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Stocking Filler

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"I can't believe there was once a time when women wore garter belts ALL the time, not just to be sexy, then some guy invented pantyhose. That guy's a major league asshole."
Mitch Fatel, stand-up comic

We all know what Ms. Fanservice wears to accentuate certain assets: the corset. What if she wants to Show Some Leg as well?

That's where Stocking Filler comes in. We have fishnet stockings, knee-high stockings, and, of course, the ever-popular garter.

For works prior to the 1960s, this was something of an Enforced Trope, as American and European women simply wore stockings every day as part of their regular underwear. Initially the stockings were opaque knitted ones in your basic white (for young women) and black (for older ones), while working-class women might get away with brown or grey. With the shorter hemlines that came into fashion shortly after the turn of the 20th century, stockings became less underwear and more a fashion statement—new designs were lighter, more translucent, and came in a variety of patterns and colors—but were still considered mandatory wear; there were even black swimming stockings meant to be worn with bathing suits. A pair of silk stockings might set a lady back a whole $2.50 (nearly $30 in 2018 dollars), and when cheaper, more durable nylon stockings became available in 1939, they were considered a boon to womankind. When stockings became unavailable due to shortages of silk and nylon during World War II, women simply drew a line up the back of their calves to imitate stocking seams. A special makeup was even developed for use on the legs to mimic the appearance of stockings, with poorer women going so far as using tea or gravy to temporarily dye their legs rather than be seen bare-legged in public.

However, due to the strict moral standards of the day (of which The Hays Code is exemplar), scenes depicting the full ensemble with garters and all were uncommon in American movies (though more frequent in European films); however, there were exceptions to the rule for using the trope for comedic purposes, and things started loosening up in Hollywood movies during the '50s. These days, they're considered inconvenient for daily wear (much like the corset was decades before), due to factors such as the widespread popularity of short skirts since the '60s and the introduction of pantyhose during the same decade, but still frequently encountered for fanservice purposes or as a throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Expect the Femme Fatale to be dressed this way, and very likely to use the garters as a hiding place for money, concealed weapons or a flask. Also, in Stocking Filler scenes, the lead actress will most frequently wear black stockings with seams running up the back of the legs to conform with Rule of Sexy (in the real world, "nude" or flesh-toned is the most popular color for hose, and seams are very rarely seen except as decorations on special occasions). Actresses in movies and shows set in the 19th and early 20th centuries will also most frequently be seen wearing black or white stockings in Stocking Filler scenes, often with fancy decorations on the calves and ankles. In this case, it's Truth in Television due to the manufacturing and dyeing processes of the time (and social mores which prevented women from showing their legs but did wink at them flashing their ankles in flirtation or seduction).

When you see a Stocking Filler scene in a Period Piece, check what kind of garter the actress is wearing to see if the costume department has been doing their research work properly. Before the late 19th century, stockings were customarily held up by round garters, ribbons of various materials, or even simply rolled up at or above the knee. Garter straps (also often called suspender straps) were introduced as attachments to corsets during the Victorian Era, and garter belts in the modern sense came along during The Roaring '20s as skirts got shorter and corsets fell out of fashion, while flappers rebelliously rolled their stockings to just below the knee. Along with pantyhose, stockings with special elastic bands at the thighs were introduced during the 1960s. Also, thigh-length stockings were fairly uncommon before the late 19th century; most stockings were knee-length or extended just a couple of inches above the knee.

Most often revealed in a Lingerie Scene. Not to be confused with Silk Stalkings, an early '90s TV show (though there were several Stocking Filler scenes in that show), nor Filler, which may or may not include stockings.

See also: Zettai Ryouiki - this is when Stocking Filler goes higher than the knee and worn with a shorter skirt. See also: Playboy Bunny, for whom stockings or hose are an essential element of the outfit. See also: Proper Tights with a Skirt. Compare Victoria's Secret Compartment for another use of underwear to conceal objects.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Zatanna gets this treatment (combined with Of Corsets Sexy) for her trademark fishnets in Seven Soldiers mini-series.
  • Orgasm Lass from XXXenophile, as might be expected from a superheroine with sex-based superpowers.
  • Little Ego often ends up wearing a garter belt, stockings and nothing else.
  • A traditional element of Lady Death's outfit. If it can be called that.
  • Surprisingly common in "spicy" comic strips of the '30s and '40s, even turning up in the Mandrake dailies at one point. On the other side of the Atlantic, Jane was boosting home front morale in the traditional manner.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Envy Adams puts on stocking on the last volume of the series.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Jane Smith hides knives in her garters.
  • Moulin Rouge!: The Moulin Rouge dancers wear neon-colored stockings with visible black garters as part of their regular stage costumes. Probably more memorable is a scene in which Satine wears a black negligee with matching stockings and garters on full display.
  • Chicago features a lot of stockings and garters as part of its 1920s setting. The opening number "All That Jazz" contains the line "right up here is where I store the juice," in a nod to jazz dolls hiding a flask of illegal hooch into their stocking tops. Roxie in particular is notorious for allowing her skirt to creep high enough to flash her garters, even using it to great effect in her own murder trial.
  • French Cancan. Possibly the sole reason this movie was made, the film is set in France in the late 19th century and involves a man's efforts to revive the cancan, in which the dancers flash their stocking-clad legs, garters, and frilly knickers.note 
  • Lori's introductory scene, wearing black stockings attached to garter straps as part of her French Maid Outfit, in The Man Who Knew Too Little.
  • James Bond
    • Worn by Pushkin's mistress in The Living Daylights. Bond rips her dress off to provide a distraction when Pushkin's bodyguard crashes into the room and it does the job quite nicely.
    • Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies. It's first shown when Bond strips her down and she's shown Topless from the Back. The very first shot of her after she and Bond have sex is her rearranging her garters.
    • In the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again, The Vamp Fatima Blush has a victim hooked on heroin to force him to obey her. She carries a hypo filled with the drug in a garter belt (under a nurse's uniform no less) and exposes it while taking out the hypo. On YouTube starting at 1:05.
    • Daniela Bianchi, in From Russia with Love (to be precise, she wasn't wearing garters, but black silk stockings rolled above the knees; this isn't clearly seen in the scene as released, but an alternate version was shot - there are several promotional photos from that version - which clearly show her exposed, stockinged legs).
      • The "alternate version" of the above scene from which those photos come was actually a screen-test of Bianchi. According to 007 film lore, this scene has been used ever since to screen-test potential "Bond girls".
  • Both Silk Spectres get variations of this in the Watchmen movie, although in Sally's case it's justified by the fact that pantyhose weren't yet common in the 1950s.
    • The original Silk Spectre does wear stockings and suspenders in the comic.
  • The senior girls in the St. Trinian's movies (as part of their Sexy Schoolwoman uniforms).
  • In The Graduate, the older seductress Mrs. Robinson is seen wearing garters. (The still of Anne Bancroft removing her stockings while Dustin Hoffman watches is iconic.)
  • In the 1932 film Red-Headed Woman, when Lil (Jean Harlow) is seducing her boss, she shows him that he put a small picture of him to her garter. Later, when he wants to break up with her, she shows her stockings again to prove that she's removed the picture.
  • Extremely briefly appears in Scary Movie 2, when the girls attempt to parody Charlie's Angels (2000) and screw it up.
  • Layer Cake. Tammy (Sienna Miller) slips off her normal underwear in the bathroom and changes into black stockings and suspenders, expecting to have sex with the protagonist. Too bad, he gets kidnapped just before they were about to do it.
  • The aptly titled Silk Stockings has an extended transformation scene showing Cyd Charisse donning the titular garments. Although we don't see any garters/garter belts; this was during the Hays Code era where lingerie was considered highly risqué (it was even mentioned by name as a no-no in the Code).
  • Sean Young, wearing black-seamed stockings and suspenders during her character's limousine sex scene with Kevin Costner's character in No Way Out (1987).
  • Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau in several onstage scenes, performing as "The Two Marias", in Viva Maria!.
  • Gina Lollobrigida in La Donna Piu' Bella Del Mondo (Beautiful But Dangerous), wearing black stockings and suspenders in the scene in Paris where she performs dressed as a can-can girl.
  • Catherine Deneuve, wearing full-fashioned seamed stockings and suspenders in her sex scene with Gerard Depardieu in The Last Metro.
  • Jayne Mansfield, revealing herself to be wearing black stockings and suspenders attached to her corset when she undresses in her bedroom in an early scene in It Happened in Athens.
  • Sophia Loren, in Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, one of her most iconic scenes (and reprising the scene in Pret-a-Porter (Ready to Wear)).
  • Loren again in The Millionairess, combining this trope with Of Corsets Sexy when she undresses to try to seduce the doctor played by Peter Sellers in his office.
  • Jeannette Mac Donald (!) in the Ernst Lubitsch version of The Merry Widow. (Then again, she had so many lingerie scenes in her early career that she was sobriquetted "The Lingerie Queen of the Talkies" by her studio's PR people.)
  • Joan Collins in The Stud and The Bitch.
  • Jennifer Connelly, shown putting on her stockings as she dresses for an evening out with her boyfriend in The Rocketeer.
  • Helen Mirren, seen wearing stockings and suspenders/garter belts under her designer outfits in several scenes in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover.
  • Olga Georges-Picot, who strips down to her lingerie, again including black stockings and suspenders, in the Woody Allen film Love and Death.
  • Sylvia Kristel in Lady Chatterley's Lover.
  • The Fifth Musketeer: Louise de la Valliere (Ursula Andress), after stripping down to her underwear, climbs into bed with King Louis XIV (Beau Bridges) and removes her white stockings, making sure the King gets a good look at her legs-
  • The Sensuous Nurse.
  • The Jean Renoir movie French Cancan.
  • Ornella Muti in Swann in Love.
  • Laura Antonelli in Till Marriage Do Us Part; when she loses her virginity to her chauffeur, his difficulty in removing her complicated, elaborately fastened undergarments is a key part of the comedy in that scene, though he finally manages to get her stripped down to her black stockings.
  • Actresses such as Shannon Whirry and Shannon Tweed often had Stocking Filler scenes in the low-budget, straight-to-video "erotic thriller" movies of the 1990s, either as part of a straight Lingerie Scene or during sex scenes.
  • While actual Stocking Filler scenes were few and far between in the Production Code era, there were numerous "cheesecake" pinup photographs of starlets wearing round garters.
  • Maggie DuBois (Natalie Wood) in The Great Race shows her legs in a fancy black, elaborately-patterned silk stocking to her editor to get him to allow her to cover the titular race.
  • The 1958 film version of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof shows Maggie Pollitt (Elizabeth Taylor) changing her stockings at the beginning.
  • In the 1958 Jerry Lewis movie "The Geisha Boy", Marie McDonald plays this trope for comedy when she suffers a "wardrobe malfunction" at the hands of the klutzy Lewis and bounces down a flight of airplane boarding/debarkation stairs on her shapely rump, clad in black satin girdle with attached garters, black nylons, and high heels.
  • Nancy Allen in black stockings and garters in Dressed to Kill. Holy crap.
  • Needless to say, the Carry On franchise made frequent use of the stocking filler during the early 60s, although the trope fell out of fashion as the miniskirt grew in popularity.
  • Sweet Pea in Sucker Punch.
  • Lily (Mila Kunis) in Black Swan is shown wearing black garters in her sex scene with Nina (Natalie Portman).
  • In The Fly (1986), Seth asks for a personal item of Veronica's, like a piece of jewelry, to demonstrate his teleporter. She peels off a stocking and hands it to him, saying "I don't wear jewelry."
  • Kirsten Dunst, nude except for a pair of white silk stockings and holding a fan to conceal strategic places, consummates her passion for Count Axel Fersen (Jamie Dornan) in Marie Antoinette (2006).
  • Sunset: The Spanish dancer in El Coyote is wearing stocking and suspenders, that are shown off to great effect while she is dancing the tango with Tom Mix.
  • In Young Lady Chatterley II, all of the maids on the Chatterley Estate wear suspender belts and stockings under their uniforms (and no other underwear). The deeply repressed Judith is revealed to be wearing stockings and suspenders under Hot Librarian outfit when she succumbs to Thomas' seduction.
  • In American Mary, Mary arrives for her interview to be a masseuse wearing a black bustier with matching garter belt, stockings and stripper heels. This outfit reappears multiple times over the course of the film.
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout. The White Widow has a butterfly knife tucked into her stocking.
  • In Kiss Me Quick!, several of the girls in Dr. Breedlove's castle are wearing black stockings and suspender belts. The camera lingers on every detail as they slowly remove them.
  • In Stripped to Kill, Cody/Sunny always wears garter belts and stockings during her striptease act.
  • Jane wears a garter belt and stockings (and no panties) when she goes out cruising for rough trade in The New York Ripper.

  • Lampshaded in The Shortest Way To Hades by Sarah Caudwell. Selena notes that she and her friend Julia are greeted at a party by a woman wearing "a black dress, black stockings, and a little white pinafore." Apparently, the dress was short enough that Selena didn't need to guess that they were stockings and not tights.
  • Clare in The Time Traveler's Wife.
    Henry: Stockings and garters. My kind of girl.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Maggie Spritzer wears stockings, as Razor Sharp shows.
  • Domino Lady's costume includes stockings (and apparently no other underwear). She often keeps a small automatic holstered in her garter.
  • Spitfire Girls by Carol Gould. An aviatrix is pitching the idea of using female pilots for ferry duties. As she leads some VIP's around the airfield, one of them barges through a door without knocking and sees a pretty pilot with her skirt hitched up, adjusting her suspenders. Later she muses that the flash of garter might have been more effective in gaining a supporter than anything she might have said.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sarah hides knives in her garter in the first episode of Chuck.
  • Greek, "The Great Cappie": Casey hides a bottle of "illegal" hooch on the garter belt of her '20s flapper dress.
  • Fashionista Phryne Fisher in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries loves her silk stockings and garters and is not the least shy about showing them off. Phryne's also notorious for tucking a tiny dagger into her stocking top as a backup for her pearl-handled pistol.
  • As mentioned above, several episodes of Silk Stalkings.
  • Virtually every female character ever in The Benny Hill Show. Several times an episode in some cases; most frequently during the "chase" scene towards the end.
  • Original Avenger girl Cathy Gale carried her gun in a garter holster. Her successor Purdy (Joanna Lumley) of The New Avengers was a 'stocking and suspender girl' despite the invention of pantyhose.
  • Romola Garai wears Victorian-era black stockings in several scenes in the 2011 BBC adaptation of The Crimson Petal and the White.
  • This reporter on Bloomberg News.
  • Averted in a Remington Steele episode. Remington and Laura are shackled together and hiding in a barn. He looks forward aloud to her 'getting comfortable' by taking off her stockings. Laura sinks his boat by telling him she's wearing pantyhose.
  • Ace in the Doctor Who adventure "Curse of Fenric". When fighting the haemovores on the church roof, her kicking leaves no doubt that she is wearing stockings instead of anachronistic tights [pantyhose].
  • All of the female American Gladiators (and all the male ones too, in fact) wear costumes/uniforms that leave their legs bare except for Lace, who wears lace stockings because duh, her name is Lace.
  • 'Allo 'Allo!. The notoriously "dicky ticker" of Monsieur Alfonse acts up when he sees the black stockings of Private Helga Geerhart in "The Exploding Bedpan".

    Video Games 
  • Tear Grants from Tales of the Abyss owns garters that not only hold her red stockings up but also holster throwing knives under her dress.
  • Excellen Browning of Super Robot Wars sports barely visible garters for her casual wear. While it seems like an aesthetic design, it makes sense when you realize she's the series' Ms. Fanservice.
  • Belle of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers.
  • The Sims 3 always had stockings available (pantyhose, thigh-high and knee-high) but the Late Night expansion pack additionally introduced "sleepwear" with garters.
  • Grim Fandango makes a point of Meche taking a damaged stocking off in one puzzle.
  • Bianca wears orange pantyhose under her skirt in Pokémon Black and White. In the sequel games, she loses them in favor of pants.
    • Mega Lopunny's dark legs are intended to resemble fishnets, a tie-in to its usual Playboy Bunny inspired appearance.

    Western Animation 
  • ReBoot: Hexadecimal, after Season 2, has garters added to her outfit. (In her Virus form, the garters appear to be attached to her corset, while in her Sprite form, she wears a separate garter belt with a Showgirl Skirt attached.)
  • Warner Bros. got in on the act during the early forties, when the Private Snafu shorts taught the troops a few things they never learned in school.
    • Speaking of which, the can-can was always a popular subject in old-school animation, even during the Code era. Many cartoons of the period featured risque gags which never would have made it past the censors otherwise.
    • In Plane Daffy, Hatta Mari wears a red one with the Nazi emblem on it.
  • Betty Boop's garter belt that she wears on her left thigh has become part of her signature look and was often used for comedic purposes in her early cartoons (before The Hays Code interfered). Nowadays, Betty officially wears a yellow or white garter with a red heart design in the middle.


    Comic Books 
  • The DCU:
    • Both Zatanna and Black Canary have fishnets as part of their regular uniform (though Canary has changed a bit, going back and forth to having regular stockings/spandex and back to fishnets).
    • The villainesses Hazard and Magpie too.
  • Orgasm Lass from XXXenophile.
  • X-23 often pairs fishnets and miniskirts when she's in civilian garb. Especially the outfit she wore her first day to school with her cousin in Target: X, and during her prostitute days as seen in NYX.

    Films — Live-Action 

    Video Games 
  • Fishnet stockings commonly appear as accessories for female characters in the Dragon Quest series, along with garters.
    • Female jesters in Dragon Quest III are bunny girls, complete with fishnets.
    • Jessica Albert from Dragon Quest VIII can look like a bunny girl, as well, with the right equipment.
    • Dragon Quest IX is the first game where all equipment is visible on characters, and naturally the fishnet stockings appear.

    Western Animation 
Note: Fishnets are rarely seen in cartoons because they're difficult to animate without the Unmoving Plaid problem, though a few examples do exist.
  • In The Simpsons season 5 episode "Bart After Dark", Belle, the owner of the burlesque house, wears fishnets, along with spike-heeled shoes. At one point, she pulls up her skirt and crosses her legs, showing her sharply-clad legs.
    • In a later episode "The Cartridge Family", one of the hookers at the SLeep EAZY motel.
  • ReBoot: Hexadecimal, again; with fishnets peeking out from above her boots in her post-Season 2 Virus form.
  • Saffi on Jimmy Two-Shoes
  • In Justice League Unlimited, Green Arrow is convinced to join the team when he sees Black Canary put on her fishnet stockings.
  • Sedusa from The Powerpuff Girls.
  • In The Cleveland Show episode "Escape from Goochland", Donna wears a prostitute costume that includes fishnets. When she got arrested for being mistaken for a real prostitute, she was thrown to the police van with three real prostitutes, two of them wear fishnets as well.
    • Roberta's sexy Halloween costume in "It's the Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown" includes fishnets.


    Anime & Manga 
  • Ranma ˝: In the manga, Ukyo's chef uniform includes baggy ninja-to style leggings. But in the anime version, she wears form-fitting stockings to accentuate the curvature of her legs.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ex Machina. Ava is an android with a feminine form but with transparent sections in her head, body, and limbs. In one scene she puts on a wig, dress and knee-high stockings to cover up these sections and make herself more attractive to Caleb. Although it's played for Become a Real Boy cuteness, she's later shown removing the stockings (knowing Caleb is watching her on the cameras) whereupon it's played for the traditional fanservice. Caleb at this point becomes worried that she's trying to sexually manipulate him.
  • The Girl (1987). When seducing Franco Nero's character, the Fille Fatale removes her dress to reveal she's got nothing underneath except a pair of stockings.
  • In Julia X, both Julia and Jessica display a fondness for stockings, with an obvious understanding of the sexual connotations. By the end of the film, Jessica has taken to carrying a scissor blade tucked into her stocking top.
  • The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill contains many loving shots of the eponymous character either slowly putting on, or slowly taking off, black stockings, which she secures with lacy garters.

  • "Thigh High Nylons", by Mustard Plug, is all about this.
  • "Stockings", by Suzanne Vega

  • In Capcom's unreleased Kingpin, Trixie the Moll shows off her stocking-clad legs on the sides of the backbox.


Video Example(s):


"I Missed You"

When Bond is approached by Paris Carter, the two talk about their past together before passionately embracing, followed by Bond slipping Paris's dress off her, leaving her in just her pantyhose.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DressHitsFloor

Media sources: