Stockings and Socks

The stockings and socks worn by boys have changed significantly over time. Over the knee white stockings were worn with knee britches during much of the 18th century. Short ankle socks, often white, were generally worn by boys for dress at the beginning of the 19th Century. Boys in dressy skeleton suits often wore slippers, white ankle socks and pantalettes or long pantaloons. As boys grew out of skeleton suits and smocks it was common for boys through mid-century to wear various styles of jackets, primarily with long trousers or pantaloons. After mid-century it became increasingly common for younger boys to wear knee pants. Boys in knee pants during the mid-19th century, wore long dark-colored over the knee stockings. Even the fanciest Little Lord Fauntleroy suits were usually worn with dark stockings during the 1880s and 1890s. Long stockings were held up with a kind of waist belt with clasps. At the end of the 19th century some boys wore stockings with horizontal strips. Some mothers in the early 20th century turbned to white stockings and socks when dressing boys in Fauntleroy suits or other dressy outfits instead of the dark socks common before the turn of the century. As boys after World War I increasingly dressed in knickers or short pants, knee socks became common. British boys who referred to knee socks as turn over top socks, often wore grey knee socks with their school colors or a pattern at the top. American boys liked to wear argyles with their knickers. After World War II, American boys generally wore ankle socks with argyles or horizontal patterns. White atletic socks were worn with shorts or for port. During the late 1970s, tube socks, or long white atletic socks with color bands at the top became popular as American boys showed greater interest in basketball and soccer.

Note: Space limitations do not permit me to provide more information on boys' stockings and socks or historical photograhs. There is, however, additional information and many historical photographs on the expanded Boys Historical Clothing web site. For details click here >>>>>> Expanded Site.


1880s: An American Department store (Lord & Taylor) indicated in 1881 that:

Childrens' stockings are usually ribbed and are as fanciful as possible. The foot in fine stripe of gay color is separated by the plainer top by bands of gold-color, blue, or dull red. Black stockings are liked for children with bright Madras stripes of blue, red, or yellow, or strewn with small polka dots. Half hose or socks are preferred during the warm weather for little ones under five. They are in liske-thread, in the color, and often in open-work patterns.


White socks: Lord & Tayor in 1881 offered white socks for children in sizes 4 in to 6 1/2 - 7 in, both full length and 3/4 hose.

Plain color socks: Lord & Tayor in 1881 offered plain colored socks for children in sizes 4 in to 7 in, both full length and 3/4 hose.

Striped socks: Lord & Tayor in 1881 offered striped and fancy striped socks for children in sizes 4 in to 6 1/2 - 7 in, both full length and 3/4 hose.

Silk hose: Lord & Tayor in 1881 offered 1/2 and 3/4 silk hose in both sandal-lace and plain colors for children in sizes 4 in to 6 in.

Christopher Wagner

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