Hosiery Terms Explained


Hosiery Terms Explained

We realise that buying hosiery online may be a little daunting at times as there are no shop staff to explain some of the terminology used. It often seems that terms used for tights and stockings are just made to baffle you, so we have compiled this list so that you can make more informed choices.


This is probably the most problematic term that our staff deal with on a daily basis.
The actual dictionary definition doesn't help either -

'A unit of weight by which the fineness of silk, rayon, or nylon yarn is measured, equal to the weight in grams of 9,000 metres of the yarn and often used to describe the thickness of hosiery'

Not a lot of help to most people!

To help put it into context, the thinner, or sheerer, the denier the lower numbers. For instance, 5 denier is just about the most sheer denier. This is the denier that will look almost invisible from a distance, just giving the leg a flawless look. Most ladies will keep 5 denier tights and stockings for special occasions as they are the most likely of the deniers to ladder with rough handling.


Sheer deniers are considered to be any up to 20 denier. The most popular deniers are 10 and 15 denier which are worn for everyday use. Up to 20 denier it shows your skin through, and the lighter colours will be influenced by your skin tone or even your suntan.

Sheer tights and stockings are available in gloss finish which gives a shiny look, or matt finish which has no shine. Sheer is also referred to as translucent or transparent, according to the manufacturer.

As mentioned earlier, sheers are most likely to suffer damage through rough handling or snagging with fingernails or similar. To avoid this we would advise the use of hosiery gloves, or indeed as one of our customers tips, washing up gloves!

Semi Sheer

This is normally considered to be 30 denier, a denier that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. Semi sheer allows a slight view of the skin through.


The term opaque actually means not letting light through, but in the hosiery world we consider anything that we cannot see through as an opaque. This is normally classed as 40 Denier upwards.
Due to the tighter weave of opaque tights they are much more resilient and tend to be much less likely to ladder or hole. Opaque tights come in a range of deniers as high as 200 or 300 denier and occasionally even higher. They are most popular in the winter and tend toward darker colours, though some of our manufacturers have an excellent range of brighter colours.


Tulle is a lightweight very fine net, which is named after a city in the southern central region of France. It is woven to create a hexagonal design which holds its shape and is a very strong weave. Veils are often made of a tulle netting as it obscures the features of the face but allows the wearer to see out.

Sandal Toe

The term sandal toe refers to the finish used to make it suitable to be worn with sandals! This means that the weave of the tight does not alter all of the way down to the seam at the toe. They are closed at the toe. It is worth mentioning here that we have never found any tights, stockings or hold ups that have no seam at the toe, it is the only way that they can finish what is essentially a tube!

Reinforced Toe

This is exactly as it sounds, the toe area has a reinforced weave which normally shows up as a slightly darker or more intensely woven part. Reinforced toes make the tights or stockings more durable as they will resist wear from the rubbing caused by the toe nail rubbing against the front of the shoe.


Exactly as it sounds, no toe at all. This means that the tights or hold ups will allow your perfectly pedicured toes to peep through. Some manufacturers incorporate little loops to go around the big and little toes while others rely on a band gripping around the foot above toe level. We try to incorporate this in the description as there may be occasions when the freedom of moving the toe-less part further up the foot suits the shoe, whilst the security of a loop around the toe stops them from riding up.

Panty Styles

Sheer to Waist

This refers to the leg finish actually going all of the way to the waistband so that there is no reinforced area showing at all. We see it everyday especially with the trend for shorts and tights - that tell tale band around the top of the leg peeking out is never a good look.

Reinforced Panty

Incorporated to make the panty area a bit stronger this shows as a more dense weave and normally darker in colour. This can be either in a briefs or boxer short style. The boxer short style is the one that appears below the shorts referred to in the sheer to waist terms!

Strip Panty

Also known as Suspender Tights these look like tights with the panty cut away at the front, back and sides to leave a 'suspender belt' look.

Open Gusset

A complete pair of tights except that the gusset area is left open. Some ladies prefer these as being more hygienic.

Hold Ups

Basically a pair of stockings that are designed to be worn without the need for a suspender belt. Normally there are silicone bands around the inside at the top which gently adhere to the leg. The latest technology means that today's hold ups are much more reliable than ever and will stay in place all day long. A tip to ensure that they do stay in place is to ensure that you do not apply any creams, lotions or talc immediately before wearing your hold ups as this will affect the grip of the silicone bands. Most hold ups have a lace top although increasingly there are plain top versions coming available.


Similar to hold ups, but without the ability to stay up without the use of a suspender belt. It may seem odd having to state that, but increasingly we have ladies saying that they just kept falling down!


What can we say? A tight fitting hosiery garment which sheathes the legs, hence the name. Americans know anything up to 40 denier as pantyhose, higher deniers become known as tights. Tights have been worn for centuries, originally by men, and now mainly by women and girls. Increasingly though men are returning to wearing tights, with brands adding styles specifically for them.