I take a lot of things for granted in today’s shopping world and the ability to own tights in an array of colors and patterns is one of them. I couldn’t feel comfortable in a micro-mini without a good opaque pair. I funk up a simple black skirt with a fun patterned pair. But women didn’t always have tights to do this.
The fabric behind today’s tights, lycra, was actually invented by DuPont in 1935, but wasn’t commercially available in the form of nylon hosiery until the 1940′s. Previously, hosiery had been made from silk. It was expensive and fragile. From Wikipedia: Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides, first produced on February 28, 1935, by Wallace Carothers at DuPont’s research facility at the DuPont Experimental Station. Nylon is one of the most commonly used polymers.1
In the first year on the market, DuPont sold over 64 million pairs of nylons. That’s amazing! But the evolution continued until we had the opaque types we see today and in the 1960′s, tights appeared, allowing for the influx of shorter skirts. The popularization of tights (or panty hose – meaning that there is a panty attached to the hose rather than being held up by garters) is usually attributed to Twiggy in 1965, but was invented by Allen Gant Sr. in 1959. Some giggle-worthy early names for panty hose were: Pantie Tights and Panty Legs.
The evolution went from there, giving women the freedom to wear shorter shirts and really get creative with their legwear all the way to today when we can wear stretchy pants that are way too comfortable to change out of when we leave the house.
Even though wearing tights went out of style for a while in the 1990′s, it’s back with a vengeance, but now they are seen as more of an accessory to jazzing up an outfit than a necessity. Here are a few of our faves: