Men and boys in the 18th century wore knee-length white stockings with knee breeches. Short socks appeared for boys at the turn of the 19th century to be worn with long pants skeleton suits. Longer lengths were not needed with long pants. I'm less sure about the hosiery worn with tunics. As knee pants became increasingly popular after the mid-19th centurry, boys increasingly wore long over-thr-knee stockings. Horizonal stripe stockings were popular for a time, but dark long stockings were most common. After the turn of the 20th century, long white stockings were worn. Kneesocks also increased in popularity. Three quarter stockings became popular in France during the late 19th century and were widely worn by younger American boys in the early 20th century. Short ankle socks appeared in the in the 1920s, but trends varied from country to country. American boys began to widely wear ankle socks in the 1930s. British boys more commonly wore kneesocks while in France both ankle socks and kneesocks were worn on a seasonal basis. After World War II, most boys have worn ankle socks. Knee socks were worn t some extent in Britain and other countries, but most boys wore ankle socks. Younger boys wotre tights in Germany and some northern European countries. American and Japanese boys wore knee-length tube socks during the 1970s and 80s. In the late 1990s some boys began wearing shortened length sport socks.
The putees worn by World war I soldiers sem similar to the a form of footwear in ancient India.
Europeans in the medieval era work hosiery that was mostly shaped cloth stockings. Medieval hosiery that looks rather like tights were pannels cut out froth cloth material and then sewed together. There were also leather buskins.
The origins of hand knitting are not well documrented. It is not clear just when hand-knitted hosiery first appeared. We do not see references to hand knitting before the early-15th century. That does not mean that it did not exist, but probably does mean that it was not widespead. Some historians believe that hand knitting may have originted in Scotland and spread first to England and then accross the Channel to the Continent. [Holdfast] A factor here may have been that Scotland and England were important producers of wool which ws a mainstay of the English economy. Thec European economies were revolutionized by the Portugese and Spanish explorers who led the voyages of discovery and thus their merchants foraged the first maritime trade routes to the East. Thus they for a time had better access to silk than the English. One historian reports that a tradder sent the Spanish queen a pair of knitted silk stockings, but this was considered inappropriate and the were returned dismissively by a minister with the famous comment, "The Queen of Spain has no legs."
The Spanish apparently became known for high-quality silk stockings. Hosiery was an important article of medieval dress and this continued into the 16th century. The English at mid-century still wore cloth stockings. Henry VIII is know to have at least occassinally worn Spanish hand knitted silk stockings as was his son Edward VI, William Lee in England is credited with inventing a frame for mechanical knitting (1589). Queen Elizabeth heard of Lee's knitting frame. She was so impressed that she afterwards rejected cloth stockings.
Hand knitting was an important craft in 17th century England. The English Parliament recognized the Craft of Hosiers (1663). Knitted hosiery were poplar, bt they were also very expensive because of the etensive labor required to produce knitted garments, even with Lee's knitting frame.
Men and boys in the 18th century wore knee-length white stockings with knee breeches. The industrial revolution began in the mid-18th contury. It was based on the mechanized weaving of cotton textiles. This meant the production of bolts of flat fabric, not finished garments like hosiery. The more complicated production of weaving was not mastered in the 18th century.
I am not entirely sure what kind of hosiery boys wore with long pants skeleton suits in the early 19th century. We suspect that perhaps the same hosiery as worn with knee breeches, but we are not etirely sure. We do not know if short socks existed. This is a bit difficult to assess as boys wore long pants and girls long drsses. We do know that sjort socks were never worn with knee breeches. Longer lengths were not needed with long pants. I'm less sure about the hosiery worn with tunics. As knee pants became increasingly popular after the mid-19th centurry, boys increasingly wore long over-thr-knee stockings. Horizonal stripe stockings were popular for a time, but dark long stockings were most common. Until the the turn of the 20th century, long white stockings do not seem to have been very common. Kneesocks also increased in popularity. Three quarter stockings became popular in France during the late 19th century and were widely worn by younger American boys in the early 20th century.
Most children wore long stockings in the early 20th century. Black long stockings were especially common. White long stockings were also won by girlks, but were less common for boys. There were variations. Children in southern Europe were more likely to wear three-quartr socks. Poor children often went barefoot. Short ankle socks appeared in the in the 1920s, but trends varied from country to country. American boys began to wear kneesocks with knickers which becae common in the 1930s, but many younger boys still wore long stockings. Boys began wearing ankle ankle socks in the 1930s. British boys commonly wore kneesocks and long stockings were not commonly seen after World War I. Boys in France wore both ankle socks and kneesocks on a seasonal basis. Long stockings continued to be worn in Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe. After World War II the differences in hosiery from country to country began to gradually decline. Most boys have worn ankle socks. Knee socks were worn to some extent in Britain, but mostly for schoolwear. There were some other country differences, but most boys wore ankle socks. Tights appeared in the 1950s and gradually replaced long stockings. Younger boys wore tights in Germany and some northern European countries. American and Japanese boys wore knee-length tube socks during the 1970s and 80s. In the late 1990s some boys began wearing shortened length sport socks.
A HBC reader writes, "In California, boys like to wear very low cut (below the top pf the shoe), or quarter-socks (which just cover the ankle) in addition to crew lenght ones. Some kids will wear dark socks, but most wear the all white. Some kids will wear crew length socks pulled all the way up. but most will either push or roll them down to just above the ankle. The very low cut socks are especially popular when playing basketball." Thesport or "no show" socks seem to be becoming increasingl;y popular. A teenage reader writes in 2007, "Ankle socks are being replaced by a shorter sock. the no show sock. I am a teenager and my friends and I wear them all the time. I know for a fact that the popularity of the no show and ankle sock have sky rocketed in the past few years. Us guys like the sockless look. I just went to an amusement park, and I would say that about 95 percent of the boys there (boys about 10-15) were wearing no show socks, or ankle socks."
Holeproof Hosiery Company, Better Hosiery: The Story of Holeproof ( Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Holeproof Hosiery Company, 1924).
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