Vinage Seamed Stockings
The epitome of vintage lingerie accessories from the 1940's and 1950's must be the seamed stocking. Originally, stockings were made from wool and were a practical undergarment garment worn for warmth, however in the 1920's women's fashions were changing and skirts got shorter, so women began wearing stockings to cover their exposed legs. Originally, nude coloured silk stockings were worn - although Rayon (known as artificial silk) was also available. These stockings were fully fashioned - which means the material was cut to the shape of the leg and sewn together by a seam up the back. This backseam was a utilitarian feature and was the same colour as the stocking legs.
Cuban Heel Seamed Stockings
The construction of early stockings required a reinforced heel and thick stockings tops (the welt) which were held up by garter belts, or girdles with suspenders. The distinctive heel design was known as the cuban heel, and there were variations on this design including Havana heel, pyramid heel and point heel. Modern stockings tend to have a nude heel which is the same colour as the rest of the hosiery, and stockings and suspenders are often paired with corsets.
Nylon seamed stockings
In1939, a company called DuPont invented nylon which revolutionised the stockings industry and led to the mass production the legwear, so buying seamed stockings became much cheaper. The first generation of nylon stockings were not stretchy, so were still fully fashion seamed stockings. These shear stockings were cheap and durable. and very popular. So ubiquitous were they, that the word 'nylons' were used interchangeably with 'stockings'.
Contrast Seam stockings
The 1950's were the apex in popularity for seamed stockings. The back featured a high contract seam, and the high contrast cuban heel was also popular. Stockings came in more colours, the classic nude seamed stocking, the sexy black seamed stockings and other colours were available. These stockings were held up with garters attached the to the bottom of girdles. The stocking tops had reinforced holes at the front and back to clip garters in to place. (Hold up stockings were not available until the late 60's). Another feature of the 1950's retro stockings were the variation of sheernes and thickness. The word denier is used to describe the thickness of the material. Technically, 'dernier' is "a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibres". Lower denier stockings are lighter and more sheer, but higher dernier stockings are stronger and more durable.
The end of the 1950's saw the introduction of tights (pantyhose in US) which became more popular than stockings because women could wear then under much shorter skirts, and seamed stockings, dropped out of fashion.