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This has been a month of nylons, hasn’t it? There’s something really fantastic about them and how they visually smooth out your skin, making your legs look even more fabulous. Of course, that illusion works best if your stockings are a similar tone as your skin. People come in a lot of different shades, so it is rather frustrating that most companies that make the nylons we sell only offer lighter shades of beige. And some even call the colour “nude”! Which makes no sense and is why we use the word “beige” for those colours. We are constantly telling our suppliers that we want more shades and though we’re seeing a teeny bit of forward progress, we just don’t know when more than beige will be a regular option.
The Dance Theatre of Harlem dyes their dancers’ tights and shoes to match their skin, which creates that classic ballet visual of uninterrupted line. You can see some samples of their work in the picture for this LA Times article. To create the classic visual of nylon stockings that perfectly match and melt into your skin, we can do the same thing. I’ve gone over some basic dyeing techniques here before, so I know you know how to do it. But which colours? What dye?
For these examples and as a general suggestion, I recommend RIT dye. If you live near a craft store, they’ve got it, in all the colours. Supermarkets and Wal-Marts also often carry RIT dye and, more often than not, offer all the colours. It’s easy to use and not that expensive, plus their site is a great resource, with a Colour Formula Guide to reference once you feel comfortable enough to mix up some magic (and it is magic, there’s a warm brown there that is made of their Sunshine Orange and Navy, somehow, so cool!).
Like I said earlier, people come in a lot of different shades and, if you’re going to dye-to-match then you’ll want to get it just how you want it. I suggest picking up some of the pantyhose that come in an egg and experimenting with those, so mistakes can be made cheaply before you customise stockings you love. For the experiments below I used the Sheer Backseams with Lace Top, though, because hey, we’re fancy.
Those gorgeous shades are all straight-from-the-box, no mixing! I’ll give you the vitals and some tips after the jump.
As many of you have learned through unfortunate accident, nylon stockings, especially 100% nylon styles, are very delicate. Careful care in wearing, washing and storage can help extend your stockings’ life.
If you’re particularly prone to snags, check your nails (fingers and toes!) for sharp spots and fix them with a file, then add a little lotion to any dry or rough areas of skin. You want to try and reduce the snaggable variables. It is a special kind of infuriating to realise you’ve made a run in your stocking just by putting it on! We used to carry awesome, super smooth gloves for putting on stockings, but they are no longer made so we can no longer offer them. But if you (like me) know you need all the help you can get in preventing snags, even simple satin gloves can help.
Yanking isn’t the nicest way to shove your legs in any sock and for nylon stockings that is especially true. Carefully gathering the stocking up onto your thumbs (the thin nature of nylons makes this pretty easy), gently slip your toes in and ease it up around your heel. From there on out it’s pretty simple, letting the nylon slip from your fingers as it encases your leg. Once your stockings are up, use a careful touch and the pads of your fingers to ease the seam into lining up.
A great tip for encouraging those back seams to line up is putting a dot of sock glue at the back of your heel, sort of anchoring it in place. Since sock glue is water-soluable, if you fear damage to your stockings while removing them, just lightly dampen the area you’ve glued before removing your nylons.
Since it can be hard to check how lined up you are (because twisting to look at the back of your leg twists your leg too, throwing everything off) sit yourself down and use a small mirror on the ground, or in your hand, to check the straightness of that seam.
It’s best to respect the stocking’s fibers and listen to how much they want to stretch. Sometimes a stocking wants to be an OTK, or just hang out in the middle of your thigh, not go all the way up to the top your leg. Pulling hard at the cuff and shortening garter belt suspenders too much will put undue stress on your stockings. Not, like, emotional stress—they are just bits of nylon—but when every fiber is pulled to its max from your toes up your leg, something’s gotta give and it’s going to be the integrity of your stockings.
What about washing and storing? And what if you do get a run? Some more tips and tricks after the jump! Read more »
When we talk about “stockings” as opposed to “socks”, we mean the high-nylon content styles that more often than not have to be held up with a garter belt. Though most are sheer some, like the Lycra Cuban Heeled Two Tone Stockings (shown on the far right), are semi-opaque.
On top: Ultra Sheer Retro Backseam Stockings. Beneath, from left to right: Lycra Cuban Heel Stockings, Cuban Heel Thigh Highs, Lycra Sheer Cubans with Lace Up Tops, Lycra Cuban Heeled Two Tone Stockings.
Flattering, fancy and just the thing to finish off a dressy outfit, nylons have a fascinating history. Though our focus here at Sock Dreams is on socks, we do carry and love stockings. And we’re also big nerds who love to share history and facts. Today I’ll share a quick overview of the history of nylons, with some helpful facts for folks interested in rocking these classic and classy stockings. If you want more info, there are great, in-depth, histories of stockings all over the place. I’m super partial to the Smithsonian’s Stocking Series.
Nylon stockings were introduced at the 1939 world’s fair by Dupont, who have a great little timeline with some awesome pictures from 1939. They decided against registering “nylon” as a trademark, so that the word would become synonymous with stockings. Early stockings had back seams and when folks had to give up their nylon stockings for the war effort, they reproduced that backseam with leg makeup (great article at GlamourDaze about it!), creating the illusion that nylons were still covering their legs. I love this picture we have on our Pinterest from the Library of Congress image archives, showing a barrel of nylons on their way to becoming parachutes and cords.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection. “Here’s where your parachute came from.“
It’s because of this temporary lack of nylon that we have the wide range of cotton stockings and tights we see today. But that’s a story for another day! We’re still talking about nylons. Join us after the jump for comparisons of new nylon stockings to actual mid-century pairs and some helpful tips about these fantastic, feminine stockings.
They can be unsightly, those little balled-up bundles of fibers that build up on your socks. Where there’s wear, pills will happen; common causes are shoes rubbing against socks, where your thighs touch or really any spot that is subjected to abrasion.
Wool and acrylic are especially prone to pilling (though cotton, polyester and nylon like to do it too). Linen and silk are the safest from the perils of pilling. Wool has an advantage, as it is more likely to shed pill build-up. Synthetic fibers are tougher and more stubborn, keeping those pilled bits secure to the fabric. Washing pill-prone items inside out on a short, gentle cycle (or hand washing) helps prevent this kind of wear, but often it is inevitable.
However or whyever there are pills, they’re a problem that you can solve. One of the most common ways is with an electric sweater shaver. Electric sweater shavers are fun and kind of loud (which is also fun). They require batteries and are sort of like a teddy bear’s version of a beard trimmer. A lot of them are even made by the same companies who make electric face razors!
And one of those can bring some freshness back to a tired looking pair of socks or armwarmers, like this pair of Harajuku Arm Warmers. That area between the thumb and fingers gets a lot of wear and shows it.
But all it takes is turning on the sweater shaver and lightly running it over the arm warmer, either while wearing it or laying it flat. The key word here is lightly, just gently brush the shaver across the top. If you’re too rough you could put a hole in whatever you’re sprucing up, particularly if it is a delicate item.
And the pills are gone, turned into easily-disposed of fluff! The softer look of a much loved-and worn item doesn’t disappear, but the pills do. It even does a solid job removing all the pills on the heels of my poor old Extraordinary Thigh Highs, which have had a lot of hard wear.
Electric sweater shavers are definitely rad, but there have to be some non battery powered options out there, right? Tumblr Fairy Zaf prefers the Sweater Stone and I’ll walk you through that technique next. Why don’t you let us know your tips and tricks for removing pills? In looking up information on pilling I saw that some folks use the hook side of Velcro—have you tried it, does that work? I’ve definitely gone the sticky tape route myself.
Knee highs are pretty straight forward. Our Measurements & Sizes page shows how they come to just below the knee, that’s pretty much the total of their definition. But you may have encountered the phrase “knee sock” when browsing our styles and wondered how it differed from plain ol’ knee highs.
There isn’t a whole lot of difference and sometimes we do use the phrase “knee sock” when we’re talking about knee highs. But, more often than not, when we call something a “knee sock” we’re talking about a sock that ends somewhere around the knee—sometimes below, sometimes above, sometimes right there in the middle of your knee cap—depending on your leg shape. The Bess Cashmere Slouch Rib Knee Socks are a perfect example of this, you can see how they end at different spots on different models’ legs:
Since we try on all the styles we sell and almost all of the models you see in our pictures are Sock Dreams employees, we get to see how socks act on different leg types. Long legs and fuller calves mean some shorter over the knee styles don’t fairly deserve the name “OTK”. But those same socks can’t properly be called knee highs either because just as many other folks had them go over their knees. So, we started using the phrase “knee sock” to highlight that ambiguity.
It was Sourpuss’ styles that made us first start using the phrase more actively, they’re shorter for over the knee styles and even though Sourpuss called them OTKs, we couldn’t after testing them, even though we love them.
The DreaM Stockings “knees” styles are another great example of a knee sock. Available in seven variations (with lots of varieties for each!), they can be worn as over the knee socks or knee highs, depending on your legs (or on your personal taste, I prefer them as knee highs, even though I’ve got short legs).
A way to find these in-betweeners is also to choose both “knee high” and “OTK” in Advanced Search then click the word “ALL” next to the header for Coverage. This shows you styles we’ve found fall both above or below the knee, depending on your leg. If you’ve got longer legs or fuller calves, you may already know the trick of wearing OTKs as knee highs, cuffing or double-cuffing to take care of any extra length.
A knee sock isn’t a style that couldn’t cut it as an OTK, nor is it just an over-achieving knee high. They straddle both coverage worlds, offering their stylish services to more leg types.