I am old enough that when I started wearing stockings they were held up with a garter belt. Nothing worse, except maybe a corset, which thankfully I never had to wear. A garter belt was on my dislike list because it often twisted, rode up my back, or showed beneath my skirts. Ugh! When panty hose came out they were a God-send though I can’t say they didn’t run as easily as the pair of stockings. I’m sure with today’s modern technology they could make a pair of stockings that don’t run, but then they wouldn’t sell as many so I doubt that will happen.
The history of the nylon stockings is fascinating so I will share what the National Day of Calendar tells us…….
Stockings worn before the 1890s were made of woven cloth such as cotton, linen, wool or silk. Before the 1920s, women’s stockings were worn for warmth. As hemlines of women’s dresses rose in the 1920s, women began to wear stockings over their exposed legs. These 1920s stockings were sheer, made first of silk or rayon, followed by nylon after 1940.
Chemical company DuPont’s introduction of nylon in 1939 began a high demand for stockings in the United States. As nylon stockings were inexpensive, durable and shear, up to 4 million pairs would be purchased each day.
On February 11, 1942, as America entered World War II, DuPont ceased production of nylon stockings and switched their focus to the manufacture of parachutes, airplane cords and rope. This created a mass shortage followed by a black market for stockings. At the end of World War II, DuPont resumed production of stockings but could not meet the demand leading to nylon riots in American stores. In time, DuPont was able to increase its output.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the first pantyhose made its appearance. Film and theater productions had stockings sewn to the briefs of actresses and dancers, as seen in popular films such as Daddy Long Legs. Unlike stockings, pantyhose did not require a garter belt to hold them up.
Pantyhose were introduced in 1959, providing a convenient alternative to stockings which led to a decline in their sales. In 1970, for the first time, United States sales of pantyhose exceeded stocking sales and has remained the same ever since. In 1987, there was a slight decline in sales in pantyhose due to the newly invented hold-ups. However, they remain the most purchased kind of hosiery.
And of course today it is common for ladies to wear no hose at all or to be seen in wild print leggings. The cycle of clothing styles can keep one buying new clothing on a regular basis. I’m a blue jean girl and am happy covering my legs in blue denim.