The word socks is mostly used as a synonym. In the strict sense socks are a special type of stockings, that reaches up to the calf at the most. Everything that reaches higher are stockings. A large group but still short type of stockings are the knee-highs, they reach up to the knee. A little longer are the overknees, which are mostly used in winter. But the trend forecast already says that overknees should be really trendy in Summer 2007. Real stockings reach up to the middle of the thighs and are supposed to be strapped on with a garter.
These stockings have a long tradition, and they have been worn for a long time. Thanks to the inventions around the 19th and 20th Centuries we have modern, elastic and correct fitting stockings or stay-ups.
The requirements for stockings are high; the pressure is different from the toes to the band. And they have to look good too. The most technical problems were solved in the middle of the 20th Century. And the breakthrough for stockings came with inventioning the nylon fiber. Stockings were already fashionable in the 1920┤s thanks to the icone Marlene Dietrich, but the processing of nylon made a production possible on a grand scale.
With the invention of the circular knitting machine it was possible to create stockings which were beautiful too. Shortly after that the nylon pantyhose was processed and stockings started to be forgotten.