In love with a vintage gal? Looking for a stocking stuffer? I suggest more stockings. And none of that Leg Avenue garbage, either. I’m talking about the real deal here. Full fashioned, keyhole-welted, seamed, reinforced.*
These specialty items are difficult, although not impossible, to find at brick-and-mortar stores, but are readily available online. This close to Christmas, shipping times are an issue so while many vendors ship overseas, you’ll probably want to stay closer to home for now. The top of the heap for U.S. customers has to be Secrets In Lace, which carries Dita Von Teese line as well as a broad selection of other stockings and a full selection of underpinnings. In the U.K., What Katie Did will be glad to help you out. These companies are fully engaged in what they do, and they carry quality products. They’re not the only horses in the barn, though. You may also find just what your gal wants at MyTights, Christel and StockingsHQ (U.K.), or StockingStore, StockinGirl, GirdleBound, or Alexis4U (U.S.). A search for “full-fashion stockings” on Google will bring up a bevy more.
While you hunt around, you may run into some terms that you’re unfamiliar with. Here’s a quick glossary that I hope will help un-muddle your head while you shop:
- Cuban Heel: A reinforced heel that is blocked (squared off) at the back of the ankle
- Denier: Unit of weight by which yarn is measured, used to describe the sheerness of hosiery
- French Heel: A reinforced heel that comes to a point at the back of the ankle, also called Point or Pyramid
- FF, Full Fashioned: Nylon stockings, knitted flat and shaped to fit the leg by decreasing the number of stitches towards the ankle, sewn together at the back to create our beloved seam
- Hold Ups: See Stay Ups, below
- Keyhole: Formed by doubling over the welt and then leaving a small section un-seamed, a foolproof way to determine if the stockings are full-fashioned or circular-knit
- Manhattan Heel: A reinforced heel with a decorative outline
- Pantyhose: Hosiery with an attached panty. Not what we’re discussing here.
- RHT: Reinforced Heel and Toe
- Stay Ups: The U.K. equivalent of the U.S. Thigh High. These are elasticized to “stay up” on their own, without the need for garters (suspenders in the U.K.). And what fun is that?
- Thigh Highs: See Stay Ups, above
- Tights: See Pantyhose, above
- Welt: Knit in a heavier denier yarn and folded double to give strength for supporter fastening
Remember, FF stockings don’t have much stretch, and are therefore not one-size-fits-all. Don’t try to do this without at least some insight into the recipient’s actual size/shape, or the stockings may come up too short on the thigh, and/or bag at the ankle. I myself have, ahem, fuller thighs and honestly don’t mind occasionally giving up the authenticity of FF in exchange for a better fit. Additionally, there are very few of the original machines left that can still knit full-fashioned stockings, and the prices reflect that.
*Leg Avenue makes at least one model of FF stockings, and I can tell you from personal experience that they are awful. Terrible fit and they ran the first time I wore them. Unless you have thick ankles, skinny thighs, and glass-smooth skin: stay away.
TRUTH IN BLOGGING: None of the companies mentioned above have given me anything in exchange for writing this post. But I wish they would. :)