U.S. Long Stocking Supporters: Age Conventions

Figure 1.--

Long stockings were worn by children and youths of all ages. The age of children wearing long stockings varied over time. During the peak of popularity at the turn of the 20th century we see boys, including older highschool boys, wearing kneepants and long stockings. Older girls also wore long stockings. Thus support devices were needed for children and youths of all ages. There were a variety of such device and there age conventions for wearing them. The devices and conventions varied over time. There were also differences from country to country. It is reklatively easy to determin the ages of the children and youths wearing long stockings as there is a wealth of photographic portraits and snap shots. Somewhat more complicated is developing information on stocking supporter age conventions. Here catalogs and magazine advertisments are our principal source of information.

Types of Stocking Supporters

We have some information on how boys and girls held up their long stockings and the various age conventions involved.


The use of underwaists is a bit puzzling. Although older boys woe long stockings, as best we can tell they did not wear underwaists. Nearly all the underwaists advertised over time are for boys aged 12 years or younger.

Garter Waists

The garter waists in 1926 are also for children 12 years or younger. Some garter waists for boys as old as 14 were advertised by Sears in the mid- and late-1930s but not earlier as far as I am aware.

Suspender Waists

The suspender waists that boys wore during the 1900s and 1910s were sized for boys as old as 18, but these were no longer advertised after about 1920-22. see, for instance, the Kazoo ad on HBC. These Kazoo suspender waists may have been available in some retail stores, however, for a few years afterwards.

Waist Union Suits

Waist union suits with tabs for supporters were available during the 1920s and 1930s for boys as old as 13 and could be purchased in both summer and winter styles. See the 1929 Nazareth waist suit for boys.

Chronological Trends

We note many of the support garments were only made to about age 12, less commonly age 13 years. Thus we are not sure how teenagers in te 190s, especially after the mid-1920s held up their long stockings. My guess is that there were not very many older boys (older than 12 or 13) who wore long stockings in the 1920s in the United States, although of course boys this age did wear them in conservative parts of Canada and in Europe, especially in Germany, Austria, and Russia. Girls wore long stockings throughout their teenage years in the 1920s, but older girls could wear teen-age style garter belts (junior versions of women's garter belts) or even junior, lightweight girdles or corsets. Pin-on hose supporters were of course adjustable and came in sizes large enough for older children, so it is possible that home-made arrangements sufficed for older boys who continued to wear long stockings. There were also sew-on hose supporters for women (in white), and, theoretically, these could be sewn on to boys' underwear by mothers. But such arrangements would certainly have been unpopular with older boys as well as inconvenient, so I doubt that this was much of a solution. Nevertheless, we know that long stockings were made in sizes up to 10 and 10 1/2, which would fit older teenage boys. So the support garments for boys ged, say, 15 or 16, remains a bit of a mystery. The absence of advertised garments for boys of this age leads me to suspect that, at least in America, long stockings were rarely worn by boys over the age of 14. We note that knicker suits were made in sizes 15 and 16 in the 1920s. We think that older boys wearing knockers decclines in the 1920s, but there were still a number of boys who did wear them. Maybe some HBC readers will have some insight on this problem. In Germany older boys wore garter belts styled somewhat like women's garter belts without the female adornments (in white or gray), but we have no evidence that such boys' garter belts were ever worn in America.


Related Pages:
[Return to the Main stocking supporter page]
[Return to the Main Underwear Garment List]
[Knee socks] [White knee socks] [Long stockings]
[Striped socks] [White stockings] [Tights]

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Created: 5:27 AM 6/28/2005
Last updated: 5:27 AM 6/28/2005