Panty Hose - History of Panty Hose

Panty Hose

The cause of most businesswomen's attire fiascos, pantyhose has been a staple woman's wardrobe piece since the early 20th century. Although the fashion peak of pantyhose has passed, these accessories continue to be sold and worn throughout the country for various special occasions.

Before the 1920s, women generally were not permitted to wear clothing that exposed their legs. Dresses and skirts were required to reach and cover all the way down to their ankles. Pants, or trousers, were also not permitted. Therefore, at this time there were no leg coverings made specifically for women.

Entering into the 1920s, however, the style of women's clothes drastically changed. The hemlines for dresses and skits continued to rise to just below the knee. Therefore, stockings were invented to provide leg coverage and warmth for those women who dared to wear the new fashions. During this time the most popular stockings were sheer and made of rayon or silk. Unfortunately these were not one garment, and instead needed to be sewed onto the underwear of the wearers in order to be worn.

Because of the need to sew the stockings onto other garments, they were not a huge success outside of the show business industry. This was true until the 1950s when Allen Gant and Ernest Rice both created a commercial version of the previous stockings, which attached the legs to the underwear in one piece.

After this invention, a great demand for pantyhose grew in women who wore them for everyday purposes and fashion. As women's fashion pieces continued to get shorter, the demand for both stockings and pantyhose grew. By 1970, pantyhose sales exceed those of stockings for the first time, a fact that is still true today.

Throughout the late 20th century the sale of pantyhose continued to grow. Peaking in the 1970s and 1980s, pantyhose had traveled throughout the world. By 1995, however, fashion was beginning to change to encourage more bare legs in both the workplace and home life. Therefore, pantyhose sales declined significantly, and have yet to recover.

Today, pantyhose have continued to develop more unique designs to include fishnets, low rise, and footless constructions. However, these have not yet propelled pantyhose to the same level it held during the peak 1980s sales. Despite this, pantyhose will remain a staple wardrobe piece for businesswomen, performers, and church attenders for many years to come.

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