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Fishnets, Naughty or Nice

| Oct 27, 2014
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Sister House fishnet stockingsFishnet stockings are probably considered the ultimate accessory in completing a sexy outfit as there is something naughty and taboo about a leg covered in black or red fishnet. It is almost defiant. It is like the leg is covered but not really. Fishnet stockings scream, “I’m available.”

First seen in the United States in the early part of the 20th century, these tights were not something a respectable woman would wear. Today the same condemnation is still sometimes made. Many see fishnet tights as hot and sexy while others look at a girl wearing them and think she looks like a skank. It is no wonder that now, when considering slipping a pair on, women usually think twice.

1920s flapper in fishnet stockingsWhere they were in history is a major controversy. Many think the fishnet stocking was the trademark of the call girl. Others argue that it was a way to show some leg in the Flapper Era without actually going bare under those sweet little dresses. Then you hear of the ’50s housewife wearing fishnet stockings as she vacuumed the living room while the kids were in school. Who really knows where these sexy gems came from?
There is even talk that fishnets were found in Aesop’s fable, The Clever Peasant’s Daughter. In the fable, the girl is told to come “not clothed, not naked…” and so wraps herself in fishnet.

Stockholm prostitute

Stockholm prostitute

If you remember, fishnet stockings were made famous by the Moulin Rouge of Paris in the 1800s and then later the can-can girls went west to help ease the loneliness of the gold miners in the early days of the US. We saw lots of them in the westerns staring John Wayne and others. And the performance of Nicole Kidman and Ian McGreggor is memorable in Moulin Rouge.

Up until the 1960s, fishnets were only seen on prostitutes, “loose women,” and pin-up girls like Bettie Page, but for a brief stint in the ’60s, they were in style, as were all kinds of textured and colored stockings, along with short skirts and patent leather colored go-go boots, wild colors, etc.

It didn’t look “trashy” to us if all your normal average friends were wearing them, we thought they were a cute look, and not wearing them made you look dull and prudish. Fishnets, at that time, didn’t cost any more than any other type of textured hose — not expensive, sometimes a dollar more than regular hose or even for the same price at Kmart. Fancy stockings were a lot more common when miniskirts and legs were in style — you can’t have half your body in plain ole beige or suntan every day all the time — that would be boring.

hot model in micro-mini and fishnet stockingsPunks claimed fishnets as their own in the 1970s. Women in the subculture commonly wore them under miniskirts or micro-minis, often as a mockery of modern culture’s view of female sexuality. As Lauraine Leblanc put it, she was “taking what they and their society thinks is sexy and … making it ugly, because that’s what it is.”

It was not until the late 1980s, early 1990s that fishnets became much more popular in the United States. Models wore them down runways, and alternative teenagers stocked up on matte black fishnets to further the goth look. Most commonly, fishnets were sold as fishnet pantyhose or tights, though a few still chose to wear fishnet stockings with a garter belt. It also became more popular to wear fishnets underneath torn jeans.

In 2000, fishnet lost a bit of it’s alternativeness, and became, according to Deborah Boria, an “acceptable, sophisticated choice for leg wear.” Boria is executive director of merchandising and design at Sara Lee Hosiery, which holds licenses for DKNY and Donna Karan hosiery lines. More women began wearing fishnet hose to work, wearing them under knee length skirts.

In one article on “How To Look Girly” the author makes her claim for patterned tights/hose saying, “I became a patterned hose convert when my celebrity stylist friend talked me into dressing up a basic black dress with a pair. Since then, I have come to love patterned hose and tights. Although black fishnets are a classic, I like everything from chain-stitch to paisley and floral prints (all of these in black.) It feels younger than pantyhose, but still gives my legs some coverage.”

fishnet on average womanHere is an interesting extract from an article by John Manning:

Fishnets have become far more acceptable than in they once were, having made their way out of the shadowy darkness of clubs and burlesque shows, and into the bright light of modern urban women’s wear. Today, from thigh-highs to knee-highs, to the more common pantyhose style, fishnets are once again popular and are now an acceptable fashion legwear. Fishnet pantyhose are commonly worn with all types of clothing, whether under your torn jeans or accenting fun short summer dresses.

You can now find them in lavender, baby blue, or any other pastel color you so desire. If you are going with fishnet stockings for intimate play, go black. Black is the naughty color and a woman who normally wears lighter colors has more sex appeal for some reason. It is almost like even the best girl has a naughty part to her. The stigma of the trashy look on a woman drives men crazy. Men love to know their women are good girls but can look naughty for them only.

A very important rule about fishnets is smaller diamond shaped openings are usually better. While it is not impossible to acceptably wear tights with larger openings, it is harder to make them look not so skanky. Also, the amount of leg shown when wearing fishnet tights should always be considered. If the openings are larger, less leg is better. Try wearing them with boots and a longer skirt to show only a few inches of leg. That way it can give an outfit a little hint of sexiness without going to an extreme. Another thing to try is overlapping tights. Wear a solid colored tight and throw on fishnets over them. If you want your fishnets to really pop and be noticeable, try colors that contrast, such as black fishnets and hot pink tights underneath. Most will probably want a more subtle look for daywear. In that case, try something like dark blue tights and black fishnets. Nowadays, fishnets can be found in all kinds of colors, making the combinations plenty.

Fishnet looks


No matter what your taste and style are, fishnets are surprisingly flattering to legs; they are the perfect inexpensive and creative way to brighten up your year around wardrobe! Here are some sources that will help you achieve that perfect look for you. Thanks to my friend, Vikki LaFontaine, for suggesting this article.

Suddenly Femme • Herroom • Hips & Curves • Kuhmillion • I Love Sexy

For more great articles, visit Sister House and Tasi’s Blog

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Category: Style, Transgender Fashion


About the Author ()

Tasi was a transgender, married, lifelong crossdresser. She passed away in late 2018. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Tasi’s book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

Comments (3)

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  1. dina dina says:

    Every so often – not very often – I’ll see a woman wearing fishnet tights as a fashion accessory. The same with now-popular over-the-knee boots, I can’t help but wonder if she’s into some fetish. I know I shouldn’t think that automatically….but I do.

  2. tasidevil tasidevil says:

    Probably a good idea, Graham, but the latest patterned hose, like the zebra stripe shown, don’t likely have that problem…Tasi

  3. Graham Graham says:

    If I wear fishnets, I always have a pair of clear tights underneath. Fishnets never feel like “proper” tights to me … they’re not “substantial” enough, and I don’t like the feel of my feet sticking to the inside of my shoes (I’m told that it’s not good for the shoes either). Not only that, but a pair of regular tights helps prevent one’s big toe from breaking though the fishnet mesh … nothing looks worse with open sandals!

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