Ward's had an ad for garter waists from the Spring and Summer catalog for 1931, p. 90. Garter waists are still a prominently advertised item even in the summer. Many mothers seem to have insisted on long stockings for boys and girls for reasons of formality. Boys wore long stockings with short pants but could also wear them with knickers for a smoother and more dressy look than that produced by the sporty patterned knee socks, which had a way of falling down. The sizes are for boys and girls from 2 to 12 years. The adjustable shoulder garters are made in three lengths to accommodate children, misses (older teenage girls) and adult women.
Although the word "consumerism" has a modern ring, it was personal concern for an early consumer movement, the "National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry," That inspired a young traveling salesman named Aaron Montgomery Ward to start the world's first general merchandise mail-order company in 1872. Aaron Montgomery Ward was born on February 17, 1844, in Chatham, New Jersey, to a family whose forebears had served as officers in the French and Indian Wars as well as in the American Revolution. Looking for something more compatible, Monty left home and followed the river to Lake Michigan and the town of St. Joseph, county seat and market for outlying fruit orchards. Chicago was the center of the wholesale dry goods trade and in the 1860s Ward joined the leading dry goods house, Field Palmer & Leiter. As a retailer, Potter Palmer had previously built a reputation for fair dealing. Ward absorbed these principles while working as a clerk for $5. The Chicago City Directories for 1868 through 1870 listed Ward as a salesman for Wills, Greg & Co. and later for Stetthauers & Wineman, both dry goods houses. In 1870, after canvassing territory in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Ward was again footloose. The plan shaping in Ward's mind was to buy goods at low cost for cash. By eliminating intermediaries, with their markups and commissions, and cutting selling costs to the bone, he could offer goods to people, however remote, at appealing prices - for cash.
Boys began wearing long stockings in the second half of the 19th Century. Long stockings were not worn earier as long trousers were often worn. Even smaller boys before breeching did not need long stockings as hey might wear pantalettes with shorter dresses. As kneepants became increasing common in the 1870s, boys began to wear long stockings. They were held up with a kind of suspanfer waist. Tights were not worn instead they were a pair of long stockings. When the new knicker style became more popular after the turn of the century, long stockings were stil worn as the knickers were worn above the knee. Boys by the 1920s increasingly buckled their knickers below the knee. This tendency and the increasing popularity of short pants caused boys to shift to kneesocks. After the mid-1920s long stockings were less commonly worn in America and Britain, although they did not disappear. They continued to be worn in worn more commonly in Germany, Poland, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries--although tights were also worn in these countries. Many of the garments studied by HBC have evolved in style over time. Long over the kneestockings are a garment that has entirely disappeared.
This category applies to a broad variety of devices for holding up long stockings. Theoretically it would apply to any garment worn on the upper body used for this purpose (including underwaists, pantywaists, and suspender waists). But HBC uses the term to apply specifically to waists with hose supporters already attached, even though in some cases these supporters are detachable. Most of these garments are designed to have the strain of the garters carried by the child’s shoulders. Some have waistbands and some do not, but all are worn under the outer clothing and therefore as a species of children’s underwear. One of the first such garments we notice was in the Sears 1902 catalog Sears refers to a "combination belt and supporter, but the garment was essentially a garter waist. The use of different terms somewhat complicates the assessment if the garments. Interestingly, even when the wearing of long stockings was supposedly declining in the late 1930s and early 1940s, a proliferation of styles of garter waist became very prominent in the Sears and Wards catalogs of this period. We have more different styles for this period than for any other on HBC. A good example is the Sears 1939 garter waists.
Here is Ward's ad for Garter Waists from the Spring and Summer catalog for 1931, p. 90.
Garter waists are still a prominently advertised item even in the summer. Many mothers seem to have insisted on long stockings for boys and girls for reasons of formality. Boys wore long stockings with short pants but could also wear them with knickers for a smoother and more dressy look than that produced by the sporty patterned knee socks, which had a way of falling down.
The sizes are for boys and girls from 2 to 12 years. Here there is a complication. The sizes were 2-12 years and both boys and girls wore them. We do not know, however, if both bpys and girls commonly wore them at each age level. We suspect, for example that most of the 11 ans 12 year ols wearing long stockings were girls.
The adjustable shoulder garters are made in three lengths to accommodate children,
misses (older teenage girls) and adult women. Here the model is a girl. The
two other models, interestingly, are boys.
All of these waists are made by Hickory, the brand name used by the Stein Co, which advertised nationally and widely in magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Parents' Magazine as well as in mail order catalogs such as Ward's. The Stein Co. made Hickory Garters. Hickory Garters were widely used by American children to hold up their long stockings. Hickory was a national brand name. They were sold all over the country in various stores and were widely advertised in magazines. They advertized extensively in Parents' Magazine. The fact that they were also sold by Sears doesn't rule them out.
Ward's offered several different styles of garter waists.
The ad coy read, "Adjustable Garters 40 c.
20 B 4563 Child's length 23 inches. 40 c.
20 B 4564 Misses' length 30 inches. 49 c.
20 B 4565 Women's length 36 inches. 55 c.
Colors: Black or white. State color.
Adjustable Shoulder Hose Supporters. Hickory made. Postpaid."
No additional buttons here. The only function is to hold up long stockings.
The ad copy read, "Hickory Garter Waist 20 B 4507 Even Sizes: 2 to 12 years. State age size. Color: White only. Garter Waist with chest band and adjustable shoulder straps. Convenient bone buttons taped on. Strong eleastic hose supporters. For the growing boy or
girl. We pay postage." This is the style sometimes referred to elsewhere as the "Dr. Parker" garter waist. It has additional buttons on the waistband and can be adjusted for size both at the shoulders and for the length of the supporters.
The ad copy read, "Garter Waist. Hickory Made. 20 B. 4598 Even sizes: 2 to 12 years. State age-size. Color: White only. Tailored by "Hickory" of high grade mercerized sateen. Athletic cut armholes. Supporters of strong elastic; chest and back strap and taped bone buttons. Reinforced waistband. Launders well. Postpaid." This garter waist was probably the most comfortable to wear because of the "athletic" cut. The supporters are apparently detachable. Mothers would have liked the easy laundering feature.
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