Everyone loves the silkiness of microfiber and the body-smoothing support and stretch of spandex...but did you ever wonder what microfiber and spandex actually are? Here’s a hosiery glossary to explain those terms and other terms related to hosiery. I’ve included helpful definitions about socks, too.
Socks with a top designed to cover the anklebone. Extends less than one-third of the way up the largest part of the calf.
Balanced, geometrically-knit pattern of multi-colored diamonds against a solid color background.
Athletic Socks
Socks designed for active sports, often having a ribbed top and plain foot construction. Frequently includes a high percentage of cotton. May include performance features like extra cushioning or moisture wicking.
The traditional or classic styles you depend on every day. Basics vary seasonally only in color. The bulk of the sock and sheer hosiery business.
A knitted pattern usually made up of two vertically intertwined bands.
A broad hosiery term used to describe all socks, trouser socks, or knee-highs except dress, athletic, and work styles.
Control Top
Hosiery with spandex in the panty area. Slims and supports hips and bottom. Gives you a smoother, firmer look under slinky styles.
Cotton Count
A yarn numbering system generally used for yarns spun on the cotton system. The count gives the number of 840-yard lengths of yarn required to weigh one pound. The higher the number, the finer the yarn.
A process that creates a design or garment by interlocking looped stitches. Needlework that is used to form a lacy design or pattern on hosiery.
Socks folded over at the top, usually just above the ankle.
Any construction with a pile surface on one side and a ribbed or plain knit surface on the other. In most cushioned athletic socks, the terry forms the inside foot portion of the sock. Some more complex constructions feature added layers of cushioning under certain areas of the foot, depending upon the sports activity for which the socks are intended. Cushion constructions are used in athletic and casual socks of all types. Cushioning normally fulfills a functional purpose...reducing the shock of running or jumping. However, the same terry-knitting procedure also produces novelty socks with a terry or velour outer surface.
Daytime or Dress Sheers
Pantyhose of 15 or 20 denier yarn for a dressy daytime look. (See DENIER.)
Denier is the weight-per-unit-length of the yarn. (It is numerically equal to the weight, in grams, of 9,000 meters of yarn.) The lower the denier, the lighter and finer the yarn, and the sheerer the garment. Hosiery knit of higher denier yarns tend to be more durable.
Dress Socks
Light to medium weight sock that may vary in length from mid- to over-the-calf.
A fabric or tape woven with strands of real or imitation rubber to make it stretch. Also, a term that designates the ability of a yarn to return to its original size or shape after being stretched.
The ability of a material to recover its original size and shape immediately after it has been stretched or compressed.
Designs of decorative trim applied by machine or hand sewing.
Enhanced Toe
Less noticeable than a reinforced toe. Stronger than a sheer toe. The secret is a gradual transition from the leg yarn to the end of the toe. The perfect solution for open-toed shoes.
Evening Sheers
Pantyhose made of 10 to 15 denier yarn. Worn for special occasions, they often have a satin finish. (See DENIER.)
Extended Control Top Panty
Extends the control of a regular control top panty further down the thighs, for waist-to-thigh slimming. Helps give you a smooth look under clingy dresses and pants.
Specifically in hosiery, the word is used to refer to material knitted on hosiery machines from fiber.
Natural or man-made units of matter that can be spun into a yarn or made into a fabric. The essential properties for fibers to be spun into yarn include a length of at least 5 millimeters, flexibility, cohesiveness, and sufficient strength. Other important properties include elasticity, fineness, uniformity, durability, and luster.
Filament Count
The number of individual filaments that make up a thread or yarn. The more filaments a yarn has, the softer it will be. Shinier yarns contain less filaments.
Firm Support
A lifesaver for legs that have to stand all day, or need the built-in compression to improve circulation. Heavier weights of spandex used in the hosiery give the firm support.
Knitted knee-highs, stockings or pantyhose with a very wide open knit resembling a fish net. A fun and sexy look.
Short, below the anklebone hosiery and socks of varying weight and fiber content. Often called slipper socks. Used for athletic and casual wear.
Girdle Top
Pantyhose with a sewn-on girdle, for the firmest possible tummy control.
Just the ticket when you want to shine at a special occasion. Certain yarns, particularly trilobal yarns, reflect light to create the glimmer effect.
Graduated Support
Helps reduce swelling in your ankles and refreshes your legs. This type of support hosiery is more comfortable because there are no sudden changes in the tightness of the spandex going up and down the leg.
A term that means crotch panel in pantyhose. The gusset can be all nylon, or can be cotton/nylon. It can be any shape from diamond to full back panel, but always means there is an extra piece sewn in at the crotch area, for comfort, durability and hygiene.
What we call “slightly imperfect”. Hosiery that contains minor imperfections in dimensions, size, color or knit but without obvious mends, runs, breaks or substantial damage to yarn or fabric.
An intricate process for knitting patterns, designs, or textures into the sock fabric, Also, the method that produces the decorative patterns.
Hosiery that comes up to just below the knee. These styles have elastic tops and stay up without the help of garters. Knee-highs became very popular with the advent of women's slacks.
Knit-In Waistband
Means extra comfort. Waistband is made of spandex and nylon and inserted while the garment is on the knitting machine. It is not attached later. The result is a non-binding waistband that does not get tighter, and thus uncomfortable, during wear.
Sheer hosiery knit with a pattern resembling lace and/or hosiery with lace seamed to the top of the leg or waistband.
Lycra® Spandex
A premium spandex produced and marketed by Invista. Commonly used in sheer hosiery and socks for its stretch and recovery properties. Helps provide better fit and shape retention, comfort, and/or support.
If you prefer subtle to shine, choose a matte finish. Matte hosiery does not reflect light.
A fine grade of wool from sheep originating in Spain.
An open knit used primarily to achieve a hand-knit, textured look.
Mesh Knit
A hosiery fabric produced in a variety of tiny patterns. Upon close inspection it looks like numerous fine zig-zag lines. Actually, the knit is a variety of tiny patterns with loops interlocked. This kind of construction helps prevent runs, but a snag in a mesh stocking will generally leave a hole. There are variations of mesh stitches, but for the most part, because the mesh stitch isn't as sheer, it is seldom used in the leg portion of the pantyhose. The runguard, however, does use the mesh stitch.
Metallic Yarn
A manufactured yarn usually made of metallic-coated polyester plastic and used as an accent in novelty socks.
The secret to softness. Microfiber yarns are made of filament weighing less than one denier per filament (DPF). The ultra-fine filaments create an extra-soft, silky yarn. Most commonly used in nylon and polyester products.
A seamless mesh stocking where the loops are knotted in one direction only. Because of this the stocking can run in one direction - from the foot up towards the welt.
Socks with a top extending beyond ankle length but not beyond the largest part of the calf.
Natural Fibers
Cotton, wool, or silk hosiery fibers.
Non-Control Top
A visible panty without control.
Stockings or pantyhose with a special interlocking stitch that prevents runs (but not holes). Also called run-proof and run-less. Special manufacturing processes give the stocking or pantyhose extra life.
Garment manufactured without stretch yarns. Usually made of natural, ridged, non-stretch fibers. Product has no compression or stretch ability, which generally makes for a less satisfactory fit. Can be desirable for varying reasons such as fashion or medical conditions.
Man-made fiber introduced in 1938. It is the first and the oldest of the true synthetics. Chemically, nylon is a man-made polyamide fiber derived from coal, air, and water. This fiber is famous for its strength, abrasion resistance, dimensional stability, soft hand, elasticity, and easy-washing and quick-drying characteristics. There are two basic types of nylon used in hosiery. They are Type 6 and Type 6,6. Type 6 nylon is softer and has less memory when textured than Type 6,6. Most of the yarns used in ladies hosiery are made of Type 6,6 nylon to impart the maximum memory to the fabric. In socks, it is used primarily in men's dress socks, novelties, and as reinforcement with other fibers. Another use for nylon in socks is the stretch filament nylon plaited with other fibers to obtain multi-sizes.
Man-made fibers derived from polypropylene or polyethylene.
One Size
The term applied to hosiery products that fit most sizes from very small to large.
Degree to which light passes through, not transparent. The hosiery panty’s opacity helps create a sense of security when wearing hosiery without undergarments.
Stockings or pantyhose made of yarn which give them heavier appearance, usually 40 denier or greater in weight. (See DENIER.)
Hosiery product that extends above the widest part of the calf.
A hosiery garment that includes a true knitted-in panty, constructed of heavier weight nylon or cotton.
Combines both panty (cut & sewed or knitted in) and stocking legs into a one-piece garment that can extend from below the breastbone to the toes.
Socks or sheers having a design knitted into the garment or impressed on the side, front or over-all surface.
Plus Size
Stockings, pantyhose, or knee-highs designed to fit larger-size woman.
Polyester is a man-made fiber that has abrasion-resistance, excellent washability, and is fast drying. It is readily heat-settable and dyeable. Polyester is used in dress socks, in decorative applications such as cross-dyeing and jacquards, and as a reinforcement.
Queen Size
Stockings, pantyhose, or knee-highs sized to fit larger woman. Queen size is usually considered an extension of standard garments into a larger size. Outsize, on the other hand, is considered a separate category of merchandise altogether.
A generic term for filaments made from various solutions of modified cellulose by pressing or drawing the cellulose solution through an orifice and solidifying it in the form of a filament. Rayon has a soft hand, high moisture absorbency and retention, and good dyeability and washability.
Reinforced Toe
The toe area is reinforced for durability and this area is typically darker than the leg. Helps hosiery last longer.
Vertical pattern of alternating ridges in hosiery products. Design may be formed through differences in weight, in knit stitch or opacity.
Acts as a deterrent to runs from the foot into the leg, or from the panty into the leg. A stitch is sewn along the edge of the panty (where the panty and the sheer leg meet) to prevent runs from traveling into the panty area. It can be made of heavier yarn, or can be a change of stitch from plain to mesh.
Stitches that have unchained due to broken stitches.
Sandalfoot/Sheer Toe
This is a nude toe, meaning no heavier yarn in the toe than is in the leg.
Hosiery manufactured in the old full-fashioned manner with a seam running up the back of the leg. In the past, these garments were manufactured by cutting fabric and sewing it together. Today these products are generally made on a full circular knitted two bases and a fake seam is added up the back for a particular fashion look. Some tights are seamed on the inside of the leg but these are generally not produced by hosiery manufacturers.
Stockings knit in one operation on circular machines (one continuous operation) so that no seaming is required up the back.
Shaper or Shaper Panty
Want to smooth your look in pants, or look fabulously sleek in a clingy dress? Try Shaper Panty hosiery. Extended control top panty gives more support than a regular control. The shaper extends from the stomach to the upper thigh area.
Sheer Support
Forget the early stereotypes about unattractive support hose. Now, thanks to improved yarns and manufacturing techniques, you can enjoy sheer support pantyhose that are considerably more sheer than the original support garments.
Pantyhose without visible panty line or reinforcement in the panty portion. It is an all-sheer garment from waist to toe.
Dress sheers are hosiery fashioned generally of 15 or 20 denier yarns - to be worn for daytime glamour. Evening sheers are hosiery fashioned of wisp-weight 10, 12, or 15 denier yarns - to be worn for special occasions.
The filaments obtained from the cocoons of various types of silkworms. Valued for its strength, smoothness and luster.
Silken Sheers
Category of soft, silky well-fitting pantyhose made from nylon and fine-denier spandex.
When you want support or slimming, or just a smooth fit, look to spandex. Spandex is a generic term denoting a man-made elastomeric fiber used in place of rubber. Spandex offers a unique capacity for stretch and recovery. It can stretch to over five times its relaxed strength and fully recover. Spandex is used in support and light support products to provide the energy to shape and compress the leg. Spandex yarns are often covered with nylon yarns to protect the spandex. Spandex is widely used in sock tops and pantyhose waistbands for its stretch/recovery properties and "stay up" holding power. It is increasingly used in core spun yarn and as plaiting yarn to replace textured nylon for better size range, improved fit, and comfort.
Spandex Sheers
A category of sheer hosiery styles. The leg yarn is composed of sheer nylon and single covered lightweight spandex (20 denier or finer) to give this hosiery good fit, sheerness, and softness. Spandex sheers do not give a support leg, but the spandex does enhance fit and comfort.
Stretch Hosiery
Stockings knit of processed nylon filament yarn treated to give permanent stretchability. Stretch stockings change size to fit each foot, leg length, and volume perfectly. Keeps hosiery from bagging on slim legs or squeezing larger legs.
Support Hosiery
Socks or other hosiery made of nylon or polyester with spandex or other elastic fiber added to give support to the leg. Support hosiery has spandex in the legs to reduce leg fatigue. The principle of support is to provide graduated compression to the leg. Total support pantyhose have control in the panty portion as well as support in the legs. Support no longer means a heavy, surgical garment. Today, it has fashion sheerness and color as well as durability.
Textured Yarns
Yarns modified so they have desirable properties such as hand (feel), increased softness, and greater fit latitude. (Same as stretch yarns).
A general term that includes all knitted-in patterns. Typical textures include cable, herringbone, basketweave, fisherman and pointelle.
A method of processing continuous filament yarns using heat and twist to give them bulk, elasticity, and/or better recoverability or memory.
Thermal Socks
Winter-weight boot length socks favored by skiers, skaters, or anyone who spends a great deal of time outdoors in cold weather. They can be made of heavy duty Orlon acrylic, wool, Thermax, silk, polypropylene, or Hollofil yarns, or a blend of fibers.
Stockings that just reach the thigh and are held up by elasticized bands.
Ultra Sheer
A fine denier fiber that gives the ultimate in sheerness. It is usually 20 denier or less and a low filament count.
An elastic band either knitted into or sewn onto the top portion of the pantyhose, to hug the waist and hold the pantyhose up.
Waistcincher Panty
Extended panty to control your entire waistline.