Great Italian Compression Socks – A Short Story

Several years ago Peter Smiley, co-founder of BrightLife Direct, and I took a tour of compression hosiery mills in Europe.  We heard about a small manufacturer in Northern Italy that was making a sock which had become a big hit in Europe.  We found the small family-owned factory in the snowy foothills of the Alps and were shown their famous knee high sock.  It was love at first wearing.  A compression sock with a casual and airy softness and a classically elegant look.

The sock has a terrifically soft hand, is ultra-stretchy, lightly ribbed and has a one inch top hem that stretches to almost twice its flat size.  It is woven with a blend of top-grade cotton, each strand wrapped with amazingly resilient European fibers to hold compression.  Even with the socks’ success in Europe, it had never been distributed in the United States.  We pounced.

BrightLife Direct began to sell the Allegro Italian Cotton Sock for women on our web site in 2007.  The reviews were overwhelmingly positive.  In response to your requests, we added larger sizes for men and more colors. We now have five “unisex” sizes and five color options.  This original sock was offered in a moderate 15-20mmHg graduated compression and we named it “The Swing.”

Soon we began receiving requests for the same sock in a higher compression.  Back to Italy we go (feeling sorry for us is not obligatory) with marching orders for a 20-25mmHg firm version which BrightLife Direct would name “The Samba.”  We introduced “The Samba” in 2009 in the same five unisex sizes and colors that we offered with “The Swing.”  To date, this is the best-selling compression product in our catalog.

In January, 2011 BrightLife Direct introduced “The Paso Doble” to our Italian cotton series. “The Paso Doble” is a very firm 25-30mmHg for our customers whose condition or swelling requires even more graduated compression.

Kip Bright

Compression Shopping Guide

At BrightLife Direct we give you many different ways to find the compression garment that’s right for you.  You can shop by brandstyle or length, men or womenlow price, and perhaps most importantly… compression level.

Before you begin shopping, you need to know what compression level is appropriate for your condition.  If you already wear stockings, hopefully you know your compression.  If this is is your first time, your doctor or therapist should have told you what compression level you need.  If they have not, our compression guide can help, but this is not a substitution for medical advice.  We highly recommend that you talk to your doctor or health care provider before beginning compression therapy above 20mmHg.

Once you’ve determined the proper compression, you need to decide on the style or length of the garment, that is, a knee high, thigh high or waist high (pantyhose).  Remember the stocking has to cover the area of your body where the problem exists.  If you have an aching varicose vein in your thigh, a knee high isn’t going to help.  If you’re traveling and don’t have any existing venous problems, a knee high should do the job.

Now that you know the compression and style, the rest is easy.  Picking the weave or fabric you prefer and deciding if you want an open or closed toe.

The three main fabric choices are sheer, opaque and ribbed.  Sheers look great, but are just a bit more delicate than other fabrics.  Opaques offer the widest range of prices and sizing options.  Ribbed are very durable.  All three fabrics are usually woven from nylon and spandex.  Opaque and ribbed fabrics are available in cotton, wool, and silver blends.

The toe style does not affect the therapeutic benefit of a compression stocking, and is usually a personal preference. Open toes are great in warm weather, with sandals or flip-flops and if you have problems like corns or hammer toes.

Now it’s time to shop.  Let’s say you need a 20-30mmHg compression thigh high, and want a sheer fabric with a closed toe.  Mouse over Compression Level in the left navigation bar.  Move your cursor to 20-30mmHg, then Thigh Highs, then Sheer.  You’ll see a note at the top of the page that closed toe is standard.

Now let’s look for a 15-20mmHg compression knee high in cotton with an open toe.  Mouse over Compression Level, move your cursor to 15-20mmHg, then Knee High, and then Cotton/Wool.  See the note at the top of the page that cotton blends are closed toe only.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, there are many different ways to search our website for the compression garment you need.  If you have a question or need assistance finding what you want, our trained certified fitters are happy to help at 1-877-545-8585.

Pete@BrightLife Direct
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