*** boys stockings: striped

Striped Long Stockings

Figure 1.--.

HBC is just beginning to collect information on striped stockings. They all appear to have been horizontal stripes, although there were a wide variety of striped patterns. They appear to have been popular from the 1860s through the 80s. It does not appear to have been a formal style. Only a few of the images of Fauntleroy suits or kilts show boys in horizontal stripe stockings. These are usually with jackets and kneepants so they were not a casual style, but they do not seem to have been worn with a boy's party suit or other form outfits. We do not see many boys wearing these striped stockings, for example with Fauntleroy suits. .


The chronology of striped stockings appears to have been the same as patterned stockings in general, primarily because the dominate pattern was stripes. We note fashion illustrations from the 1850s showing striped stockings being worn. We suspect that they appeared at about the same time boys began wearing bloomer knickers and kneepants. There are relativey few photographic images from the 1850s, probably because images from the decade in general are limited. The photographic record shows that they were popular from the 1860s through the 80s, although we have noted them into the 1890s. We suspect that they were most popular in the 1860s and 70s, although our information is still quite limited. We have not, however noted boys wearing striped stockings into the 1900s. HBC has not noted striped stockings after the turn of the century. The clothing worn with striped stockings also varried over time. I do not have details on this, but is my general impressiion from a review of available images. Notably as kneesocks became more common in the 1900s, horizontal striped kneesocks were never worn, although there might be colored bands on the turn-over-top cuff. In contrast, boys later in the 20th century did eventually wear ankel socks with horizontal stripes


I am not positive about the conventions for wearing striped socks. They do not appear to have been a formal style. Only a few of the images of Fauntleroy suits or kilts show boys in horizontal stripe stockings. These are usually with jackets and kneepants so they were not a casual style, but they do not sem to have been worn with a boy's party


We have noted boys wearing striped long stockings with a wide variety of outfits. It appears though that the striped stockings were primarily worn with suits. The suits worn by boys with striped socks are representative of the plainer suits worn in the 1860s and 70s. One common feature were vertical strips, usually in contrasting colors on the sides of the kneepants. This became less common in the 1880s, when younger boys might wear fancier suits like Fauntleroy suits. Striped stockings were worn with the increasingly mature looking suit jackets that boys wore after emerging from dresses kilt suits, Fauntleroy suits, or sailor suits. We have also noted boys wearing striped stockings with tunics. Some boys wore striped stockings with kiltsuits, but solid-colored stockings were more common.

Figure 1.--.


The most common pattern of striped socks were bold stripes, usually two colors, of even width. There were, however, many other patterns of mixed strip widths, striped and solid areas mixed, and even stripes and or solid collors with patterns or motifs. HBC is not sure at this time if these diffrent patterns had connotations concerning gender or age. We have noted vertical stripes in the 19th century, but not worn by boys.


The length of striped stockings appears to have been the same as patterned kneesocks in general, again because most patterned kneesocks were striped.


The age that boys wore striped stockings appears to have been the same as patterned kneesocks in general, again because most patterned kneesocks were striped. Very young boys wore them and also boys including younger teenagers. We suspect that just boys wearing kneepants or knickers wore them and not older boys making the transition to long trousers. Of course we can only see the stockings being worn by the boys wearing shortened-length pants, but it would seem somewhat pointless to wear striped stockings if they wre covered with long pants. As a result, it seems likely that the ages boys wore theee stockings were the sme ages that they wore bloomer knickers and knee pants.


HBC has no information at this time on the colors used in these long striped stockings. We suspect that quite a wide range of color combinations were used, including some bright colors. We note some colored illustrations, but are unsure as to the accuracy of the representations. Notably we rarely see these striped stockings in formal painted portraits. We suspect that this may have been because the striped stockings were considered sporty and for a formal painted portrait, more conservative attite was expected.

Hair Styles

Given the age range, boys wearing striped socks could have hair styles from ringlet curls to close cropped hair. HBC has not noted any hair style specifically associated with specifc hair styles.

National Trends

We see boys and girls in many different countries wearing stripped long stockings. Most of the images that we have of boys wearing stripped stockings are American images. Clearly this was a popular style in America furing the mid-19th and late 19th century, although toward the turn of the 20th cebntury you no longer commonly see them. We note more boys wearing solid coloted stockings, but the striped stockings were very clearly widely worn in America. It appears to have been a fairly popular style that crossed national borders. We believe these stripped stockings were also commonly worn in most European countries, but we have little specific country information at this time. This probably relects in part our larely American archive. Theymay, however, been particularly popular in America. We do have a page on Canadian striped stockings.

striped long stockings
Figure 3.--The girl and younger boy in this photograph wear striped stockings, although differet patterns. The girls' stockings have a flat weave, the younger boys' stockings are haeavily ribbed. Notice how the older boy has solid coliored stockings and much longer kneepants than his younger brother. HBC can not date this photograph with any degree of accuarcy, but belieces it to be the 1870s.


We are still assessing gender conventions associated with striped stockings. We at first thought the striped stockings were primarily a boys' style, but as we expand our HBC archive we have also noticed many girls wearing striped stockings as well. In fact, as far as we can tell tghey seem to be as common with girls as with boys. We have come to the conclusion that there was no clear gender conventions associated with these striped stockings. They seem to have been essentially a children's style. We wonder if there were gender conventions associated with either colors or the striping pattern. Here we are just begginning to make an assessment. We suspect thatv there were color differences, but We are unable to assess color given the black-and-white photography of the day. HBC believes that girls did not as commonly wear the bolder striped patterns, but this is just a preliminary assessment at this time. And we are not sure if there were country differences. Our archive is primarily American. We are less sure about Europe. We do see girls wearing striped stockings in Europe, but given our limoted rchive for many countries, we are unable to make any assessments. We do have several German images and we do see girls wearing strioed stockings. We are unsure how common this was.


Most striped stockings were made of wool. Silk was also used for very expensive stockings, but not generally boys' stockings. HBC believes that striped stockings were not commonly made in silk, but usually wool.


A wide variety of weaves can be seen in these striped socks. Some are heavily ribbed while other have only moderate ribbing. Some stockings apperar to have a flat weave without any noticeable ribbing.


It is of course more complicated to weave stockings with multi-colored stockibngs than solid color stockings. We are not sure of the technological processes involved. We wonder if the appearance of these striped stockings in the 1840s had something to o with the development of new technical processes.


A HBC reader asks, "Do you think these striped stockings were purchased at stores or home-knitted? I have never seen advertisements for such stockings in magazines or catalogs, but of course the early dating from a period when we don't have many advertisements for any kind of stockings makes the question difficult to resolve. My guess is that the patterns result from home knitting. But notice this ad for shoulder hose supporters made by Stein that shows a girl wearing striped stockings. These stockings could be home-knitted, but their appearance in a commercial advertisement may indicate that striped stockings were already available for sale in the 1880s." Unfortunately we have little information about the manufacruring of long stockings. Our general assessment is that many of the striped long stockings we see are manufactured rather than home knotted. This is because many seem to be the same weight as the plain long stonckings. Home-knit stocks we believe would be much bulkier. Also note that some of the stockings have very complicated patterns including thin lines tht Inthibk would be difficult to knit.


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Created: May 10, 1998
Last updated: 6:27 PM 8/18/2011