A Complete Guide To Denier


What is denier and what does it mean? It’s one of the most important measurements in the leg wear world. Only sizing measures are more important and relevant to people. But you still need to know what you are ordering, as it hugely effects your outfit. In short, denier is the weight of the fabric in your tights, stockings and hosiery. That is the simple explanation. But simple explanations are not always full ones. It is often used colloquially for general how thick the tights are on your leg too. But weight and thickness are not necessarily the same thing. So let’s take a closer look to see what this means exactly.

The Real Definition Of Denier

The confusion over what denier means is understandable. People use it to mean thickness. A high denier item means it is just woolly and thick, right? Not exactly. Technically, the definition is the weight of the fabric. That means something thick and cosy but made of cotton can have a slightly different number compared to nylon. This is due to the fluffiness of wool and the fact it usually has lots of air trapped inside. So if you just see something that is thick, don’t necessarily think it is a heavy and dense fabric. Trousers use this measurement too, but jeans are significantly weightier than other types of trousers or pants, for example.

What Exactly Is An Opaque?

Opaques are the higher denier hosiery, no matter what kind of leg wear it is. Opaques use heavier fabrics, are often thicker, and they are usually over 40 denier. Higher deniers are perfect for cold winter weather as they feel so warm and comforting. Some of our very high denier tights and stockings are over 200 denier. And they truly are one of the best ways to keep your legs warm in winter.

They are also highly durable and stronger than normal sheer tights or semi-opaque tights. High deniers are often darker as it suits the thicker material. But it is not always the case. Whilst pastel shades don’t look as good in wool tights, for example, a cream or ivory or white pair would. You can find plenty of lighter shades in winter tights too. Opaques are for the colder days primarily. They are perfect for winter weather and you should save them for those months. Or for cold snaps throughout the year. Find some opaque tights for yourself here.

What Exactly Is A Semi-Opaque?

This is a slightly murkier category than sheers and opaques. Whilst sheers cap out at around 30 to 40 denier and opaques are almost always classified as 40 or above. So there is not much room for the humble semi opaque. We would say, however, that usually nobody calls a 30 denier a sheer. Usually that term is for something sheerer, as we will explain below. Instead, we like to classify the semi-opaque as that which is 30 to 40 denier. Thick enough to show plenty of colour, but light enough to still see a little bit of skin underneath. Any thicker and they will cover up your legs entirely. Any sheerer and you can see more of your legs including any moles or birthmarks or tattoos. Semi-opaques are for milder weather. Perfect for chilly weather but not cold enough to warrant bundling up entirely.

What Exactly Is A Sheer?

Sheer tights are a lower denier hosiery and are a much lighter fabric than opaques. Usually they are significantly less thick and come in around 5 denier to 40 denier. Sheer tights and sheer stockings are perfect in the spring and summer. That is because of their lighter fit and feel and their ability to exchange heat easily. They are often some of the most colourful in the 20 or 30 denier range. This is all thanks to the ability for fabric around that denier to show up colour very well. But on the 5 to 15 range, you may find a lot of nudes and tans. That is because the colour won’t stand out quite as much. But as something to enhance or compliment your skin tone, it will be perfect.

Of course, the favourites like black and barely black will always be available too. They are the staple of the sheer tights and stockings ranges of the world. Black tights are the single most popular combination of all time in the hosiery industry and have so many uses. Sheer tights overall should be the item you go for in the summer, and the more formal or professional occasions. If you need something for a work outfit or for a very formal event then sheer tights are ideal. If you want to go very formal and classic, then sheer stockings are even more stylish and feminine. Here are some sheer tights that you might be interested in.

What Exactly Is An Ultra Sheer?

An ultra sheer is the narrowest definition and category. It is anything that is 10 denier or less. It is pretty rare to seeing anything below 10. And it is extraordinarily rare to see items below 5 denier. But it does occasionally happen. And there are also some interesting 7 denier tights or 8 denier tights out there too. Most tights manufacturers make sure that each product matches the nearest 5 denier. So being unique, niche, and specific is something ultra sheers can boast of.

Some designers will define ultra sheer tights as 5 or less, but most often it means 10 or so. This can make these tights functionally invisible, and are ideal for adding a healthy layer of colour to your legs. They are also popular for coving up moles and birth marks and varicose veins. If you want a gorgeous dose of colour and a light but lustrous sheen to your legs whilst covering blemishes, then an ultra sheer is for you.

What Denier Is See Through?

As a general rule of thumb, we suggest a sheer. Whilst you can see a little of the leg through a semi-opaque. However, it still colours your leg and covers up blemishes effectively. If you want something that your can see through a little, anything below 40 is fine. But usually people ask this question when they are looking for invisible tights. In that case, it is 5 to 10 that are going to be truly transparent. If you are looking to be very stealthy with your leg wear, then go for the lowest denier possible.

Are 100 Denier Tights Warm?

Whilst denier does not technically mean thick, it also technically does not mean warm either. But generally speaking, like we mentioned about thickness above, a high denier item is almost always a warmer one. Although this is not the dictionary definition. You can use it as a rough guide to how warm they will be, though. The temperature is also going to be affected by the fabric, whether it is synthetic or natural. It is also affected by how exactly it is knitted. So 100 denier natural fibre tights might not be as warm as 90 denier nylon tights.

In short, yes, 100 denier is warm. Really we recommend 60 denier for the autumn and winter. If you really feel the cold that should suit you for the whole of autumn. If not, then only upgrade to a 60 when it gets truly cold and frosty. 100 denier or above are for snowy conditions and for those who feel the cold acutely.

Is There A Best Denier For Stockings And Hold Ups?

There is no one best denier for any medium or type of leg wear. Having said that, both stockings and hold ups do trend towards the sheer side of the spectrum. That is due to their feminine and sexy appearance. It is the lace tops, suspenders, and backseams that make stockings and hold ups so popular. These are always enhanced the most by sheer fabric. You don’t want to have a woolly jumper on your calves, and delicate lace around our thighs, after all. As a rule of thumb, go for 40 denier or less with stockings and hold ups. As an even better rule, aim, for 15 or 20. You can go sheerer too. But it is often the case that women want their stockings to be seen, not hidden. So 15 denier stockings are ideal. Here is where you can find some sheer stockings for yourself.

What Denier Should I Wear For Work?

It is acceptable to wear any denier you want to in most professional settings. And if it is chilly out then opaque tights are often worn indoors too. But all things being equal in the temperature department, your best option is something sheer. Sheer enough to tastefully cover your legs a little. Black sheer tights are a great all year round option. If you want your legs to be seen however, then go for sheer tights in nude. This is what will make the most of any skirt and blazer combo. And if you wear dark colours then it won’t be overpowering. As a general rule, either of these two are great. But black tights in the autumn and winter is a staple. And nude tights in the summer is the other best combo. This is generally the best way to go about things.

Are Higher Deniers More Durability?

Not necessarily, but it is a trend in thicker leg wear for it to be more durable. The type of yarn used is usually more important. But the difference between a 5 and a 150 denier is obviously going to be colossal in terms of durability, no matter the yarn. At the same denier, Natural fibres have more stretch in them than something made with man-made fabrics. That means that they are, pound-for-pound, more durable simply because they will stretch before reaching breaking point.

But be wary, that is only pure fabrics. 100% wool is stretchy whilst 100% nylon is not at all. Once you start blending fabric, and nearly everything in the leg wear world is a mix of materials, then you get very different results. A pair of tights with 15% elastane in them are going to be able to stretch all sorts of ways before they are in danger of being damaged. They will be much more durable than pure wool. But that is all about durability whilst being manipulated and pulled about. What about snags and general abrasions you get throughout the day?

Yes, in these cases, durability will be higher usually in high denier leg wear. When it comes to snags and abrasion, something a little thicker is ideal. It makes the tights more robust and durable overall. This does not mean that they won’t get surface damage. On the contrary, they will be the same in that regard. They will get pulls and little slubs at any thickness. But they will definitely not get as many ladders. If you want to avoid holes and runs and real snags appearing, then opaque tights are a much better option.



    Great article always love reading about hosiery even though I read so much on hosiery there’s always more to learn. Like this article I knew most but there were parts that I didn’t know thank you for this article.

  • Paul

    I agree this was a WONDERFUL article, I Love wearing Sheer Tights in the Summer and the Fall.
    I LOVE the Wolford 20 Denier tights they feel wonderful and they last

  • Louise Metcalfe

    Hello – what are the warmest possible tights you sell and do they have a tog rating? I have freezing feet! Thanks, Louise

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