Fishnet tights have long been regarded as only for the sexy, only for those women who represent the unattainable ideal of the moment. Take flappers in the 1920s who wore fishnets on stage. Look at pin-up girls in the 1950s, like Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page, who relied on fishnets for nearly every shoot. In the 1980s, Madonna brought a new wave of popularity to the sexy stockings. Fishnets perpetrated the “you can look but don’t touch” attitude. Women who donned them were nearly bare but also covered. From a distance, fishnets look like normal pantyhose or normal legs. They’re sexy, they’re luxe and they’re totally in style now.
Fishnets emerged as major contenders for street style stardom in fall of 2016, and they have been on the rise to fame ever since. Google Trends analyzes web searches for words and phrases and ranks them between 0 and 100, where 100 is a trends’ highest number of searches, 50 is half of the highest number, 25 is a quarter and so on. According to Google Trends, in the past ten years, Google searches for fishnets hit peak popularity on Mar. 4, 2017.
Blame Instagram for fishnets’ success. Pictures of celebrities and fashion bloggers endorsing the trend float around social media and inspire style savvy followers to rush to the nearest stores.
For example, on Dec. 1, 2016 Kylie Jenner posted a photo on glittery fishnets on Instagram. Prior to that post, between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26, Google searches for “rhinestone fishnets” were zero. Between Dec. 4 and Dec. 10, that number rose to 100.
Perhaps the most popular way to style fishnets is wearing them under ripped jeans. While it’s impossible to figure out who posted the first fishnets with jeans photo, it’s to be expected that Kim Kardashian West posted one of the first that went viral. On Sept. 28, 2016, West posted a photo on Instagram revealing black fishnets under jeans. Since, the post has amassed over 1.5 million likes, but that photo itself had little effect on Google searches. Instead, it inspired other fashion-forward celebs to test the trend in the following weeks. Among them were Kendall and Kylie Jenner: Kendall on Oct. 17 and Kylie on Nov. 22. The three sisters cued people into wearing fishnets with jeans. Thousands of people have not only copied the style but the photos too.
Fast fashion retailers jumped on the fishnet trend, making it possible for shoppers to wear everything from mainstream black fishnets to fishnet socks to fishnet chokers. Every new fishnet product means a new fishnet Instagram picture. The social media site is fishnets’ best friend.
Despite trending on the Internet, fishnets’ sexy connotation still leaves to question whether the stockings are NSFW. Nearly every trending Instagram picture displays fishnet tights with unbuttoned jeans and bare stomachs. Can one really make such a sexy staple-of-the-now modest? Maybe not, but that’s okay.
Fishnets have always been racy and reserved for certain groups of people: first flappers, then pin-up girls and finally Madonna. Now, fishnets are for the Instagrammers, the celebs and everyone fashion-forward. You better buy a pair and post a picture before fashion moves on.