Here we are discussing stocking length in reference to the stockings purchased at stores or from manufacturers. Commercially produced stockings were made in more standardized lengths. This varied over time with changes in fashions and clothing styles--especially the length of pants and skirts. Normally advertisements did not specify the length. This was because the stockings offered were often the same standard length which was affected by the contemporary fashions. We note some advertisements with different lengths of stockings offered, but this was not very common. The major variable here was the length of pants and skirts worn by children. When boys mostly wore mostly kneepants, long stockings only needed to extend to just above the knee. Even this varied as some kneepants came to only calf length. Later when boys mostly wore them with short pants and girls with shorter skirs, the available stockings needed to be longer. There was only one length for each size, based roughly on age.
While few details are available at this time, it may be that early long stockings were made at lengths extending just above the knee. These may be because the kneepants boys wore usually at knee length or lower, rarely above the knee, so long stockings did not have to be longer. Boys wore mostly kneepants and at times they were well below the knee. We note kneepants being worn at calf level in the 1880s. Girls skirts were also short. Even young girls wore knee-length skirts and older girls wore skirts well below the knee. Many of the early kneepants worn by boys were quite long. We see many boys wearing kneepants well below the knee. Shorter lengths did not become common until the 1890s.
Long stockings were made in a medium length for wear with kneepants and knee-length skirts. Although the pants were knee-length, the stockings need to be made to lengths abve the knee so that they were covered with the boy or girl sat down. It was considered in poor taste for the leg not to be fully covered. These medium length long stockgs were needed to above the knee for both kneepants and knickers cut at knee lebgth. A good example of medium-length stockinfs is an American boy, Montgomery Boynton Augell in 1894.
Long stockings began to be made substantially longer after World War I in the 1920s. Boys wearing them with short pants needed them to be made longer so they extended up beyond the hem of the boys' short pants. We note quite short pants and short skirts by the 1930s. Long stockings needed to be quite a bit longer to cover the legs. Knickers began to be made longer, but boys began to wear kneesocks with their knickers rather than long stockings.Sears catalog from the mid-1940s did not offer different lengths, only the longer length size. Sears in the mid-1940s mentioned some styles that were knit longer "... to cut down on strain at the knee". Long stockings declined substantially in many countries during the 1940s, but persisted in some European countries into the 1960s. The lengths we note in the 1940s-60s tended to be the long-length stockings.
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