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Tights are a kind of cloth garment, most often sheathing the body from the waist to the toe tips with a tight fit, hence the name. They come in absolute opaque, opaque, sheer and fishnet styles — or a combination, such as the original concept of the American term pantyhose with sheer legs and opaque panty.
When made of fine silk, this hosiery was considered to be a stocking. When nylon fibers were developed and introduced in the 1940s, these stockings were referred to as nylons. When the separate legs were woven together with a panty that covered the lower torso up to the waist in a single, integrated format, the term pantyhose was coined, since it was a one piece construction of a panty with a pair of separate hose, one for each leg. This joining together eliminated any need for garters for holding up each separate leg covering.
In American English, the difference between pantyhose and tights is determined in the weight of the yarn used and the density or tightness of weaving to which the garment is knitted. Generally, anything up to forty denier in the leg or overall is known as pantyhose and anything over that can be classified as tights, as for example 'running tights' and 'cycling tights'. Tights can be sheer yet solid in colour, whereas leggings are practically or absolutely opaque, not sheer. Thus, the almost-opaque tights are sometimes labelled as semi-opaque and are not considered suitable as pants due to being too revealing or immodest. In the United Kingdom, the word "tights" is used for footed garments, which would always be worn under another item of clothing such as shorts or a skirt, while "leggings" refers to footless leg-wear of any denier, the exception being ballet tights which may have an opening under the sole allowing them to be rolled up to expose the foot without removing the garment. The word 'pantyhose' is not used in British English.
There are many sub-classifications of tights or pantyhose that describe the precise construction (such as control top, seamless, support and sheer). Although most tights are mainly nylon or cotton, lycra is normally included in modern blends to improve fit. Athletic tights are absolute opaque and often footless, although they may have a "stirrup" that goes under the foot to hold the cuff down near the ankle.
Originally, leggings covered only the legs (not the lower torso); were two separate pieces; and did not contain elastic fibres, so were cut close fitting (to use less fabric) and were loose, not tight.[ citation needed ]
Originally derived from the hose worn by European men several centuries ago, tights were made as close fitting as possible for practical reasons when riding horseback. For men of nobility, the material would be made of silk or fine wool rather than the coarser fabrics used by the lower classes. At the time of King Henry VIII of England, such was the male fashion for displaying a well turned leg that even the king padded the calf area under his hose. Portrait paintings of him and other nobility often portray the wearing of a cod piece covering the groin.
In both historic and modern times, the wearing of tight hosiery by males has been associated with an accompanying garment fitted at the groin over the male genitalia. In the 15th century, some men wore an elaborate and decorative cod piece to accentuate their endowment. In modern times, tights intended for dancers are usually opaque, althouth their form-fitting nature can still reveal the exact contours of the anatomy underneath. Male ballet dancers generally wear a dance belt beneath their tights both to provide support to the genitalia and to promote a smooth, regular appearance. Wearing two pairs of tights is also a common practice among male dancers, as it guards against the combination of stretched fabric and bright stage lights making them appear translucent.
The wearing of tights has a history going back several centuries, when they were worn by both men and women. Today, they are worn primarily by women and girls. In recent years, however, they have been offered as men's fashion.
Tights are most commonly worn with a skirt or dress by women. They are also most commonly worn under trousers or shorts by men.
In the world of theater tights are also common, especially in Renaissance-era costumes, and dance, particularly in ballet.
The term "tights" has been used to try to ridicule certain traditional British uniform. Most famously the Serjeants-at-Arms at the Palace of Westminster, after a protester got past the security, were described in the media as "middle aged men in tights."
For horseback riding, "tights" in some equestrian circles can refer to tightly fitting riding pants of light material that extend all the way down to the rider's ankle and worn with a 'paddock' style (ankle height) boot. Such pants are worn in summer or as an undergarment in winter. In warm climates they can be worn all year round. These "riding tights" are cheaper to buy than jodhpurs or breeches which are a type of riding pant made of heavier material and which extends only to mid calf length and are intended to be worn with tall riding boots.
Tights can also describe the leg coverings worn in bicycling in cold weather and in other athletic activities, especially by runners. These tights are usually a thicker spandex-blend, and are usually footless. It has also been advocated by some sport scientists that the wearing of tights can reduce muscle tissue vibration.
Athletic tights received some publicity during the 2005–2006 basketball season, when players started wearing the ankle-length tights under their uniform shorts. A prominent NBA player, Kobe Bryant, was one of the first to wear tights, and the style was subsequently adopted by several other NBA players, as well as some college and high school players. The style sparked controversy, leading to proposals to prohibit wearing tights with basketball uniforms.
In colder temperatures outdoors, American football players sometimes wear spandex tights next to their skin beneath their normal padded stretchy, tightly fitted pants. In British English such garments are referred to as 'skins'. Athletic tights are considered unisex.
Because the fabric used in tights is made of interwoven fabric such as nylon or cotton, there are pores in the fabric where modern manufacturers have been able to place other items which benefit the skin. They can use microencapsulation techniques to place substances such as moisturizers and other skin creams in the tights.[ citation needed ]
Tights are manufactured in many different varieties for stylistic and comfort reasons. Certain leg wear designs include a darker brief or no visible brief at all, the former being used to create extra support or a shaping effect.
One area where design is vastly different from model to model is in the toe area. There are several varieties of toe type, such as sandal toes, open toes and reinforced, all offering different effects. Whilst some descriptions of the difference between open toe and sandal toe can cause confusion, the industry standard is that a sandal toe covers the whole foot but without a seam that would be visible in an open shoe, and open toe tights use either a silicone band or toe loops to anchor the garment whilst leaving the toes uncovered.
Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, 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, and its thickness and weight is defined by denier or opacity. Lower denier measurements of 5 to 15 describe a hose which may be sheer in appearance, whereas styles of 40 and above are dense, with little to no light able to come through on 100 denier items.
A leotard is a unisex skin-tight one-piece garment that covers the torso from the crotch to the shoulder. The garment was made famous by the French acrobatic performer Jules Léotard (1838–1870). There are sleeveless, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved leotards. A variation is the unitard, which also covers the legs.
A skin-tight garment is a garment that is held to the skin usually by elastic tension using some type of stretch fabric. Commercial stretch fabrics ('elastomerics') such as spandex or elastane came onto the market in 1962, and revolutionized many areas of the clothing industry. A wide variety of clothing may be made to be skin-tight, and it is common for clothing to be skin-tight for some uses, such as in stockings, bodystockings, swimsuits and women's bras.
Spandex fetishism is a fetishistic attraction to people wearing form-fitting stretch fabrics or to the wearing of items of clothing made of such material. Spandex garments are often worn by swimmers, gymnasts, ballet dancers, wrestlers, rowers, cyclists, contortionists and circus performers, and spandex fetishists may incorporate fantasies about these activities into their particular fetish.
Stockings are close-fitting, variously elastic garments covering the leg from the foot up to the knee or possibly part or all of the thigh. Stockings vary in color, design, and transparency. Today, stockings are primarily worn for fashion and aesthetics, usually in association with mid-length or short skirts.
Pantyhose, sometimes also called sheer tights, are close-fitting legwear covering the wearer's body from the waist to the toes. Pantyhose first appeared on store shelves in 1959 for the advertisement of new design panties as a convenient alternative to stockings and/or control panties which, in turn, replaced girdles.
A bodystocking or body stocking is a one-piece skin-tight garment that covers the torso, legs and sometimes the arms of the wearer. It is a foundation garment or an article of lingerie usually made from a sheer fabric similar to that used for stockings or pantyhose, or from fishnet, lace or an opaque material, or a variation of these materials. A bodystocking differs from a unitard, which is worn as an outfit or article of clothing, and a leotard, which is used as a practice garment or performance costume for acrobats, gymnasts and other similar performers. Designed to be revealed, but not to be too revealing, bodystockings may be worn as undergarments by performers such as belly dancers and exotic dancers.
Leg warmers are coverings for the lower legs, similar to long socks but thicker and generally footless. Leg warmers are worn to keep the lower legs warm in colder weather. They can be tubular sleeves, long fabric wrappings, or simple pieces of fur or fabric tied around the calves. They are used in several outdoor activities and sports including cycling, soccer, hockey, hiking, ice skating, and dance.
Leggings are several types of leg attire that have varied through the years. Modern usage from the 1960s onwards has come to refer to elastic close-fitting high-rise garments worn over the legs typically by women, such as leg warmers or tights. Usage from the 18th century refers to men's wear usually made of cloth or leather that is wrapped around the leg down to the ankle. In the 19th century, leggings usually referred to infants' leg clothing that were matched with a jacket, as well as leg-wrappings made of leather or wool and worn by soldiers and trappers. Leggings prominently returned to women's fashion in the 1960s, drawing from the form-fitting clothing of dancers. With the widespread adoption of the synthetic fibre Lycra and the rise in popularity of aerobics, leggings came to further prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, and eventually made their way into streetwear. Leggings are a part of the late 2010s into the 2020s athleisure fashion trend of wearing activewear outside sporting activities and in casual settings.
Gaiters are garments worn over the shoe and bottom of the pant or trouser leg, and used primarily as personal protective equipment; similar garments used primarily for display are spats.
Jodhpurs, in their modern form, are tight-fitting trousers to the ankle, where they end in a snug cuff, and are worn primarily for horse riding. The term is also used as slang for a type of short riding boot, also called a paddock boot or a jodhpur boot, because they are worn with jodhpurs. According to Tara Mayer, "Jodhpurs … exemplify the material and cultural exchanges between Britain and its Indian colony in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."
Informal wear or undress, also called business wear, corporate/office wear, tenue de ville or dress clothes, is a Western dress code for clothing defined by a business suit for men, and cocktail dress or pant suit for women. On the scale of formality, it is considered less formal than semi-formal wear but more formal than casual wear. Informal or undress should not be confused with casual wear such as business casual or smart casual; most situations calling for “informal wear” will usually tolerate casual dress to varying extents.
A garter is an article of clothing comprising a narrow band of fabric fastened about the leg to keep up stockings. In the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, they were tied just below the knee, where the leg is most slender, to keep the stocking from slipping. The advent of elastic has made them less necessary from this functional standpoint, although they are still often worn for fashion. Garters have been widely worn by men and women, depending on fashion trends.
Clothing fetishism or garment fetishism is a sexual fetish that revolves around a fixation upon a particular article or type of clothing, a particular fashion or uniform, or a person dressed in such a style.
Hold-ups or stay-ups are stockings with an elasticized band at the top, designed to hold the stockings up when worn, without the use of a garter belt or garters. Thigh highs are held up by one or more bands sewn to the top that is backed with silicone on its inner surface. This ensures the thigh highs stay in position because of the elastic and the friction of the silicone against the skin. The silicone can become ineffective by contact with body lotions, oils and talcum powder, as they all reduce the friction of the silicone. Thigh highs are designed so that the elastic band exerts just the right pressure on the wearer's thigh, avoiding any uncomfortable tightness or unflattering muffin-top effect. Sometimes thigh highs are preferred to pantyhose for hygiene reasons, because they reduce excessive microbial growth around the groin due to humidity and warmth.
Sheer fabric is fabric which is made using thin thread or low density of knit. This results in a semi-transparent and flimsy cloth. Some fabrics become transparent when wet.
Underwear, underclothing, or undergarments are items of clothing worn beneath outer clothes, usually in direct contact with the skin, although they may comprise more than a single layer. They serve to keep outer clothing from being soiled or damaged by bodily excretions, to lessen the friction of outerwear against the skin, to shape the body, and to provide concealment or support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional warmth. Special types of undergarments have religious significance. Some items of clothing are designed as undergarments, while others, such as T-shirts and certain types of shorts, are appropriate both as underwear and outerwear. If made of suitable material or textile, some underwear can serve as nightwear or swimwear, and some undergarments are intended for sexual attraction or visual appeal.
Underwear fetishism is a sexual fetishism relating to undergarments, and refers to preoccupation with the sexual excitement of certain types of underwear, including panties, stockings, pantyhose, bras, or other items. Some people can experience sexual excitement from wearing, while others get their excitement when observing, handling, or smelling the underwear worn by another, or watching somebody putting underwear on or taking it off.
Stirrup pants or stirrup leggings are a type of close-fitting women's pants that taper at the ankle, similar to leggings, except that the material extends to a band, or strap, that is worn under the arch of the foot to hold the pant leg in place. The band of material is often elasticized to prevent the material around the foot from tearing. Stirrup pants were originally sportswear for women, and remain sportswear for horse riding and skiing. However, they have come in and out of fashion during the 20th and early 21st centuries, peaking in popularity as street fashion during the 1980s to the mid 1990s.
A girdle is a form-fitting foundation garment that encircles the lower torso, extending below the hips, and worn often to shape or for support. It may be worn for aesthetic or medical reasons. In sports or medical treatment, a girdle may be worn as a compression garment. This form of women's foundation replaced the corset in popularity, and was in turn to a larger extent surpassed by pantyhose in the 1960s.