Velvet Grip Hose Supporters, 1911

Figure 1.--Here we see ad advertisement for Velvet Grip hose supporters. It appeared in "The Youth's Companion" during 1911. Click the image to see another Velvet Grip ad that appeared in another 1911 issue of the same magazine.

We have Little information on 1911 catalogs at this time. Boys commonly wore kneepants abd knickers and long stockings were very widely worn by both boyys and girls. Stocking supporters were needed to hold up the long stockings. We do note advertisements for Velvet Grip hose supporters in 1911 issues of The Youth's Companion, a children's periodical.

George Frost Company

Velvet Grip hose supporters were made by the George Frost Company which was located in Boston. We have no further information on the company. George A. Frost for whom the company was named was born in 1857 in Massachusetts to parents, George and Almira Frost, who came respectively from Connecticut and Maine. The family lived in Newton, Mass. by 1870. By 1880 the family lived 310 Highland Street, Newton, and George, the oldest son, was working for his father's business that specialized in "ladies furnishings." George's father was a dry goods merchant. Records indicate that the family business was called the George Frost and Company, founded by the elder George Frost, and taken over by his son, George the younger, at some point in the late 1880s. The firm was located on Devonshire Street in downtown Boston, although the store was damaged by fire in 1876 and it is not clear whether the location changed after the fire. Two of its most famous products were the "Boston Garter," a supporter for men and for older boys' calf-length socks, and pin-on supporters for children's and women's long stockings.

The Youth's Companion

"The Youth's Companion" described itself as "An Illustrated Weekly Paper For Young People and the Family, Established in 1827." It was published in Boston, Massachusetts, by the Perry Mason Company, 201 Columbus Avenue. We are not sure how lon it was publised, but we notice that it was still being published into the 1910s. The magazine catered to teen-age boys and girls especially, containing articles on sports, on hobbies, and on various literary and cultural interests. But it was really a family magazine and had many advertisements for clothing, both adult and children's.

Long Stockings

Note that it is simply assumed in 1911 that nearly all children, boys and girls alike, will be wearing long stockings with knee pants, above-the-knee knickers or dresses or skirts. This would be true even in the summer months for any occasion when children were expected to dress formally.

Pin-on Hose Supporters

Pin-on garters are a type of stocking supporters. From the end of the 19th century until the middle 1940s, hose supporters were sold individually for the support of boys’ and girls stockings. At the very beginning the elastic garters, almost always with two pendants in a Y-shape, were attached to underwaists or other underwear by means of buttons. Then the safefy-pin model was introduced which allowed the garters to be attached to garter tabs on waist suits or underwaists by pinning. The pin-on style was used almost exclusively throughout the first half of the 20th century. Pin-garters were made in various sizes—not only for children up to their teenage years but also for adult women. Women’s and children’s hose supporters were always sold together, size being the only difference. They usually were available in black or white. Black was popular in the early years of the century. By the 1930s and 1940s white was the more popular color. The "velvet grip" hose supporters here are a type of "Pin-On Garters". Notice that the "velvet grip" feature carries on in children's garters up through the 1930s and 1940s. The pin-on garters were offered by Sears in 1939 under Suspenders and Stocking Supporters" has "velvet grip" pin-on garters.


Here is an advertisement for boys' and girls' "Velvet Grip" hose supporters. The ad appeared in The Youth's Companion (October 26, 1911, p. 587; November 30, 1911, p. 659). In 1911 before World War I, almost all children wore black long stockings, at least in the cooler months.

The Brand

Velvet Grip hose supporters were sold in various forms for the entire family. Men wore garters for their socks with the velvet grip clasp below the knee and women wore supporters attached to corsets or bought sew-on versions for use with their underclothing. Boys and girls both wore "Velvet Grip" supporters with pins at the top for attaching to underwaists, as is illustrated in these two ads--both of them variants of each other. These ads mention specifically "little boys and girls"; but older children wore them also in larger sizes. The company marketed its product both through magazine ads and through catalog companies like Sears. We also note other brabnds with similar mexhanisms.


We note that in 1939 Sears along with other Stocking Supporters and Suspenders offered "Velvet-grip" pin-on garters. This shows that the "velvet grip" brand name continued from 1911 to 1939. In fact it continued even later into the 1940s when pin-on garters began to disappear as a product.

Hickory garters

We also note that in a 1916 ad for Hickory Garters" that Hickory adopted the "velvet grip" technology without necessarily using the phrase. The ad shows a small boy actually wearing the same kind of pin-on garters in the same color--black).

Ad Imagery

In different versions of this ad, boys and girls are shown together, in fact the same two children. The dominant active figure in these ads is the boy. And the the actual wearing of the supporters is illustrated by the boy figure in each cases--perhaps to make the point that these garters are for very active and "lively little people" with the implication that the garters are both durable (resistant to wear) and nonrestrictive of movement. The girl in each ad is pictured wearing her dress and quitely playing with her doll. In one ad image the boy is riding a rocking horse; in the other he is riding down the banister of a staircase with his legs astride it.

Stockings Suspension

Notice that in both images, the boy is wearing long underwear and that the hose supporters are fastened to an underwaist (worn over the long underwear) with a row of waist buttons, some of these for knee pants obviously. The garters are fastened either to one of these waist buttons on either side or to tape garter tabs in the same position on either side of his waist so that the hose supporters can be worn over the hips. This is apparently before the "pin tubes" that were developed later for fastening hose supporters to underwaists, although I'm not quite certain just when the metal pinning tubes were invented. The use of safety pins on hose supporters goes back at least to the 1890s.


A couple of points are worth noting about the appeal of these supporters for mothers of boys and girls--first, that supporters hold their children's stockings smoothly and firmly in place and can be depended upon not to come loose with daily activity. Some children tended to look untidy by wearing supporters that came unfastened with play and allowed their stockings to fall down or sag. And some children wore round garters above the knee that restricted circulation or tended to loose elasticity so that the stockings sagged and looked sloppy. The second point is that the fastener with the rubber button and loop was easy to fasten and unfasten, so that even very small children could dress and undress without assistance. This was important in teaching young boys and girls a kind of self-reliance.


Notice also that the color is black rather than white (which became more popular in the 1930s and 1940s). Black matched the color of the stockings and had the advantage of not showing soil as white tended to do. White was, however, available at this time.

The Brand Name

The name "velvet grip" refers to the rubber button over which the top of the stocking is placed before the metal loop is hooked onto it. At an earlier period, the button was metal rather than rubber and therefore tended to damage the stocking by tearing holes in it. Also we notice that some ads adressedcthe problem of rust so presumably this was another problem solved. Although Velvet Grip Hose Supporters were widely sold all over the country in retail outlets, it was possible to buy them by post also--a convenience for rural people who didn't live near clothing stores.

Ad Copy

We have found three very similar ads for Velvet Grip hose supporters. The text for the ads varies, although two are quite similar. The order of the phrases is altered a bit in the two examples. The third is a little different.

Youth Companion

This ad copy (rocking horse) reads, "For Lively Little People. Have Your Little Boys and Girls Wear the Velvet Grip Hose Supporter (rubber button). It holds the stocking firmly and neatly--will not let go until released--is easily managed by small fingers. Wears longest because of its superior quality. For Sale in Stores Everywhere. Children's sample pair, 16 cents postpaid. Give age. George Frost Co., Maker, Boston, Mass."

Youth Companion

The ad (banister) copy here in the Youth Companion reads "Have Your Little Boys and Girls Wear the Velvet Grip Hose Supporter (rubber button). For Sale in Stores Everywhere. For Lively Little People. Children's sample, 16 cents postpaid (Give Age). It holds the stocking firmly and neatly. Easily managed by small fingers. Wears longest. Guaranteed against Imperfections. George Frost Co., Makers, Boston, Mass."

Unknown magazine

We are not sure where this ad for Velet Grip hose supporters appeared, but suspect it was also the "Youth Companion". The ad copy reads, ""Velvet Grip Rubber Button Hose Supporter for Boys and Girls. Well Dressed little people wear smooth neat stockings held in place by supporters that hold on firmly all day, but can be easily attached and detached by small fingers. Look for the Molded Rubber Button and "Velvet Grip" stamped on the loop. Sample Pair, Children's size (state age) 16 cents post paid. Sold by Dealers Everywhere. George Frost Company, Boston, USA."

Long Stocking Wear Points

There seem to be several advantages to the Velvet Grip hose supporters. The Velvet Grip ad here emphasizes that it was easier for little children to dress. Another advantage seems to have been that they reduced wear on the stockings. When hose supporters were first introduced in the last quarter of the 19th century, the buttons were metal and often had the disadvantage of tearing the stocking tops. But then the "velvet grip" technology came along in the early 1900s with the metal buttons covered with rubber so that they didn't tear the tops of the stockings when attached. Velvet Grip even became a trade term.


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Created: 12:35 AM 10/31/2004
Last updated: 9:56 PM 4/1/2007