Hosiery Glossary

Back panel gusset 
Fabric panel sewn into the body section of tights to increase their size and improve fit and comfort.

Cotton gusset 
Material sometimes used in the gusset of tights to provide enhanced freshness and hygiene. Although often called "cotton", the fabric invariably has a cotton face on a nylon ground. Hence the cotton surface is in contact with the body, while the nylon takes up the dye to provide a uniform external appearance. 

Cuban heel 
Type of heel on a fully fashioned stocking whereby the reinforced part is squared off above the back of the ankle, rather than tapering to a point.

It's important to note, denier actually refers to fabric weight. However, denier is most often used to measure the thickness of items. Most items use a higher denier to denote a thicker item.

Finishing loop 
The distinctive hole in the welt of a fully fashioned stocking. It's needed to allow the needle sewing the seam to be withdrawn.

An open net structure produced on specialist "weft" knitting machines. 

French heel 
See Point heel.

Fully fashioned 
This refers to stockings that are knitted flat on vintage machinery, and then sewn up the back with a genuine seam and finishing loop. Genuine fully fashioned stockings are now very rare but much sought after. They're still made by Gio, Cervin and Eleganti, with non-stretch 100% nylon yarns on the original machinery from the 1950s. 

Foundation wear garment that gives shape to the waist and bottom while at the same time holding up stockings. Genuine classic girdles are still made today.

Piece of fabric sewn into the body section of the tights to improve the levels of fit, comfort and durability.

Term given by Pretty Polly to self supporting stockings. Never registered, it is now regarded as the generic name for stockings that stay up without the use of a suspender belt, usually with the help of silicone bands which help them stay in place on your thighs.

Hosiery gloves 
Thin (often cotton) gloves which can be worn while putting on sheer hosiery to help reduce the risk of snags from rough skin on the hands.

Nylon is a polyamide yarn. It is a man-made fibre, made from basic ingredients originating from the petrochemical industry. Nylon is naturally bright but can also be de-lustred to give a duller appearance. It can also be produced in differing cross-sections which give different handles and appearances.

Garment made from higher denier yarns (typically 40 denier and above) to give opacity.

Plain knit 
A weft knitted fabric in which all the loops are intermeshed in one direction. It is often referred to as smooth knit because of the uniform surface of this fabric.

Point heel 
Also known as a French heel, it's the type of heel on a fully fashioned stocking whereby the reinforced part tapers off to a point, helping to accentuate the length and shape of the leg.

Reciprocated (heel) 
Applied to the system for knitting a pouch or shaped heel on a circular knitting machine. Whilst knitting the heel the normal rotary motion of the machine converts to a forwards, backwards repetitive motion - hence the name. A common feature of sock machines, the reciprocated heel on fine hosiery is now fairly rare. Modern yarns will accommodate the shape of the foot so the expensive and complex process was abandoned by all but a few manufacturers. Reciprocated heels are also referred to as reinforced heels, so you'll see them on RHT ranges from the likes of Cervin, Eleganti, and more.

The term used to describe sections of a garment that have been strengthened to provide additional durability.

Reinforced heel and toe (RHT)
Generally stockings that have a reinforced (reciprocated) heel and toe. Classic RHTs are generally made from 100% non-stretch nylon, and along with fully fashioned stockings, are the most reminiscent of the golden era of the 1950s. Note - RHT stockings do not have a seam. RHT hold-ups and tights are also available, but the generic term RHT generally applies to stockings.

Sandal toe 
Sheer, invisible toe - ideal for wearing with strappy sandals or open toe shoes.

A widely used, but undefined term, commonly used to describe hosiery which can be seen through - ie the opposite end of the denier spectrum to opaque. Low deniers are more sheer (ie finer and more see-through). 

Silicone top 
Modern hold-ups have an elastic band sewn to the top which has silicone on its inner surface. The stocking stays in position by a combination of elasticity (in the band) and the friction of the silicone against the skin. The performance of the silicone is ruined by contact with body lotion or talc which reduces the friction and allows the garment to fall down. Therefore, if you're wearing hold-ups, don't use moisturiser where the silicone needs to grip!

Another term for hold-ups

Thigh-length hosiery in which each leg is separate, thereby requiring a suspender belt or similar to hold in place. In some countries, the word stockings is used as a generic term for hosiery. This is very wrong. Do not encourage it!

Suspender belt 
Belt which has straps to keep stockings in place. Common variants have four, six and eight straps. Known as a garter belt in the USA.

One piece hosiery in which the two legs are joined at the top via a kind of built-in brief section. In the USA, tights are called pantyhose, while the term tights is reserved for something altogether more opaque.

Ultra sheer 
Very fine hosiery, generally of less than 10 denier.

Waist cincher 
Somewhere between a girdle and very deep suspender belt with excellent waist-shaping properties. Occasionally wrongly referred to as a "clincher".

As a term specific to stockings it describes the double thickness at the stocking top used to take the suspender button/clasp.