|Nylon Stockings Society (NSS)|
| NSS works to keep the beauty of nylon stockings in society. The website explains stocking history, gives wearing tips, answers questions and provides product reviews. NSS helps swing dancers, models and photographers by giving advice and stockings to bring authentic style to their attire. If you have a question, please email us but this is not a dating or porn site so emails on these subjects will not be answered.|
See wearing and washing tips at the bottom of the page.
During the 1990s, swing music (jump blues) was becoming increasingly popularity along with a revival in swing dancing. Movies featuring swing music and dancing also appeared. By 1999 swing music and dancing had fully entered the popular mainstream. Many dancers embraced the look of showing stocking tops while dancing to bring authenticity to the whole scene. In 2001, this website was partly started in response to the swing dance popularity.
Nylon Stockings arrived, disappeared, came back and then faded away
Stockings made from the new fiber 6,6 were introduced to the world in 1939. Both at the Expo on the West Coast and the World Fair on the East Coast. May 15, 1940 was the first official release of the new nylon stocking for public sale. No consumer item before had caused such a nationwide pandemonium. By the end of the year, 64 million pairs of nylon stockings were sold.
After just a few years of production, the United States got involved with WWII and all nylon production went to the war effort. Silk was also unavailable so Rayon stockings were produced. Women also would use makeup to simulate stockings and a Nylon Black Market formed. When the war ended, nylon went back into stocking production. The demand for stockings was so great that fights would break out at stores. These fights became known as Nylon Riots. It took a year for production to start catching up with demand.
At the beginning of the 60s, stockings comprised 80% of hosiery sales. Then the mini skirt and overall shorter hemlines became the fashion. The pantyhose was introduced and this caused garter and stocking manufacturers to come up with ways to compete with this new innovation. They increased the length of the stocking, made the welt narrow, developed a stretch nylon, improved garter belts and introduced different ways to attach stockings (panties with little garters or clips). But the pantyhose craze won and by the end of the 60s, pantyhose comprised 80% of hosiery sales.
|Nylon Stockings in Society |
Originally, fashion stockings were made from either silk or cotton. Rayon was the first attempt to have a manufactured material replace silk but it was a poor product for stockings. DuPont's Fiber 6,6 which later was called Nylon, was the first true synthetic fiber invented. Not only did the fiber have amazing properties, the fiber could be created on demand in a factory. Stockings were one of the first products to use this new fiber. The manufacturing process of nylon stockings needed much manual labor. The knitting machine created a flat piece of Nylon and it could be shaped (called Full Fashioned or Fully Fashioned). This means the machine was able to "drop stitches" to create the shape of a leg. The ends of the flat knit piece were sewn together which created a seam and a finishing hole in the welt area. Nylon is clear so the stocking had to be color dyed. Then the stocking was boarded - put on a fake leg and steamed. Some stockings had cotton sewn into the sole for comfort.
Women were expected to wear stockings all the time and stockings were not cheap. Something had to be done to help stockings last longer. The answer was using a MESH weave instead of the flat knit. Mesh weave stockings lost their glossy shine and smooth look and feel but they did last longer. The problem was they just didn't look as nice. Manufacturers wanting to make the buyer happy developed the MICRO MESH weave. This helped to remove the rough look of the stocking. The next advancement was the MICROFILM weave which was a good compromise between flat knit and the original mesh weave.
There is a flat knit (smooth and silky) stocking that is also very durable. It is called SERVICE WEIGHT. This stocking was used by women who worked in a harsher environment than an office worker – a cleaning person for example. The down side is they are not sheer. Also the thickness can be warm on your legs (not a down side on a cold winter day). Consumers drove the Service Weight thickness down to 60 then 50 and finally to 40 denier. So you can get a thin to thick service weight stocking but the thinner (40 denier) will not last as long as the thicker (70 denier) but the 40 denier will last longer than a 15 denier sheer stocking. Don’t confuse service weight with SUPPORT stockings – they are not support stockings.
When the circular knitting machines for nylon stockings came on the market, stockings were made faster, with less waste and labor. The biggest advantage to the market was not lower cost but no seams in the stockings. Women were always checking to be sure their seams were straight. But it took several years before seamless stockings became the fashion norm. Why? Wearing stockings was a must so a seam was an easy way to show that a woman was properly dressed. When seamless stockings became common, some movie directors could alert the viewer of a woman’s character status by showing the stockings she was wearing. When you saw a woman in one of these movies wearing seamed stockings, she was probably a shady character, maybe a villain, tempest or part of the seamy (seedy) side of life.
Did the Stiletto heel keep seamed stockings in fashion during the 50s? Stockings with straight seams were a fashion must but there was always that extra effort needed to keep those seams straight. Seamless stockings were first introduced in 1952; the year after the Stiletto heel was invented. Now talk about bringing attention to the leg, that new thin heel made the standard thick wide heel look boring. The Stiletto brought the fashion focus back to the leg. Before the Stiletto heel, the line of the stocking seam just sort of stopped at the shoe. The new thin heel made the seam line appear to go down farther and thus made a woman’s leg look longer. It was worth the extra effort to have seams when wearing Stilettos. Also, the common stocking had a block design on the heel but then the pointed design became popular which looked great with the Stiletto.
Swing Dance - Timeless Fun on the Dance Floor By Tatyana Cathcart:
(Part of her article)The fashions of the time were a big part of the social experience of swing dancing and jazz clubs. Because the ability to move freely was important, pants and short skirts were often worn to allow for the athletic and acrobatic. But as swing worked its way into sophisticated dance halls and ballrooms across the country, pants and short skirts were replaced with classier dresses. Since a form-fitting dress with a tight skirt would not do, and dress styles evolved to accommodate the range of motion required by female participants. And it didn't take long to figure out that a full, flowy skirt greatly complimented the drama of lifts and spins. Since skirts were going to be flying up and revealing what's underneath, stockings and undergarments had to be just as presentable as the rest of the outfit. Modern day swingers love to dress up in period clothes, hair, and makeup inspired by the '30s, '40s, and '50s when they go out dancing. It makes the experience more fun and authentic.
Stocking Review by Jen www.slipcloset.com:
If you are looking for the perfect stockings, it all depends upon what you're looking for. Secrets in Lace has some amazing stockings but they are pricey. I have worn them and they are very nice - Fully Fashioned stockings are my personal favorite. Stockingshq is another site with an unbeatable selection of stockings with pretty good prices, although they are based in the UK. I have personally shopped at Magnolia hosiery and their stockings are soft, silky, and last pretty well. Mytights is another I have shopped at. The have great prices and amazing hosiery. They mostly sell pantyhose/tights but they do have some stockings. I purchased Aristco Ultra Shine stockings and just absolutely love them and highly recommend them, especially if you like a sheer stocking with a nice glossy shine. MyTights is unique because the site will tell you the key points of each item like the denier, if they are glossy or matte, if they are a sandal toe (sheer toe) or reinforced toe, etc. It is certainly helpful especially if you are looking for something specific.
If you're going after something cheaper or something bought in a store instead of online but still with a great silky feel, I suggest Vassarette. They have them at Wal-Mart (NSS note - also seen at Target) and are around $5.00 or less. They have a nice gloss to them, especially their white. They are some of the silkiest ones I've found so far. Plus they have some with back seams which I think is very sexy. For more durable stockings I have found White Stag and No Boundaries (which look identical) to be amazing! They are similar to Peavey or Tamara ("Hooters" pantyhose) in looks. They feel great, they have the most amazing gloss/shimmer that I have seen and also less than $5.00. I pick them up at Wal-Mart as well. They are a thigh-hi/stay-up though which is my only complaint with them. But pretty lace tops. They are not sheer, though, and do have a lycra which gives them their durability. On the main page of my site, Slip Closet, I have a photo of me at my desk is in a pair of the No Boundaries stockings. Even though it is a smaller photo you can still tell with it what an amazing shine and look the stockings have.
When trying to find the perfect brand of stockings I say to simply have fun experimenting to find just the right look and feel for what you're after.
Lydia: I was having trouble finding garter belts because the ones I bought were falling apart. Then I found this really stellar ebay store based out of Poland. I got my garter belt today and the quality, strength and attention to detail are just exquisite. Maybe this could be a resource for others. http://myworld.ebay.com/gretavintagestore/
Sue sent an email and said " I personally would recommend a site called Touchable stockings for stockings and lingerie. Wide range of styles of stockings and very reasonably priced, including a very wide range of styles, colours and shades of the fully fashioned stockings. They are located in the UK.
From Heidi M: I bought two pair of Magnolia stockings and took them with me on vacation. The regular fully fashioned seamed pair I rate as an A. They fit well, are well made and so far also seem to hold up well. The fully fashioned black back seam pair I rate at a B+. The only complaint I have is they only come in Opera Length. It makes things a little tricky for us short gals because I have to hike 'em up WAY up and they hit like icky modern thigh highs. After an adjustment with a modern garter belt though I can make them work. All in all I think they're a good deal for the price and would order more!
Miss Ashley answering a question posted concerning allergic reaction to hosiery - Modern nylons are made with spandex to make them strechy and I think that's what's causing the problem, not the nylon. I wear vintage stockings or retro reproductions that are still made with the same materials and on the same machines as they were in the 1950's. They're made of 100% nylon and you can tell because they have very little stretch and unlike nylons made with spandex in the weave, they breathe and are more comfortable to wear. I have to wear hose everyday and pantyhose were always hot and itchy but real 100% nylon stockings are a joy to wear! Of course you do have to hold them up with a garter belt or garter tabs on a girdle, but I got used to that very quickly. I also like how they make me feel very old fashioned and ladylike. Maybe you should give them a try. Just Google "vintage stockings", there are lots of good retailers online. Btw, stay away from thigh highs with the silicone band to hold them up. That silicone is worse than spandex, allergy-wise and will give you a painful rash.
From Tonya R: I have been wearing vintage textured stockings and they are very durable and comfortable.
Rebecca's trick: I file away any sharp edges and then test my nails (fingers and toes) on a pair of stockings that already have runs. This ensures there won't be any accidental snags or poking through.
Kathy has a nice article about vintage style and also one about storing stockings:
My feet slide in my shoes because nylons are slippery - any advice?
There are small pads available that go inside your shoe to help with this issue - try either Apara Gel Steppies by Sof Sole or KIWI® Smiling Feet™ anti-slip pads.
Where can I buy vintage stockings online?
For service and selection, go to Stocking Showcase. They also have a large selection of garter belts. Steve & Christine at http://www.stockingshowcase.com
Where can I buy vintage lingerie?
For tastefully presented vintage lingerie, go to AnniePanties. Talk to Anne at http://www.ebay.com/usr/anniepanties
Are there any sites that sell nylons in colors for a woman with darker skin? (Usually they only sell Coffee color)
I have always wondered why manufacturers never have addressed this issue. The general rule is that you should wear stockings that match or are darker than your skin color. This doesn’t give much help to women with dark skin. Take a look at MyTights.com ADVICE section for help on choosing stocking colors for all type of skin tones. Instead of looking for a stocking that is made for dark skin, try these tips. There are shades of black – off black, jet black, almost black, brown black – so black will easily work but you can’t always wear black. I have found that Navy goes well with dark skin even against very dark skin. Gray is another color to try. The darker your skin, the darker shade of gray you should look for. If you can forgo sheerness then you can choose a color lighter than your skin color. Also try brown fishnet and check out textured stockings.
Any thoughts on ankle bracelets with stockings?
There are many opinions on this from they enhance the stocking to they are a distraction and from they look trashy to they add style. One thing for sure is they can snag the stocking. The classic look is to wear the anklet under the stocking and this helps to avoid snags. Wearing the anklet under the stocking use to be easy because the flat knit weave allowed the anklet to adjust itself but that isn't the case with modern hosiery. To wear an anklet under modern hosiery, one needs to be sure the anklet is in place and not allow it to ride up when putting on the stocking. An anklet made in a herringbone style usually has a very smooth finish but be sure the clasp isn't rough. Another thought is an anklet made from smooth beads / stones.
Why do some stockings have marks by the seams? TESS
Original Full-fashioned stockings used non-stretch nylon that were knitted flat. One type of knitting process created the curves to shape the stocking. The shaping or fashioning occurs above and below the knee and at the ankle. During this process, the famous "fashioning marks" appear when the material is shaped by dropping stitches. These small “marks” can be seen along the sides of the seam, most noticeably on the calf.
Does a higher gauge number make the stocking sheerer? SUE
True sheerness is measured by the denier and the lower the number, the finer (thinner) the nylon strand is, the sheerer the stocking. So 15 denier is much sheerer than 40 denier. The gauge is how closely knitted the nylon strands are to each other. The higher the gauge, the closer the strands are. Some stockings are measured in needles but the idea is the same (more needles used the closer the strands). A 60 gauge stocking will look and feel much smoother than a 40 gauge stocking.
Any thoughts on how to stay warm while wearing stockings in cold weather? ANNE
70 denier nylon is the way to go. Sometimes referred as Service Weight, 60 and 70 deniers are a non-sheer nylon stocking that stills has the silky feel to them. Anne lives and works in New York city so we sent her a pair of 70 denier stockings to try them out. She was amazed not only how her legs stayed warm but the stockings didn't wear out.
Also, some women enjoy wearing stockings under their pants when it is cold out.
I just saw a production of the opera "L'elisir d'Amore" tonight, updated from early 1800s to 1957 Texas. Anyway, some of the women wore seamless stockings, but two wore seamed ones. However, the seamed stockings had no "heels." Do you know when the nude heel style was invented for seamed stockings? ROB
I'm not sure. The circular knitting machine for stockings hit the market in 1952 and they created a seamless stocking. To make "seamed" stockings on a circular knitting machine, a false seam had to be sewn in. Maybe that caused the nude heel style.
I was wondering if you know the time period that fishnets first came into fashion? JIM
An interesting stocking is one made in an open weave, commonly called fishnet. These weaves can be spaced from very close to very wide. Fishnet stockings have been in and out of fashion since the 1920s. Beige was the most common color for many of the early years. Textured stockings were popular during the 1950s and at that time fishnets were usually seen on the stage, especially black colored ones. This changed when Jane Russell began to wear them in public. Of course this caused fishnet stockings to become fashionable again. But as fashion goes, they lost popularity and have been in and out of fashion since.
I was reading and the term opera hose was mentioned - what are they? DENNIS
A little background. Pantyhose really didn't arrive until the 60s. Generally stockings were worn much shorter (length) in the 40s and even in the 50s than now and they usually had a large welt. No short dresses or outfits back then except for dancers and performers. Stockings had to be really long with little or no welt for them. These very long stockings were sometimes referred to as opera hose. Often they were sewn into costumes and outfits so garters were not needed. If garters were used with opera hose, the straps would be very short. They may have also been thicker to stand up to the abuse during a show. When the mini skirt came on the scene, normal stockings were made longer and with a smaller welt but they lost out to the pantyhose. You can sometimes find stockings sold in "opera length".
Did women in the military wear stockings during WWII?
FREE A MARINE TO FIGHT: Women Marines in World War II by Colonel Mary V Stremlow, USMCR (Ret) ... Ladylike and fashionable full length, beige, seamed stockings were de rigeur with all service and dress uniforms and cotton hose was worn in ranks. Since nylon, rayon, and silk stockings were rationed because of wartime shortages, some women in other services were allowed to use leg makeup, but not women Marines.
|Why Wear Real Nylon Stockings|
Wearing nylon stockings brings history to life.
"Johnny, I mean, if the sound of a woman's nylon stockings swishing together, swish... swish, makes a sound that drives men crazy... why hide it? All a woman has to do is rub her thighs together to produce an exquisite friction." (Helen Gurley Brown talking to Johnny Carson)
A few years ago, I had some pairs of pantyhose that had seams on them. My favorite pair was a nude color with a black seam. That pair went bad and I couldn’t find a replacement at the store. I had my husband order another pair off the internet. He ordered a pair but didn't know that there was a difference between stockings and pantyhose. I didn’t realize this until I had opened the package. The stockings looked too long for me and I also noticed a defect in the top of the stockings. My husband checked the web site and said the hole was suppose to be there. Also the web site said real nylon stockings don't stretch and are better than pantyhose. I didn’t have a garter belt at the time and when I mentioned that these required a garter belt, he said, “Let’s go shopping.” OK, I couldn’t turn down that offer. I bought a garter belt and wore the stockings out for dinner. I was amazed how nice the stockings felt and looked on my legs. I now wear stockings instead of pantyhose most of the time.
Sue - Cincinnati,Ohio
|Collecting Vintage Stockings |
Collecting nylon stockings from the 50s and 60s is fairly easy. In the early 60s, 80% of hosiery sales were stockings. By the end of the 60s, over 80% of hosiery sales were pantyhose. Manufacturers over produced stockings and warehouses became full of a product that wasn’t selling, even when the hemlines went back down. Vintage nylon stockings can range in price from a few dollars to over a hundred dollars. Many factors come into play with determining value – here are a few rules that you should follow when collecting stockings. Stockings should: • Never been Worn or Washed • Have Imprints (writing, graphics) on the Welt, especially the brand name • Have the original box or package with intact tissue and banding • Denier - lower the number the sheerer • Gauge - higher the number the better • Mesh style is usually cheaper than flat knit style • It is best that they come from a Pet and Smoke free environment • When storing stockings, keep them in an area that has normal humidity • A seamed stocking does not mean it is vintage. Seams can be "sewn" into a modern stocking to create a vintage look. • Lanolin was used to give shine to a stocking and was often used on more expensive stockings. • Stocking grading - First quality is the best, followed by irregulars. Seconds and thirds usually have major flaws.
|What Stockings to Wear While Driving|
Handbook for the Woman Driver: A Must for the Woman at the Wheel - 1955
Clothes and Beauty En Route (page 173)
Stockings: Practical as American women are, they often have a phobia against wearing stockings suitable for the occasion. For everyday wear, even with walking shoes, women buy hose far more sheer than what was considered evening weight just a few years ago. Have some sheer nylons for dressy occasions, but for the trip consider a medium-weight stocking (45-15 is good), knowing it is sheer enough to flatter your legs, yet able to take strain. If stockings are too short or skimpy, their tops may cut into your thighs as you drive, and they won’t be long enough for you to garter them to your girdle without pulling uncomfortably.
|Stocking Songs |
Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald - Shiny Stockings
Stray Cats and Brian Setzer Orchestra - Fishnet Stockings
ZZ Top - A Fool for your Stockings
Perry Como - Silk Stockings 1955 Broadway musical "Silk Stockings" Words and Music - Cole Porter
"I Like The Way The Line Runs Up The Back Of Those Stockings.”
Everybody Wants Some!! Written by: Edward Van Halen, David Lee Roth, Michael Anthony, Alex Van Halen.
"She likes to wear her stockings black" Mungo Jerry - Baby Jump
"You're windy and wild, you've got the blues in your shoes and your stockings" Bang A Gong (Get It On) T. Rex
| Original Nylon and Stockings|
What makes original nylon different than nylon today?
In 1964, DuPont introduced a reprocessed nylon fiber called Cantrece, a nylon that stretches. This was the first reprocessing of the original nylon specifically for the hosiery market. Agilon was the first nylon to have "stretch" but it was just a process that put a curl to the fiber. Nylon has since been reprocessed several times. The problem is the word nylon is used for all types of the nylon fiber but original nylon, called nylon 6,6 does not stretch. The one disadvantage of nylon 6,6 was many different stocking sizes had to be created to fit all the different shapes of legs - a major inventory nightmare. Another fiber called Lycra was invented and blended with nylon to add durability. This is not to say that nothing was compromised in the reprocess of nylon. The original nylon stocking has been imitated for many years but never matched.
The only way to see and feel the difference in nylon is to try a pair of original nylon stockings - Try It, You'll Like It!
There is a process that allows flat knit stockings to have a little stretch - this is from Alexis4u.com: Mesh or some may call it non run is made in a non symmetrical stitch. The stitch pattern is in blocked area's so if one thread in a given area is broken it will only effect it's own area. Flat knit is perfectly symmetrical like a grid pattern, if one thread is broken it will be pulled out of the stocking at the opposite ends. Stretch is not only due to the pattern but the technique in the finishing of a stocking. This technique leaves the stockings in a bunch or loosely pressed condition so it will have stretch. Once the stocking is stretched it will be smooth and hopefully smoother feeling. Some times it will not be smooth feeling due to finishing difficulties such as: PH unbalanced dying, to much heat in the dye bath, too long in the bath, no conditioning after the dye bath and many more conditions that the nylon can be subject to.
How to Wash, Dry and Store Stockings
It is best to wash them in batches and separate light and dark colors. Put a little warm water in a sink and add a capful of Hosiery Mate or similar product. Put the stockings in and swish them around following the directions on the bottle. As you remove them, gently squeeze but don't twist the water from them and lay them on a towel. Some people dry them using a drying tree but I just take them and the towel and lay them on the bed. They will dry nice and flat. Avoid direct heat. Once dry, gently fold and put them in a plastic baggy, this will help to keep them from getting snagged accidentally. Don’t ball them or shove them inside a drawer because that can cause wrinkles.
How to Wear Stockings by NSS (updated Feb 2013)
(The original article was posted to a few websites by NSS in 2002. Since then it has been copied and reposted to other websites, sometimes without credit.)
To wear stockings, you need a garter belt (in Europe the accessory is call a suspender). Good garter belts are comfortable and don't cost much more than the little lacy ones that are not practical for long wear. Worn on top of the hip, garter belts are usually 4 to 6 inches in length; measured from top to bottom (this measurement does not include the straps). The 8-inch garter belt has recently become popular. Wider garter belts, called full or girdlette (10 to 12 inches), can also offer support for the waistline. Girdles, corsets and waist cinchers are other articles of lingerie that can have straps for stockings. You can easily incorporate stockings with different lingerie.
The straps from the garter belt attach to the stocking by clasps. Avoid garter belts with only 4 straps. The more straps used, the smoother the stocking will look and on that rare occasion a clasp breaks, there would be no sag in your stocking. Stretch stocking wearers can use a four-strap garter belt but a clasp breaking still would be an issue. Metal clasps are better than plastic ones although reports of metal clasps causing issues with security at airports have been reported. Be sure the straps are adjustable so you can custom fit the amount of tension on the stocking. Most stockings have a top area that is thicker than the stocking itself. This is called the Welt and the clasps are attached to the welt. Don't substitute thigh highs for stockings because the thick rubber can bend the clasps.
A good starting point for strap adjustment is to make the back straps 2 inches longer than the front straps and 1 inch longer than the side straps. Some garter belts are cut / shaped longer in the back than in the front to help in this area because when you sit down there is a farther distance to go on your back side to reach the stocking. When standing, there should be a slight pull on the stockings but the word here is slight (over pull will either damage the stocking or cause the garter belt to slide down). If you are wearing stretch stockings, you can keep the straps tighter, letting the stocking do some of the give.
The first few times you wear stockings, wear them around the house for a while before you leave to be sure you have everything adjusted properly. If you are wearing a short skirt, be sure to sit down and see if the stockings are long enough.
The most important rule is: don't look at the ad pictures. If you wear panties, put them on LAST. Think about going to the bathroom. If you have your stockings and garter belt over your panties, then you have to remove everything to go to the bathroom. Vintage photos will often show panties on last.
Rules for stockings are the same as for pantyhose. Putting lotion on well shaven legs is the best thing to do. The stocking is already slippery so if your legs are smooth then the stocking will just glide on. Be sure you have no jagged finger nails and toe nails. Remove rings if they are not smooth. Hands should be smooth or wear hosiery gloves. Roll the stocking down into an O-shape, place your thumbs inside, and then start unrolling it over the foot and up the leg (pointing toes, foot forward helps).
For a seamed stocking, as you unroll the stocking up the leg, press your thumb up against the back of our leg. Look or just feel the line that your thumb is “drawing” up your leg. This may seem awkward at first but in time this will really get your seams straight.
To keep your stockings from twisting, attach the straps straight down from the garter belt and attach the back straps first. This helps to keep the stocking straight (even ones without a seam). If you are wearing seamed stockings, place the back strap in line with the seam (seamed stockings are best worn with 6 or more straps which will keep the seam straight). Try sitting down, which makes it easier to attach the back straps. Another trick is not to pull the garter belt all the way up until you have attached the straps to the stockings. Better yet, have a friend/spouse/partner attach the back strap for you. If you are wearing Full Fashion stockings, do not put the clasp in the finishing hole (this is a weak area of the stocking).
After you have your stocking gartered, smooth out any wrinkles. You can do this by running your hands over the stocking, starting from your ankle and moving up your leg. Now you need to have very soft hands, smooth nails and snag free jewelry or wear a hosiery glove to do this.
Most Internet sites that sell stockings give very good information about their stockings and sizing but you may have to try different brands/styles to get the perfect fit. So don't buy several pairs because you get a price break until you know they fit properly.
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|NYLON STOCKINGS SOCIETY (NSS)|