Allen Gant invented pantyhose in 1953. At the time Gant ran the Glen Raven Knitting Mill of North Carolina, which was founded by his father John Gant in 1902.
Gant was inspired to invent the garment by his pregnant wife, Ethel. According to Gant's son, Allen Gant, Jr., Ethel complained that it was too uncomfortable to wear her garter belt while pregnant -- and at the time, this was the only way to hold up her stockings. Gant went to work, and his company eventually introduced a combination of underpants and stockings on the open market in 1959.
With the addition of an opaque nylon top, pantyhose eliminated the need for multiple "foundation" garments. In 1965, Glen Raven Mills developed a seamless pantyhose version that coincided with the introduction of the miniskirt. The need for stockings that went higher than the short skirts made the undergarment explode in popularity.
The popularity of pantyhose has fallen off in the last couple of decades, as both bare legs and trousers have become more popular among women.
Julie Newmar - Improvements to Pantyhose
Julie Newmar, a living Hollywood film and television legend, is an inventor in her own right. The former Catwoman patented ultra-sheer, ultra-snug pantyhose.
Known for her work in films such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Slaves of Babylon, Newmar has also appeared recently in Fox Television's Melrose Place and the hit feature film "To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Love Julie Newmar."