Tag Archives: patterned hose stockings hosiery 1920s twenties

A Look Back at Stockings, Mostly 1920’s

[While I’m on vacation, I’m running a series of images with links to many old witness2fashion posts. Here’s a selection of articles sharing what I learned about stockings.]

Colored and textured tights were popular in the 1960’s, but brightly colored stockings and textured stockings were also worn in the 1920’s. [For further readings about stockings, rolled stockings, etc., links to earlier posts are provided throughout this one.]

Orange silk stockings match the orange skirt in this ad for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator, October 1925.

Textured stockings were also worn  with Twenties’ sportswear:

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Textured hose from an article about rainwear; Delineator, April, 1929.

For a longer post showing 1920’s textured stockings from Sears, colored stockings, and other stocking fashions like the ones below, click here.

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Gordon’s stockings ad, 1928.

Many manufacturers offered styles intended to make ankles look slim, or just to attract attention to the leg.

A chartreuse dress gets stockings to match in this ad for Arch Preserver Shoes. Delineator, June 1929.

Artist McClelland Barclay did a series of color illustrations for Holeproof Hosiery. Delineator; May, 1925.  Notice how opaque these silk stockings for daytime are.

In the 1920’s, highly colored stockings could be almost opaque, as in these ads, but eventually sheer stockings became preferred for evening:

Models wear a range of sheer stocking shades in this 1929 ad for Realsilk Hosiery. Delineator, October 1929.

“They’re newer than sunburn. They’re newer than skin-tints. Yet they borrow from both. Overtones — the new hosiery shades — are a subtle blend of skin and costume colors…. Twenty-two of the most flattering hosiery colors ever launched.” — text of Realsilk ad, Oct. 1929.

Of course, the more sheer the stockings were, the less likely they were to survive several wearings, making them a luxury item.

A run in a sheer stocking ruins it; Lux soap ad, WHC, Feb. 1936. (Lux claimed to prevent stocking runs.)

For a much more complete  article about women’s stockings in the 1920’s, click here.

By 1929, suntanned skin was coming into fashion, along with the sheer look.

From an ad for Realsilk Hosiery, April 1929. Delineator.

These shades are not very different from the stocking hues illustrated in 1936, when stockings could coordinate with either the costume or the shoe:

From a fashion advice article in Ladies’ Home Journal, October 1936. [Click here for more….]

These heavy duty silk stockings were to be worn while gardening. Ad for McCallum “service hose.” Delineator, April 1927. [For more about “Hosiery Ads with a Bit of Wit,” by the same artist, click here.]

In the early Twenties, stockings were also worn while swimming:

“Mid-way of a dive . . two flawless legs, one flawless pair of hose are all that’s left to see….” From an 1927 ad for McCullum Hosiery. Delineator, August 1927.

(Swimming champion Annette Kellerman was arrested for swimming without covering her legs in 1907.)

Stockings were worn with bathing suits in the Nineteen-teens, but women started to bare their legs — or part of their legs — in the Twenties. Often, with bathing suits, they wore their stockings rolled:

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Bathing suit, July 1925. Delineator magazine.

To read “Garters, Flappers, Rolled Stockings and Other Stocking Stories,” click here.

Lavender stockings match the lavender underwear in this 1927 ad for Ivory Flakes laundry soap. Delineator, May 1927.

Stockings in the 1920’s could also be embroidered, or otherwise decorated:

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“A rose upon her shoulder, and a corresponding rose / Embroidered on the — well, the shin — of both her silken hose!” Nell Brinkley and Carolyn Wells. Dec. 1925.

To see more illustrations by Nell Brinkley, a woman cartoonist of the ‘Teens and Twenties, click here.

Young woman showing her undies and rolled stockings; photo dated 1918.

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Four young women showing their bare knees and rolled stockings. That’s my mother wearing dark stockings with a light garter on the far right. Photo dated 1921.

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Some Stockings from the Twenties

Stockings from Sears, Spring 1925 catalog.

Silk Stockings from Sears, Spring 1925 catalog. “Medium gray, Blush, French tan, Airedale, Black, Champagne, Dark brown, and White.” [Airedale?]

I had been thinking about stocking styles and stocking colors when I found this photo in an antique store:

Three women, dated January 3, 1928. Vintage photo.

Three women, dated January 3, 1928. Vintage photo.

The writing on the back of the photo is European, but I can't tell if it says 3 Janvier 1928 (French) or Januar 1928 (German.)

The writing on the back of the photo is European; I think it says 3 Janvier 1928. [Lynn suggests it says “Januar” in German. Thanks! Ed. 6/7/15.]

The two girls in matching sweaters have elegant legs, but the one on the left is wearing matte finish stockings with rather shiny (metallic?) shoes, while the stockings of the girl on the right have the sheen of silk — but not sheer silk.

Silk stockings were sold in sheer (“Chiffon weight,”) “service weight,” “Mid-weight,” and in many blends of silk, rayon, cotton,  and wool. Often the part of the stocking hidden by shoes was a sturdier material, like cotton, which could be mended.

Silk and rayon stockings with cotton garter tops, heels, and toes. Sears catalog, Spring 1927.

Silk and rayon stockings (“Practical for hard wear”) with cotton garter tops, heels, and toes. Sears catalog, Spring 1927.

Sometimes the top of the stocking would be a different (or cheaper) fabric, since runs caused by the pull of suspenders (clasp garters) on the stocking top were common.

I was happy to be a young woman in the 1960s, because I loved the body-skimming dress styles. But I was never happy about having to expose my far-from-Twiggy-like legs. Opaque tights in many colors were a boon to women like me.

Photo by Pat Faure from Elegance, fall/winter 1965 -66.

Photo by Pat Faure from Elegance, fall/winter 1965 -66.

Textured hose were also popular in the sixties, and reappeared in the 1980s. But vividly colored hosiery — and textured hose — were also worn in the 1920’s.

Colored Stockings, 1920’s

I’ve written about nineteen twenties’ stocking colors before, (click here) but here are a few of the more vivid examples from advertisements:

Arch Preserver Shoe ad. Delineator, June 1929.

Arch Preserver Shoe ad. Delineator, June 1929.

Holeproof silk stocking ad illustrated by J. Clelland Barclay, October, 1925. Delineator.

Holeproof silk stocking ad illustrated by J. Clelland Barclay, October, 1925. Delineator.

Realsilk Hosiery ad, Delineator, October, 1929.

Realsilk Hosiery ad, Delineator, October, 1929.

The opacity of some real silk stockings is shown in this ad for Holeproof Hosiery:

Holeproof hosiery ad illustrated by J. Clelland Barclay, May, 1925. Delineator.

Holeproof hosiery ad illustrated by J. Clelland Barclay, May, 1925. Delineator.

These don’t look very different from the pale stockings in my 1928 found photo . . .

3 women stockings jan 3 1928 photo

. . . or in this stocking ad from 1928.

Movie actress Claire Windsor appeared in this ad for Allen A Hosiery, Delineator, Dec. 1928.

Movie actress Claire Windsor appeared in this ad for Allen-A Hosiery; Delineator, Dec. 1928. Hosiery the same color as your shoes makes your legs look longer — but the ad does not explain why Allen-A hose are superior to other brands.

Butterick pattern illustrations also show women wearing colored stockings.

Butterick pattern illustrations, Delineator, Sept. 1926. The young woman in the blue dress wears stockings to match the lining of her party dress.

Butterick pattern illustrations, Delineator, Sept. 1926. The young woman in the blue dress wears stockings to match the lining of her party dress.

Illustrator Marie L. Britton showed these day dresses worn with stockings toned to match. Delineator, 1926.

Illustrator Marie L. Britton showed these day dresses worn with stockings toned to match. Delineator, 1926.

Textured Stockings, 1920’s

Textured hose were worn with sportier outfits, and textured wool blend stockings were good for winter.

Textured hose from an article about rainwear; Delineator, April, 1929.

Textured hose from an article about rainwear; Delineator, April, 1929.

Ribbed half-wool stockings, Sears catalog for Fall 1928.

Ribbed half-wool stockings; Sears catalog for Fall 1928.

Embroidered stockings had been around for centuries, but the look of embroidery — actually, a pattern woven into the stocking —  was also available in the 1920’s. This advertisement shows a stocking with a “clock” and suggests it, in white, for a wedding:

Kayser Hosiery ad, top. Delineator, Nov. 1924.

Kayser Hosiery ad, top. Delineator, Nov. 1924.

Kayser hosiery ad, bottom. Clocked stockings for the bride; Delineator, Nov. 1924.stod

Kayser hosiery ad, bottom. Clocked stockings for the bride; Delineator, Nov. 1924.

Sears called them “lace effect” stockings.

Clocked stockings, right, from Sears catalog Spring, 1925.

Clocked stockings, right, from Sears catalog Spring, 1925.

“Slenderizing” Heels on Stockings, 1920’s

The Kayser ad said its “Slipper heel — slenderizes ankles.” With rising hemlines,  legs and ankles became more exposed.

Ankle Reducer Ad, Delineator, November, 1924.

Lenor Ankle Reducer Ad, Delineator, November, 1924.

“Slip on when you go to bed and note amazing results next morning. Reduces and shapes ankle and lower calf. Slips on like a glove. . . . Enables you to wear low shoes becomingly. Worn under stockings without detection. Used by prominent actresses.”

Other manufacturers stressed that the shape of the heel — at least, the part that was visible above the shoe — could draw attention to your shapely ankles and/or create the illusion of a “dainty ankle.”

The Gordon Hosiery Company offered two heel styles in a series of ads:

Gordon's hosiery ads from Delineator, Nov. 1928 through May 1929.

Gordon Hosiery ads from Delineator, Nov. 1928 through May 1929.

These are all the same two styles, which came in a wide range of colors intended to match the wearer’s skin tones — a more natural look, in sheerer stockings, than were worn in the early 1920’s.

Text from Gordon's hosiery ad, May 1929.

Text from Gordon Hosiery ad, May 1929.

“. . . The modern Gordon color series is based on a new theory . . . that every woman must match her hosiery to her individual skin tones — considering always, of course, her ensemble.”

Gordon Narrow heel stocking (right) and Gordon V- line heel (left.) Nov. 1928.

Gordon Narrow heel stocking (right) and Gordon V- line heel (left.) Nov. 1928.

The “Gordon narrow heel” — a tall rectangle — really was more flattering than the shorter, wider heels usually available from Sears:

Stockings from Sears catalog, Spring 1928.

Stockings from Sears catalog, Spring 1928.

The Onyx Hosiery company had its own, different heel design, a single triangle called the “Pointex.”

Onyx brand's

Onyx brand’s “Pointex” heel, “which makes trim ankles look their best.” April 1924 ad, bottom. Delineator.

Onyx hosiery ad, top, April 1924.

Onyx Hosiery ad, top, April 1924.

This pointed heel design was also available from Sears, Roebuck by 1928:

Stockings

Stockings “with the new pointed heel” from Sears catalog, Spring 1928.

As women began to associate suntans with wealth, wildly colored stockings began to give way to more natural shades, as described in the Gordon Hosiery ad above. In May of 1929, the Gordon Hosiery ad read:

“There is . . . in this fashion of complementing one’s complexion with one’s stocking . . . a subtle artistry . . . a complete harmony . . . that we have never consistently achieved before. For, as legs take on the same tone as face, arms, and neck (which is the object of the skin-tone stockings) . . . our frocks become dramatized. And the line, silhouette, and every charming detail are accented. The Gordon Skin-Tones are designed for every woman under the sun . . . and also for the ones who avoid the sun.”

Realsilk hosiery colors for April, 1929. Color is not precise.

Realsilk hosiery colors for April, 1929. [Color is not precise.]

The sheer stockings, in natural skin tones, which were popular later in the 1920’s were also available from Sears, although working women probably saved these fragile stockings — almost impossible to mend — for evening wear.

Stocking colors from Sears catalog, Fall 1928.

Stocking colors from Sears catalog, Fall 1928.

NOTE: “Full-fashioned” stockings were shaped in the knitting process; other stockings were shaped by cutting and seaming. Some 1920’s stockings had seamless feet, but the seam up the back was considered “slenderizing” and flattering to most women.

To read previous posts about stockings, garters, girdles, corsets and the 1920’s, browse through the “Hosiery & Stockings” category, or the “Underthings” category.

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