Long Stockings: Length

Figure 1.--Boys in the late 19th and early 20th century wore long or full-length stockings with both kneepants and knickers. This boys stockings extend only slightly above the knee.

Long or full-length stockings came in various lengths. The major factor in determining length were the type of oants they were to be weorn with. All long stockings were wornn above the knee. There appear to have been, howeverr, a wide variety of lengths. Long stockings made in the late19th and early 20th century were made to extend to just above the knee as they were mostly worn with kneepants or knickers. Other long stockings went well above the knee up the leg. They were sold begininning in the 1920s as boys began wearing them with short pants.


We note long stockings made in a variety of different lengths. Normally advertisements did not specify the length. This was because the stockings offered were often the same standard length which was affected by the contemporary fashions. We note some advertisements with different lengths of stockings offered, but this was not very common. The major variable here was the length of pants and skirts worn by children. When boys mostly wore mostly kneepants, long stockings only needed to extend to just above the knee. Even this varied as some kneepants came to only calf length. Later when boys mostly wore them with short pants and girls with shorter skirs, the available stockings needed to be longer. There was only one length for each size, based roughly on age.


The type of pants worn was important in selecting the type of stockings. This was because the stockings 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.


The length of long stockings changed over time as pants styles they were worn with changed. Because the kneepants boys wore after the the mid-19th century were generally well below the knee, stockings only had to extend to the knee. Kneepants became shorter in the 1890s. Knickers were more varied, including both above and below the knee knickers. Even above the knee knickers, however, were worn at knee length thus long stockings still did not have to extend much above the knee. When boys began wearing short pants and girls short skirts, this changed. Shorts appeared in the 1900s but were at first quite long. Shorts by the 1920s were widely worn by boys, especially European boys. As the lengths began to become shorter in the l920s and 30s. This required much longer long stockings, especially for the shorter cut shorts.

Pants Type

The major pants type worn with long stockings and affecting long stocking length were kneepants, knickers, and short pants. The type and length of thaese trousers afffected the lenhgth of the long stockings that were worn. HBC had though that long stockings were normally worn with long pants, but this needs to be confirmed. A German reader, for example, tells us that German boys did wear long stockings during the winter with lon pants.

Country Trends

We do not have detailed data on the precise length of long stockings in various countries. Our best evidence is catalog entries, but rarely did the catalogs details the actual length of the long stockings, although some of the catalogs do indicate that they were longer styles. . Thus we have to look primarily at the style of pants being worn with them. Here we can use the photographic recird to make some assessments. We notice some differences among countries, but the major differences seem to be more chronological than national. The chronological shifts were similar in many countries, but there were some time-line differences among countries. We note some differences between American and European boys. There were also differences between Soviet/Eastern European and Wstern European boys after World War II.


Related Pages:
[Return to the main Main long stockings page]
[Return to the main hoisery page]
[Knee socks] [White knee socks] [Striped socks] [White stockings] [Tights] [Stocking supporters]

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Created: April 14, 2000
Last updated: 9:48 PM 5/25/2005