Stockings are different from socks in that they come up far higher on the leg. They are termed stockings because “stock” is an ancient term that before the 1600s was used to describe the bottom or “stock” part of the body — most particularly the legs and thighs part of the body. Thus, when a garment was made to cover these parts of the body, they became known as stockings.
Originally, stockings were primarily worn by men to keep their legs warm. However, over time, women also began to wear them underneath their voluptuous Victorian dresses to keep their legs warm. It wasn’t until the 1920s that stockings began to be seen in prominence. Before that scandalous age, stockings were kept private like any other sort of underwear, and gentlemen only saw peeks of stocking lingerie when women had to hoist their dresses up for walking up stairs and the like.
In the 1920s, however, women began wearing shorter dresses and showing more of their legs. Instead of showing their legs bare, some of them chose to wear stockings that awarded them a sense of propriety while still allowing them to show off their legs. Their legs were essentially protected from the elements, but they were still visible via the sheer nature of the stockings.
The materials stockings were made out of also changed between then and today’s modern era. Traditionally, stockings were only made out of cloth. Then when the knitting machine was invented, they were able to be made out of wool, linen, cotton and even silk. A pair of silk stockings was considered sexy stockings – https://obsessive.com/euro_en/stockings back then and might have been worn to please a lover just as fishnet stockings are oftentimes worn in foreplay in today’s age.