Seductive, rebellious, thrilling: Fishnet tights (and how to wear them)

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They were not made to keep you warm, originally, the only purpose they had was to seduce and to cause stir. Fishnet tights not only have a fascinating story, they are also coming back into fashion, currently. So it’s time to have a deeper look at the story of fishnets, how to wear them, and what to keep in mind.

The Story of the Fishnet Tights

RetroCat mit Minikleid, einer Netzstrumpfhose von Secrets in Lace und Plateau-Schuhen

In the field of textiles, fishnet tights, or fishnets are are hosiery with an open, diamond-shaped knit. Originally, fishnets were stockings and worn with garters. Nowadays, fishnets are usually tights and made with the help of machines. In contrast to nylons, which are made of very delicate microfibers, fishnet tights usually consist of strong elasthan fibers or sometimes of natural fibers like silk, cotton, or wool. By now, they are available in all different forms and colours: sparkly fishnet socks, thigh highs, stockings, or tights. Some even have a decorative seam.

There are some practical fishnet textiles in high performance next-to-skin apparel available. However, the traditional fishnets don’t have any practical, but only decorative purpose.


The Birth of the Fishnet Tights

It is not 100 percent sure were fishnet tights originally come from. What we do know, though, is that they were invented around 1890 in France and got very popular during this time thanks to the cancan. From Paris, they took over Europe and even North America.

Since fishnet tights not only were worn by cancan dancers, but also by prostitutes, they had a quite seedy reputation. Reputable women would have never worn fishnets back then!


Fishnets: From Brothel onto the Screen

When Marlene Dietrich, who also made trousers for women popular, wore fishnet tights in the 1930s in several movies, they got even more popular. In the 1950s, even Marilyn Monroe and other Hollywood Divas wore fishnets, which gave them a slightly more glamorous image.


Fishnet Tights from the 1960s to now

RetroCat mit einem Minikleid von Grünten Mode und einer Netzstrumpfhose von Secrets in Lace

  • In the 1960s, tights got invented and became more popular than stockings, as I already told you in this blogpost. During this time, fishnets were available in many different colours. The most popular wearers during this time were definitely Twiggy and yes, also Barbie. This was also the time, when fishnets got a bit more accepted by society and were a popular fashion accessory for young women in the fashion metropoles.
  • In the 1970s, Viven Westwood was the one who made sure fishnet tights didn’t got forgotten. Fishnets were a fashion statement piece in the London punk era and were sometimes destroyed willingly to make their appearance even more shocking.
  • From the punk and wave fashion of the late 1970s and 80, fishnet tights also found their way into the goth scene. Even until now, fishnets have been an important accessory in goth fashion.
  • During the 1990s, fishnets got a more glamorous image, again. Madonna wore them quite often on stage and in the popular poster for “In Bed with Madonna”, where she reminds of Marilyn Monroe with her blonde hair, and seductive pose.
  • In 2001, the movie „Moulin Rouge“ with Nicole Kidman as the main character came into the cinemas. Of course she wore fishnets and therefore brought them into fashion, again.
  • In the last few years, fishnet tights became quite popular once more. These days, they were often worn underneath destroyed jeans, for example.

Fishnets and the Show Biz

Since the very beginning, fishnet tights were a must-have at cabaret shows or varietés. Beside glitter, feathers, long gloves, high heels, garters, and robes, fishnets are a basic equipment for every show girl in this genre.


How to wear Fishnet Tights

Vintage-Mode-Bloggerin RetroCat mit einem Minikleid im Stil der 60er und passenden Accessoires

Fishnet tights are a great fashion accessory and are even able to make very plain looks more thrilling. If you don’t want your look appearing cheap, always make sure the rest of your outfit looks valuable. As always, experimenting makes sense. Here are some tips and ideas:

  • Team (colourful) fishnets with cheeky 60s (inspired) mini dresses
  • A very small fishnet pattern looks more glamorous and goes very well with the little black dress.
  • What about fishnet socks in high heel sandals?
  • Fishnet tights make a midi skirt/pencil skirt and top combination immediately more fashionable.
  • Beige or very light coloured fishnets look classier and are great for everyday life
  • On colder days, you can simply wear your fishnets over other (colourful) tights. Looks great and keeps you warm!

RetroCat mit einer Perlen-Netzstrumpfhose über einer warmen Strumpfhose


Mini Dress & Fishnet Tights: My 60s Outfit with Grünten Mode & Secrets in Lace

For my look this time, I got inspired by the 1960s.

The Blue V Dress by Grünten Mode

The base of my outfit is the Blue V Dress by Grünten Mode, which was made to honour the work of one of the Op art leaders: Victor Vasarely. Especially the chevrons and upside down chevrons look spectacular and really enhance the hourglass silhouette in a very contemporary way. Another highlight is the fact that the zipper of the dress is in front, while a gorgeous V neckline complements the back. The little flared skirt as well as the short sleeves finish the 60s look of this dress in a gorgeous way.

Retro-Bloggerin RetroCat mit dem Blue V Dress von Grünten Mode

Vintage-Fashion-Bloggerin RetroCat in einem 60er-Jahre-Outfit von Grünten Mode


Fishnet Pantyhose by Secrets in Lace

I teamed the mini dress with super soft fishnet tights by Secrets in Lace*. The fishnets are made of fine mesh, which let them appear very fashionable, but still elegant. Since the fishnets neither have reinforced toes nor heels, they also look great in open shoes.

I went for very high platform sandals this time. To be honest, they are not very practical, but simply look amazing in combination with the V dress, don’t they?


More Platform Shoes:


Blue earrings by Glitter Paradise, a vintage handbag from the 60s, big sunglasses by Miu Miu, as well as a hairband finish this 1960s inspired retro outfit.

Fashion-Bloggerin RetroCat mit Minikleid von Grünten Mode, Netzstrumpfhose von Secrets in Lace und Retro-Accessoires


Outfit Details:

“Blue V Dress”: Grünten Mode

Fishnet Pantyhose: c/o Secrets in Lace – Europe

Shoes: via Asos

Earrings: Glitter Paradise

Hairband: similar here

Handbag: Vintage via Vintage Love

Sunglasses: Miu Miu, very similar here


If you want to learn more about fashion and the story of fashion classics, make sure to check out my page Fashion Know-how (click)!


This might be also interesting for you:

Nylons, Stockings, Seams, and more - the Hosiery ABC: Everything you should know about Hosiery
11 fancy and beautiful Tights to keep you warm in Autumn and Winter
10 elegant Stockings for an authentic Vintage Outfit
5 Tips on how to wear seamed Stockings in Spring and Summer
Perfect Fit, descreet, and reliable: 3 Garter Belts for every Occasion
How to take Care of your delicate Nylon Stockings
10 Tips on how to feel more comfortabel in (seamed) Nylon Stockings

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5 thoughts on “The Story of Fishnet Tights & how to wear them

  1. Another brilliant article – thank you! Since I probably comment on hosiery in your comments more than anything else, I don’t expect you’ll be surprised to know that I love fishnets. They are a staple for me, and I really like that they work in hotter and cooler seasons. This might just be me, but I especially love the feel of a brand new, really high quality pair straight from the packet. I also think they can look amazingly elegant especially smallish-hole (and sometimes seamed) with a business skirt. I have often thought about their history – because they seem to appear so early – but now your article has answered so many questions. Thank you!

    And your outfit – wow! When I saw the first photo I was slightly taken aback because it is such a different look for you. But then as I scrolled down I came to love it more and more. It’s truly stunning, eye-catching and a combination of fun and hugely stylish!

    K x

    1. Thank you so much, Karen!
      I love fishnets, too! Especially in winter, I really like to team them with my warm tights. 😉
      I’m currently really in love with the 60s style, and try to wear some different styles every now and then.

      xx
      Sandra

  2. I wanted to say that I love the article and share with you another very stylish way of wearing fishnets. My wife has worn them several time under a pair of nude or light beige colored hose or stockings. Ussually the fishnets are light beige as well with a fine diamond pattern giving a very subtle look. Black fishnets can give a more noticeable appearance but can also be toned down and made more subtle with a darker stocking or hose over top.

  3. Hallo Sandra
    Ein tolles outfit 🙂
    Und ein sehr interessanter bericht.
    Aber die an sich tollen plateau-schuhe passen für mich nicht unbedingt zu einem 60s outfit 😉
    Joan

    1. Vielen Dank! Meine Outfits sind eigentlich immer ein Mix aus unterschiedlichen Dekaden und Stilen. 😉 Und ich liebe die Schuhe zum Outfit, aber das ist ja immer Geschmackssache…
      LG Sandra

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