Long Stocking Supporters: Types

Figure 1.--This ad explains the difference between the shoulder style of stocking supporters and the the pin-to-the-waist style and show pictures of how each fit.

Stocking supporters were made by several different companies in various styles. There were, however, two basic types--over the shoulder supporters and waist supporters. These supporters were adjustable as the child grew. Some adverised rubber buttons. Many had elastic with real rubber, although I'm not sure just when this inovation ocurred. Different companies advertised the superiority of their supporter designs. Several companies mainatained that older stocking supporters caused children to stoop.

Long Stockings

Since the late-19 century when boys in North America began to wear long stockings with knee pants and later with above-the-knee knickers, various styles of hose supporters have appeared on the market. The wearing of long stockings by boys became popular with the more sophisticated and urban classes of the American east coast and quickly spread to other parts of the country both in Canada and the United States. The practice of wearing long stockings with hose supporters became almost universally prevalent in boys' styles from the final decade of the 19th century up through the 1920s and 30s. When short trousers and knickers buckled below the knee began to replace knee pants and above-the-knee knickers in the 1920s, knee socks started to be regarded as a more modern alternative to full-length over-the-knee stockings. Baden Powell's formation of the Boy Scouts was influential here, because the original Scouts uniform involving shorts worn with knee socks was thought to be more practical for rigorous outdoor activity than the more traditional long stockings which required the use of hose supporters to hold them in place on the thigh. But some boys in North America continued to wear long stockings help up by supporters throughout the 1940s and even into the early 1950s after which the style died out completely on the American continent. In northern Europe, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, and the Scandinavian countries boys continued to wear long stockings with short pants up through the 1960s and 1970s, although the increasing availability of tights in these places began to displace the wearing of long stockings and hence the need for hose supporters. In Germany conservative mothers, especially in the more rural areas, insisted that their boys continue to wear long stockings for reasons of warmth and formal propriety, although the NAZI movement discouraged the practice for older boys as being insufficiently masculine.


Companies strongly promoted the benefits of their specific stocking supporters, which indicate some of the specific characteritics. The A. M. Wilson company in Cherokee, Iowa, made stoocking supportrs (figure 2). Their ad copy insisted:

STUDY THIS PICTURE. Think of the old way of fastening garters to the waist, pulling forward on the back of the neck, causing the child to stoop. None of this in WILSON Cord and Slide Garter. The child is absolutetly free to grow straight and trim. For Boys and Girls 1 to 16 years. Shouder style as shown, slips easily over head, white or black web, 50c Give age. Women's Shoulder Style, fine for home, athleric or maternity wear, 85c. At Dealers, or we will mail post paid.

The Wilson hose supporter seen here was designed for both boys and girls is not, strictly speaking, a suspender waists at all. It has no attachment for holding up trousers and not even a waist band with buttons. Its only function is to hold up stockings and its only resemblance to a suspender waist is that it has over-the-shoulder straps.


Stocking supporter ads also commonly include testimonials from mothers extoling the virtues of different brands. Thee ads provide additional information on the different types of stocking supporters.

Specific Supporter Types

We note three major type of stoking supporters. Some like thge over-tht shoulder type had multiple uses such as holding up trousers. These different types of stocking supporters were manufactured. Many children used more make-shift devices like saftey pins to hold up their sockings. We are not sure how extensively the different types were used. Presumably children from working lass families would be more likely to us the make make shift arrangements like saftey pins.


Related Hosiery Pages:
[Return to the Main stocking supporter page]
[Return to the Main hoisery page]
[Knee socks] [Tights] [Long stockings] [Striped socks] [White stockings]

Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossary] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: May 12, 1999
Last updated: 9:18 PM 6/29/2005