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Until next time,
– The Cat Lady
Dreamer Jaquard Flowering Vine (center) and Pheobe OTKs (right) are examples of the kind of organic, linear design that the Art Nouveau style was known for
Brass Scrollwork Garters, to keep your rolled down stockings in their scandalous place
Vertical Vintage OTKs are based on an actual 1920’s stocking design
Nordic Texture Tights feature a daisy-like pattern reminiscent of the flower children
Tie dye is by far the strongest hippy association available
Solid Acrylic OTKs are just one of many solid OTK options
Flower Lane Tights feature the teeny-tiny flowers that we tend to associate with 90’s florals
Like many great tales, we have to begin with “once upon a time…”
Welcome back to our look at stockings through the ages, and which items from our catalog are best for recreating historical fashions. As I mentioned last time, our socks are pretty modern (even those knitted on antique machines, such as most of our DreaM Stockings collection), but some of them are far more convincing as historical garments than others. We’re here to tell you which ones!
In part 1 we left off right around the 18th century, which, to give you a bit of context, was mostly taken up by the Georgian era in England, and was also the Age of Enlightenment, leading up to the French and American Revolutions. The French and English cultures were particularly influential throughout Europe at this time, and their fashions came with them. This era marked a turning point in fashion history, with feminine clothing becoming more elaborate and ornamental than masculine clothing for the first time – a trend which continues to endure! However, women were still wearing floor-length dresses, which meant that men were the ones showing their stockings off, as knee-length, tight-fitting breeches were the style at the time. Both men and women of this era still had to use ribbons or buckling garters to keep their stockings up.
Fine gauge, machine-knitted stockings were a trademark of the upper classes at this time, as lower class people couldn’t afford them, meaning they typically wore hand-knit stockings made of wool. In England these working class wool stockings were typically light grey, which was the color of the sheep that the wool came from – this color was known as “blue” at the time, and is the origin of the term “bluestockings”, but that’s a subject we’ll get into at another time. Our O Woolies (which we mentioned in part 1 ) in grey are a good choice for this look, while the Solid Cotton OTKs are finely knitted and slinky enough to be a good stand-in for the fine stockings worn by the upper classes. The white variety would be accurate for almost any upper class personage, but if you’re doing reenactment as a particularly ostentatious character, consider going for one of the colorful options!
In addition to these basic options, there were some pretty fun stocking trends during the 18th century. Vertical stripes were in vogue, as well as “clocked” designs, which went up the side of the leg instead of the front or back.
The 19th century was a period of dramatic changes, due largely to the industrial revolution. In England this was the century of the Regency and Victorian eras, to give you a better idea of the aesthetics influencing much of the world at this time. The Regency era was also the first time dresses became short enough for stockings to be visible! Men’s fashion went in the opposite direction, with breeches or trousers now overlapping with their shoes and boots, so that stockings were hidden away (so sad!). Both men and women wore fancy stockings if they could afford it, though the vertical stripes that were all the rage in 1790 were dying out by 1800. White was considered the most fashionable color for stockings, as the ability to maintain clean white stockings was a marker of class. Lacy openwork stockings became a more decorative alternative for fancy occasions, though these were typically also white.
While the Victorian era brought a return of the extremely modest floor-length dress, it also brought some really fancy stockings in all sorts of patterns to hide under those dresses. Typically they were black, white or pastel in color, and some featured lace trim. At this time women were wearing corsets, which attached to garters to keep their stockings up. We don’t carry Victorian corsetry, but we do have a cincher from Rago with detachable garter straps, as well as Double Grip Clips, for attaching your stockings to whatever undergarments you might be wearing.
An awful lot happened in the 20th century, and the rate at which fashions changed really started to speed up. Gender roles were challenged and ankles were exposed! Join us next time for the exciting (and relatively scandalous) conclusion of our series on historical costuming.
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