How Did Victorian Stockings Stay Up?

How Did Victorian Stockings Stay Up?

In the Victorian Era, stockings (a.k.a. hose) for men, women, and children were knitted but did not have the elastic ability to remain in place like socks do today. Without use of a garters or hose supporters, stockings would fall immediately.

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This following listing, from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Spring and Summer Catalog of 1895 shows Misses’ and Children’s Lisle Thread Hose, available in different sizes and in two colors:

stockings. 1895 Montgomery Ward Spring and Summer

1895 Montgomery Ward Spring and Summer Catalog

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HOSE SUPPORTERS FOR MEN

I find it amusing that certain era-appropriate bits of Victorian American clothing find its way into fiction. But hose supporters are the invisible piece of essential clothing that I’ve yet to read about in fiction–they must be most unromantic. And look a bit dorky, don’t they?

Mens hose supporters. 1895 Montgomery Ward Spring and summer catalog

Men’s hose supporters. 1895 Montgomery Ward Spring and summer catalog

Mens garters. 1897 Sears Catalog 104 p 241

Men’s garters. 1897 Sears Catalog 104 p 241

In both the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog and the Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalog, garters and hose supporters seem to be synonymous (1895 to 1897 and likely beyond). Made of silk (or elastic webbing), and affixed with a clip to affix to the sock edge, men’s garters were adjustable to fit comfortably despite the circumference of the man’s leg (just below the knee), came in black, white, or various colors. At 10¢, 18¢, 25¢, or 35¢, the daily-wear implements were always hidden beneath trouser legs, but were an apparently essential part of a man’s wardrobe.

“$0.10 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $2.86 in 2015″

“$0.35 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $10.00 in 2015″

(2015 is latest year available) ~ DaveManuel.com

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HOSE SUPPORTERS FOR WOMEN

ladies suspenders stockings skirts. 1895 Montogmery Ward spring summer catalogue

Ladies suspenders for stockings (combination belt) and suspenders for skirts. 1895 Montgomery Ward spring & summer catalog.

The above item listing, No 10931 from the Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalog, Spring and Summer of 1895, offers a Black or White Sateen Combination Belt, with hose supporters (the long straps with clips at the bottom–fall along the outside of the thighs; this is a side view) and points for safety belt (feminine hygiene). Price 25¢.

This listing includes item No. 109832, Ladies Suspenders for supporting skirt. Such suspenders were worn beneath the clothing to hold the skirt up and distribute the weight of the heavy garment to the shoulders rather than to have it sag about the waist. Price 10¢.

“$0.10 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $2.86 in 2015″

“$0.25 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $7.14 in 2015″

(2015 is latest year available) ~ DaveManuel.com

button clasp hose supporters. women. 1897 sears catalogue 104

Button clasp hose supporters for women. 1897 Sears catalogue, no. 104.

The Button Clasp Hose Supporters, for sale in the Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalog (no. 104), Spring and Summer of 1897, also lists similar supporters for babies, children, misses, young ladies, and ladies. Note the warning to avoid using ordinary elastic as a garter (circle to encompass the leg), and instead insisting this belt to support the hose at the knee is best. Ladies’ Belts with hose supporters = 18¢.

“$0.18 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $5.14 in 2015″

(2015 is latest year available) ~ DaveManuel.com

ladies clasp supporters stockings. 1895 montgomeryw ard

Ladies Clasp Supporters for Stockings. 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog. Note some supporters are combined with shoulder braces.

Ladies’ Garters

ladies' fancy garters for stockings. sears catalogue 1897 no 104 p 336

Ladies’ fancy garters for stockings. Sears catalogue 1897 (no 104) p 336

This 1897 item listing specifies either elastic or silk, with proper adornment, ranging in price from 13¢ to 25¢ a pair, depending on material. Garters were worn over the upper sock, with the stocking edge extending beyond the garter, literally to hold it up in lieu of today’s elastic edging. The stocking wasn’t clipped to the garter, nor were supporters (with clips/buttons) required. Perhaps garters were more effective and perhaps they were not.

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HOSE SUPPORTERS FOR CHILDREN

The “Onesie” of Victorian America

Child Waists. supporters. stockings panties diapers. 1895 Montogomery Ward Spring Summer

Child Waists, a “quite new” product, supports panties, skirts, and diaper (in the smallest size). 1895 Montgomery Ward Spring & Summer Catalog.

Daisy Child’s Waists. Item No. 10944, Montgomery Ward & Co. Spring and Summer Catalog of 1895. Item listing reads:

Child’s Waist, Hose and Skirt Supporter combined. Quite new and a great success. Made of corset jean with elastic straps: has two rows of buttons, one for panties, the other for skirts. Easily laundered. Made in four sizes; colors: Black, white and drab. No. 1. 1 to 2 years, length 9 1/2 inches. No 1 only has a diaper attachment. No. 2, 2 to 5 years, length 11 1/2 in. No 3, 5 to 8 years, length 12 1/2 in. No 4, 8 to 11 years, length 14 in. In ordering give size and color. Each 40¢, per dozen $4.30.

“$0.40 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $11.43 in 2015″

“$4.30 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $122.86 in 2015″

(2015 is latest year available) ~ DaveManuel.com

A little pricey, given the quantity a young child would go through in a day or between laundry days–but note the clever advertising. “Quite new and a great success.” Choosy mothers must ensure their children had adequate undergarments, the newest in holding up diapers or panties and keeping skirts in place. I can’t imagine the chore of dressing and changing young ones in the late Victorian era.

Or perhaps I can.

Once again, feeling rather lucky to have been born in the 20th century and my own babies born 100 years beyond these Sears and Montgomery Ward catalog offerings.

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Victorian Ladies Underwear Victorian Era Feminine Hygiene Lady Victoria(n)’s Secret Victorians at the Seashore 19th Century Bathing Costumes from Harper’s Bazaar Pencil Skirts, Victorian Style Victorian Hair Augmentation Victorian Curling Irons L-O-N-G Victorian Hair Mail-Order Catalogs: Timeline & Truth Mail-Order Catalogs in the Old West The Old West: Dental Floss & Toothpicks Old West: Toothbrushes and Toothpaste P.S.: Old Laundry Implements…On Vacation 19th Century Washing Machines Warsh: Grandma’s Receet (Washing/Laundry, Granny’s Recipe) Stetson’s Boss of the Plains vs the Bowler

Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt LC

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