Nylon stockings are common now, although we usually refer to them as pantyhose or simply hose instead. In the Air Force, beginning in 1948, women were required to wear a pair under their skirts since a proper lady “would not be seen in public without her hosiery.” Fortunately, the mentality changed, and the rules are laxer now, and women are allowed to either ditch the hassle pantyhose or wear trousers instead. We know that these stockings used to be a women’s wardrobe staple, but not everyone knows that the same stockings helped the Allies win World War II. Hint: The army did not wear them like usual.
The Birth of Nylon Stockings
Before nylon stockings were a thing, women used to wear silk stockings. The hemlines of their skirts started to grow shorter, and women’s skin had to be covered as they were deemed scandalous. In the 1930s, the United States imported four-fifths of the world’s silk. 90% were from Japan. Now, the problem with silk stockings was that they were not stretchable, they easily ripped, and they would need to wear a garter belt to keep them from sliding down.
In the 1940s, nylon stockings were commercially sold as a result of E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company’s extensive research through the help of Wallace H. Carothers, a Harvard-trained scientist. These stockings were more elastic and stronger than the silk ones. It was a hit that they sold 64 million pairs during their first year on the market.
The Fiber That Won The War
So how did these stockings enter the not-so-fashionable world of war, you ask?