The Ups & Downs of the Garter Belt & Stockings

Oooh la la!  The sexiest accessory pieces evah!

If there is one single visual image seared into the imaginations of lovers, it is the classic corset, garter belt and stocking combination.  Three coordinating pieces guaranteed to wow both the wearer and the admirer. Corsets are a topic unto themselves, yet stockings and garter belts are quite useful in creating many retro and contemporary ensembles, so here we go!

A leg garter can simply be a single piece worn on one leg or matching pieces worn on both legs, either to hold up stockings or as an embellishment. In the 1920’s, stocking were held up with garters that rolled inside the stocking to hold just above the knee. This was the “bees knees” flapper look, and those stocking stayed in place through Jazz Baby’s rounds of the Charleston.

Brides today often wear a single white leg garter, or a set with one to toss, usually with satin, lace and floral or rhinestone accents. These have a not-quite-so-innocent look, and are flirty without being forward (unless the best man gets involved in the toss...warning...this can be trouble...)

But to really raise temperatures, the combination black lace garter belt with black thigh high stockings is the vintage fashion accessory that is by far one of the sexiest lingerie icons ever devised.There is a certain eye-catching interplay of the garter straps with a long leg line that accentuates a woman’s hips and bottom in a marvelously appealing way.

What is a garter belt?

Beginning in the 1930’s up until the invention of practical (but not nearly as appealing!) pantyhose, garters with stockings were standard foundation attire. Garter belts, also known as suspender belts, or even just suspenders, can come in a variety of material, style, and color. For the most part, garter belts feature four (or more) straps that are approximately 2-4 inches long.

Six strap garters are often seen as well, the additional straps help distribute the stocking holding power of the garter. There is a fetish for garter belts and skirts with additional straps, sometimes up to twelve, or even more, the additional straps creating vivid styling. A garter “skirt” that rises to the waist and drops to hip level is a lovely vintage look as well, and paired with a matching bra, is a fantastic choice.

The garter straps are usually adjustable with bra-style slides. At the end of each strap, there is a clip for attaching stockings. These clips may be plastic, but in better pieces that will be metal, sometimes even beautiful brass. Often, in the back of the belt, there is a set of fasteners - just like a bra, these fasteners allow for adjustment to sizing.

How to wear a garter belt

Wearing a garter belt is slow fashion! Take your time, it can require a bit of practice, but the rewards are fabulous, and you can become an expert quickly.  Here are the five easy steps:

Step 1: Hold the garter belt up around your waist. Make sure the straps fall straight on your legs;

Step 2: Fasten the hooks in the back. It may be easier to fasten in the front first, test for a comfortable fir (not too tight, not too loose, just right…) then spin the fastened belt with the fasteners on your backside. Center the belt so that the garters straps are evenly distributed front and back.  

Step 3: Put thigh high stockings on. Traditionally, garter belts are worn with stockings that do not feature a silicone band. This style of hosiery is made with reinforcement at the very top. 

Step 4: Attach garter suspenders to thestockings. By far, this is the most tricky part of the process! To start, you’ll need to open the clip up by sliding the silicone button out of the plastic or metal loop at the end of each strap. Then, place the reinforced top of your stocking in between the silicone button and the loop. Then, slide the button so that it fits into the smaller loop. Next, repeat this three times for all of the other clips. (More, if there are more suspender straps).

Some women stand and reach around to get the back straps, it may be easier to sit and extend the leg andurn the hip to get a good angle. It all depends on your flexibility and dexterity, but keep at it...this is a learned skill! It can require a few practices to get the clips exactly where you want them...stand and check your work in the mirror back and front to make sure the line of the strap is straight up & down, not crooked. You will get better at this as you practice, promise!

Step 5: Adjust the length of  your straps. Similar to a bra strap, the length of a garter belt strap is adjustable. If you are going to be sitting a lot, you may want to increase your comfort by making the length a little longer. For  a one time reveal or for a photoshoot, it may be better for the straps to become a little shorter. Finish off the look by smoothing the garter belt and stockings, front and back. Having the right size garter belt is important! You’ll want to look sexy, not uncomfortable. Make sure to get one that sits nicely on your hips, doesn’t squeeze too tightly, and is comfortable in movement.

Some women like to wear silicone banded “stay up” stockings with a garterbelt. The silicone adheres comfortably to your skin, keeping your hosiery even more secure, especially if you will be walking a lot, or through a night of dancing, For legs that are a bit more womanly luscious rather than womanly athletic, the silicone band may cause a roll, so for a smoother appearance, a regular reinforced stocking may be a better choice.  But as always, you decide!

The sassy garter belt over the rise of the rounded bottom, with straps dividing the leg and giving a focal point to the derriere, is a particularly appealing look, make sure the garter belt is pulled high enough up your rounded hips to perfect this visual. Ok now...wiggle! Oooh la la!

As with any fine lingerie, the best way to wash garter belts is by hand washing or machine wash with cold water inside a lingerie bag. Lay flat and smooth the lace to dry.

Lisa Genevieve Ziemer