Long stockings were worn in both the 19th and 20th century, but went out if fashion during the 1940-60s. The precise chronology depended on the individual country. As they are relatively bmodern, we have managed to find quite a few examples of vintage long stockings. Most are from America and Germany where long stockings were particularly popular. As the example we have found are fairlt recent from the 1920s-40s, many are light brown shades. Light shades like tan and beige were not worn in the 19th century, but were particularly popular after World War I. These vintages stockings are helpful in showing both the length and colors hue variations. This is information that is difficult to determine from the photographic record. Stockings were worn unlike socks so you can not see the tops. And the black-and-white photographic record provides few clues as to color. While we can often identify tan stockings in photographs, there are many shades of tans/beige. The range of hues can only be seen from vintage clothing. Catalogs list dizzying variety of colors, but it is impossible to know just what hues weee represented by the different color names.
One vintage hosiery item on HBC is an American pair of Buster Brown long stockings, probably from the 1930s. Buster Brown was a major shoe company and for a while an important hosiery company. Here are two photos of vintage Buster Brown long stockings worn by both boys and girls in the 1920s and 1930s in the United States. We have no actual date for these vintage long stockings, but I suspect that they date from about 1935-36 because of the designation "extra long", which became a popular selling point from the mid-1930s onwards when boys' short pants and girls' dresses started to be worn much shorter than had previously been the case. With shorter trousers and skirts, the long stockings needed to be knit much longer so that the fasteners of the hose supporters to hold them in place would not be visible. Several of the ads for long stockings during this period advertise stockings as being "extra long". Wards, for instance, in 1933 were selling "Extra Long Playhard" stockings and claiming, "Mothers know that these sturdy stockings do away with with unsightly garters peeping out from under the popular short skirts or pants."
These children's long cotton stockings look to be from the 1930s or 40s (figure 1). They were sold for both boys and girls up to about age 12 by major stores such as Sears Roebuck and Wards. These stockings seem to have a little bit of rayon content to increase their durability and give them just a bit of sheen for dressiness. Although long stockings were worn for warmth in colder climates, I think some mothers insisted on them for reasons of greater formality and dressiness when they wanted their sons and daughters to look dressed up. Some children wore these stockings to school of course. Boys could wear these stockings either with short trousers or under knickers. The beige stockings came in a wide variety of tan shades. Beige became popular in the 1930s. Earlier black was the principal color.
These vintage American stockings are quite interesting because they have a sheen to them which illustrates the rayon content that manufacturers began introducing in their product to make the stockings dressier (figure 1). These become rather prominent in the catalogues during the late-1930s and early-40s. The stockings of course are not dated, but it is likely that this was when they were made. Pearl Harbor put a stop to that as rayon production was needed by the military. Parachutes were needed for the new units being formed and could no longer be obtained in Japan abd China. By the end of the War, long stockings had basically gone out of style in America.
We notice a vintage pair of grey Black Bear long stockings. They come with a Black Bear advertisung sticker which unfortunately we cannot read. We thought the stockings might come from the 1920s because of the sticker, but advertising suggests the 1900, but they are undated. They may be size 7. The dealer suggested 7 inches, but I am not sure if that was a measurement or an interpretation of size 7. Black Bear seems like a brand name. We are not sure what American company was involved. While we have not identified the company, we do not Black Bear stockings bein advertised in the early-20th century. We find advertisements for the brand in newspapers dating from 1899 to 1906.
A HBC reader mentions a pair of children's long wool and cotton blend stockings by Goodwear Hose of Canada. They are original footwear from the late 1940s and have the original label still attached with the long wearing claim. They measure 15 inches from top to toe and thus are for a younger child. They are a light coco-brown color and have the words (Wool & Cotton) printed on the foot of the socks. Notice the stitching.
This is a good illustration of how German boys often fastened their long stockings to their Leibchens. The garter straps had graduated button holes (for length adjustment) so that the boys could attach the button at the top of their stockings to the strap. During the 1920s and 1930s most German mothers sewed these buttons, called "laundry buttons" or Wäscheknöpfe, onto the stockings themselves. But eventually, after World War II, it was possible to buy stockings that came with the buttons already sewn on commercially. These tan long stockings from the late 1940s (or maybe even 1950s) have the buttons sewn on by the manufacturer. In some cases there were two buttons on each stocking for more even support, but sometimes only one. It isn't quite clear from this image whether the stockings have one or two buttons per stocking (we can only see a button on one side), but I suspect there are two, because many boys complained that if only one garter strap was provided for each leg, the stockings sagged uncomfortably on the inner thigh.
These dark brown cotton long stockings with ribbing and knitted "extra long" (extra lang) to cover the entire upper thigh date from 1952 in Germany. Many school children wore these long stockings at the time. Boys wore them with short trousers. They were supported by a Strapsleibchen (a white cotton bodice either front opening or back-opening) for boys and girls. They had four loop and rubber button hose supporters attached--two in front and two in the rear. Long stockings continued to be standard wear for school children in Germany in the erly 50s, but after mid-decade very rapidly went out of style. Knee become much more popular. Two other important factors affected long stockings. First, more boys began wearing long trousers and mothers were less inclined to insist on long stockings when the boy was wearing ling pants. Second, tights appeared in West Grmany during the late 1950s after which long stockings disappeared completely. (This transition occurred a few years later in East Germany.) We are not sure what the numbers on the tag mean. T A reader suggests, "The last two digits on the top entry may refer to 1952." A German reader speculates, "A speculation: '11/552' is the fabrication number (not the date/year), '9' is the size, and '26' is the price (in the old German Marks or Swiss Francs? No! Probably in Austrian Schillings - in 1950x about 4 German Marks or 1 to 2 US$, a reasonable prize at this time."
Here we have a pair of vintage light tan or beige long stockings manufactured in Sweden. We do not know who the manufctuer was.The image comes from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia. The Museum estimates that they were made in the 1910s. We are not sure on what basis the estimate was made. Avery high propoertion of the stockings worn in the 1910s, especially by boys, were black. We do note white (mostly for girls and younger boys) and other colors, but they were much less common than black.
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