I’ve been lucky enough to acquire a large collection of unsold shop stock of vintage stockings still sealed in their original packets. They are from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in nylon, silk and rayon. Most of them are fully fashioned with formed heels and toes and a seam up the back and a few seamless. They will be arriving in my shop in the next few days in the Lingerie & Underwear collection.
The vintage brands include Hanes, Aristoc, Charnos, Christian Dior, Pretty Polly, Tudor Rose, Berkshire and Meridian. Some of which are still going strong today. The styles were socially aspirational locations – Ascot, Mayfair, Berkeley, Majorca, Monaco and the colours descriptive – Dawn, Almond, Autumn Dusk & Bare Leg.
We will also be selling some special World War Two Bemberg fully fashioned stockings. They are as new unused with the paper label and washing instructions still attached. They were sent by post posted from a HM forces ship in German waters to a Miss F Stark in Dundee, Scotland in October 1941.
The vintage Bemberg stockings are still in their original brown envelope complete with with German postage and duty stamps, a customs form and censor stamp.
Miss F Stark never used them.
Academic research shows humans started covering their naked bodies with clothes about 170,000 years ago.(Danielle Torrent University of Florida January 6 2011)
This protection from the cold is what enabled us to migrate out of Africa during the second to last ice age with our legs and feet covered and warm.
Fast forward 170 000 years and the leg coverings have evolved through animal furs, woollen, cotton, silk, rayon, Bemberg and finally in 1939 nylon was developed and we gained Nylon Stockings! Nylon stockings were immensely popular as a durable, moth proof, sheer, wrinkle free alternative to silk.
The first nylon stockings were made from one flat piece of leg shaped nylon which needed to have the edges sewn together forming a dark seam up the back and the characteristic dark reinforced fashioned heels and toes.
After less than two years, commercial production of nylon stocking ceased completely. By December 1941 the American factories making nylon were commandeered for war supplies. No more stockings.
For the rest of World War Two stockings were in short supply. Women could buy them on the black market for up to $20 a pair – a fortune – or paint stockings including seams and fashioned heels and toes on their feet and legs. In fact a whole makeup industry grew around liquid leg makeup that would last for up to three days if the women did not wash. Is that any different from today’s spray tan?
Nylon stockings production did not fully resume until the late 1940s after the end of the war and production did not met supply for several years more so stockings were treasured possessions for a long time.
No wonder plenty of women from the war years and beyond saved their precious stockings for special occasions and never actually wore them at all.
Here’s a taster of what’s to come…
Thanks for reading. I’d better get on with adding them all to my shop asap.
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