Socks and Hosiery Defined


 

 Caveat Emptor Series

Hosiery, Socks, and All Their Many Synonyms ... Defined

       
Thigh-highs are women's socks which come to mid-thigh.
So are StayUps. Men's Long Anklet is the same sock as one called Mid-Calf.
Women's Knee-Highs are the same as Men's Over-the-Calf ... except for gender. Are Tights different from Pantyhose? Crew from Mid-calf? Thoroughly Confused yet? Read on ...
       
Let's start with the most basic: Hosiery is knitted apparel made to cover the foot and/or leg and/or waist. It is made from a variety of fibers, the better ones of which include merino wool, cotton, nylon, silk, Spandex, and linen. Hosiery in its various forms includes everything which is more specifically defined ... in order from shortest to longest ... below.
       
       


 Items Commonly Called "Socks" ...


       

No-Show Loafer Socks
Women

Loafer Socks are low socks completely within the shoe to offer comfort and prevent perspiration from inundating the show. Similar to peds but with a high cotton content and more "cushion".
No-Show Socks

No-Show Loafer/Sneaker Socks

No-Show Loafer Socks
Men
Same as Loafer Socks for Women.
No-Show Socks

No Show Loafer Socks

       

Trainers
Women

Trainers are low socks either completely within the shoe or just slightly above the shoe top. The term is often used for athletic socks.
Trainers

Trainer Length Socks

Trainers
Men
Same as Trainers for Women.

Trainers

Trainer Length Socks

       
Peds
Women
Lower than Trainers and meant to be completely hidden. Usually made of nylon in nude color.
Rarely but sometimes available in cotton.
Occasionally available in black to accompany loafers.
Peds

Womens French Cotton Peds

Peds
No Such Style Specifically for Men
See No-show loafer socks above for the men's version of Peds.

Black Peds

       
Shortys or Socklettes
Women
Socks which end slightly above the ankle.
Usually about 4"-6" from the heel to the top.
A new style trending upward as a fashion item.
Shortys

Women's Shortys Socks

Socquette
Women
Similar to Shortys, Socquettes (Fr.) are knitted of hosiery yarns rather than sock yarns.
Socquettes


See the Hosiery Section below for more information about yarns.

Women's Soquettes

       
Crew, Sport, or
Athletic Socks
Women
Socks which end approximately slightly below halfway between the ankle and the knee.
Usually made of cotton terry.
Womens Athletic Socks

Women's Athletic/Sport Socks

Crew, Sport, or
Athletic Socks
Men
Socks which end approximately slightly below halfway between the ankle and the knee. Usually made of cotton terry. For some sports (e.g.: basketball) they go up to the knee.
Mens Athletic Socks

Men's Crew/Athletic/Sport Socks

       
Ankle Length or
Trouser Socks
Women
Socks which come midway up the calf or approximately halfway between the ankle and the knee.
Usually about 8"-10" from the heel to the top.
Trouser Socks

Ankle or Trouser Length Socks

Mid-Calf or
Long Anklet
Men
Socks which come midway up the calf or approximately halfway between the ankle and the knee.
Usually about 10"-13" from the heel to the top.
Mid-Calf Socks

Mid-Calf or Long Anklet socks

       
Knee-High Socks
Women
Socks which end just below the knee.
Usually about 15"-16.5" from the heel to the top. Often called Knee Socks.

The different terminology for these vs. mens' O.T.C. socks is strictly gender-based.
Knee-High Socks

Knee-High Socks

Over-the-Calf Socks
Men
Socks which end just below the knee. Usually about 16.5"-19" from the heel to the top. Frequently abbreviated as O.T.C. or just OTC. Often (erroneously) called Knee Socks or Knee-Highs.

The different terminology for these vs. womens' Knee-High socks is strictly gender-based.
Over-the-Calf Socks

Over-the-Calf Socks





    Who Wears Knee-Highs and O.T.K.'s?
       
 Alexa Chung  Ferne Cotton  Kate Moss  Jessica Alba

Alexa Chung

Ferne Cotton

Kate Moss

Jessica Alba





Over-the-Knee (OTK)
or Parigina Socks
Women
Socks which end a few inches above the knee.
Usually about 20"-22" from the heel to the top.

OTK's are not only practical (warmth) but make a strong fashion statement as well.
Over-the-Knee Socks

Over-the-Knee Socks

No Such Current
Style for Men
Although in the early to mid 20th century such socks were widely available for men, the advent of central heating has put them in the category of relic. Their revelance continues for women wearing skirts as a matter of warmth ... so we provide an additional distaff style photo.

Over-the-Knee Socks

       
Thigh-High Socks
Women
Socks which end at least midway up the thigh. Usually about 24"-28" from the heel to the top.
Not only providing a great deal of warmth - especially in the cashmere & silk versions, Thigh-Highs are extremely popular as a fashion accessory.
Thigh-High Socks

Thigh-High Socks

Leg Warmers
Men or Women
Socks which have no foot. Instead they have a top and bottom cuff and range between 12"-18" long.

Worn not only for warmth, Leg Warmers are often seen as a layer over other socks or hosiery as a style item.
Leg Warmers

Leg Warmers

       




Who


Wears


What?

 

Chloe Sevigny

Sarah Parker

Victoria Beckham

       


 Items Commonly Called "Hosiery" ...


       
The yarns from which socks are knitted are designated by Yarn Number.
Hosiery yarns are measured by Denier. Though the difference is technical, socks are usually termed "thin", "thick", and the like.
Hosiery, on the other hand, is sold by Denier number which makes this relevant to the consumer, so ...
Commonly available hosiery Deniers range from 8 to 70. Some of the popular weights are:
8-10 Denier: Virtually invisible - Bare as you dare.
15 Denier: Less "see-through" - A bit more tonality.
40 Denier: Close to opaque. Often made in bright colors.
70 Denier: Opaque. Bold colors common. Offers warmth.
       
StayUps
Women
StayUps is the generally accepted term for Thigh-Highs made of hosiery yarns.
Ending at or slightly above mid-thigh, StayUps get their name from the silicone bands inside the top cuff which adhere to the leg and make the hose stay up.
Naturally, they are often also called Thigh-Highs.
Stay-Ups

StayUps Hosiery

Stockings
Women
Similar to StayUps, Stockings do not have the silicone bands and can only be worn with a garter belt. Stockings were the original form of womens' hosiery before the invention of the circular knitting machine permitted the creation of modern hosiery. As such, they are usually still made with the traditional rear seam.
Stockings

Stockings Hosiery

       
Sheer Tights
or Pantyhose
Women
Tights in all forms are stockings integrally knitted with a panty. Sheer Tights are those knitted in Deniers ranging approximately from 8 to 15. Though the terms Sheer Tights and Pantyhose are commonly interchangeable, Sheer Tights generally indicates greater cachet and higher quality as shown by the timeless elegance of Gerbe's Plumetis 10 traditional dots in the photo.
Pantyhose/Tights

Sheer Tights or Pantyhose

Tights
Women
Again, Tights are stockings knitted with an integral panty. When termed Tights they are generally accepted to be knitted of a higher Denier in the 40-70 range and often of bold, bright colors. Thus they are either semi-opaque or completely so. The Gerbe-Paris Futura 40 tights in the photo are a perfect example. At 40 Denier, they are virtually opaque. The Paprika color offers a good idea of what "bright & bold" means.
Tights

Tights Hosiery

       
Capri Tights
Women
Like the pants of the same name but knitted of hosiery yarns, Capri Tights are cut to end below the calf.

Very fashionable, they are almost always of an opaque thickness as shown by the Gerbe Opaque 70 in the photo. As with most opaques, they are usualy available in bolder colors.
Capri Tights

Capri Tights

Leggings or
Treggings
Women and Men
When termed Leggings, these can be knitted of opaque or translucent thicknesses and meant as outerwear. Also called Long Underwear, leggings can be meant as an underlayer for the purpose of added warmth. We offer hosiery leggings (Gerbe-France) and warm, fashion leggings of cashmere and cashmere/silk (Bresciani-Italy).
Leggings


Treggings (Trousers+Leggings) are are meant to be worn as outerwear. The Gerbe Treggings in the photo are a perfect example. Our Cashmere & Silk Tights in the photo are "innerwear" but can be used as outerwear with a skirt.
Treggings

Leggings or Treggings

       


 Essential Miscellany ...
Some of the definitions above use technical or uncommon terms which are defined here.


       
Reinforced Toe
Women
Reinforced toes are knitted with extra yarns for strength. They appear different from the remainder of the hosiery.
Click the photo for a clear view.

Hosiery - Reinforced Toe

Sandalfoot
Women
One style of Sandalfoot has no reinforcing yarns and the toes appear the same as the hosiery. They are more attractive with sandals or peep toes. Use caution as the toe can be easily ripped. Another Sandalfoot style is made with no toes at all and can also be worn with thong-type sandals.

SandalFoot

       
Gusset
Women
The Gusset is the small oval crotch-piece used for hygenic reasons.

No matter the fibre of the hosiery, top quality hosiery will feature a pure cotton or silk gusset.

Hosiery Gusset

Seamed Back or
Full Fashioned
Women
Back in the day ... hosiery was knitted flat and then sewn together in the rear. Select top quality hosiery is still made that way as are the Gerbe Sevilla Micro Fishnets in the photo. Other qualities are made with a fake seam is sewn in the rear.

Seamed Back Hosiery

       
Top Cuff
Women and Men
The "Cuff" of socks is the more elastic, more densely knitted top section. Its purpose is to keep the socks from falling down.

Shown in the photo is the more commonly used single cuff. These are usually about 2" long.

Single Top Cuff

Double Top Cuff
(Usually only) Men
Shown in this photo is the less frequently seen double cuff. These range from 3"-4.5" long.

It is worth noting here that, no matter which cuff is used, Mid-Calf socks have nowhere near the stay-up ability of Over-the-Calf or Knee-High socks due to the physics of the shape of the leg.

Double Top Cuff

       


Any More Questions?

Comment? Need to know more? Tell us! We're always happy to hear from you.



 Thank You ...
The socks and hosiery pictured in this article are from the following artisans:
Gerbe-Paris, Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons, and Bresciani 1970.
All are available from here on this site.