Knit or woven coverings for the feet and legs, worn inside shoes. In the 8th century BC, Hesiod referred to linings for shoes; the Romans wrapped their feet, ankles, and legs in long strips of leather or woven cloth. Knitted socks were discovered in Egyptian tombs of the 3rd–6th century AD. The first knitting machine was invented in England in the 16th century. Full-fashioned stockings were knitted flat, then shaped and seamed up the back by hand. In the 19th century, seamless stockings, mostly of cotton, were knitted on circular machines, but they did not fit well; seamless hose did not become popular until the 1940s, when nylon replaced silk for dress hose. Pantyhose were introduced in the 1960s.
Learn more about hosiery with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Hosiery is knitted coverings for the legs and feet. Also referred to as legwear, hosiery describes garments worn directly on the feet and legs. The term originated as the collective term for products of which a maker or seller is termed a hosier; and those products are also known generically as hose. The term is also used for all types of knitted fabric.
Most hosiery garments are made by knitting methods. Modern hosiery is usually tight-fitting by virtue of stretchy fabrics and meshes. Older forms include binding to achieve a tight fit. Due to its close fit, most hosiery can be worn as an undergarment, but it is more commonly worn as a combined under/outer garment.