Stocking supporters, as might be expected, followed the fashion for long stockings. We have no indication that stocking supporters existed in the 18th century. As boys mostly wore long trousers in the early 19th century, long stocking were not commonly worn and there was thus no need for stocking supporters. Long stockings were were most widely worn from the 1870s through the 1910s, but did not disappear until the early 1950s I am not sure just when stocking supporters first appeared. I believe about the 1870s, but have not detailed information on the chronology of stocking supporters at this time. Note the substantial time period involved here. There are few garments discussed on HBC with such a range. This is because the the need to hold up hosiery persisted over such an extended period.
We have no information on the 11th century at this time. We think that the situation was essentially the same as the 12th century. One important facr about medieval fashion is that changes were much slower and thus fashion persisted over a longer period then is the case for modern fashions.
The earlies infotmation we have on stocking sypporters dates from the 12th century. An image shows stockings or "leggings" being attached by ribbons to a belt. It is interesting that a woman, presumably the man's wife, is taking an interest in her husband's leg wear and perhaps attaching
the ribbons herself. Our effort on HBC has been to focus on children's clothes and images of children's clothing. Images of children in early periods like this are quite rare and thus w sometimes use images illustrating adult clothing. And of course, in the Middle Ages, children (after they were breeched) wore essentially the same style clothes as adults, so the system of attachment shown here would presumably apply to boys over the age of 6 or 7 as well as men.
Most early images make it impossible to determine if medieval men are wearing long stockings or tights. Only a few period illustrations offers some clues. Here we have a 13th century painting showing two of the three kings (magis), Caspar and Melchior. The image is especially interesting because it shows the way stockings were sometimes supported as early as the thirteenth century. This French painting (13th century) depicts
Kings Caspar and Melchior, two of the three kings who visited the Christ Child
in Bethlehem to present their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They
wear long, thigh-length hosiery supported by straps suspended apparently from
the waist--an obvious precursor of the hose supporter, the garment that was
invented about 1875 and worn extensively by boys, girls and women from about
1875 to as late as the 1960s-1970s (in the case of European boys) and still
worn by women today, although the use of pantyhose has made the hose supporter
a minority garment in the 21st century.
The 14th century saw the beginning of rge Renaisance in Italy. Among many changes were important fashion changes. one of those changes was the appearance of short tunics worn by boys and young men, although middle-age and older men still wore the long gowns common in the 12yj century. The short tunics provide us more insight into the hosiery worn during this century. We still know relatively little about stocking supporters which are covered up in period art work. We have found a rare exception to this. It is n illustration of the entire-stocking clad leg (figure 1). The image shows stockings or "leggings" being attached by ribbons to a belt. It is interesting that a woman, presumably the man's wife, is taking an interest in her husband's leg wear and perhaps attaching the ribbons herself. Our effort on HBC has been to focus on children's clothes and images of children's clothing. Images of children in early periods like this are quite rare and thus we sometimes use images illustrating adult clothing. And of course, in the Middle Ages, children (after they were breeched) wore essentially the same style clothes as adults, so the system of attachment shown here would presumably apply to boys over the age of 6 or 7 as well as men.
In the 16th and early 17th century, when thigh length
stockings were worn with trunk hose (very short bloomer-like trousers),
the stockings were attached to shirts or doublets by means of
"points", which were laces threaded through eyelets somewhat like
modern shoe laces. But many men and boys also wore longer trousers
that came to the knee or slightly above. Long stockings were also worn
with the longer breeches but were usually tied by ribbon or non-elastic
tape garters above the knee. Sometimes these garters were elaborate
and showed. In other cases they were concealed beneath the breeches.
But they didn't wear anything like the "points" or laces.
The 17th century is an especially important period in the development of men's and boy's wear in that it was the century in which modern pants/trousers began to develop. This had a major impact on hosiery because with tousers and much greater paet of the leg was now covered with more than hosiery. This had an impact both on hosiery anf how it was supported.
This kind of information is scarce as hen's teeth, but I don't think
hose supporters were worn at all after the mid 17th century. Men and
boys wore long stockings but only over the knees and gartered them with
ribbons tied around the leg above the knee and underneath knee
I am not yet positive about this, but I do not believe that stocking supporters were worn during the 18th Century. They would seem to be very cumbersome to use with knee breeches as the breeches extended below the knee. At this time, we simply do not know how men and boys kept up long stockings under the universally worn knee breeches. Hose supporters, as far as we are aware, had not been invented yet. And elastic was still an unknown product for round garters. I wonder if men and boys just used tied on garters worn above the knee. This is just a guess. In modern theatre productions and movies where knee breeches are worn, the standard thing is to wear tights under the breeches, but I don't think this was done in the 18th century. This is a subject that needs some investigation. A reader writes, "Socks in the 18th century were held up by garters. They were simple garters, fashioned from plain ribbons and tied either above or below the knee. They could also be leather with a buckle. Knee breeches, when properly fitted, have the band below the knee snug enough to hold up the stockings."
Another reader writes, "An interesting bit of information here. I'm just a bit dubious about the comment from one of the HBC readers that the band of the knee breeches with the buckle for fastening them just below the knee could be tight enough to hold long stockings up on its own. One often sees drawings of men in knee breeches with the band riding up to the knee itself and even sometimes just slightly above the knee. This would mean that in some cases at least the band of the knee breeches had to be loose enough to move up and down on the knee and therefore too loose to hold long stockings up. In this case the men and boys would have needed tie-on garters worn above the knee, which is what I think was usual."
Stocking supporters were not needed by boys in the early 19th Century. When long trousers became the style after the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century, there was no longer much need for long stockings except for women. Long stockings were not worn by boys in the early 19th century, at least I don't think so because long trouser keletoin suits were being worn by fashionable boys. Even boys wearing tunics often wore long trousers. Smaller boys before breeching did not need long stockings as they might wear pantalettes with shorter dresses. Pantalettes came in many styles. The plain ones were commonly called drawers, but there were also many very fancy styles. They were very popular and not commonly worn with long stockings. Thus there was relatively little requirement for stocking supporters. Bloomer knickers and kneepants began to appear n stylish boys clothing in the 1850s. Increasing numbers og boys began wearing kneepantsin the 1860s, especially the late 1860s. The kneepants were generally cut very long. Boys began wearing long stockings more commonly as knickr and kneepants became more common. We have, however, no details on stocking supporters during this period. Stocking supporters became widely worn in the late 19th Century as kneepants became increasing common in the 1870s. This led to a problem. How to hold the stockings up. This was a special problem for active boys. To address this problem, stocking supporterd were develoed. Knee pants were worn as part of various suit styles, including Faintleroy, sailor, Norfolk, double breasted, single beasted, and other suits. Boys mostly wore long stockings with these kneepants suits. It was not considered proper for boys, except for the very youngest, not to cover their legs. This varied substantially from country to country.
Boys continued wearing long stockings and stocking supporters in the early 20th Century. Short pants appear after the turn of the century and some boys
began wearing kneesocks. Long stockings continued to be worn even with the increasingly common knickers. Boys in the early 20th Century often wore above the knee knickers and mostly wore long stockings and stocking supporters with them. Even below the knee knickers, however, were generally worn with long stockings requiring stocking supporters. The popularity of long stockings wained after World War I (1914-18). Boys increasingly wore kneesocks with both short pants and knickers making stocking supporters unecesary. Long stockings did continue to be worn in some countries, especially in Scandanavia, Poland, and Germany where boys, even boys in short pants, wore long stockings during the winter. Presumably they wore them with stocking supporters, although I have no details on this. Tights appeared in the 1950s and finally replaced long stockings as children's wear, making stocking supporters unecessary. Long stockings in most countries afte World War II rapidly disappeared in most countries. They persisted a little longer in Germany and Scadinavia. They continued to be worn longer in the Soviet Union and the Soviet satellite countries of Eastern Europe.
Children in the 21st century no longer wear stocking supporters. This is because most boys wear ankle socks. Some boys wear kneesocks in which garters are worn, but this is a relatively small circumstance, primarily associated with Scouts or school uniform. Girls more commobly wear kneesocks, but they are commonly the kinds with elasticized tops without turn-over-tops that do not require garters. Tights are commonly worn by girls and to a lesser extent boys and require no stocking supporters.
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