Long Stockings: Purpose


Figure 1.--We see countless images of stylishly dressed children in the populat commercial postcards of the eatly 20th century. Very rarely are these children outfitted with long stockings. This looks to be a French postcard. Long stockings were more common in Germany, but even German card ratrely depict children in fashionable outfits wearing long stockings.

Assessing the function of long stockings is a complicated exercize. There seem to be three primary purposes for long stockings as opposed to other types of hosiery. These include modesty, fashion, and warmth. The importance of these different factors have varied over time and from country to country. We are not yet sure how common long stockings were in the early 19th century so assessing this pedriod is complicated. We first see long stockings in modern times during the mid-19th century when shotened-stryle pants for younger boys and girls came into fashion. We suspect that both modesty and fashion were the major factors here. We know that the victorianns were very shy about legs, even children's legs. The popularity of brightly colored striped stockings suggest to us that fashion was also involved. As knee pants and knickers became standard for boys in the late 19th century, we suspect that modesty became less important and warmth began to become more important. Wenote that at this time that long stockings became much more common in northern Europe than southern Europe. Surely climate much have been a major factor. After the turn of the 20th century we notice short pants appearing as well as three-quater length socks leaving the leg bare becoming more popular. Long stockings were more common in the Winter, but we also note them being worn for formal events. The convention appears to have been that for formal events that it was proper fofr even children to cover their legs. We see children for events like First Communion and Confirmations wearing long stockings. We note Teddy Kennedy when his mother took him to an audience with the Pope wore long stockings. This was a paradox anout long stockings. They came to be seen as stogy and old fashioned and primariluy not very attractive cold-weather wear. A good example here are the commercial postcards popular in the early 20th century. They often pictured children in very stylish clothes--and very rarely wearing long stockings. Yet they were also worn with stylish outfits for formal events.

Major Purposes

There seem to be three primary purposes for long stockings as opposed to other types of hosiery. These include modesty, fashion, and warmth. Modesty appears to have been a major factor involved although this has varoed over time and from country to country. Modesty may have been a major factor as girkls began wearing shorter skirts and boys knee pants. We even note children wearing long stockings with swim suits. An example is an American family about 1890. Here modesty must have been the principal factor. We also notice atheletes wearing long stockings, but we are not sure about the purpose. Long stockings had a fashion component. We note stockings done in a wide range of colors, including bright stripes. Only gradually did black long stockings become standard. There was a fashion paradox about long stockings. They came to be seen as stogy and old fashioned and primarily not very attractive cold-weather wear. A good example here are the commercial postcards popular in the early 20th century. They often pictured children in very stylish clothes--and very rarely wearing long stockings. Yet they were also worn with stylish outfits for formal events. Surely climate much have been anothefr major factor. After the turn of the 20th century we notice short pants appearing as well as three-quater length socks leaving the leg bare becoming more popular. Long stockings were more common in the Winter, but we also note them being worn for formal events. The convention appears to have been that for formal events that it was proper for even children to cover their legs. We see children for events like First Communion and Confirmations wearing long stockings. We note Teddy Kennedy when his mother took him to an audience with the Pope wore long stockings.

Complications

Assessing the function of long stockings is a complicated exercize. The importance of these different factors have varied over time and from country to country. We are not yet sure how common long stockings were in the early 19th century so assessing this pedriod is complicated. We first see long stockings in modern times during the mid-19th century when shotened-stryle pants for younger boys and girls came into fashion. We suspect that both modesty and fashion were the major factors here. We know that the victorianns were very shy about legs, even children's legs. The popularity of brightly colored striped stockings suggest to us that fashion was also involved. As knee pants and knickers became standard for boys in the late 19th century, we suspect that modesty became less important and warmth began to become more important. We note that at this time that long stockings became much more common in northern Europe than southern Europe.






HBC






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



Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronologies] [Countries] [Style Index]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Links] [Satellite sites]
[Boys' Clothing Home]



Created: 11:17 PM 1/27/2006
Last updated: 2:33 AM 1/5/2007