I’ve gone through my fair share of hosiery over the years, and mainly because I learnt the hard way how not to care for it. And whilst it didn’t seem like that big a deal to ladder a pair of £2 or £3 stockings, this year I’ve been investing in better quality hosiery and well, ruining a pair of £20 or £30 stockings on the first wear is more than slightly annoying.
I should point out though that the quality of stockings (and how long they’ll last) isn’t necessarily linked to price. Agent Provocateur’s £60 silk stockings were full of pulls after just a couple of wears, whereas I’ve worn my new Veneziana Madlene stockings that cost just £6.50 five or six times already and they look as good as the first time I put them on.
So, learnt from experience, here are my top 9 ways to wear, wash and store your hosiery to keep it in great condition for as long as possible…
Most hosiery, especially of the sheer / low denier kind, is pretty delicate. That doesn’t mean it should only be saved for ‘special occasions’ though; if you follow the steps below you can wear nice hosiery every day without ruining it (that’s a different pair every day – rule number one is to always wash between wears!).
- Wear Gloves – not all day of course, but when you’re putting your hosiery on or taking it off. I’ve caught a hundred pairs of stockings on a ring or nail that I didn’t know was broken until there was a great big hole in my brand new hosiery. Any soft, smooth gloves will work – satin, cotton and so on.
- Put Them On Properly – You want to avoid pulling on the fabric as much as possible which can stretch the stockings out of shape. Bunch them up (with those gloves on!) until you get right to the toe, then put that on, ensure the seam at the toe is straight and slowly pull them all the way up. If you get them on and decide they need to be higher, don’t just yank the top – unroll them down to the knee or so and then back up, pulling a little more on the fabric this time.
- Take Them Off Properly – To take your hosiery off simply do the opposite of putting them on – start at the top and roll them down gently without ever pulling. Whilst a burlesque stocking peel might look cool, don’t do it unless you don’t mind stretching them out!
- Wear Slippers! – One of the first places to wear out on any hosiery is the underside of the foot, since you’re walking around on them all day. Ill-fitting shoes that rub can wear thin patches into your hosiery, but no shoes is just as bad. At home, you should wear slippers if you’re not wearing shoes to keep your tights or stockings in good condition. Oh, and get a pedicure – toenails can catch on stockings as much as fingernails!
No matter how well you take care of your tights or stockings when you’re wearing them, you can ruin them in just one wash. I used to think my sheer pairs of stockings became full of pulls because they were low quality or just old, but in turns out I wasn’t washing them correctly – even the most delicate, regularly-worn stockings can last for many months if you wash them correctly, and that includes cheap ones.
- Hand Wash – I hand-wash all my lingerie and I recommend you do too, but if you only wash one thing by hand let it be your hosiery. The fabric is just too delicate for machine washing. If you absolutely must put them in a washing machine, pop them inside a lingerie wash bag to stop buttons or hooks on other garments snagging, and wash them on the ‘hand wash’ or delicate setting, but it’s still not as good as spending just a couple of minutes doing it yourself.
- Don’t Wring Them – Once they’re washed, don’t wring the water out which over-stretches the fabric. Instead, just squeeze them gently. Generally the fabric is so fine it’ll dry quickly anyway once lain out over a clothes horse, so it doesn’t matter if they’re still pretty damp when you leave them to dry.
- Don’t Tumble Dry – If a washing machine is bad then a tumble dryer is terrible for hosiery. It’s especially damaging to hosiery with elastic and to hold-ups with silicone tops. After just a tumble-dry or two that stretch is gone and your stay-ups become don’t-stay-ups. Some natural hosiery fabrics like silk or wool can become totally misshaped thanks to the heat of a tumble dryer too.
Last but not least, you need to take care of your hosiery even when it’s sitting at the back of your drawer!
- Store Separately – Your hosiery should be stored separately to your other lingerie, since bra hooks and decorative adornments can catch the fabric and cause small pulls that will eventually become big pulls, or ladders. I keep all my hosiery in clear, resealable plastic bags but a soft bag, tissue-paper lined box or just a drawer to themselves will work too.
- Fold Them Neatly – Some years back, with about thirty pairs of black stockings of different deniers and designs, I decided it would be a good idea to tie matching stockings together so I could find a pair easily. Not a good idea, it turns out. Even loosely tied, it can stretch the fabric so it’s much better to fold them up neatly. I love blogger Mira’s great idea to tie them with ribbons which looks great in your lingerie drawer too!
Do you have any additional tips on how to care for your stockings, hold-ups or tights? Leave a comment!