Long Stockings: Gender Popularity

Figure 1.--In this German photograph the boy wears long stockings and his sister socks. We have no idea why mother has chosen stockings for one anbd socks for the other. In many other photographs we notice just the opposite.

Long stockings were commonly worn by both boys and girls. We note countless portraits showing both boys and girls wearing them. Some portraits show all the children in the family wearing them. In some cases boys wear long stockings and girls wear socles. In other photographs we see just the opposite. Here it is difficult to discern any real pattern. We have no idea why long stockings were worn in some instances and not in others. In fact, we wonder why parents would dress some children in long stockings and other children in socks for the same occassion. We seem to note boys and girls wearing long stockings to a similar extent in the 19th and early 20th century. After World War I both boys and girls continued to wear them, aklthough we seem to note fewer older boys wearing them. A reader writes, "I wonder if it was an age convention. I often see photos of children younger than a certain age in socks and the older sibling in stockings. Maybe this is the same here." Yes I think age can be a factor, but not with the two here. My guess is that the girl had long stockings and the boy had socks. Another reader writes, "I suspect that in this case the mother chose long stockings for the boy because they went with his dark, formal-looking sailor suit. It is true that we see German boys with sailor suits and knee socks occasionally, but I think the convention--at least up through the 1930s--was to wear black or dark brown long stockings with dark sailor suits. The convention may have been a bit more flexible with summer or light-colored sailor suits."


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Created: 4:46 AM 12/17/2006
Last updated: 2:24 PM 12/17/2006