Long Stocking Lengths: Types of Pants

Figure 1.--American boys until the mid-1920s usually wore knickers ith long stockings. This boy was probably photographed in the early 1920s. The image shows how long stockings when worn with knickers did not have to be very long. This boy, however, is clearly wearing long stockings and not kneesocks.

The major pants type worn with long stockings and affecting long stocking length were kneepants, knickers, and short pants. The type and length of thaese trousers afffected the lenhgth of the long stockings that were worn. HBC had though that long stockings were normally worn with long pants, but this needs to be confirmed. A German reader, for example, tells us that German boys did wear long stockings during the winter with lon pants.

Knee Pants

The length of long stockings changed over time as pants styles they were worn with changed. Kneepants began to appear in the 1860s, but were not wide worn untill the the 1870s. Their popularity varied from country to country. Because the kneepants boys wore during the late 19th century were generally at or below knee length, stockings only had to extend slightly above the knee. Some kneepants in fact extended well below the knee to almost mid-calf. Occasionlly one sees a boy with kneepants above the knee. This almost alway is a boy who has grown and still wearing an older pair of pants. Knee pants were not normally purchased at shorter lengths--even for younger boys.


Knickers appeared in the late 19th century. They were nore common at first in Britain than America, but after the turn of the century they increased in popularity amony American boys. They had largelyvreplaced kneepants by the 1910s, but younger boys still wore kneepants untik the early 1920s. Knicker lengths were more varied than kneepanrs. Some knickers were worn above te knee. Above the knee knickers were commnly worn in the 1910s and early 20s. Theuy were not popular with the boys, but some mothers insisted that a boy buckle his knickers above the knee. As knickers in the 1910s and early 20s were mostly worn with long stockings, this affected the length required. It was less important for below the knee knickers more commonly worn after the mid 1920s. The length of long stockings for knickers, howevrer, became moot when by the mid-1920s mostvboys were wearing kneesocks with knickers. Even above the knee knickers, however, were worn only a little above the knee and thus long stockings still did not have to extend much above the knee. A German reader writes, "With regard to knickers I may report that wearing long stockings under knickers was difficult: Since the lower end of the knickers was fixed tightly around the leg under the knee, somehow the stockings always run down. That means they had to be fixed with the garters very carefuly and strongly before putting the knickers on. I rarely had knickers, and because of the named problems I did not like them in winter. I used to wear knickers until about 1952 but not with long stockings (only knee socks or socks) when I was able to decide myself above 15 or so. But at times I wore longs cotton stockings under long pants winter."

Short Pants

When boys began wearing short pants this changed. Shorts appeared in the 1900s and by the 1920s were widely worn. This required much longer long stockings, especially for the shorter cut shorts. The short pants which appeared in the early 1900s were quite long--only slightly shorter than kneepants. As the century progressed shorter cut styles appeared. This varied some what from country to country. Often the shorter cut shorts were cmmonly worn by younger boys. These were of course the boys most likely to wear long stockings with short pants. As a result a much longer length was needed for these boys.

Long Pants

HBC has little information about wearing long stockingsith long pants. Obviously here the photographic redord offers no insights. HBC does not believe long stockings in the United States were normally worn with long pants, especially during the summer. Boys in the northern states may well have worn them during the colder months. All of this, however, needs to be confirmed. A German readers tells us that in Germany boys did wear long stockings with long pants. He tells us, "I can confirm you that at least in Germany in the 1940s that long cotton stockings were commonly worn under long pants. Of course this was only in cold winter weather. This habit gave a special comfort to the child. It was really very cosy under the pants. The legs felt protected and warm. And the equipment to keep the stockings up was the same as in summer: some wore the bodice plus long garters, older children (there was no difference between girls and boys, I had 3 sisters) had shorter garters fixed at a waist belt similar to that worn by their mothers, but of course without all the adornment of women´s garter belts." I had assumed that the length of the stockings was not a factor for those boys wearing long pants. This was the case in terms of the attachment showing. Our German reader tells us, however, that there were other concerns. He tells us, "The length of the stocking is a factor when worn under long pants, because if the upper part of the leg is left uncovered under the pants, it is colder there (our underpants were not as long as earlier). So also under long pants the stockings have to cover the whole leg and should be long enough. A problem arouse when the garters were short and had only little elasticity because in those days the stockings had almost no elasticity. The rule was: the longer the stocking the higher up the garter has to be fixed to remain long enough. So longer cotton-stockings required bodices ("Leibchen", that were worn higher up the chest allowing the garter to be longer) and no waist belts. This was especially true when the child was very active as when skiing."


Related Pages:
[Return to the main Main long stocking length page]
[Return to the main Main long stocking page]
[Knee socks] [White knee socks] [Long stockings]
[Striped socks] [White stockings] [Tights]

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Created: 4:46 AM 5/25/2005
Last updated: 4:46 AM 5/25/2005