Figure 1.--This enlargement shows, since the boy is wearing above the knee knickers, that this boys long stockings extended only slightly above the knee.
The type of pants worn was important in selecting the type of stockings. This was because thestockings were usually held up with stocking supporters. There were also button arrangements and elasticized top stockings, but the usual arragement was hose supporters. The actual attachment was considered unsightly. Thus it was important to have stockings extendeding high enough above the hem of the pants so that the attachment to the hose supporter was not visible. This was a widely accepted convention across national lines. Readers in America, Canada, and German have mentioned this convention. It is less clear just why this was such a strongly felt convention.
A French Canadian who wore long stockings in the late 1930s and early 40s writes, "I and many other boys in Quebec wore long stockings. Girls also wore them. They were held up with suspender belts with stockings attachment ( jarretière ). I remember being concerned about the length of my stockings. We boys were quite shy about our legs and the suspender clasp attachment showing. This was quite silly really as most of us also wore short pants with kneesocks and were were not bothered when our leg showed. I am not entirely sure why this was. Of course one was susposed to show and the other was mot susposed to show. I remember that the girls were not nearly as shy about this as us boys. Perhaps becuse the girls legs and suspender clasps sometimes showed, we do not like to be seen wearing the same kind of garments as the grls. It has been many years and I do not recall in detail what was going through my mind, but I do recall being very embarassed about it. I am not sure at the time that I or the other boys had fully thought this out, but it was a very strongly held felling by us boys. I think another factor as we got older was the provovative aspects of the stocking suporters as they were similar to under garments worn by women. Marlene Dietrich created quite a disturbance in showing her legs and garters in the 1930 film "Blue Angel" and they were used for similar provicative effect by other actresses in popular films. I'm not sure, but I think thi affected our thinking on the matter. At any rate us boys wearing long stockings definitely wanted to hide the stocking supporter clasps. As a boy, I always believed that
suspender belts were more for for girls and that in why, I particularly wanted to wear long pants. I asked my mother to make rubber bands which were easy to pull on or pull off. With them my legs began to be freed from stockings inside
the home or at school when having to play rougher games than girls did. Then came those turn-up stockings from England which were under-the-knee and over-the knee-socks at the same time. Scouts helped to popularize those knee-socks. Also, those British stockings came to be seen as healthier, not adversely affecting circulation like long stocking when worn with rubber bands. I'm not sure to what extent my mother was influenced by all this, but she did allow me to often wear kneesocks.
A German reader who wore long stockings as a boy in the 1940s confirms that the attachment of the stockings was considered unsightly. He writes, "It is true. I still wonder, however, why it was like that. Indeed I remember children in school teasing each other about this. It is a mistery to me about this shyness and it was true with both, women, girls and boys. Everybody knew about the upper hem of the stocking and the garter and the clasps etc, because almost everybody wore them, at least in childhood. The strange thing to me was that some boys were shy about having the attachment show and not having their legs completely covered, The same boys in the summer would wear the same shorts with socks showing almost all of their legs and they were not at all shy, so why were they shy when wearing long stockings. I myself remember my own feelings in those years. I had this same feeling. Some of my stockings were a bit too short and I can remember myself tugging at the hem of my shorts as the attachment to the stovking supporters did sometimes show anf I didn;t like that. Rather like a girl folding the skirt around the knees. In spite of all these problems, long stockings were widely worn. Mothers bought them because they thought that children needed to be kept warm, especially in the cold weather. And in fact many mothers also wore them. Only men did not commonly wear them."
Clearly German boys differed in their attitudes toward long stockings. A reader growing up in Germany during the 1940s wore long stockings during the Winter until after he was 11 years old. He had no objections at the time. He does recall, however, that some boys were teased about wearing long stockings.
We note some boys wearing long stockings with the attachments clearly showing. Usually this involves younger boys. A example here is a Swedish boy in 1945. A reader writes, "Note that the stockings are not long enough to cover the leg under the boy's very short suspender shorts. The Swedish mother who dressed her little boy apparently did not feel any concern in having her son's hose supporters and stocking tops exposed, even for the photograph. The boy here looks to be about 5 years old. He is not concerned either. As we see from this page, however, older boys often felt quite differently about this.
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