How to say it: fish-net stok-ing
- open, diamond shaped knit
- traditionally a full length stocking but can be any length
- skin-tight fit
- covers the foot
Origins of the style: It is quite tricky to nail down exactly when the fishnet came to be and who is responsible for introducing it into the female wardrobe. The term ‘fishnet’ has apparently been in use since the 1880s, however they didn’t really make any inroads into womens fashions until the 1920s when showgirls and flappers favoured the diamond knit stockings both for their added freedom of movement and their link to sexuality.
Throughout the 1930s and 40s, burlesque dancers and showgirls such as Gypsy Rose Lee, could be seen wearing fishnets and by the 50s pin-up girls like Bettie Page regularly donned fishnets (and sometimes nothing else). The trend soon spread to Hollywood and stars like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn were all seen wearing fishnets.
The 1960s brought rising hemlines and the sexual revolution, and women began to show off more of their bodies. Fishnets strayed further into mainstream fashion as women latched onto the sexually charged covered-but-not-covered nature of the stockings; however they also played with the colours, moving away from the traditional black and perhaps removing some of the ‘sin’ associated with the garment.
In the 70s the Punk movement claimed fishnets due to their links to sexuality and sin, and the black, open knit stockings quickly became part of the subculture’s uniform. High-end designers who were influenced by the Punk look, like Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier added touches of punk to their collections and the fishnet stocking crossed over to the runway.
In the 80s Madonna took up the fishnet mantle, wearing the diamond knit all over her body. From stockings to tops to gloves, women embraced this extension of the style and fishnets began to adorn all parts of the body; a look which continued into the 90s with the Goth subculture. During this decade more designers began to include fishnets in their collections, somewhat diluting the sexual and subversive nature of the stockings and bringing them fully into the mainstream fashion scene.
In the 21st century, fishnet clothing is still readily available, however the stockings are by far the most popular form of the look. While they do still hold some hint of their sexual past, on the whole fishnet stockings are accepted as part of the fashion landscape and are available from all levels of retailers in a range of colours, styles and lengths. While fishnets do not have the shock value that they used to, the stockings still offer the allure of being covered and uncovered at the same time and thanks to this, and perhaps their risqué and colourful past, fishnets continue to be a popular choice of hosiery for the modern woman and will no doubt continue to be a presence in the fashion marketplace for many years to come.
Origins of the name: The name comes from the shape of the knit of the stockings and the way in which it looks like a fishing net. The term was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 1933.
Other random facts:
- nearly every major character in the Rocky Horror Picture Show wears fishnets at some stage in the movie
Fishnet stockings in the modern marketplace
Fishnet stockings are a readily available style of hosiery that can be found at all levels of price point in the modern marketplace. Designers are continually playing with colour, and the size and style of the iconic diamond knit pattern, which gives the modern woman plenty of choice when it comes fishnets and allows them to pick and choose the right incarnation of the style that will work for them.
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