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A Guide To Stocking Denier and Sheerness

Updated on March 23, 2010

The denier system is a system used for measuring the linear mass density of fibers. One denier is equal to one gram of fiber per 9,000 meters. Now I'm sure for many of you, that's all the explanation you need and you can now safely return to your home based nylon stocking laboratories armed with that knowledge. Others of you may require conversion from metric to the lunatic based system enforced upon certain parts of North America by people with a native mistrust for base ten, and still more of you may wonder how that relates to actual stockings.

Seven to Nine Denier Stockings

These are the most sheer stockings in the world. They're so sheer, they're practically not there, in fact, I can't vouch for certain that they are there at all. That's how sheer they are. Anything up to 9 denier is considered to be ultra sheer, or, depending on how people are feeling about spaces between words, 'ultrasheer'. The picture that accompanies this section is from Secrets in Lace and is illustrates 7 denier stockings.

Ultra sheer hosiery looks amazing, but can very easily go into critical failure at any time and costs much more than your average hosiery. If you are going to buy ultra sheer hosiery, do so with the knowledge that it may not live as long as the average fruit fly.

Ten to Fourteen Denier / Fifteen To Nineteen Denier

We don't need to quibble too much over all this. 10 to 14 denier is described as being 'super sheer', whereas 15 to 19 denier is only very sheer. Much like ultrasheer stockings, if you buy in the 10 to 14 denier range, don't be surprised if the hosiery falls apart after one wearing. Sheer stockings are not as robust as their more opaque counterparts.

Twenty Denier

This is the standard level of sheerness. If a package of stockings or pantyhose indicates that the contents are simply 'sheer', then you can safely assume that you are dealing with stockings in the neighborhood of 20 denier. Standard sheer tights are still largely see through, but don't break quite as often as their more sheer counterparts. They are also far more reasonably priced, which is nice.

Thirty To Fifty Denier Semi Opaque

Semi opaque stockings come in at 30 to 50 denier, in the twilight realm in which one can still sort of make out flesh, but yet it is obscured to some degree. Semi opaque stockings are for those times you want to be sort of flirtatious, yet maintain modesty about the calves and thighs.

Sixty Denier Opaque

Once you're over the 60 denier limit, you're well into the world of opaque stockings. Opaque stockings cannot be seen through and merely hint at the suggestion that the leg shaped objects they encase are, in fact, legs. Opaque stockings are warm, robust and can look quite stunning when paired with suitable clothing.


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    • profile image 2 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your great sense of humor with us. You're a wonderful writer!

    • nicolelondontv profile image

      nicolelondontv 4 years ago

      Hi Hope - you can buy them as sheer as 5 denier now....and Falkes 12 denier ones look and feel like 5s on.

      Under 10 denier i can wear all day with everything.

    • profile image

      Hosiery Advocate 6 years ago

      Hi Hope!

      I just wanted to point out, that sometimes, they use thin fibers to create opaques as well. For example, they could take 6 10-denier fibers to make a 60 denier yarn.

      Also, they could take a 100 denier fiber to make a sheer fabric.

      The sheerness is really determined by how far apart those yarns are. This is why we have microfiber opaque hosiery.


      Sincerely, and with thanks,

      Eugene T.S. Wong

    • profile image

      Alice 7 years ago

      60 denier pantyhose can promote excessive sweating around the beaver since thay do not allow for good ventilation of the crotch area.

    • profile image

      UrbanRen 7 years ago

      Love it! And loving you!

    • profile image

      Sherman 7 years ago

      Thanks for the clarification. So, does this pretty much cover the durability--anti-run--quality? Or does it vary with other factors credited to the manufacturer? I've noticed that some will last a long time and others may not last the day. Do some brands compared on like levels of sheerness last much longer than others?

    • artrush73 profile image

      artrush73 7 years ago

      Nice Hub :) thanks for good post :)