Long Stockings: Major Purposes


Figure 1.--In looking at many old photographs it is not always apparent just why the children are wearing long stockings. In some cases it is clearly cold weather. In other cases like the Germany boy here it is less clear.

There seem to be three primary purposes for long stockings as opposed to other types of hosiery. These include modesty, fashion, and practicality (especially warmth). Modesty appears to have been a major factor involved although this has varied 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 another 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.

Modesty

Modesty appears to have been a major factor involved although this has varied 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, but assume it must have been primarily modesty. The modesty factor can clearly be seen in the late 19th and early 20th century. We often see very young European children wearing socks and with bare knees, yet older children almost always wore long stockings.

Fashion

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. 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.

Practicality

Practicality appears to have been another important factor. And here we are talking about the mother's pont of view. Theycertainly were not convenient for the children involved. In terms of practicality, warmth seems to have been the major fsactor as they wer often worn during cold weaher. Surely climate much have been another 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. Armth was not the only practical application. A German reader tells us, "Long stockings were widely worn for vry practical reasonds. They were warm in cold weather, cheaper thn lon pants, and easier to launder and repair."







HBC






Related Pages:
[Return to the main Main long stocking purpose 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: 2:47 AM 1/5/2007
Last updated: 11:48 PM 6/2/2007