Back-seam stockings are one of the best accessories. They’re sexy and elegant and glamorous all at the same time, and they’re one of the fastest ways to identify a vintage fashion nerd from 20 paces. Whether you want to wear them every day or just for special occasions, or just keep them in your drawer and pet the carefully and treasure them and never wear them, here are some of the best places to get them.
1. Leg Avenue
These are a good, inexpensive basic that gives that black back seam and a shaped heel to go with it. They won’t look authentically vintage to anybody eyeballing your thighs for signs of a keyhole, but they’re easy and inexpensive, and they’re pantyhose so they don’t require garters. These are good to wear if you plan on dancing or being active, because you won’t cry if you rip them.
(Via Secrets in Lace)
These are the stockings Dita Von Teese wears, so you know they’re good. They’re modeled after 1950s originals and they have a hand-sewn back seam and a finishing hole at the top of the welt, which is the kind of detail that sets a person apart as someone who really knows about her retro stockings. They also Dita Von Teese’s name on the top. At $32 these are not cheap, but they’re sturdy and if you treat them nicely they’ll last a long time.
(Via American Duchess)
American Duchess is primarily known as a purveyor of historical reproduction shoes for reenactors and theaters, but they also have a line of stockings that are just like the ones your grandmother probably wore. The fully-fashioned ones are completely authentic and produced on original knitting machines used to make stockings in the 1950s, and they’re an excellent option if you want something perfectly vintage, or if you love DIta Von Teese but don’t exactly want to wear another woman’s name on your leg. They have the back seam and the finishing hole at the welt and are available in three colors and in sizes up to an XL, which is good because these do not stretch like modern tights. If you do want a bit of a stretch, there’s also a vintage-inspired style that will stretch a bit for fit and comfort.
What Katie Did produces bullet bras and retro-style lingerie for enthusiasts and movies, and they have a huge range of different styles of stockings, tights, and nylons for various needs. They have the completely authentic “Fully fashioned” stockings made on vintage machines that supplied stockings during WWII. They also have back-seam stockings produced in France by the same manufacturers who supply couture houses, and “retro” seamed pantyhose that are good for everyday wear.
I am a sucker for a twist on a classic, and these fit the bill. The little hands give the impression that the seams are being painted on, and it’s pretty fantastic.
6. Ebay and Etsy
Actual vintage stockings can still be found, and they’re often less expensive than the reproductions. “NOS” or “New Old Stock” or “deadstock” mean an item is actual vintage but has never been worn. Embarrassing disclosure: I once saw a burlesque performer selling a pair of used vintage stockings for $80 or $90 on eBay and thought, “That’s ridiculous! Unworn versions of the same stockings are just like $15 or $20. Did she not look up the going rates before posting this auction? Who would pay more for used stockings!?”
Seriously, it took me like a week before I realized that there are a whole lot of people who will pay extra for used stockings.