History of Stockings: the 19th Century
I have not seen many early advertisements for stockings, but the Sears catalogue for 1908 has several pages devoted to them. Strictly speaking, this is actually the 20th Century, but the period before the first world war was effectively a continuation of the 19th Century.
Most of the stockings offered appear to be what would now be called ‘ fully fashioned’, although the term itself had not yet been invented, but several styles of ‘seamless’ stockings are listed.
Most are fine cotton, or lisle, several are wool, and one, of mercerised cotton, is described as ‘silk finish’. Most are black, a few are white or unbleached, and one is offered in blue. One has unbleached feet and another unbleached soles (in these the feet are off-white).
Other options include ‘fleece lined’, ‘double sole’ and spare feet, which could be sewn on when the original feet wore out.
At first glance you might be tempted to think that the stocking on the left was made of silk, but when you read carefully you find that it is only mercerised cotton. Mercerising is a process in which the finished garment is ironed with a hot iron, giving the garment a smooth shiny 'silk like' finish.
Presumably this stocking has a seam, and shaping in the leg and foot, so that in modern parlance it would be described as a 'fully fashioned' stocking.
The stocking on the right is a seamless stocking, ‘made from two threads of the best combed cotton’. It is not clear how the shaping is achieved.
This stocking is knitted in an elastic ribbed pattern.
The stockings on the right are embroidered with a variety of fancy patterns. As before the 'extra fine silk embroidered hosiery', far right, is still actually black cotton. Apparently the only silk is in the thread used for the embroidery. This stocking, at 37c a pair, is among the most expensive in the catalogue. The most expensive stocking is an extra heavy ribbed wool stocking at 51c a pair, and the cheapest are just under 10c per pair
These stockings are knitted in a variety of fancy lace patterns.
The Art of Corsetry Ed: Bunyip Bluegum
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