Just after Christmas, I put together a sort of wish list detailing what I would splurge on if I had a thousand pounds going spare. On that list was a pair of What Katie Did’s Cuban Heel Fully Fashioned Stockings (actually I think I was planning on buying five pairs!). Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I took the plunge and ordered a single pair, hoping to find out whether these modern day fully fashioned stockings are really as luxurious as everyone says they are.
Apparently there are only three machines left in the world that can make these authentic fully fashioned stockings (two in the UK, and one in France). These stockings were made on a clanking old machine that churns out about thirty pairs of stockings an hour, but also has about a 30/40% wastage rate.
Easiest way to learn more about how WKD make their fully fashioned stockings is to watch this little video, where Katie herself will explain the process to you.
Overall Quality – When I first opened these I was a little worried to see that they already seemed to have several teeny tiny holes, and a few small black horizontal lines running across them that looked as though they could very quickly turn into ladders. However, I decided to put them on anyway and see what they looked like. I put them on while wearing gloves, as is recommended, to avoid snagging them straight away on my long nails. As soon as I was wearing them, these little flaws seemed a lot less noticeable – I wonder if they are just normal side effects of the manufacturing process? No pair of fully fashioned stockings can be completely perfect, I guess.
Feel/Look of the Stockings – I was quite surprised by how soft and stretchy these stockings are. Having worn several pairs of original 1950s nylon fully fashioned stockings, I was expecting these to feel quite similar – not really stretchy at all, quite thick and very tight to the leg. I’ve found these to be quite stretchy indeed, which is nice, especially for those of us with bigger thighs. I guess WKD weren’t really attempting to make a truly authentic midcentury stocking (probably close to impossible) but more of a period accurate version that would be acceptable to modern day wearers – i.e. a little bit more comfortable to wear, and longer in the leg. The look of the stockings is unarguably amazing – perfect seams and picot lines, a lovely graduated welt, and a classic Cuban heel (I love that the Cuban heel comes up quite high on the ankle, making it pretty noticeable).
Sizing – In retrospect, I might have been able to get away with buying a smaller size than I did. WKD size their stockings by height, and these ones come in small (4’11”-5’3″), medium (5’4″-5’8″), large (5’9″-6.0′), and extra large (6.0′ plus). Although I’m 5’8″, I decided to go for the large size to make sure they would fit nicely around my thighs, as I’m usually about a size 16/18. Given how stretchy these stockings are, I probably could have gone for a medium and they would still have fit me well. As it is, the large stockings are a little bit too long for my suspender belts, even with the straps shortened all the way. I think next time I buy a pair of these, I’ll size down and see if that makes much of a difference.
Price – These stockings cost £20 a pair (a little bit less if you open up an account with What Katie Did). That might seem pretty damn expensive considering it’s just a pair of stockings which are inevitably going to get snagged and eventually have to be chucked, but remember all the info we learned from the video above. Almost nobody is making these stockings any more, because almost nobody is capable of doing it. It takes an hour to make 30 of them, and about 10 pairs of those will be flawed and have to be thrown away immediately. It’s a slow and costly business, making authentic fully fashioned stockings, and to be honest we’re very lucky that we’re not being charged far more for the privilege of wearing them! Who knows how long it’ll be cost effective for a small business like WKD to keep on investing in their manufacture, so take my advice and buy them while you still can (that way maybe we’ll get to keep them for a little bit longer).
The best thing about these stockings, in my view, is the period authentic detail. Because they are actually made the old fashioned way, none of this detail needs to be added in later (like the fake seams on retro stockings). All of the design features are inherent in the construction of the stocking itself.
The seam, which actually holds the stocking together (if you unpick the seam, you can lay the whole stocking out flat).
The welt (and shadow welt), which fit around your thigh and have the suspender clips attached to them.
The keyhole, which is a by-product of the process of sewing the stocking together.
The Picot lines, also known as compression stitching, which show up either side of the seam and happen while the stocking is being sewn together to fit the shape of a leg.
And of course, my favourite bit of any stocking, the heel. This is where a bit of decorative choice comes into the process, as fully fashioned stockings can be made with various different types of heel.
I found this rather useful info-graphic online which shows some different types of stocking heel:
The retro seamed nylons that I have always bought from WKD before all have a point heel, similar to the one on the far left. However, I’ve started to get a little bit bored with the pointy style, as there are quite a few horrible types of ‘fancy dress’ seamed stockings that have this sort of heel. In my humble opinion, the squared off Cuban, the triangular Manhattan, or the extra thick Havana are much more aesthetically pleasing.
BONUS REVIEW! What Katie Did Satine High Waisted Knickers £27.50
In the same order as my stockings, I also bought a pair of WKD’s satine high waisted knickers, which I think are quite a new addition to their line. I had high hopes for these, but unfortunately they failed to live up to my expectations.
I’ve only had one other pair of knickers from WKD (the Maitresse knickers), which I also didn’t like very much as the material used was very thick and without much give, so I felt very ‘aware’ of them when wearing, which wasn’t good. I thought I’d take a chance on the these new satine knickers, as they looked a bit more up my street, and at first I had no complaints at all – the material is lovely, silky and quite stretchy. They also fit me very well and I found them comfortable immediately.
However, after about 3/4 hours of actually wearing the knickers, this happened:
As you can see, the seam at the back has frayed completely away! And this was after only a few hours of lazing around on Christmas morning – I wasn’t doing lunges at the gym, or anything like that.
Having checked the WKD website for reviews of these knickers, I saw that another lady had exactly the same problem, which leads me to believe this might be a side effect of the lovely silky material, which is used all over the knickers. Such a shame!
Anyway, I e-mailed WKD with the above photos, and received a very quick reply (despite it being Christmas time) apologising and assuring me that I’d be refunded for the knickers.
I also noticed that the knickers themselves appeared to have been removed from the WKD website soon after, and a few days after that I received this e-mail from WKD:
We’re starting the new year, not as we mean to go on, with a little quality issue.
Two of our customers found their Satine knickers came apart at the seam at the back of the gusset. On closer inspection (by my 10 year old daughter who had great fun trying to rip knickers apart over Christmas) there is an issue with some of them, but not all. And we don’t know if yours are okay or not so we’re playing it safe!
We’ve now fixed the problem with a nifty French seam and we’ll be sending you a replacement pair in the next couple of weeks.
If, however, you would like a refund, please contact Hannah at email@example.com and she’ll issue one.
We’ll be back with happier news soon!
Good to hear that the kinks have been worked out of the design! I’ve already received my refund, but who knows, I may buy another pair in the near future and see how I get on.