Stockings: Thigh-length hosiery in which each leg is separate, thereby requiring a suspender belt or similar to hold in place. In some countries, the word stockings is used as a generic term for hosiery. This is very wrong. Do not encourage it!

Hold ups: Term given by Pretty Polly to self supporting stockings. Never registered, it is now regarded as the generic name for stockings that stay up without the use of a suspender belt, usually with the help of silicone bands which help them stay in place on your thighs.

Stay ups: Another term for Hold-ups.

Thigh highs:
 Another phrase for hold-ups, popular in the USA.

Fully fashioned: This refers to stockings that are knitted flat on vintage machinery, and then sewn up the back with a genuine seam and finishing loop. Genuine fully fashioned stockings are now very rare but much sought after. They're still made by Gio, Cervin and Gerbe, with non-stretch 100% nylon yarns on the original machinery from the 1950s.

Point heel: Also known as a French heel, it's the type of heel on a fully fashioned stocking whereby the reinforced part tapers off to a point, helping to accentuate the length and shape of the leg.

Cuban heel: Type of heel on a fully fashioned stocking whereby the reinforced part is squared off above the back of the ankle, rather than tapering to a point.

Finishing loop: The distinctive hole in the welt of a fully fashioned stocking. It's needed to allow the needle sewing the seam to be withdrawn.

RHT: The abbreviation of the Anglo-Saxon term ‘Reinforced Heel and Toe’, which is translated by strengthened points and heels. They were, around thirty years ago, the sign of real stockings in comparison with low “forgery” factory made in large quantities and among which the heel and the headland did not exist, because stockings were then a long shapeless tube. Nowadays, this term does not exist because real nylon stockings contain necessarily (so invisible they are) the point and the heel strengthened.

Classic RHTs are generally made from 100% non-stretch nylon, and along with fully fashioned stockings, are the most reminiscent of the golden era of the 1950s. Note - RHT stockings do not have a seam. RHT hold-ups and tights are also available, but the generic term RHT generally applies to stockings.

Tights: One piece hosiery in which the to legs are joined at the top via a kind of built-in brief section. In the USA, tights are called pantyhose, while the term tights is reserved for something altogether more opaque.

 Rather over-literal term for tights, as used in the USA and certain other countries. Mind you, Americans call curtains drapes.

Deniers: This is one of the most important terms, but quite easy to understand. It's a guide to whether the hosiery is sheer (see through) or opaque (not see through). Low deniers are sheer. High deniers are opaque.

any pair of stockings containing a digital indication on the dress handkerchief; the delicacy of the thread expressed in “Deniers”.

The Denier is a measure of Italian origin which corresponds to a 5 centigram weight.

The weight in deniers is determined by weighing a thread (Nylon, silk or rayon) 450 meters in length. For example, if 450 meter-long piece of thread weighs 5 grams, we say that it is about a thread of 100 deniers. The basic unit of 450 meters remaining invariable, the weight of the thread in deniers thus determines the gauge of this one. The lightest (in deniers) being the finest.

It thus seems clear that when we speak about 30-denier nylon stockings, it means that the thread used weighs 30 deniers per 450 meters fraction and that the thread of 15 deniers is necessarily twice as fine because it always weighs - for the same 450 meter unit - half less.

Thus retain only one thing : the denier is the unit of measure of the thickness - or of the delicacy - of a thread. 10 deniers being 3 times as fine as 30 deniers.

We classify anything less than 10 denier as ultra sheer. Ultra sheer hosiery looks great and is perfect for warmer weather, but you may need to take care as the fibres will be quite delicate.
Standard sheer hosiery tends to be in the 10-20 denier range. This is by far the biggest sector of the market, with the largest selection of products. For daily wear, 15 denier is a popular compromise between appearance and strength.
Higher deniers tend to be semi-opaque (around 30 denier) or fully opaque (45-50 and above) although there's significant debate about where one classification finishes and the next starts.

Denier appearance: Just to confuse things, certain yarns and some knit constructions produce hosiery which does not correlate with the true denier of the yarn. For example if the yarn is comparatively heavy, it can technically be a higher denier, but give the appearance of a lower denier when worn. In this case manufacturers will sometimes use the term "denier appearance" to indicate how it looks on the leg, rather than the less relevant, though technically more accurate true denier figure. We use the "denier appearance" figure in product descriptions when relevant as it's the most useful guide to the look and feel. The rating, however, is the manufacturer's subjective assessment.

Sandal toe: Sheer, invisible toe - ideal for wearing with strappy sandals or open toe shoes.

Shadow toe:
 A description given to a type of reinforcement to the fabric at the toe. It offers a less severe difference in fabric density to the full reinforced toe, but still offers some durability in a high stress area.

Sheer: A widely used, but undefined term, commonly used to describe hosiery which can be seen through - ie the opposite end of the denier spectrum to opaque. Low deniers are more sheer (ie finer and more see-through).

Ultra sheer: Very fine hosiery, generally of less than 10 denier.

 Garment made from higher denier yarns (typically 40 denier and above) to give opacity.

Semi opaque: A description given to hosiery styles which have evolved into position between sheer and opaque styles, typically from 25-35 denier.

Backhand: The backhand is the widest part at the top of the stocking. It is either wide (low of quality), or very narrow, sign of a stocking of less quality. The backhand is never elastic in the real traditional stocking, and is not nylon stretch material (nylon foams elastic).

Sub-backhand: The sub-backhand, as its name indicates it, is the narrow part below the backhand. It varies according to the manufacturing and must be balanced in proportion with the backhand. It just serves to make the connection between the top of the thick stocking and the most delicate part of the leg.

Heel: The heel is the part that bounds the heel at the level of the foot. For quality stockings, it is necessarily present, even if sometimes it is discreet even invisible. It allows maintaining the stocking in the good position by keeping the heel in a good position.

Headland: The headland is the part that recovers toes. The more stockings are luxurious, the more the headland is invisible, but always present and sewn to its extremity (and not welded as for certain stockings of inferior quality).

Welt : As a term specific to stockings it describes the double thickness at the stocking top used to take the suspender button/clasp.

Under welt: The band of fabric sometimes knitted beneath the double fabric of the stocking top (welt) is called the under welt. It can also be introduced as a decorative feature especially if printed.

Waist cincher: Somewhere between a girdle and very deep suspender belt with excellent waist-shaping properties. Occasionally referred to as a "clincher" but we know better!

Suspender belt (Garter belt): 
Belt which has straps to keep stockings in place. Common variants have four, six and eight straps, although it's possible to have up to 20, if you're mad. Known as a garter belt in the USA, but there again they call nappies diapers.

Girdle Foundation: Wear garment that gives shape to the waist and bottom while at the same time holding up stockings. Genuine classic girdles are still made today by Rago.

Hosiery: Defined as "knitted covering for the feet and legs". A general term covering tights, stockings, socks etc.

Hosiery gloves: Thin (often cotton) gloves which can be worn while putting on sheer hosiery to help reduce the risk of snags from rough skin on the hands.

Nylon: Nylon is a polyamide yarn. It is a man mad fibre, made from basic ingredients originating from the petrochemical industry. Nylon is naturally bright but can also be de-lustred to give a duller appearance. It can also be produced in differing cross-sections which give different handles and appearances.

Polyamide: The chemical name given to a class of man mad fibres. An alternative generic name for Nylon. Polyamide is sometimes used instead of the word Nylon in fibre content declarations.

Acrylic: A generic term for a type of man-made fibre, similar to natural fibres with characteristics of warmth and softness.

Lycra: Lycra is Du Pont's registered trade mark for elastane fibre. It is a man-made fibre that can be produced in a range of deniers and different types. The chief characteristic of Lycra is it's ability to stretch (up to five times it's original length) and recover totally. By controlling the tension of the Lycra in knitting, the strength of its elasticity can be controlled. Lycra can be used in it's bare form (i.e. no covering). This is the most economical, but is not suited to all applications. Alternatively, Lycra can be "single covered" or "double covered".

Microfibre: A yarn made up from large numbers of the fine filaments to produce exceptionally soft characteristics.

Micromesh: Type of knit construction incorporating tuck stitches usually in diagonal configuration to give improved durability characteristics.

Fibre content: The legal declaration of the composition of the garment. Sometimes you will see a phrase similar to "100% nylon excluding waistband." This is because the Lycra used in the waistband is classed as "trimming" and is not representative of the total garment construction and therefore does not need to be declared.