Nylon Stocking Day falls on May 15 every year. It’s a day to celebrate the history behind this functional and classy way to show off women’s legs. It also encourages people to wear these sheer hosiery every day. Nylon stockings were sold for the first time in 1940 on this date at Macy’s in New York City, at their flagship store in Herald Square. Some 72,000 pairs of stockings were sold on that day alone! Hosiery was so in demand that women descended on stores by the thousands. In just four days, there were four million pairs sold.
History of Nylon Stockings Day
Nylon was first created by scientists led by Wallace Hume Carothers for the chemical company DuPont. It was considered a revolutionary synthetic fiber due to its combination of elasticity and extraordinary strength. It was used to make experimental stockings with a cotton seam including a silk welt and toe. By stretching newly sewn stockings over leg-shaped forms and steaming them, the result was form-fitting, silky smooth hosiery that never needed ironing.
From the time nylon stockings were made available to the general public, it was considered a huge success. Women everywhere flocked to stores and bought millions of this symbol of American ingenuity. It couldn’t come at a better time. Nylon replacing silk in stockings promised to release the United States from its dependence on Japan for silk. The United States imported four-fifths of the world’s silk — and 75% to 80% of that went into the manufacturing of women’s stockings. It was a $400,000 a year industry, big money at that time.
Enter World War II and the use of nylon was urgently diverted into the making of parachutes, aircraft fuel tanks, shoelaces, hammocks, glider tow ropes, flak jackets, and mosquito netting. It may have helped win the war, but it left women bare-legged. They resorted to wearing leg makeup and painting seam lines on their legs to look like stockings. Eventually, Du Pont was able to produce 30 million pairs and stockings were again back in circulation.
The deceptively simple first pair of nylon stockings has become the symbol of America’s creative spirit that led to more inventions as well as improvements to American society and the world forever.
Nylon Stockings Day timeline
DuPont is given a patent for nylon in September.
Nylon stockings are first displayed at the World’s Fair in New York City.
In the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” nylon is responsible for the tornado that carried Dorothy to the Emerald City.
Due to a shortage brought upon by the war, hundreds of women crowd stores clamoring for the few stocks that were being sold.
Pantyhose — a combination of panties and stockings — is launched, doing away with garter belts and giving way to higher hemlines.
Nylon Stockings Day FAQs
Are stockings still made out of nylon?
Nylon stockings are still available today. They’re also commonly made with cotton, knitted wool, or silk.
Why did stockings have seams?
When the technology to make a tubular stocking wasn’t available, all stockings used to be knitted flat and the seam was added to hold them together.
How long do nylon stockings last?
Nylon is known to be very durable. It takes approximately 30 to 40 years to completely decompose.
Nylon Stockings Day Activities
Buy your female friends stockings
Stocking runs can sometimes be unavoidable. Any woman would welcome a spare (or two) pair of stockings.
Use stockings on a night out
Ditch the bare legs and go for old-school glamor by wearing stockings the next time you’re out on the town. Not only will they be aesthetically pleasing, but they’ll keep you warm too.
Throw a theme party
Get your friends (not just the girls!) together for a costume party with “nylon” as the theme. Aside from wearing fun stockings, guests can don swimwear, activewear, innerwear, or even just carry an umbrella!
5 Interesting Ways To Recycle Stockings
Use it to clean bathtubs and sinks
Scrub these areas clean and avoid scratches by using old nylon stockings.
Use it as a soap holder
Put small pieces of soap in a stocking leg and tie them to a tap.
Use it to shine surfaces
It’s ideal as a polishing cloth or for shining shoes.
Use it as kitchen storage
A stocking leg is perfect to store onions or garlic in.
Use it to make a better broom
Place a stocking over a floor bloom to easily pick up dirt, hair, or fur.
Why We Love Nylon Stockings Day
It makes women feel attractive
It used to be that stockings added polish to a woman's outfit. They give women the confidence to show off their legs, making them feel sexy and alluring.
It celebrates the history of a versatile material
Nylon has been used in a wide variety of products since its invention. Aside from stockings, toothbrushes, gloves, strings, and sleeping bags are just some examples of goods made with nylon.
It revives a fashion statement
Back then, women wouldn’t leave the house without wearing stockings. Using them on this day harks back to a time they were seen as a symbol of practicality and beauty.
Nylon Stockings Day dates