German Long Stockings: Formality

Figure 1.-- Here two German children stand near their father and more or less identically dressed. The younger child, probably a boy, is about 4-5 and the older boy is about 8-9 years old. We don't know the names or the location. The photo was apparently taken in autumn or winter because of the overcoats and hats the two children are wearing. They also wear the new light tan or beige long stockings that had begun to be popular and that eventually superseded the older popular color, black. The source refers to the circular caps with turned up edges as "Mützen", but the term is generally used in German for any kind of cap. It looks rather like American navy swabie caps. It is not a style we notice commomly in Germany. Note that the cap is considered equally appropriate for boys and girls. The children also wear black leather low-cut shoes. We would judge these children to be from an upper-class or upper-middle-class family and probably from a fair-sized city. These are not rural clothes but dressy outfits appropriate for church or shopping expeditions. Both children are undoubtedly wearing Strapsleibchen (bodices with four hose supporters). Click on the image for a further discussion.

Long stockings were also worn for formality by both boys and girls. We are notsure why this convention developed. Presumably it was not seen as appropriate to have bare legs--even just bare knees for formal occassions. This often involved chirch related activities such as special events like sunday services, first communion, conformation, weddings, ect. we are not sure about the 19th century. Our archive is limited, but long stockings were commonly worn year round so formality seems less of an issue. Of course newer or better quiality long stockings might be worn for formal occassions. This changed by the 20th century. Long stockings became more of a seasonal garment. Fewer children wore them year round. But for formal occassions even during the summer, children might wear long stockings. And as in the 19th century, better quality long stockings might be worn when dressing up for formal occassions. This usually mean lighter materil;, oerhaps silk or silk blends, which fit better than the heavy wool stockings worn during the winter for warmth. The tromer moreform fit seems to have been part of the formal look. Black and white stockings weewe seenas formal colors, but we also see the tan shade stockings appearing in the 1920s being worn for warmth.


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Created: 4:59 AM 4/3/2011
Last updated: 4:17 PM 4/4/2011