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Pantyhose (called tights in the United Kingdom and a few other countries) are sheer hosiery. They are close-fitting legwear, which cover the wearer's body from the waist to the feet. Mostly considered
to be a woman's and girl's garment, pantyhose appeared in the 1960s as a convenient alternative
to stockings and/or control panties (which, in turn, replaced girdles). Like stockings or knee highs, pantyhose are usually made of nylon, or of other fabrics blended with nylon. Pantyhose are designed to: be attractive in appearance, hide physical imperfections such as blemishes,
bruises, scars, hair or varicose veins, reduce visible panty lines,[1] and ease chafing between feet and footwear, or between thighs. Besides being worn as fashion, in Western society
pantyhose are sometimes worn by women as part
of formal dress. Also, the dress code of some companies and schools may require pantyhose or
fashion tights to be worn when skirts or shorts are worn as part of a uniform. Terminology The term "pantyhose" originated in the United
States and refers to the combination of panties (an American English term) with sheer nylon hosiery. In British English, these garments are called "tights", a term that refers to all such garments regardless of
whether they are sheer lingerie or sturdy
outerwear. In American English, the term "tights" typically refers to pantyhose-like garments made from
thicker material, which are generally opague or
slightly translucent. Opaque legwear made of
material such as spandex are often worn by both sexes for athletic activities or as utility clothing, and
are usually referred to as "leggings", a term that includes casual wear. The primary difference
between tights and leggings is that leggings can be
worn as outerwear, whereas tights are not. In most
cases, leggings will have a seam on the inside of the
leg, whereas the legs of tights will be seamless. History The history of pantyhose, as for stockings, is tied to
that of changes in styles of women's hemlines. Before the 1920s, it was generally expected that
women would cover their legs in public, including
their ankles; and dress and skirt hemlines were
generally to the ground. The main exceptions were
in sports and entertainment. In the 1920s,
fashionable hemlines for women began to rise, exposing the legs to just below the knees.
Stockings also came into vogue to maintain leg
coverage, as well as some level of warmth. The
most popular stockings were sheer hosiery which
were first made of silk or rayon (then known as "artificial silk"), and after 1940 of nylon, which had
been invented by DuPont in 1938. During the 1940s and 1950s, stage and film producers would
sew stockings to the briefs of their actresses and
dancers, as testified to by actress-dancer Ann Miller.