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Knit or woven coverings for the feet and legs, worn inside shoes. In the 8th century BC, Hesiod referred to linings for shoes; the Romans wrapped their feet, ankles, and legs in long strips of leather or woven cloth. Knitted socks were discovered in Egyptian tombs of the 3rd–6th century AD. The first knitting machine was invented in England in the 16th century. Full-fashioned stockings were knitted flat, then shaped and seamed up the back by hand. In the 19th century, seamless stockings, mostly of cotton, were knitted on circular machines, but they did not fit well; seamless hose did not become popular until the 1940s, when nylon replaced silk for dress hose. Pantyhose were introduced in the 1960s.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hosiery, visit Britannica.com.