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Thigh stockings, the leg ends of which usually remain hidden
Sports socks

A stocking or a sock (regionally also: the sock, socks; plural: stockings) is an item of clothing for the foot: a usually textile tube that is open towards the leg and is adapted to the shape of the foot and lower leg. Stockings or socks are available in different sizes (comparable to shoe sizes ), shapes, lengths, manufacturing methods and materials.


Needle-bound socks from Egypt (300–500 AD)

Machine production of stockings (1989)

Stockings were already known to the Romans . The word “sock” comes from the Latin “soccus” and describes a slip shoe that comedy actors wore with their house clothes. Even today, for example, in the area of ​​the southern Thuringian Forest, slippers are called socks .

In 18th century Europe, men's stockings were white, while women's socks were mostly colored.

The forerunner of the stocking and sock was the foot rag .

Types of stockings

Socks and socks are sometimes used synonymously, but differ in length, whereby the language used can vary according to landscape. While the shorter socks issued there were initially referred to as stockings by the German military, the stockings were renamed "socks" with the order of February 11, 1938 (HV 38C. No. 109).


A stocking is the clothing of the foot and leg. A stocking therefore always has a leg warming (the part of the stocking that reaches up the lower leg) that extends over the middle of the calf. Historically, stockings basically reached almost to the buttocks (in a knitted / knitted type, now called thigh highs or thigh highs). Today, thin women's nylon stockings and compression stockings in this length are offered, either as hold-ups, stockings with a garter belt or for attachment to a garter belt . Usual men's stockings nowadays reach just below the knee. This form called knee - high is also available for women.

Sock, socks, sneaker socks

Socks have a comparatively short leg, which normally reaches just above the ankle and - more often in men's socks - to the middle of the calf (so-called long or calf socks). Shorter socks ( socks ) end at ankle height or just below the ankle . For the latter, there is also the expression sneaker socks , as they were especially created to be worn in sneakers . They are mainly worn in low shoes so as not to protrude beyond them.


Zehlingen only covers the toes. An elastic band over the heel provides the necessary support.

Toe pieces made of lace

Toe socks

Toe socks are form-adapted, often elastic socks in which each toe is individually enclosed by the sock, similar to the fingers of a glove .


The part of the stocking that extends from the end of the toe to the base of the heel, where the leg begins, is called the footlet. In addition, socks that only consist of this part are also referred to as socks. They cover the foot from toe to heel and are usually cut out at the instep. For hygienic and shoe climatic reasons, they are worn in low shoes , and for fashion reasons, this shape of the sock should not or hardly be visible in wide-cut shoes (for example in pumps or ballerinas ).

Calf stockings

Calf stockings

Regionally also called socks , are worn with Bavarian traditional lederhosen and only cover the calves.


A cuff sock , or cuff for short, is a wide, elastic fashion sock that can be rolled up, clipped or worn in full length. Gauntlets do not cover the foot.

Knee socks

Knee socks or overknees reach over the knee. This term is also used for shoes of the same length.

Thigh stocking, thigh stocking and half-thigh stocking

A length commonly used for nylon stockings , which is also held in position with an adhesive tape or suspender belt on the stocking collar.

Hip stocking

As recycled tights with only one usable leg part on the panty part. As a single support or compression stocking in the medical field. Also as sexy underwear because the crotch remains open.

Other types of stockings

Flip-flop socks

In addition to the general differentiation into women's, men's and children's stockings according to size, sometimes also by shape, materials, colors and patterns, there are special stockings:

Compression stocking
For the treatment of vascular diseases ( thrombosis ) and for prevention (especially when sitting for a long time, e.g. on long-haul flights), elastic and tight-fitting two-pull compression stockings (also popularly: support stockings, orthopedic stockings, rubber stockings) are used. Compression stockings are available with and without (toe) tips.
Flip-flop socks
With these socks, the big toe is enclosed separately, making it possible to wear flip-flops. This principle corresponds to that of the Japanese tabi .
ABS or stopper socks
ABS socks
ABS or stopper socks are socks the soles of which are equipped with knobs or an individual coating. These should prevent slipping on smooth floors.
Pontifical stocking
Pontifical stockings are part of the episcopal and papal regalia .
Latex stockings
Latex stockings are known in the field of sexual fetishism and are usually thigh-length.
Stump socks, stump stockings
Amputation stumps are occasionally dressed with stump socks or stockings, which are made as fabric tubes closed at one end. The term sock is also used when there is no foot or when an arm stump is supplied with it. If stump socks are used for compression, they correspond to compression stockings. There are also stump socks made of other materials that are used for keeping warm, for mechanical protection or as a privacy screen to hide the skin surface of the disabled extremity.
Loose socks
Japanese schoolgirl fashion in the 90s. These are thick, wrinkled socks - from the ankle to similar looking like Beinwärmer- cuffs - are reaching down to the calf and fastened with a special adhesive.
Beach Socks
special socks for the beach with cut-resistant soles that should also have a temperature-insulating effect
Stockings (imperial regalia)
Part of the coronation regalia in the Holy Roman Empire
Gusseted stockings
Stockings with ornaments in the basic shape of a standing triangle above the ankle. The word comes from the sewn-in wedge between the leg and foot part and from the decorations that take up its shape. Gusset stockings are worn with historical clothing and traditional costumes , by men with knee breeches and by women with skirts .

Materials and sports socks

Originally, stockings were made from wool , more rarely from silk . Today, knee socks and socks in particular are made from natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk), a mixture of different natural fibers (cotton with wool or wool with silk). Due to the better form fit (stockings are usually offered in double sizes), most stockings made of natural fibers have a low percentage of elastane (less than 3 percent). This also prevents the elastic knitted stocking cuff from wearing out prematurely (that's why men used to wear sock holders in the past).

Also widespread and almost exclusively used in sports (so-called functional socks) are stockings made of blended fabrics with a chemical fiber content (mainly polypropylene and polyamide) of 30, 40 or more percent. The production takes place in a so-called double knitting process. Using different fibers creates two layers of fabric.

The classic ladies stockings are made of nylon (see main article nylon stockings ). Perlon , in the 1930s and 1940s, the early days of fine women’s stocking, was still a competitor to nylon and is no longer relevant in this area. A special type of fine women's stocking is the fishnet stocking . It shows a net structure (from a coarse fishnet pattern to a very fine crochet look) instead of a smooth surface. In addition to the materials used in men's stockings, women's knee socks are also made of nylon.

Compared to stockings made of synthetic fibers, stockings made of natural fibers offer better climatic properties for the feet in normal areas of use. However, they are more expensive and have a shorter shelf life than stockings with a high proportion of synthetic fibers. In some models, sweat problems, or rather the associated odor nuisance, should be counteracted with an antimicrobial finish to the stocking material or by adding silver threads.

Since the 1990s, stockings with a large proportion of man-made fibers or stockings made exclusively of (mixed) man-made fibers have been offered for the sport sector with an expected higher friction load and higher sweating. In addition to different stocking zones made of different materials and knitting directions, which should have different functional strengths (sweat transport, cushioning, etc.), asymmetrical left and right socks are also offered especially for men's or women's feet to improve the overall fit.

In American ball sport, the stockings are so important for jerseys (long socks complement the baseball pants that reach just above the knee ) that some teams even name themselves after their socks (" Chicago White Sox ", " Boston Red Sox " - "Sox" is slang for "socks" and is common in baseball). Footballers, on the other hand, wear socks under their shin guards, over socks with a bar or socks if there is a foot part on them.

In athletics and speed skating , one often does not wear stockings or socks in order to avoid a possible loss of energy through additional friction between foot, stocking and shoe. Especially in speed skating, the shoes are custom-made, which are very closely adapted to the individual foot. Similar applies when free climbing where only sockenlos worn hiking shoes allow optimal friction grip on the rock.

Stylistic and fashionable

The classic style of clothing in low shoes is socks / stockings that are darker than the shoes that are worn (black stockings for black shoes or stockings in a very dark blue). Knee-high socks also cover the skin when the legs are crossed and thus also meet the requirements that etiquette provides for men.

On warm days, the vast majority of women don't wear stockings or socks at all. The increased friction on the shoe, combined with perspiration, can, however, lead to the formation of blisters and, depending on the shoe material, to allergic skin reactions. That is why women who want to give the impression that they are not wearing socks, booties in their shoes, prefer.

For men, the renunciation of socks has not yet been socially recognized to the same extent. In the leisure sector, men occasionally omit socks or wear invisible socks. The television series Miami Vice from the 1980s, in which the main actors wore loafers without socks, is believed to be the trendsetter of this fad .


The phrase “get on your socks”, regionally “loose your socks”, means to go , in other words: put on your shoes and break open. “To be completely off your socks” means that someone is so impressed by something that it is difficult for them to react. The swear word “ red sock ” describes a person who is politically left-wing .

The term "soccer" as an English term for football is not derived from the word "socks", but from the term association . The first set of rules for football was created in 1863 by the Football Association founded in London .

Related topics

  • The sock clip holds pairs of stockings together in the washer and dryer.

Stockings in the broader sense

  • Incandescent mantle - filament of certain gas lamps
  • Pulling grip - often a tool made of braided steel rope for pulling or holding cables, ropes and hoses
  • Ladder socks - non-slip, textile protective covers over the feet of ladders

See also


  • Mechthild Meyer-Schneidewind, Ilona Sauerbier: Stockings. Fashion, market and marketing. Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-87150-382-7 .
  • Ingrid Loschek : Reclam's fashion and costume lexicon. 5th edition. Philipp Reclam Jun., Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-010577-3 .

Individual evidence

  1. Lykke Aresin , Helga Hörz , Hannes Hüttner , Hans Szewczyk (eds.): Lexikon der Humansexuologie. Verlag Volk und Gesundheit, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-333-00410-0 , p. 192.
  2. Ingrid Loschek : Reclam's fashion and costume dictionary . 6th edition. Philipp Reclam jun. Stuttgart, 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-010818-5 , p. 479.
  3. , accessed November 12, 2011

Web links

Commons : Stockings and Socks  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Stocking  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Socke  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations