Stockings are usually worn to be of a length such that they cover the entire visible part of the wearer's leg, and as such usually require support to hold them in place. Such support can be:
- elastic in the tops of the stockings
- suspenders (suspended from a garter belt, a girdle or corset)
- simply rolling the top of the stocking
Stockings have been worn for many centuries, only falling out of fashion with the growing popularity of trousers in the 18th century for men, and with the development of tights for women in the 20th. Particularly today, therefore, stockings are not part of the everday dress of most people, and are usually only donned for a specific purpose, such as with breeches in court dress, or for seductive reasons.
Much of the interest of stockings comes from the sight of otherwise forbidden parts of the clothed wearer, as under normal circumstances we should not be able to see the top of a stocking, and flesh underneath it. Furthermore, as hemlines rose, the chance increased of seeing the wearer's knickers.
Stockings nowadays are frequently decorated around the top with lace or other features, with the intention that such otherwise hidden parts of the clothing are seen by and even admired by those the wearer intends to glimpse them. For this reason, stockings are now more often seen as erotic, both in the viewing and the wearing.