Long stockings were commonly worn in the late 19th century and persisted somewhat longer in Canada than America. They were worn with both short pants and knickers, although kneesocks had become more common by the 1930s. The kneesocks worn in Canada, were often quite heavy, thick styles. During the winter long stockings and kneesocks were probably also worn with long pants--although this is difficult to determine. Long stockings appear to have been worn with short pants as a dressy outfit more commonly than in America. HBC has only limited information on hosiery at this time, but the long stockings that we have noted had all been dark--probably black.
Quite a variety of terms are used fpr hosiery and this is complicated in Canada because there are two languages to consider, English and French. There were differences in clothing, including hosiery, between the two communities, but this is less so now.
French Canadians of course speak French, but there are differences between the French spoken in Quebec and France. The term for socks and stockings is Canada is " bas " long stockings " bas longs ". Today in France, stockings with incorporated garters are called bas-jarretières" in France. Socks are " chaussettes " (in France) and " bas courts (in Québec). Over-the-knee stockings " chaussettes longues " (in France) and " bas au-desus
des genoux " (in Québec). Knee socks are " chaussettes au genou " (in France) and " bas trois-quarts " (in Quebec). Tights are called " collants " in both Canada and France. Shoes are " chaussures " (in France) and " souliers "(in Québec). In France, souliers are old shoes.
Long over-the-knee stockings are call long stockings in Canada. We are not sure about kneesocks which are often called turn-over-top socks or stockings in England. We believe the American term kneesocks is widely used in Canada. Here the trminology is somewhat complicated. English boys in the 1960s began wearing less expensive kneesocks without turn over tops. They were often called long socks or long stockings as they could obviously not be called turn-over-top socks. A English immigrant to Canada in the 1970s tells us that he has only herd them referred to as kneesocks.
Long stockings were commonly worn in the late 19th century and persisted somewhat longer in Canada than America. Our infornmation on the 19th century, however, is still very limited. They were worn with both short pants and knickers, although kneesocks had become more common by the 1930s. Knee socks appeared in the 1900s and aided by the Scout movement which adopted them for the uniform. They rapidly grew in popularity. We note long stockings still very common in the mid-30s. A Simpson's 1936 hosiery catalog page gives an idea of relative prevalence. We see ankle socks, but they do not seem to be very popular. Knee socks appear to have surpased long stockings in popularity by the late-1930s. A Canadian reader writes, "Practically, no boys wore long stockings after 1950 save toddlers. Girls wore them longer, until 1965 when tights became generalised. In the 50s, English-Speaking Girls wore knee-socks, even in winter. When they went outdoors in cold weather they might wear ski-pants. French Canadians were more culturally conservative. It took
longer for French Canadian girls to dress like this. It was thought that girls shouldn't dress like boys."
Canadian boys have worn various types of hosiery.
HBC has noted several images of Canadian boys wearing long stockings. This appears to have been quite similar to American patterns in the late 19th century. HBC has noted that some Canadian boys continued wearing long stockings in the 20th century when many American boys began wearing short socks and knee socks. HBC has noted French boys wearing long stockings for dress wear as late as the early 1950s. Ages have varied over time. Quite old boys might wear long stockings at the turn-of-the 20th century, but by the 1940s and 50s it was mostly boys up to 7 or 8 years, probablu about 10 years at the oldest. Canadian boys appear to have primarily worn dark long stockings. HBC has only limited information on hosiery at this time, but the long stockings that we have noted had all been dark--probably black.
HBC has first noted knee socks after the turn of the century. The popularity of the Scout movement undoubtedly helped to popularize kneesocks. They did not begin to be widely worn, however, until the 1920s. The knee socks worn in Canada, especially in the winter, appear to have been heavier than those worn in America or England, although our archive still is very limited. We notice Canadian boys commonly wearing knee socks during the 1920s with both short pants and knickers. We note some of the brightly colored patterned knee socks commonly worn in the States. Boys wore both long stockings and knee socks with both short pants and knickers. We do not yet have enough information to know which was more common. Seasonality may have neen a factor. Canada shared many of the same fashions as the States, but British fashions were also influential. We are still attempting to develop information on Canadian trends.
We have limited information about Canadian boys wearing tights. Despite the climate, it does not appear to have been common unlike other norther countries. Until 1965, there were no reasonably priced tights available for children in Canada. Also, you have to think that a pair of long stockings was relatively inexpensive. Tights need complicated methods of knitting, they were costly and only dancers were able to afford to wear them. You have to understand that it was easy to darn a stocking and mix with another in good condition. If tights were torn on one leg, the whole pair had to be thrown away. These economic factors have to be considered when assessing clothing, especially children's clothing. Tights for kids didn't exist before Helanca who used synthetic products. Some Canadian reader have forwarded their personal experiences concerning tights. One Candian HBC reader reports that he wore tights as a young boy in the 1980s. Unlike Europe where they were sometimes dress wear, in Canada they were mostly worn as cold-weather wear.
Long stockings and kneesocks were especially popular in Canada because of the cold weather. This was especially true before World War II (1939-45) when homes were less well heated. Style is another factor. Long stockings appear to have been worn with short pants as a dressy outfit more commonly than in America. In particular Canadian boys appear to have worn longstockings for dress occasions. This appears to have been more prevalent among French Canadians than English Canadians. Some nothers appear to have viewed long stockings as more formal attire and some boys wore them with short pants for dress occasions.
We have not yet persued the question of gender and hosiery in Canada. Both boys and girls have worn anlke socks, three-qarter socks, kneesocks, and long stockings. The primary gender convention was more color we think than the length of the hosiery. White was a color more common for girls, but not exclusively worn by them. Long stockings were wideoly worn by both boys and girls, but I think may have been some what more common for girls by the 1930s and especially the 40s. The same pattern seems to have held for boys, althouh they were still widely worn by boys in the 1940s. Some families may have had conventions even though they were not widely held by the country as a hole. We note one Canadian family about 1920. The giel wear ankle socks and the boys long stockings.
Canadian boys have worn long stockings with both kneepants, knickers. and short pants. Kneesocls were worn with bith knickers and short pants. During the winter long stockings and kneesocks were probably also worn with long pants--although this is difficult to determine. After World War II, Candian boys began to increasingly wear short socks with long pants.
A HBC reader mentions a pair of children's long wool and cCotton blend stockings by Goodwear Hose of Canada! hey are original footwear from the late 1940s and have the original label still attached. 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.
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