Different types of Hosiery –  Pantyhose vs Stockings vs leggings

What is hosiery?

Hosiery refers to legwear that covers the area between the hemline of the outfit and the shoes. It is considered as innerwear and is worn under dresses, skirts or shorts to define the legs and to hide any scars, bruises and other marks on legs and to give a smooth and elegant appearance.

Stockings, leggings, thigh highs and Pantyhose or tights are the main types of hosiery. All of them may sound similar to you as it did for me, but there are some obvious differences. 

Different types of Hosiery 

Stockings / Hose

hosiery - stockings

This is a sheer, close-fitting and stretchy legwear that starts somewhere between the knee and mid-thigh and goes on to cover the toes. Stockings are usually referred as an alternate name for hosiery. It is held up by elastic bands (stay-ups) on top and/or suspenders around waist and garter belts.

Thigh highs / Hold ups

hosiery - thigh highs

Knitted Legwear that start from the mid-thigh or just above the knees. This type of hosiery (also called stay ups) is held up with the help of an elastic band at the top (welt or cuff) that keeps it tight across the thigh – this welt can be made of lace or plain knit band. Stay ups may have rubber grips inside the top to prevent it slipping down.

You may call thigh highs as a type of socks. Check out this post on the 40 different types of socks.


hosiery -tights

This is another tightfitting and stretchy legwear that covers the upper thighs and brief area as well as the feet including the toes. Tights refers to this type of legwear made of a thicker knitted fabric.

When this type of garment is sheer, it is called Pantyhose.



This is a tightfitting legwear with the hemline somewhere between the calf and ankle, made of opaque knit fabric. It is also worn as an outergarment under long tunics.

Learn about the different types of leggings. 

Underwear is also considered as hosiery in some parts of the world. Learn more about the 45 different types of underwear in this post.

Different types of hosiery according to the fabrics and how they are made

Hosiery is made of different fabrics like Lace, nylon, nylon/lycra blends, polyester, viscose and wool blends.

Stretch hosiery

This is hosiery made with fabric in which lycra is added to for extra stretch – it will cling to the body like a second skin. The stretch hosiery will look shrunk and small when you  get it but on the body it expands to fit as closely as possible.

Nylon Hosiery

This is non-stretch and knit hosiery made of Nylon fibers. It could be microfiber yarn which has a soft matt finish.



This is hosiery knitted with a very wide open knit

Different types of hosiery according to the characteristic features

Sheer hosiery

sheer hosiery

As the name suggests, it is transparent, completely see-through. It is usually suitable for warmer climates and for giving the appearance of an almost bare look to the body. Denier of sheer hosiery is between 5 -30. An ultra sheer nylon stockings can have denier of 15. Semi-sheer hosiery can have a denier of about 30 – 50. I think atleast 30 denier is needed for a hosiery with some durability. 

Opaque hosiery

opaque hosiery

This is hosiery that is not see-through and  can look heavy. It is very suitable for cold climates as it is warmth giving and can make body feel very comfortable. This type of hosiery has a denier of 40 and above.

Silk or Gloss hosiery

These are made of special fabrics that give a shimmer or glossy polished shining look. 

Seamed hosiery

This refers to hosiery without a seam – the hosiery is made fully knitted without any seam (usually seen at the back of the leg) on special machines (circular knitting machines). They are made of stretch knit fabric with lycra. You may find a false seam along the back, for appearance’s sake.

Fully fashioned hosiery /Cut & Sew

cut and sew hosiery

This hosiery is flatly knitted and then stitched with a seam that runs down the back of the leg or the inside seam of the leg. This is made of non-stretch Nylon fibers – lace hosiery is an example.

Different types of hosiery according to its toe portion

Sandalfoot hosiery

This type has a sheer/nude heel and toe. It can be worn with open-toe or open back shoes or sandals. No one will even know that you are wearing stockings with your shoes because it is not visible because of its sheer and seamless look.

Open toe

This type of hosiery ends just before the toes. This makes it easier to be worn with open-toe shoes and sandals. 

Reinforced Heel and Toe hosiery

This type has a reinforcement added to the heel and toe – to increase the durability of the hosiery and to protect feet. It can be made fully reinforced or just the heel or reinforced under the toes in the shape of a circle or teardrop, half toes etc. 

Different types of hosiery according to the hip portion

Sheer to waist

This refers to sheer hosiery from waist to toe – there is no extra reinforcement or any feature added to this type. 

Brief style waist

This type has a brief style portion around the hip area and lower pelvis. Boxer brief has a boxer short style waist portion – the fabric around the hip is of a different fabric (denier). A V line brief has a V line portion which is reinforced or of a different denier.

Gusseted crotch hosiery

hosiery with a gussted crotch

A gusset is a reinforcement added to the crotch area in the form of a triangular piece of self-same fabric or cotton or silk fabric. It gives durability to the hosiery and comfort to the wearer. A gusset is not a necessity in hosiery but it can help to prevent rips at the crotch area and nearby from pressure on the central seam.

Related posts :20 Different types of pants ; Different clothing names; Different types of shirts. 

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Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

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