Stockings, also called hose are a costume which consists of two pieces and which cover the foot, ankle, and leg up to and sometimes including the thigh. In generic terms the stocking may be raised to the ankle, or it may cover the calf, knees or thighs. Occasionally the foot may be covered with a strap, leaving the ties and heels bare. Stockings are held up by their own elasticity or stretch, or by suspending them from garters hung from a belt around the waist. Hose, especially the thigh-high variety, can usually be adjusted for height by rolling them up and down. Stockings have two edges, one about each leg.
Tights, of which pantyhose are an example, are the union of stockings and a culotte. A unitard is the union of stockings and a maillot (or leotard). Gloves are the equivalent garment to stockings that apply to the arms.
Stockings in Swimwear
Although they have little place in a world of bikinis, stockings played a significant role in the early history of the swimsuit.
Prior to the 19th century they are a standard complement to the bathing dress, and cover the legs in all bathing dress silhouettes, even the last of these, the bathing dress shortsleeved and the sleeveless, popularized by the Gibson Girl.
But a careful look at pinup pictures of the period will demonstrate that exposure of the top of the stocking is an erotic zone of the era. This is accomplished by bathers lifting their skirts (PC0L76), and by "carelessness" in how they choose to sit and lie on the beach (PC0640). And by the wind (PC0712).
The Unitard Invention
Stockings also play a role in the invention of the "Annette Kellerman suit," the one-piece body covering unitard. Legend has it Kellerman invented the unitard by sewing together a men's swimming leotard and black stockings, creating a swimsuit that completely covered the body but had no over-skirt. With the unitard not just the legs are covered with form-fitting fabric--the entire body is.
Maillot Pantaloons and Leggage
After Kellerman invents the maillot pantaloon by cutting the legs off at the thigh stocking again play a major role in the swimsuit, only this time they complement the pantaloon by covering the lower portion of the leg, permitting the knee to be bare. This is true for both the maillot pantaloon (VG00B0_068) as well as its skirted sister, the maillot skirted pantaloon (DD1850). The relationship between the rising legline and the descending stocking over time is illustrated in the Legline Graph 1900-1920 (BSD8832).