Your Guide to Buying Hosiery in the Right Denier

Buying hosiery is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. Aside from considering the price, fabric type, and fit of the items you plan on buying, you will also have to take into account several other important factors. Among the factors to think about when you buy hosiery are type of toe, kind of brief, and, last but not least, the denier.

Of these considerations, many hosiery buyers are confused the most when it comes to choosing the right denier, mainly due to the misconception that denier refers only to the hosiery’s opacity or sheerness. This erroneous belief is not only simplistic, but it can also make it harder for you to choose the right hosiery to buy. With that said, check out our brief guide below to buying hosiery in the right denier.

Defining Denier: What Is It and Why Does it Matter?

So, the question is: What is denier? And why should you even care?

Contrary to popular belief, denier is not the measure of how opaque or sheer a piece of hosiery is, though it does actually measure something. In technical terms, denier is the unit of measure used to express the exact thickness of every one of the individual strands that make up a piece of fabric. A solitary strand of silk is used as the reference in this case, with a 9,000-meter (m) strand being roughly equivalent to 1 denier (d). In weight, both 1d and a 9,000 m strand of silk equal 10 grams. 

Since denier measures the thickness of a strand of fabric, most clothing items will have some sort of denier number or measure. This number is particularly relevant for athletic wear, which needs to be durable enough to survive extreme wear and tear but lightweight enough to ensure freedom of movement. The denier number or score matters just as much in undergarments such as hosiery as it determines not only how opaque the hosiery looks, but also its potential durability, its comfort and feel, and its suitability for different types of weather.

What Are the Different Denier Counts?

A hosiery’s denier measure can range anywhere between 5 to 200. But you don’t necessarily need to know the specifics of the denier scores between 5 through 200. The denier score usually scales up from 5, 10, 15, and then 20–200 in increasing increments of 10. Instead, you can just focus on these three levels: low denier, mid denier, and high denier.

Low denier hosieries fall on the low end of the denier spectrum, and they are approximately 5–30d. These are light and very thin, with those under 10d looking and feeling like a second skin. Lower deniers make for ideal hosiery in tropical climates as they offer enhanced breathability on the lower limbs. The drawback is that they are extremely delicate, making them vulnerable to wear-and-tear damage.

On the other end of the denier spectrum are high denier hosieries, which fall in the 41d and over range. This means that they are much thicker and heavier. These characteristics make them ideal during wintertime or for cold weather since they can warm the lower extremities the best. They are also more durable, though they are a lot more opaque than low denier ones.

The happy middle ground of denier scores for hosieries lies in the mid level, which means anything between 30–40d. Hoiseries in this denier range are neither too heavy nor too light, and they are almost the right amount of opacity for the most part.  These are also pretty durable, capable of withstanding normal near-everyday use. Mid denier hosieries are ideal for autumn and spring, when the climate is neither too hot nor too cold.

How Do You Choose the Right Denier for Your Outfit?

The rule of thumb here is actually quite simple: the lighter the fabric, the more see-through the hosiery; the heavier the fabric, the more opaque the hosiery.

Take, for example, hosieries that are 15d or less. Since they are nearly transparent, you can pretty much pair them with anything, like maxi dresses and mid skirts. And if you’re quite confident with your legs and the weather is scorching, then these extra light, see-through hosieries are perfect for you, especially when paired with stylish black shoes.

Mid denier hosieries—30–40d—were once very popular in the 1960s, with their darker, semi-transparent appearance. You can bring them back en vogue in this 21st century by matching them with a colorful A-line mini-skirt and a sassy pair of pointy flat shoes.

Now, you are approaching darker, heavier, more opaque hosieries. Starting from 60d above, it is best to just keep things as simple as you can. Black heels, for instance, go perfectly with anything black, as does a blackish patent brogue. This is something to take note of during winter or if you are living in colder climate locations since hosieries in the 100–200d are most ideal for such conditions. They are also the darkest and most opaque, making them trickier to pair with other pieces of clothing.

How to Choose the Right Color

While black hosieries are quite common, these undergarments also come in different colors. The key is to know how to choose the right color for you. For that, you can consider the following tips:

  1. Be careful with skin-tone colors. Make sure you choose ones that actually complement or match your own skin tone. To be safe, grab the ones that are just a bit darker than your skin color.
  2. Match the color of your hosiery to your skirt’s hemline, except when your outfit’s color is darker than the shoes you plan on wearing.
  3. As an alternative, match your hosiery’s color to that of your footwear’s. Black on black works best here, while you can also opt for a lighter-colored hosiery if you are planning to wear darker shoes (but not the other way around).
  4. For the illusion of longer, more shapely legs, go for opaque black or something dark, like burgundy and navy blue. Avoid bright colors as they have the opposite effect.
  5. Buy hosieries whose colors match those that are dominant in your wardrobe. So, if you have lots of black or blackish dresses and skirts, consider buying more black hosieries.
  6. Wear season-appropriate colors. The rule of thumb is: light and neutral colors for sunny hot months, skin tone for autumn and spring, and black or dark for wintertime.

Caring for Your Hosiery

Once you have gone through all that trouble in buying the perfect hosieries, you will next need to take good care of them, especially those with low denier. The first thing to keep in mind in this case is to remove all your accessories when you put on your hosiery. In this way, you prevent anything from accidentally catching on to the hosiery and potentially tearing or damaging it.

It is also best practice to roll up your stockings such that your toes are positioned at the bottom of the hosiery. After which, you can slowly and gently pull it up your leg. By putting on your hosiery this way, you are not pulling up the fabric too much and this effectively prevents ladders—a common type of wear and tear damage. If in case your hosiery has developed a ladder already, dab clear nail polish on it to keep it from unraveling even further.

Finally, avoid machine-washing your hosieries. Instead, hand-wash them and then air-dry them afterward. An alternative would be to place your hosieries inside a hosiery bag and put them in a cool wash.

Hopefully, this guide has enlightened you on what denier really is and how to buy hosieries in the right denier count. With this knowledge, you will never go wrong when buying hosieries since you now know what to look for in every pair. Happy hosiery buying!

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