Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

From Flappers to Punks to Mainstream: Fishnet Tights through the Decades

Fishnet tights. Your mom likens you to a stripper when you wear them, but you know they look cool. While the judgment from baby boomers is annoying and unnecessary, their stereotyping is actually rooted in historical fact. Here’s a brief timeline of the evolution of the most iconic edgy accessory:

The Birth of Fishnets

While there is debate over when the first fishnet stockings were worn, it’s generally agreed upon that they became a “thing” in the 1920’s, with the rise of flappers and short dresses. Fishnets were popular with flappers and showgirls because they showed just enough skin, but not too much. They were also much easier to move around in than any other stockings at the time. The stereotype of “provocative” women wearing fishnets began with this.

A Sexy Staple

In the 40’s and 50’s, fishnets continued to grow in popularity for scantily-clad women, namely in pinup photographs. Fishnets served their purpose in NSFW modeling because of the way they highlight curves and flatter one’s figure. Thanks to Bettie Page’s iconic photos in thigh-high stockings, fishnets still have a flirty connotation.

Entering Mainstream Fashion

In the 1960’s, miniskirts became trendy, and so did the stockings that went underneath them. Women would wear fun statement tights underneath short skirts and dresses, including fishnets of different colors. Starting in the next decade, fishnets were picked up by punks and goths and were made even edgier by ripping extra holes in them.

The Glory Years of Fishnet

Goth and punk continued to thrive in the 80s, as did fishnet tights, socks, tops, and gloves. These were made even more popular by Madonna, one of the biggest style inspirations of the decade and an avid fishnet-wearer. Ten years later, during the rise of grunge and the increased popularity of alternative fashion, fishnets continued to be cool.


Currently, fishnets are just as hot as they were 30 years ago, and are considered more acceptable than they were in the past. The 2010’s have shown a resurgence of 80s and 90s trends, including chokers, mom jeans, and fishnet stockings. One might argue they’re even more popular and mainstream now than they were in decades past. You can find fishnet tops, socks, and stockings in nearly any clothing store in 2018.

Fishnets have been a fashion staple for badass girls for nearly one century, and they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

I'm a sophomore at the University of Utah majoring in Communications with a minor in Gender Studies. When I'm not studying or sleeping, I enjoy figure skating and listening to podcasts with my cat. 
Similar Reads👯‍♀️