Take a look at our range of ankle highs to add comfort and a fashion edge to your wardrobe.
Footless hosiery, commonly recognized as leggings or footless tights, is styled in the exact same way as normal tights, however they end at the ankle rather than running straight to the toe. Take a look at some well-fashioned footless hosiery, available in a number of finishes and styles.
Knee Highs / Knee High Socks
Knee highs are very similar to socks in the manner in which they're worn and applied but they're also available in a number of sheer and opaque finishes, as well as being elegantly poised in a variety of colours, patterns and fabrics. They're fabulous for adding a little individuality to an outfit, and they go hand in hand with work wear or casual day wear. Take a look at our knee highs and get your latest fashion fix.
Over the Knee Socks
Over the knees are again, very similar to socks and knee highs, although these are an elongated infusion of the two, and typically reach a couple of inches over the knee. Over the knees are very fashionable to wear with shorts or skirts and boots or heels. Browse our range of over the knees and see if there's an item that you could use to spruce up an outfit.
Anybody that wears and adores stockings will know what the purpose and benefits of a suspender belt are. Suspender belts are worn around the waist and the straps attached to the top of stockings to keep them in place. Take a look at our suspender belts.