Choosing Correct Fitting Tights, Stockings and Socks

Putting on stockings

When you’re choosing and buying tights, stocking and socks, how can you ensure you get the best fit and end up with products that are comfortable to wear?

Tights and Stockings

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than trying to squeeze into a pair of tights that don’t fit properly. As well as being tricky to get on, they may also be prone to slipping down, and you don’t want to go about your daily life worrying that you tights may suddenly make an unwelcome appearance halfway down your legs or, worse still, fall to around your ankles.

There’s a vast array of tights, hold-ups and stockings for sale in shops today, but the massive choice doesn’t always mean we end up buying a correctly fitting pair. Most tights and stockings are sold in sizes small, medium, large and extra large and are based on height, dress size and hip size.

To help you work out which size will fit you best, most good makes of tights, hold-ups and stockings will provide a brief sizing guide on the packaging. It’s very worthwhile to read this and take it in, as it will help you know which size is mostly likely to fit. Also bear in mind that the sizing charts used by various different manufacturers are likely to vary, so where you may be a size medium in one make, you may be better off choosing a large in another type of tights.

As a rough guide, sizing charts may look like this:

  • Size small – suitable for heights 4’11”-5’4”, dress sizes 8-12 with 34” to 39” hips, or dress size 14-16 with 40” to 42” hips.
  • Size medium – suitable for heights 5’5” to 5’9”, dress sizes 8-12 with 34” to 39” hips, or dress sizes 14-16 with 40” to 42” hips.
  • Size large – suitable for heights 5’10” to 6’0”, dress sizes 10-14 and 34” to 39” hips.
  • Size extra large – suitable for heights 5’1” to 5’9”, dress sizes 18-24 and 43” to 48” hips.

(Note: some charts may refer to weight rather than hip size)

Although it may seem a bit odd that a size medium caters for people with hips from 34” up to 42”, this is the way tights are designed and sold. In general though, it’s best looking first at the heights the items cater for as, with tights and stockings, it’s essential they actually come up far enough. Once

If the fit still doesn’t seem quite right when you’ve purchased the item, it’s always worth giving the tights or stockings a quick stretch before you put them on. Don’t tug to roughly, as you don’t want to tear them, but just gently stretch them between your hands.


Ladies socks are one of the items of clothing that generally don’t come in a wide range of sizes. Generally the makers of socks group together several sizes and offer them to fit across several shoe sizes, so you will need to have a good idea of what your shoe size is before you purchase socks. For example, you may see socks marked as:

  • Suitable for shoe sizes 4 to 7
  • Suitable for shoe sizes 7 to 9

Sometimes manufacturers may use sizes small, medium, large and extra large instead, but using shoe sizes as a basis is the most common way of sizing socks. This can mean that it makes it harder to get a really good fit if you’re, for example, a small shoe size, especially as socks may stretch when washed.

See Also
Bridal underwear
How to Find the Right Size Bra
women's underwear
How to Choose Lingerie and Corsets