Thigh highs are a classic garment that has withstood the test of time in the ever- changing world of women’s fashion. The origin of thigh high stockings dates all the way back to the late sixteenth century. Commonly worn by royalty and crafted from luxury fabrics like silk, these stockings were seen as a symbol of wealth for multiple centuries following their invention.
Thigh high stockings entered the world of mainstream women’s fashion around the eighteenth century, when they were often worn invisibly under long dresses to increase the modesty of what were already extremely conservative outfits. As hemlines rose in women’s fashion during the early twentieth century, women’s thigh highs started to become visible underneath their shorter skirts and dresses. At this point in time, thigh high stockings were worn in part as a symbol of revolution against lower hemlines but also to cover exposed legs and allow women to maintain a certain level of modesty without their ankle-length dresses.
Throughout the twentieth century, thigh highs became even more mainstream when they started to be crafted from nylon material instead of more luxurious silk or knit fabrics. It was during this time in history that women began to wear thigh high stockings for fashion rather than modesty. By the mid-twentieth century highs were considered extremely stylish and were flaunted underneath mini skirts and short dresses.
Today, many different types of thigh highs—including stockings, socks, tights, and more —retain their popular status in modern women’s fashion. They are commonly worn to professionalize work outfits or add trendiness to everyday looks. Ironically enough, the thigh high styles that were once used to preserve modesty now commonly serve as a component of sexy, scandalous lingerie sets. Thigh highs have come a long way since their origins almost five hundred years ago, but they remain in circulation as an example of classic fashion transformed into a contemporary wardrobe staple for the modern woman.
The terms ‘thigh high stockings’ and ‘thigh highs’ are often used interchangeably to refer to thigh high stockings. Although stockings are the most popular type of thigh highs to wear, the umbrella term ‘thigh highs’ encompasses more than just stockings. Thigh high socks, thigh high tights, and thigh high leggings are not the same as thigh high stockings, but they all belong to the thigh high category.
In order for a pair of thigh highs to count as stockings, they have to meet a few specific criteria that sets them apart from other types of thigh high garments. Stockings are made from a very thin, elastic material that fits snugly around your leg but usually needs to be held up by a garter or elastic strip that prevents the thin, flimsy fabric from slipping out of place.
Unlike other types of thigh highs that come in non-thigh high versions, the thigh high design of stockings is included in their definition. While all genuine thigh high stockings rise up to somewhere on your thigh, some styles cut off just above the knee while others extend all the way up to the upper thigh.
It can be hard to distinguish between thigh high stockings and pantyhose. Both of these garments are generally made from the same semi-sheer, thin nylon material. One of the only major differences between these two styles is that thigh high stockings always cut off around your thigh, while most pantyhose extend all the way up to your waist.
Also, thigh high stockings are usually two independent pieces that you put on separately, while pantyhose come as one garment that you put on like tights or leggings. In fact, pantyhose were introduced in the 1960s as a more straightforward alternative to stockings because—unlike stockings—they can be put on and taken off as one piece and they don’t have to be secured with garters or elastic.
Thigh high tights are fairly uncommon. Thigh high stockings are often referred to as tights, but the two garments are not actually the same. First of all, tights are made from a thicker, less sheer material than stockings and often include a blend of nylon and cotton materials.
Also, most pairs of thigh high tights extend all the way up to your waist but are completely sheer up to your mid thigh to mimic the appearance of thigh high stockings. These tights are a convenient alternative to stockings when you want to wear thigh highs without worrying about them slipping out of place.
Leggings vs. Thigh Highs
Thigh high leggings are made from thick, opaque material that is more elastic than the material of regular full-length leggings. They are virtually identical to thigh high socks, but the term ‘thigh high leggings’ generally refers to simple, classic black opaque thigh highs that mimic the style of basic black leggings. Not all thigh high leggings are what
they seem, though. This term—like thigh high tights—is commonly used incorrectly to refer to standard thigh high stockings.
When you think of thigh highs, stockings are likely the first garment that comes to mind. In reality, there are far more types of thigh highs circulating through the fashion market than most people would ever imagine. Some styles are more popular and familiar than others, but every type of thigh high garment can add its own unique style to your look.
Everyday thigh highs include the thigh high styles that complement many of the outfits you already have in your wardrobe. When you pair the right style with the right outfit, everyday thigh highs have the power to polish and professionalize a casual look, add a subtle sexy edge to an everyday outfit, or put a fun and whimsical finishing touch on a look that might otherwise come off as drab or boring.
Sheer thigh high stockings are the ideal accessory to polish and perfect any outfit. Their semi-opaque finish adds subtle professionalism to your look without coming off as overly conservative or modest.
These stockings let your skin breathe while concealing any imperfections on your legs and giving them a graceful and elegant finish. Sheer thigh highs give off a refined and sophisticated vibe that makes them the perfect addition to a professional outfit. Pair your sheer thigh highs with an outfit you plan to wear to an interview or a business meeting when you want to dress to impress.
If you’re bored with your collection of basic black tights and leggings, turn to patterned thigh high stockings to add interest and style to your looks. Patterned thigh high stockings are extremely versatile. Some styles feature bright, colorful prints that turn heads on the street anywhere you go. Others are embellished with calmer patterns that add a subtle, stylish finish to your look. Many of these more subtle styles feature opaque patterns—like polka dots or stripes—that are stitched into the material of the stockings themselves.
Pair patterned thigh high stockings with simple outfits to avoid creating a look that comes off as busy or overwhelming. Draw attention to your stockings and show off your pattern choice by rocking them with a short dress or a mini skirt and a basic tee.
Thigh high stockings are traditionally seamless. Their smooth, seamless finish is what gives these stockings their classic polished finish. In recent years, however, seamed thigh high stockings have been introduced as a trendy alternative to familiar seamless styles.
Most seamed thigh high stockings feature a single, thick opaque seam that runs up the back center of their semi-sheer material. This seam adds an unexpected, bold focal point to your look and gives your stockings a trendy, contemporary edge. If you want to get even more creative, try a bolder seamed style with seams that flaunt stitched patterns, shapes, or words.
Thigh high socks are the fun, casual cousin of thigh high stockings. These socks usually rise slightly higher than knee socks to rest around your mid or upper thigh. Their strong, elastic material keeps these socks secure without garters to hold them up, which makes them a convenient alternative to stockings for casual everyday wear. Since thigh high socks are made from a thicker material than stockings, they can also help keep your feet and legs warn in colder weather.
As for style, thigh high socks are extremely versatile. They are available in a wide variety of unique colors, prints, and textures—from fuzzy to ribbed to knitted—that add instant interest to even the most basic looks.
While traditional thigh high stockings cover your entire foot like a pair of socks, open toed thigh high stockings feature a small opening at the bottom that lets your toes peep out.
One of the most frustrating things about thigh highs is their tendency to slip out of place and slide down your legs while you’re wearing them. When you wear standard thigh high stockings, the material that is wrapped around your toe gets pulled slightly with every step you take. This resistance eventually forces your stockings to slip down your legs throughout the day.
Open toed thigh high stockings are designed to prevent this problem. Their opening in the toe helps minimize resistance to keep your stockings securely in place until you’re ready to take them off. Plus, open toed stockings are also more breathable than traditional styles, which makes them more comfortable for all-day wear.
Not all thigh highs are just for show. Some styles serve therapeutic or medical purposes as well. Thigh high compression stockings are made from resistant material that hugs your legs very tightly. These stockings are designed to ease the symptoms of a variety of medical conditions, including poor blood circulation, aching legs, chronic dizziness, and blood clots.
Thigh high compression stockings are made from stretchy material that firmly hugs your legs to gently squeeze and compress them. This compression helps keep your blood moving up and down your legs and through the rest of your body, which helps alleviate uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms of conditions like the ones listed above. Many athletes—especially runners—also wear compression stockings when they practice or compete because the increased blood circulation improves athletic performance in many people.
Most pregnant women experience a diverse range of physical symptoms throughout their pregnancy. One of the most common uncomfortable side effects of pregnancy is swollen legs and ankles. Thigh high maternity stockings gently compress your legs to comfortably minimize and prevent this annoying and uncomfortable swelling.
Maternity stockings are very similar to compression stockings, so some pregnant women opt to wear standard thigh high compression stockings to treat their swollen legs and ankles. While normal compression stockings work well for many pregnant women, maternity stockings are usually a more effective option because they are designed to offer just the right amount of compression to ease discomfort and reduce swelling without restricting your mobility or making your legs feel constricted.
Thigh high stockings can be very flattering for plus size women. They create a sleek, smooth finish and emphasize your curvy legs in all the right places. Plus, their semi- sheer exterior effortlessly conceals imperfections like cellulite.
If you’re a plus size woman, make sure you look around to find thigh high stockings that are designed to fit and flatter your curves. Never settle for ill-fitting stockings. Also, consider thigh high stocking styles with lace or textured trim at the top. This type of embellishment helps ease the transition between fabric and skin and prevents your legs from visibly bulging out over the top of your stockings.
Show off your sexy legs in thigh high lingerie. A wide range of stylish lingerie sets include thigh high stockings that make your legs look longer and thinner and accentuate your curves to create a tantalizing, sensual look that wows in the bedroom.
Thigh high fishnet stockings add a daring, sultry edge to any lingerie look. These classic sexy stockings are the quintessential thigh high lingerie piece. Fishnets were one of the first types of stockings worn by women for purposes of sex appeal rather than modesty or everyday style.
The bold design of fishnets gives your look a scandalous, eye-catching finish. Their netted design reveals peeks of your bare skin without showing off everything all at once. Pair your thigh high fishnets with a simple bra and panty set to let your stockings take center stage. Or, wear them with a lacy chemise or babydoll to blend delicate femininity with a bolder edge.
Thigh high lace stockings are the ideal lingerie stockings for women who prefer delicate and feminine pieces over bolder styles.
Some lace stocking styles feature just a strip of lace trim around the top that gives them a subtle touch of femininity and draws attention to the curves of your upper thighs. Other styles are crafted entirely from lace material that adds a delicate, refined finish to your entire look.
Thigh high garters are the most popular type of thigh high lingerie. Garters are a built-in part of most thigh high lingerie sets because they help hold up the stockings and keep them from sliding down your legs.
Many lingerie sets conceal the garters attached to thigh highs underneath a sexy skirt, babydoll, chemise, or other piece that dips below your upper thighs to preserve some amount of modesty while you’re still semi-dressed. Other lingerie sets—like skimpy bra and panty sets—leave the garters and garter belt exposed to add a more scandalous finish to your look.
Thigh high socks and stockings are fun, trendy accessories that complement a wide range of stylish everyday outfits. They can give your look a polished, professional finish, a bold edge, or a delicate, feminine finish. It all depends on how you choose to wear them. When it comes to styling these versatile thigh high accessories, your options are virtually endless.
When it’s cold outside, wear a pair of thick knitted thigh high socks underneath high boots. The extra layer will help keep you warm and the socks peeking out of the top of your boots adds style and dimension to your look. Choose thigh high socks with detailing or embellishments—like ruffles or buttons—around the top to give your winter outfit a charming, feminine vibe. Complete your cold-weather look with a slouchy sweater or cardigan and a pair of basic black leggings.
In the summer, bunch thin thigh high socks down around lace-up knee-high boots and pair this combo with a short, flow-y summer dress to create a laid-back look with boho vibes. If you prefer sleek, city chic fashion to bohemian style, pair classic black thigh high stockings with black thigh high boots and an oversized tee or short T-shirt dress. For a casual summer look with a bold edge, rock solid thigh high socks with short denim cutoffs. Add a thick belt and an oversized flannel to add balance and a trendy finish.
You can also wear thigh high stockings as part of a professional look that’s appropriate to wear to the office or other work-related events. If you want your thigh highs to look professional, opt to wear a basic, semi-sheer neutral or black pair without any embellishments or added texture. Pair your thigh highs with a mid-length pencil skirt or fitted dress that covers the top of the stockings to streamline your outfit and give any professional look a polished and put-together finish.
Thigh highs are a very popular component of many lingerie sets. When you style them right, these sexy accessories effortlessly lengthen your legs and accentuate the curves of your thighs to flatter your figure and add an alluring edge to almost any lingerie look.
If you want to create an ultra-scandalous look, wear thigh high garter stockings with a pair of revealing panties and a racy bralette on top. Choose sheer stockings and a lacy bra and panty set to add an irresistibly delicate, feminine finish to this bold look.
Thigh highs don’t have to be the focal point of your lingerie. Try pairing them with a sexy teddy, babydoll, or chemise to create a complete lingerie look that still shows off your figure while leaving slightly more to the imagination. For an extra sexy finish, add stilettos to your look to make your legs appear even longer and curvier.
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