Hosiery is a must-have for every woman’s wardrobe. Wearing it adds a dimension to any outfit, and it helps that it’s available in a range of colors and styles that are suited for all sorts of body sizes and shapes. It also offers functionality on top of fashion, with hosieries helping to keep the legs warm during the cold months, while also allowing them to remain cool and dry in the summertime by wicking moisture away from the skin. It can even prevent blistering and chafing by protecting the legs and feet with fine fibers that reduce friction.
In addition, wearing hosiery can purportedly lower one’s risk of getting varicose veins as well. This is because it’s supposed to promote better blood flow in the lower limbs, thus preventing blood from pooling or breaking away from the walls of the veins. That being said, it should not come as a shock that you will need to consider quite a lot of things whenever you want to buy hosiery. Some of these considerations may include the type of coverage it provides or the kind of cut it possesses. But perhaps, more importantly, you need to take denier into account. This is definitely something that more than a few women get confused about.
Worry not, though, because this short guide is all about denier, and it will explain why it is an important factor to consider when buying hosiery.
All About Denier: Why It Matters When Buying Hosiery
There are many misconceptions about denier, but the biggest and most prevalent one is that it only describes the opacity or opaqueness of a piece of garment like hosiery. This is only partly true.. Denier is not just about opacity, but it is also about the very fibers that comprise a piece of hosiery, an article of clothing, or even a bag.
Denier as a Unit of Measure
To accurately describe denier, it is important to be a bit technical as it is actually a unit of measure. It is also important to take note that each piece of fabric is made up of individual threads, which are then made up of individual strands or fibers.
So, as a unit of measure, denier represents the thickness of each individual strand (or fiber) used to make the thread that makes a piece of fabric. Its origin is a medieval French coin that was also called a denier, a piece of metal that weighed as much as a 9,000-meter strand of silk—and also about the same as a modern gram. Hence, if a 9000-meter yarn weighs 20 grams, then any fabric that is made from it will be a 20d fabric.
In simpler terms, denier refers to the weight of the individual strands of fabric that make up hosieries and other pieces of clothing, notably athletic wear. These garments must be both lightweight and durable as being lightweight in this case ensures easy and free movement. Being durable, on the other hand, allows the garment to last long despite wear and tear.
Naturally, a higher denier means the fabric is thicker and usually more durable and, in the case of hosiery, more opaque. To give you a better idea, an individual strand of hair is right around 20d, which makes it 20 times thicker than 1 fiber of silk and 2,000% more durable. On the other hand, common fabrics are typically 40d–80d, which is pretty standard for T-shirts and similar garments.
The Denier Count
The measurements in the previous section—1d, 20d, 40d, and 80d—are what’s called a denier count. In simple terms, denier count is just the weight of each of the individual strands that make up the threads on a piece of fabric.
Common garments, like T-shirts, coats, and pants, are not usually labeled with their denier count anymore; hosieries, though, are a different matter since denier count typically factors into the buying decision of customers.
Denier Count and Fabric Sheerness
Generally, the denier counts of hosieries are from 5 to 200 and can be categorized into three levels: low, mid, and high. Before describing each level in more detail, do keep in mind these two points first:
- First, lower denier means finer fibers, which means finer yarn. This also means that the hosiery will be sheerer or will be less opaque and more transparent.
- Second, a higher denier means thicker fibers, which means a thicker yarn. This also means that the hosiery will be more opaque.
A denier count of 5d up to 30d is considered low denier, which means the garment is very light, extremely thin, and highly transparent. In fact, hosieries with denier counts under 10d are so thin and light that when you wear them, they almost feel and look like your second skin.
On the other hand, a denier count of between 30d to 40d is considered mid-range and is described by most customers as “just about right.” Hosieries that fall under this category are not as light and thin as those that have low denier counts, but neither are they too thick and heavy as those in the next category. They are also seen as being the right kind of translucent—neither too see-through nor too dark.
Lastly, a denier count over 41d is considered high denier, and hosieries under this category are the thickest, heaviest, and most opaque of all.
In case you are interested, here is a slightly more detailed breakdown of the common denier counts of hosieries:
- 10d below: ultra-sheer, almost see-through
- 11d–20d: sheer, nude tones that look natural
- 21d–40d: semi-sheer, translucent, and looks darker
- 41d–100d: opaque, solid with very little minute openings
- Over 100d: thermal, ultra-solid, and very dark
Choosing the Right Denier Count for Every Application
Knowing the denier count of hosieries is critical because it is a number that can help you choose which hosieries are best to buy for specific applications. Consider, for instance, low denier hosieries, which by virtue of their lightness and thinness are perfect for warm climates and summertime. Of course, you’ll need to be careful with them since the thinner and lighter the fabric is, the more prone it is to getting easily damaged.
Mid denier hosieries, being in the middle of the spectrum of sheerness, makes them a fantastic choice for when the weather is just right. They are also perfect if you just want to give your legs a more polished look and you don’t need all that coverage.
Finally, high denier hosieries are best for cold weather conditions, when your legs need the most thermal protection they can get, and also when you want to achieve a particular aesthetic. They work almost like tights, which, when chosen in dark colors, can pair well with short skirts and long tops.
Denier Count: A Guide for Hosiery Care
Finally, your hosieries’ denier count will give you a fair idea of how to best take care of them. Low denier hosieries, for example, will require extra care being the thinnest and the lightest of the lot. You’ll need to be doubly careful when putting them on, making sure that they won’t latch on to anything that can tear or damage them in an instant. Higher denier hosieries, being thicker and heavier, will afford you more leeway.
Regardless of denier count, though, it is always best practice to hand-wash your hosieries or machine wash them on a gentle cycle while inside a hosiery bag. After washing, you should air-dry them and keep them in their rightful place in your closet.
Choosing the right hosiery from among the many available options in the market can be challenging. Fortunately, understanding what denier is and its implications on the product’s functionality and your enjoyment of it is one way to simplify the purchasing process. We hope that you’ll be able to make use of this guide the next time you need to buy hosiery.