Category Archives: forgotten fashion

Keeping Warm in the 1930’s- Socks and Stockings

I’m so glad that so many of you loved the theme of “keeping warm” for upcoming posts!  I admit there was a lot more response on the last post than I expected.  I guess there’s lots of us who like keeping warm and toasty!

Next up, since we’re on the subject of what goes on underneath, we’ve got stockings.

Most people think of stockings of the 1930s and 1940s in terms of the “cuban heeled” or “fully fashioned” stockings that were sheer and made of rayon, nylon, or silk.  Some even think of fishnet stockings, which were less common than we might think but certainly were still around.  And when we get to the 1940s we think of leg paint to help out with looking like there were stockings when in reality they were mostly given up for the war effort!

For everyday wear, around the house, or for cool weather there were, thankfully, more options than those sheer stockings we usually think of.  Here’s two pages of legwear options from Fall & Winter 1937-1938 with images of legwear to keep you warm.

National Bellas Hess- Fall and Winter 1937-1938

The socks (or anklets) at upper left were advertised to be worn in addition to your hoisery.  Ladies wore these not only with flats and “saddle shoes”, but they were often worn with heels!  It was a cute, sporty look, and it kept your feet warm.  It wasn’t as common to wear with heels as it was to wear stockings alone, but you do see it in catalog images for footwear and in real life photos.

“Remember- Wool is Warmer”- the ad on the right reminds us.  You could select your stockings by wool content.  The ultimate luxury were 100% wool or a wool/silk blend.

Below this ad, we’ve got invisible “under hose”.  These would be an extra layer underneath your sheerer stockings, and apparently, the idea was to have these under hose look like it was actually your skin but it provided an extra layer of warmth.

And below that we’ve got stocking lined in fleece!  Don’t those sound cosy?

National Bellas Hess- Fall and Winter 1937-1938

On the page above we’ve got cotton stockings in various styles.  These would keep your warmer than sheer rayon or silk and would would be more sturdy for everyday wear.

And on the left we’ve got the “outsize” stockings, which were made for “stout” women.  You can see the standard range that most stockings, in regular or outsizes, were available in.

I usually skip over the stocking pages in old catalogs, but I found these cool weather options rather enlightening!  Are they what you would expect?  What sort of legwear do you wear to keep warm in cool weather?


For Golden Days on the Beach, 1934

Mmm!  Summer swimwear! And 1930s swimwear at that! I thought you might enjoy welcoming Summer with these couple of pages from a 1934 catalog.  It’s almost impossible for me to choose a favorite from this page… A! No, G!, No, H!  Ok, I’ll take them all ;)

Check out these bathing caps!  Notice anything unusual?  Is that a marcel wave bathing cap I spy?  The “Bathing Beret” is also quite fun.  And check out the straps on the second pair of bathing sandals!

Not to neglect the kiddies- they’re looking pretty darn cute in their swimwear, and the adjustable straps on the “All-Wool Zephyr” is pretty cute!

Pretty please, won’t someone make a modern swimwear line and borrow these lines from the past to satisfy those of us who long for cute one pieces with an old timey twist?  And heck, sign me up for a marcel wave swim cap, while you’re at it, too.

>McCall 3189- Monk Dress


I made this dress from one of my cherished patterns in my stash, McCall 3189, and afterward looked through my McCall magazines to see if it had alternate views and a description, and it did indeed!  My version is made of a vintage rayon/linen blend fabric and instead of the split all the way up the back bodice I seamed it up the center back and left a slit near the top neck.  Wouldn’t you know I had the perfect hat to go with it already?

It seems this style of dress was called a “Monk Dress” because the front was cut all in one piece and then belted or gathered in. Perhaps reminiscent of monk’s robes, though it may be a far stretch even for fashion!  A little research and I found the two dresses, also from 1939, showing the style.  One is a mail away pattern with a bolero. Seems you learn something new every day!

 I finally got a chance to wear my dress, so added some photos to this blog post :)

>Shorter Dresses Call for Glamorous Hosiery- 1939-1940

>After a day of tech woes, I get to bring you what I wanted to bring you yesterday!  While leafing through this catalog from Winter of 1939-1940 I was really struck by the vast array of novelty hosiery!

Click on the image for a hi res version
“Shorter Dresses Call for Glamorous Hosiery”, and they really mean it, too. 
The late 30s were really interesting in terms of fashion inspiration.  In terms of some trends for this example, on one hand you’ve got Vogue and the posh high fashion magazines trumpeting the return of the “Victorian” with bustle dresses and little bonnet like perch hats, and full skirts, puffed sleeves, waist cinchers, etc.  You’ve also got mainstream American popular culture that’s caught onto the swing craze so you see in younger everyday America shorter and fuller skirts for more “swish and sway” on the dance floor.  And then there’s somewhere in the middle that mashed the two together, and I think these little stockings are probably a result of that!  You’ve got almost Victorian hosiery with clocked backs and stripes and patterns that you would think of more likely on a Gay Nineties miss than on the gams of a late thirties pigeon.
I personally would never have thought these styles were popular in these years! I think the big misconception we’ve got is that vintage stockings were prim and proper and fully fashioned with seams up the backs and the only versions there were were the pointed back, Cuban heel, or squared off heel in silk, rayon, or cotton, and in varying shades of nude.  I knew that fishnet and mesh were popular, but look at the huge scale of fishnet on the one on the far right of the image above! It reminds me of the craze for large fishnets in the early 2000’s.  But these might be even MORE wild as it says they were available in black with pink top, tan with black top, or wine with black top.  
And just look at the gorgeous tops of the stockings! I especially love the top of the stockings with the large chevrons.
Hope everyone’s having a great week!