U.S. Long Stockings: Color

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Figure 1.-- This American boy from Paragould, Arkansas wears a wide white collar and floppy bow with a bloomer knickers suit and white stockings. Younger boys in the 1900s sometimes wore white long stockings when dressing up. Also note the Buster Brown bangs.

Boys connonly wote dark colored stockings, black, navy blue, or brown. This tendency to wear dark stockings lasted through the early 1920s. Light colored tan stockings became more popular in the 1920s, especially after the mid-1920s. They were widely worn by the 1930s. Catalog pages provide a good record of the popular colors. See for example Sears 1924 catalog and Sears 1931 catalog. One interesting fashion detail is that boys did not commonly wear white long stockings in the late 19th Century. Little boys still in dresses might wear white stockings, but not older boys wearing Fauntleroy suits, sailor suits, and suits. Even boys in kilts did not wear white stockings. Even during the summer when boys wore light-weight white sailor suits, they were worn with dark stockings, never white long stockings. Girls wore a greater variety od stockings colored. White was especially popular for girls. One report from the 1930s indicated that the girls were wearing bright colored stockings, but HBC has not yet been able to confirm this.

Different Shades

Boys commonly wore dark colored stockings, black, navy blue, or brown. Black was especially common. The popularity of these different colors varies substantially over time. We also notice light shades of tan and brown. There were also bright colors like red in the 19th century, although we are not sure how common they were. A major problem we have here is the black and white photography of the day which leave us unable to identify colors, except perhaps black and white. There are hundreds of images archieved on HBC with boys wearing long stockings. Very few are color images. A good example is an unidentified American boy in the 1870s. We can guess at the color, but there is no way to be sure. I think there may have been some bright colors. We know there were multi-colored stripped stockings. I also recall from Little Lord Fauntleroy that Cedie had red stockings before moving to England. I think it is clear from the photographs that black was not nearly as common in the 1970s and 80s as they became in the 90s. I also note colored illustrtions from the period showing bright colors. Of course illustrtions may have overemphasized color, but the question of color I think is an interesting one tht HBC needs to address. Boys also wore white stockings, although they were more common for girls. White stockings were worn by younger boys for dresswear, but white was more common for girls. We do not commonly note boys wearing bright shades, but our information is still realtively limited. We think that some colors like red were worn in the late 19th century. We note in the beginning of Mrs. Burnett;s book Little Lord Fauntleroy that cedric wore red stockings. We are not sure about the shade of red and how common such colors wore. The black and white photography of the day provide few insights here.

Chronology

We have a fairly clear picture of how color preferences gradually changed. Our knowledge of the 19th century is still somewhat limited, but we have a ggod understanding of 20th century trends. The popularity of dark stockings lasted through the early 1920s. Light colored tan stockings became more popular in the 1920s, especially after the mid-1920s. They were widely worn by the 1930s. Catalog pages provide a good record of the popular colors. See for example Sears 1924 catalog and Sears 1931 catalog.

Gender

Both American boys and girls wore long stockings of various colors. There were some gender differences as to the color worn. White stockings were very common for both boys and girls in thwe 1860s. White stockings subsequently declined in populasrity during the 1870s-90s. Little boys still in dresses might wear white stockings, but not older boys wearing Fauntleroy suits, sailor suits, and suits. Even boys in kilts did not wear white stockings. Even during the summer when boys wore light-weight white sailor suits, they were worn with dark stockings, never white long stockings. Girls wore a greater variety of stockings colors, but even for girls white long stockings were not very popular in the late-19th century. Unfortunately the black and white photographic record maskes it difficult to assess the colors of stockings boys and girls were wearing. We know from catalogs that stockings werre sold in different coloes, buit we are less sure as to who is wearing the various colors. Only white stockings we can be sure about. White stockings returned to populsarity at the turn of the 20th century. They were primarily worn by girls. We are not sure just when or why white stoickings suddently becamne so popular, byt by the turn-of-the 20th century we see many children wearing white long stockings. While they were especially populasr for girls, we see many younger boys wearing white long stockings as well. One interesting fashion detail is that boys did not commonly wear white long stockings when they became popular agsain. White was especially popular for girls. One report from the 1930s indicated that the girls were wearing bright colored stockings, but HBC has not yet been able to confirm this.








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Created: 6:37 PM 12/23/2004
Last updated: 4:42 AM 6/29/2009