*** German long stockings Lange Strümpfe : color

German Long Stockings: Colors

long stockings colors
Figure 1.--This photograph was taken near Hamelin in 1955 during a warm winter day. The boys in this village wore short pants during the winter with long stockings. These children were playing near a stream. Notice that they both wear similar colors of long stockings. We are not sure what color stockings the two boys at right are wearing. A reader is sure they are tan/beige. He writes, "They look like very light beige to me. I have seen gray stockings quite often in the Swiss school pictures, and they are usually quite a bit darker than this. These look almost flesh color to me, which is probably the original idea behind tan/beige stockings." They do seem to have a slight brownish cast, but faded grey stockings would look very similsr. A complication here is that after repeated washings the colors would have faded making the original colors difficult to identify. The boy on the left wears darker colored chocolate colored stockings. Notice the one boy wearing a bright green beret.

HBC does not yet have full details on long stockings color trends in Germany. Our assessment is of course limited by the black and white photography of the day. We know very little about trends in the 19th century. German boys in the late 19th and early 20th century commonly wore long black stockings. There was relatively little diversity here. The long stockings worn by boys were mostly black or other dark colors. This only began to change after World War I. After the War, brown or grey long cotton stockings began to appear. They were not commonly worn, however, until the 1930s. We do not note boys commonly wearing white stockings, although white kneesocks appear to have been popular.

Chronological Trends

Our information on the 19th century is still limited, but we know quite a bot about the 20th century. Up until the end of the 1920s, most long stockings for boys were black. Only rarely were lighter colors worn, although white stockings were sometimes worn. The colors of long stockings began to change after World War I in the 1920s for both boys and girls. The colors changed slowly to brown or beige, sometimes to grey, and, sometimes on Sunday, white. The white stickings were much more common for girls than boys. Brightly colored or variegated stockings were very rare and probably mostly knitted by hand. We still see quite a mixture of color shades in the ealy 30s. A good example is an unidentified school class in the early 30s, but by the mid-30s we increasingly see more and more of the lighter beige shades and fewer of the dark stockings. Grey stockings were also worn, but they were much less common than the beige stockings. Boys by the 1940s were no longer commonly wearing the dark long stockings.

Color Shades

We do not yet have definitive information about the different colors of long stockings worn by German boys and variations over time. Part of our problem here is that most of the available images are black and white photographs. Thus we can gnerally assess darkness, but not color shades. We have some color images from the 1950s and 60s showing shades like tan and grey, but our color information for the late-19th and early 20th century when long stockings were more common, is very limited. We note American boys wearing colored stockings such as red and blue in the late 19th century. We are not yet sure if this was also the case in Germany. We believe black long stockings were the most common, but colored stockings may have been worn.

Gender Trends

Boy considered the plainer colors more appropriate and white more suitable for girls.

Color Coordination

We are not sure to what extent the color of long stockings was taken into account when dressing. Certainly they were when dressing formally. Here usually black stockings were chosen, although girls and younger boys might wear white stockings. I'm not sure that much consideration was given to the color for play or school. One might thank some consideration was given based on the color of the boys pants or other clothes, but as the colors were mostly dull shades, this would have been less important than if the stockings were bright colors.


Seceral accurately costumed German films accurately show color trends in the long stockings worn by Germam boys. One example of such a fil is "Der Laden".

Reader Comments

A HBC reader wonders of what material the boys short pants. He points out that corduroy was a popular material for German boys. HBC is not sure of what material the shorts the boys wore here are made. We thought it might be corduroy. The sheen from the sun looks rather like corduroy. We do not see the destinctive ribbing associated with ribbing, but this may be due to the distance at which the photograph was taken. Another reader writes, "I agree you cant see the distinctive ribbing,however, they do look like corduroys to me."


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Created: August 5, 2002
Last updated: 4:36 PM 9/3/2007