As long stockings were still worn in Canada we note stocking supporters. We note pages from Eaton's Fall and Winter catalogue for 1948-49 showing a variety of support garments, both underwaists and garter waists. Among the seven different models of support garments on offer, only one is specified as designed for girls.
This Canadian retailer began publishing mailorder catalogs in 1881, at least that is we
begin noticing them. We have catalogs from the 1970s, although we do not know about the company's current status. The 1970s catalgs were full of clothes which look like American styles. Timothy Eaton, founder of the huge all-Canadian department store chain bearing his name, was an Irish immigrant born on a tennant farm in northern Ireland. He was born in 1834 and followed his brothers to Canada in 1854. His brothers had opened a small dty goods store in St. Marys. Timothy Eaton began his business with a small dry goods business in Toronto during 1869. He built a giant retail store in Ontario’s capital city along with a country-wide mail-order business and a big new branch store in Winnipeg, by the time of his death in 1907. The Winnipeg branch was the first of many branches. Eaton Company business establishments eventually spread all across Canada when Timothy’s family successors extended the Eaton empire. Timothy masterminded the company during the crucial period of its early
development, spanning nearly 40 years. It was Timothy who implemented the concept of the "Department Store", in Canada, a concept which were already flourishing in London, Paris, and New York.
Eatons offered a range of long stockings in a limited range of colors, black white, and brown (Eaton used the term fawn) shades.
Eaton's Fall and Winter catalogue for 1948-49 show a variety of underwaists and garter waists (pp. 138-39). Among the seven different models of support garments on offer, only one is specified as designed for girls.
The others seem to be unisex garments and designed for both boys and girls from the ages of 2 to 12 years of age. Although waists were worn sometimes to attach bloomers, short trousers, and skirts, their major
purpose seems to have been a means of holding up long stockings because these garments almost invariably have provision for attaching hose supporters or else have the supporters already attached. We have had to
separate out the various models from a confused couple of pages in the catalogue that also advertise many other items that are not relevant to children's underwear. It is difficult to understand Eaton's organizational concept, if they had one. Also the advertising texts for the individual
garments appear on a page ajacent to that of the illustrations--hence the discontinuity in the numbering of items.
We note two of the waists offered by Eatons were only for younger children up to age 6 years. We are not entirely sure why these junior waists were made specifically for this younger age range. We do not understand at this time just why special waists were made in this age range. They are notable for the limited or specific features of each. We note that one was made for supporting long stockings and the other was not. This confuses us as it would seem that younger children would have been more likely to wear long stockings. Thus we are not at all sure about the Canadian conventions. Another waist is only for long stockings. Canadian parents apparently wanted a variety of options for dressing children. Here are the individual items by number with the ad copy text:
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Fleece lined Cotton Waist with taped-on buttons and wide shoulder
straps. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. 210-584 79 cents." This is a very simple underwaist that buttons down the front and is equipped with shoulder reinforcing straps that end in two buttons over
the hip on either side (figure 9). Two buttons are supplied for buttoning on trousers, bloomers, or skirts. The different levels of the two buttons are to allow for the child's growth. Theoretically garters could be
attached to the buttons, but all professionally manufactured hose supporters during the 1940s were of the pin-on style, so this waist is obviously not intended to be worn with long stockings. Although it is
made in sizes up to 12, I think it would have been principally been worn by girls who needed a garment to which to attach bloomers or very young children who needed the buttons for outer clothing such as short
trousers. Note that fleece lining guarantees additional warmth. Waists were worn over undershirts and provided an additional layer of underwear over the chest. This surprised us a little that that underwaists would be made without any provision for supporting long stockings. This was often the primary purpose of these garments and the younger children who wore this garment were the most likely to wear long stockings. Thus we do not entirely understand the conventions involved here. This rather suggests that younger children were less likely to wear long stockings, but that does not sound right to us. Generally speaking it was the younger children that were most likely to wear long stockings. A reder writes, "Your puzzlement about the absence of garter tabs on this waist. Perhaps because mothers who bought this waist dressed their children in knee socks or ankle socks and didn't need supporter attachments. In the 1940s many Canadian children wore knee socks rather than long
stockings. Of course some children wore both knee socks and long stockings, depending on the occasion and the weather."
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Pullover-Style Fleeced-lined Cotton Waist with reinforcing tapes and
tabs for hose supporters. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6. 210-592. Price, each. 55 cents." This waist for younger children is just the opposit of waist No. 9. It is only for the support of long stockings since it has no buttons but only tape loops at the ends of the
reinforcing straps so that pin-on supporters can be attached (figure 13). These waists were not as flexible as some. It suggests the parents that purchased them had very precise ideas about how to dress their younger children. It almost suggests that some waists were purchased with specific outfits in mind. Thus we know that younger children did wear long stockings. The slip-over style would be convenient for younger children who wouldn't have to fuss with buttons either front or back. At earlier periods
slip-over style underwaists were made for older boys and girls, but by the late 1940s this style for children older than age 6 seems to have largely disappeared.
Most of the Eaton waists were made in sizes for children 2-12 years of age. The number of waists here are notable. It suggests that they were still popular garments in Canada. American catalogs by this time had very limited offerings of comparable garments. We assumed this was because long stockings continued to be popular longer in Canada than America. These waists were worn by both boys and girls, only one was made specifically for girls. There are no gender connotations for the others. For the most part, Gender is not mentined in the ad copy, except for the girl's waist and the skeleton waist. The features of many of these waists, except the skeleton waist, seem quite similar. We're not entirely sure why so many different items were needed.
The Eaton's ad copy read, "White Cotton Waist of extra quality, fitted with taped-on buttons and
garter tabs. For boys or girls. Built-up button over the shoulder straps. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. 210-957. Price, each garment $1.10." Although this waist buttons down the back, it seems to
be designed for both genders (figure 19). It has a row of buttons around the waist for attaching additional clothing and two metal pinning tubes over the hips for the attachment of hose supporters. The notable feature here is the button shoulder straps. I'm not sure what the advantages were to the waists that did not have button shoulder straps. A reader tells us, "This feature generally had two advantages for children. It allowed for growth since there were usually two button holes for adjustment. It also made the waist a
bit easier to get on and off (although this was a secondary consideration only)."
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Good Wearing Cotton Waist fitted with garter tabs and buttons.
Button-back style with wide bound shoulder straps. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. 210-984. Price, each 75 cents." This style of waist, apparently for either a boy or girl, has buttons at front, back
and sides for the attachment of additional clothing (figure 20). It also has two metal pinning-tubes in front for the attachment of supporters for long stockings. Canadian underwaists, unlike their American counterparts,
often had the pinning-tubes for garters anchored in the front rather than at the sides. If the stockings were too short or the garters stretched too tightly, this could cause the child to stoop forward. We
read in medical journals of doctors who objected to this feature of garter attachment.
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Cotton Waist for Girls. Practical back-closing style with garter tabs
and taped-on buttons. Well finished. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. 210-987. Price, each 85 cents." The waist buttons on this model seem to have been designed principally for the attachment of bloomers, which some Canadian girls wore in gym classes and for active play (figure 21). We know that American girls wore middy blouses and bloomers with long stockings for gym classes in the early 20th century. Presumably this was also the case in Canada, but we are surprised to find it in the 1940s. We suspect that bloomers might have been in use in conservative Catholic schools. American girls by this time were more commonly wearing one-piece romper suits. Again the pin-tubes for supporters are place in front rather than on the sides. Corset waists often had this arrangement also. Note that there are no reinforcing straps to support the garters.
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Good Quality Cotton Waist. Button-back style. Garters attached to
taped tabs. Taped-on buttons. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. 210-959. Price, each $1.10." This more expensive waist has reinforcement straps over the shoulders to take the strain of the garter pull (figure 22). Notice that the supporters are attached by safety-pins and can therefore be removed and replaced. Boys as well as girls could theoretically wear this waist even though the back-buttoning closure would be more popular with girls. School age boys pesumably would have objected. Eaton's doesn't mention this Presumably most mothers would have understood.
The Eaton's ad copy read, "Skeleton Waist of sturdy White Cotton. Popular with boys as well as
girls. Has button-front closing and two garters attached. White only. Sizes 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. State size wanted. 210-972. Price, each $1.00." This is the standard Dr. Parker style garter waist favored by
both boys and girls ever since the late 19th century (figure 28). It had become such a common style in both America and Canada that the "Dr. Parker" label had disappeared. Boys preferred this style to an underwaist
because it was more athletically designed and less restrictive--although it might not appear so to modern readers who never wore these garments. They also liked the front closure. Some skeleton waists had additional buttons around the waist for buttoning on additional garments such as
trousers, but this waist seems to be exclusively designed for the support of long stockings. This style of garter waist continued to be sold in Canada, especially Quebec, into the 1960s. We note a catalog offering in 1965, Simpson's garter waists.
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