It is reasonable to start any hosiery review with a brief historical overview. Hose or stockings of the Renaissance period were the refined decendents of leggings introduced to Northern and Central Europe by "Northern Barbarians". These leggings were generally constructed of animal skins and held up at the waist by a leather belt or girdle, (a belt with ends that extend long past the buckle or fastener at the waist). They were often cross tied down the legs with strips of leather, and were worn mainly for warmth and protection. As the dark ages were drawing to a close, and the relative wealth and prosperity of the Renaissance began to spread throughout Europe, clothing fabrics and construction techniques became more refined. By the 1300s stockings were most commonly cut on the bias from fine woven fabrics such as silk, cotton, and wool, and sewn to fit as closely as possible to the leg. Also, hosiery wearing
was no longer done by a belt, but hose were tied through sets of holes in one's shirt, (what we think of as a doublet), or jerkin with lacings which were attached at intervals to the waist of the hose.
Particolour hosiery wearing
appeared in the 1400s, enjoyed a revival during the reign of Henry VIII, and lingered into the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth I. As hosery review
shows, in 1477 the Swiss gained a much heralded victory over the Duke of Burgundy. The soldiers mended their ragged uniforms with strips of tents and banners. Hosiery wearing could be fashioned so that at least one leg was slashed from waist to toe, revealing dramatic contrasting fabric beneath. But later they became puffy at the top and stuffed with horse hair, bran or other such material to support the elaborate slashing of the costly and heavy fabrics used. These slashes evolved into panes and ribbons at the top, with particoloured and/or slashed stockings, (what we think of as socks), from the knee down.
Although our modern interpretation of this pant-like garment is a separate pair of "puff pants", "breeches", or "pumpkin pants", in Renaissance times they were considered as part of the hosiery wearing. Very short puffs were refered to as trunk hose, popular in the early 1500s - so hosiery review goes. Puffs that extended to the knee were called canions, and those that extend beyond the knee called venetians, both of which were popular from the mid 1500s to the 1700s. The lower half of the hose, the close fitting garment that we think of as tights, were called netherhose, or netherstocks, and were tied to the upper half of the hose, much as the entire assemblage was described above as tying to the shirt, or with rich, conspicuous ribbon garters at the knee.
The popularity of hosiery
wearing can be accounted for by innate striving of people towards warmth and comfort. Nonetheless, different hosiery types can be a very sexy article of clothing and be worn specifically for the purpose of accentuating one's sexuality. For example, pantyhose or lace thigh-high stockings can add irresistible charm to a lady, provided that she feels good about her legs; they can also be a great draw for men, who claim this fact can be attributed to the naughty touch that is about them. This type of undergarment has firmly established itself on the consumer market.As our hosiery
review shows, this brings us back to our modern-day tights. Good, flat finished, (non-shiney), opaque tights can, under the above mentioned circumstances, be quite excellent stand-ins for the tight fitting, leg flattering, fine textured silk knit or woven hose worn by those we seek to honor with our re-enactments.