ratrob

Were stockings a sign of affluence?

12 posts in this topic

I was recently thinking about the origins of my foot/stocking fetish the other day.  My mother, aunts, and sisters were not fancy ladies and didn't wear stockings or pantyhose very often.  They were working class girls who dressed simply most of the time.  In fact, I remember times my brothers would bring their girlfriends around who would sometimes be dressed up wearing hosiery and they would joke around about "how fancy she is".  Honestly, I'm not sure how my pantyhose/nylon/stocking fetish came to be; I don't remember any memory from my childhood that triggered it.  

This got me thinking about stockings as a sign of wealth and affluence, especially in the golden age of stockings.  I remember Miller's Death of a Salesman where Willy Loman buys new stockings for his affair while his wife has to mend her old stockings; a sign of his guilt about the affair and also how he is failing to provide for his family.  In today's world of mass manufacturing and consumption it's hard to imagine women mending their stockings but obviously women would do this to save money.  Perhaps these memories are due to my humble upbringing, but I remember in the 1980's when you saw a women in hosiery I would think they were classy, feminine, and wealthy.  Women who wore stockings to me were true ladies, had good careers where business dress was required, or were wealthy.  

This all leads me to my question; were stockings a sign of wealth?  Did working women want to wear stockings but couldn't afford it or were there stockings available to all at different levels of quality?  I see old advertisements from the 50's where full fashioned stockings had fancy heels.  I would imagine these stockings were a show of wealth to others.  Were women jealous of a lady who could afford quality stockings, was this something envied or was this just a part of everyday life like socks were?  I'm just curious to see how stockings played into the social class of women, especially back in those wonderful 50's and 60's era.  Any memories would be appreciated!  

 

6281b05b207096934fc65c47f25fbc56--vintag

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there were brands that were very affordable. usually dept. store brands when i was young. not high quality but they served the purpose back in the 60's and 70's. pantyhose took off around that time and most of us made the switch.

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Hello ratrob and many thank's for your topic.  "especially back in those wonderful 50's and 60's era"  I'm one of the 50's and 60's girls.  My recall is most women from ages of eleven and up wore stockings.  Rich or poor, it did not matter!  I'll say money was not a factor.  The younger girls like myself did odd jobs to get the 99 cents needed to buy a pair of seamed stockings.  We would walk the alleys to pick up glass milk jugs, beer bottles, pop (soda) bottles and take them to the corner store for money.  Glass jugs and bottles like that were used over again.  We painted houses, cleaned yards, mended fences and cut lawns for a few pennies.  We stood outside the south side taverns and asked the drunks for a dime or so.  With a load on they were more generous!  That's some of the ways we worked for our stockings money.  At 99 cents a pair you either worked or wore socks!  Mom could not give you that much money.  Dad slaved in the steel mills or refineries to keep food on the table, not to buy a teenager a pair of stockings.

I wore my first pair of seamed stockings when I was eleven years old.  I spent the night with my grandmother and forgot my socks.. I was going to school so  Grandma fixed me up with a pair of seamed stockings and over the knee rubber bands to hold them up.  I became very popular that day!  Even as a young skinny Gypsy kid with a big nose the boys took an interest in me.  The girls said, "I want stockings also?"  I wore those stockings nearly every day.  Washed them and wore them again.  I would sneak in my moms bedroom and add a bit of lip stick and cheek powder to my face.  Just a tad though!  I would slip into my mom's shoes.  Open heel and toe slingbacks with a three inch heel they were. Those shoes and my seamed stockings etched a look in my mind that's been with me for 55 years.  I stood in front of a long mirror and looked at the back of my legs.  I saw a young girl with some curve in her calves  and sleekness in here ankles.  I loved the way my toes looked peeking through the opening in the shoes.  I liked the way the slings gently tugged at my heels.  A stocking and high heels baby was born that day.  I feel the same today!, Especially when my husband dresses me! Talk about adorn?  That's as close to beautiful and attractive can get.

So, if you were rich or poor, lived in the ghetto or on State Street, caught a ride on a taxi, bus, South Shore railroad, rode a bicycle or walked, women and young girls wore stockings.  Those were great days that hold many memories.  Thank you ratrob for giving me the opportunity to share with you and my fellow Shq members.

Edited by HanesBaby-CSB

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8 minutes ago, HanesBaby-CSB said:

Hello ratrob and many thank's for your topic.  "especially back in those wonderful 50's and 60's era"  I'm one of the 50's and 60's girls.  My recall is most women from ages of eleven and up wore stockings.  Rich or poor, it did not matter!  I'll say money was not a factor.  The younger girls like myself did odd jobs to get the 99 cents needed to buy a pair of seamed stockings.  We would walk the alleys to pick up glass milk jugs, beer bottles, pop (soda) bottles and take them to the corner store for money.  Glass jugs and bottles like that were used over again.  We painted houses, cleaned yards, mended fences and cut lawns for a few pennies.  We stood outside the south side taverns and asked the drunks for a dime or so.  With a load on they were more generous!  That's some of the ways we worked for our stockings money.  At 99 cents a pair you either worked or wore socks!  Mom could not give you that much money.  Dad slaved in the steel mills or refineries to keep food on the table, not to buy a teenager a pair of stockings.

I wore my first pair of seamed stockings when I was eleven years old.  I spent the night with my grandmother and forgot my socks.. I was going to school so  Grandma fixed me up with a pair of seamed stockings and over the knee rubber bands to hold them up.  I became very popular that day!  Even as a young skinny Gypsy kid with a big nose the boys took an interest in me.  The girls said, "I want stockings also?"  I wore those stockings nearly every day.  Washed them and wore them again.  I would sneak in my moms bedroom and add a bit of lip stick and cheek powder to my face.  Just a tad though!  I would slip into my mom's shoes.  Open heel and toe slingbacks with a three inch heel they were. Those shoes and my seamed stockings etched a look in my mind that's been with me for 55 years.  I stood in front of a long mirror and looked at the back of my legs.  I saw a young girl with some curve in her calves  and sleekness in here ankles.  I loved the way my toes looked peeking through the opening in the shoes.  I liked the way the slings gently tugged at my heels.  A stocking and high heels baby was born that day.  I feel the same today!, Especially when my husband dresses me! Talk about adorn?  That's as close to beautiful and attractive can get.

So, if you were rich or poor, lived in the ghetto or on State Street, caught a ride on a taxi, bus, South Shore railroad, rode a bicycle or walked, women and young girls wore stockings.  Those were great days that hold many memories.  Thank you ratrob for giving me the opportunity to share with you and my fellow Shq members.

Wonderful memories and a great story beautifully told.

She may be sassy and she may be controversial but by cracky she's a darling adorner we need to grateful for.

KtF
:58674be234469_EmojiSmiley-08:

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Jeff although surprisingly brief I can tell your tribute to Susan is from the heart. Susan you have a "tell it like it is" style that is open and sincere. You paint the word picture of 50-60's Chicago so graphically. You are always willing to answer any request to the best and fullest of your ability.

Best wishes to you and Bill, I hope he is well on the mend.

John B.

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Oh, Bless Your Heart!  You are a sweet heart!

Susan, :58674be234469_EmojiSmiley-08:

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Hanesbaby, what a great story!  What a fantastic time you grew up in where girls would work odd jobs to buy stockings to wear!  I guess it was a different era where women wanted to be feminine and stockings were a part of that.  If I grew up in that era I would certainly donate to that cause!   JKJK

 

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Hi Ratrob:

I think you'd have to go back to the depression era to find a time when stockings were seen as a mark of affluence. Back then many women and girls simply could not afford silk stockings, so I suspect those that could wear them were viewed as affluent. 

But when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, the economy was strong and stockings were more affordable. Just about every girl or woman over the age of 12 wore nylons with a skirt or dress. It was expected. 

In my Junior High and High School (in the 1960s) girls were required to wear a skirt or dress. And sox or stockings were mandatory. Even on a hot day, a girl coming to class bare legged would be sent home. So, as Susan has mentioned above, girls found a way to buy stockings by whatever creative way they could come up with. And stockings with runs met the rules and were considered acceptable by schoolgirls. (But not by adult women!) 

So in looking back, I guess that among my friends, being able to wear stockings without runs WAS a mark of affluence. Some of my friends were limited by their parents to one pair of nylons a week. And as you can immagine, an active schoolgirl would find it hard to get through the week (or even the first day) without getting a run.  

I was an only child with a mom that felt it would be a bad reflection on HER if her daughter went to school with runny nylons. So I always went to school in the morning with run-free stockings. Often I was able to get a week's wear or more out of my stockings because I usually wore Hanes Walking Sheers, which were very durable. It was the girls who wore 15 denier dress sheers that had constant problems with runs. 

By the time I was in High School, my weekly allowance included me buying my own stockings. This provided a strong incentive to keep my nylons run-free. And it kept me buying those durable Hanes Walking Sheers! 

Karen 

 

 

 

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My Grandma's father thought the ability to buy stockings was a sign of affluence. I never met my Grandfather, he was a hard working coal miner who died before I was born. My Grandma's father didn't like the man she chose to marry and told her "He won't be able to afford to keep you in stockings"  The title of this thread reminded me of my Grandma. I guess my Grandma bought her own stockings, because she went out to work, rather than marry a rich man.
 

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On 9/11/2017 at 4:05 AM, OnyxPointex said:

Hi Ratrob:

I think you'd have to go back to the depression era to find a time when stockings were seen as a mark of affluence. Back then many women and girls simply could not afford silk stockings, so I suspect those that could wear them were viewed as affluent. 

But when I was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, the economy was strong and stockings were more affordable. Just about every girl or woman over the age of 12 wore nylons with a skirt or dress. It was expected. 

In my Junior High and High School (in the 1960s) girls were required to wear a skirt or dress. And sox or stockings were mandatory. Even on a hot day, a girl coming to class bare legged would be sent home. So, as Susan has mentioned above, girls found a way to buy stockings by whatever creative way they could come up with. And stockings with runs met the rules and were considered acceptable by schoolgirls. (But not by adult women!) 

So in looking back, I guess that among my friends, being able to wear stockings without runs WAS a mark of affluence. Some of my friends were limited by their parents to one pair of nylons a week. And as you can immagine, an active schoolgirl would find it hard to get through the week (or even the first day) without getting a run.  

I was an only child with a mom that felt it would be a bad reflection on HER if her daughter went to school with runny nylons. So I always went to school in the morning with run-free stockings. Often I was able to get a week's wear or more out of my stockings because I usually wore Hanes Walking Sheers, which were very durable. It was the girls who wore 15 denier dress sheers that had constant problems with runs. 

By the time I was in High School, my weekly allowance included me buying my own stockings. This provided a strong incentive to keep my nylons run-free. And it kept me buying those durable Hanes Walking Sheers! 

Karen 

 

 

 

Great story Karen!  I imagine that young girls who still liked to run, jump and play did have a hard time keeping their stockings run free!  I think that vintage stockings are better made and seem to wear longer than modern replicas.  When I've bought Mrs. Ratrob vintage FF's they last much better than when we've bought Gio's.  

I had my formative years in the 1980's which I consider the last great nylon decade (although typically pantyhose by then) and also the last gasp of those societal rules (no bare legs, no runs in your stockings, etc).  I remember going to Jr. High School at age 12 and all the little girls who would dig in the dirt with you the year before were now wearing dresses, nylons and heels because they wanted to look grown up.  This was a time when girls were still "cute" and women were "sensual and sexy", before Brittney Spears was flaunting her underage body and making middle aged men feel uncomfortable!  Of course, walking around a school in 3 or 4 inch pumps was not easy and these girls feet would get sore.  I remember sitting in pre-algebra class where Susie sat in the next row and a seat in front of me kicked off her high heels and started to wiggle her nylon covered toes.  How could I learn the quadratic formula while Susie was torturing me like that?  JKJK

Thanks Karen for the memories.  I love hearing about that time and era.  

Ratrob

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My formative years were in the early/ mid 1960's any I remember like yesterday that all ladies and girls over 12 years old would always wear stockings including under  under jeans& trousers unless  it was summer and it was hot or on holiday going to the beach.

Generally the better off the lady (or more likely her husband) the better quality stockings she would wear. I know this for a fact as my mother worked in a shop that sold  stockings amongst other clothing and overhead her advising customers on such things many times.

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Here (UK) in the 1950s and 60s stockings were almost universally worn by women. In my experience, it was around the age of 12 or 13 that girls began to wear them, at first for "special" occasions and then, later, more generally. School uniform rules often stated a starting age/year for stockings wearing. There were, though, poor families for whom the cost of nylons (and the apparatus to hold them up) was beyond their means.  I knew a girl who lived in a rural area and whose parents were not very well off. She was around 14 before she began to wear stockings and then only for a "special" event.  I noticed that her stockings were wrinkled and learned that this was because she had only an old (handed down from her sister) suspender belt.

A family I knew at primary school were definitely poor: both children (older boy, younger girl) had rather shabby clothes. They lived in a council flat opposite some local shops we often used.  A few years later, when we had all gone to different secondary schools, I would occasionally see the girl from that family and she still wore clothes that had seen better days. Even at 15, I never saw her in stockings. I am sure that was because the family could not have afforded them. (Their mother, too, wore socks and old shoes).  I imagine that girl was only too aware of her situation, especially when other girls at her school would have been wearing nylons at that age.  Sadly, too, she was quite plump - perhaps because of a poor diet - and always looked untidy as a result. In those days, girls turned to girdles and bras to deal with figure problems - and hold up their stockings as well but I'm sure it was lack of money that prevented that girl from doing likewise.

Many girls chose not to wear stockings all the time at school but that was because wearing them could be a nuisance, depending on activities undertaken, etc.  On the other hand, it was explained to me that some girls wore nylons every day because their figures depended on wearing a girdle and (no panty girdles in Britain in those days) stockings were essential to keep girdles in place.

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