Modern hosiery contains lycra which makes it very stretchy and sizing is not so important. Although some stockings in the 1940s and 1950s were made from stretch nylon, most of our stockings are made from non stretch nylon which makes sizing critical - and sizing will vary from style to style. If it is your first time wearing real nylons please double check the size is correct for you before opening, and if you are unsure contact us for livechat so we can put your mind at rest.
Retro Seamed Stockings and Fishnet Hosiery
Our Retro Seamed Stockings are made from 15 denier stretch nylon with elastane, which means that just 2 sizes cover sizes 4-14, 5ft to 5ft 11. The stretch nylon also means that the welts (stocking tops) stretch which make them comfortable for larger thighs.
Fully Fashioned Stockings and Nylons
Our Fully Fashioned Stockings and Nylons range are made in one of the last three remaining Fully Fashioned Stocking mills in the world, in Nottingham, in the heart of England (alas, the last US factory closed a couple of years ago). Both of these ranges are made from the same high quality silky soft non-stretch nylon evocative of the monofilament yarn used in the 1950s.
They’re seamed by hand which is extremely labour intensive and explains why Chinese factories have little interest making them a mass market product! If you haven’t tried real nylons before you might be rather alarmed at the length of them! Being non stretch they do look very long, but once you put your leg in them it will take up the slack.
My, Should They Really Be That long?
Sizing is very important with non stretch nylons: one size does certainly fit all. Our Fully Fashioned and Nylons ranges are designed for dress sizes 8-12. If you are smaller than that then you might like to try a size smaller, while if you’re a size 14 you might try a size larger. Don’t be tempted to go up or down more than one size as you’ll either end up with wrinkled ankles, or digging-in welts.
Real nylons are extremely delicate and need to be treated with the utmost care. In the heyday of stocking manufacturing, workers were treated to two manicures a day (on arrival and after lunch) to ensure nails and rough skin didn’t snag the delicate stockings. We highly advise the use of hosiery gloves, thin rubber gloves used for hair dying are an easy to find alternative - although slightly less glamorous! Believe it or not, the most dangerous time for nylons is not when you’re wearing them, but when you putting them on, removing them, washing them or storage.
Caring For Your Nylons
After 25 years of stocking wearing I have my care routine down to a fine art.
Store worn nylons in an old pillowcase so they don’t get snagged in your laundry basket. Once a week swish them around in warm water and a little detergent (or bubble bath version of your favourite perfume if you’re super-luxe) and hang up to dry by the toes.
Don’t be tempted to drape them over something as nearly every household object, be it a chair or a radiator, will have something that will cause a snag (I’ve been there plenty of times). Why not try one of those plastic circular multi-peg contraptions you can find in any good 99c store, or use a clip coat hanger?
The good news is that nylons dry very quickly over night so you won’t be cluttering up your bathroom for long. Once dry, store your nylons in the cellophane bag they came in, or invest in our satin Stocking Storage Bag.
Keeping Your Seams Straight
My tip for seams, is simply don’t worry about them. As long as you get your seams straight when you put your nylons, you’re generally set up for the day.
To put your nylons on, gather the length of the stocking and carefully put your toe in the end, pull the stocking over your foot and ensure the ankle is correctly in place. Then, standing up, gradually pull the stocking up checking that the seam is straight.
It’s actually harder to put Retro Seams on straight as there is less of a guide for your finger to follow. Don’t try and adjust the seam on the leg, but roll the nylon down as far as needed and try again.
Vintage Stocking Sizing
Stockings used to be sized as follows:
8.5 = foot size 5
9 = foot size 6
9.5 = foot size 7
10 = foot size 8
10.5 = foot size 9
11 = foot size 10
Unfortunately, nothing in life is that simple! This doesn't take into account the width of the leg or the stretch of the stocking (in addition, one modern fully fashioned stocking company still use the old size numbers but they do not equate to the real old sizes!)
Where companies divide the above into 3 sizes they should come into the following brackets:
Small = 8.5 to 9.5
Medium = 9 to 10
Large = 9.5 to 10.5