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1940s Stockings

January 31, 2015

If you’re looking to make an impression at a Blitz party and you’re really into forties fashion, then you’ll probably know something about Vintage 1940s Stockings, for they were the ultimate in forties style. They were also extremely hard to come by, due to rationing and shortage of materials.

The glamour of 1940s Stockings

You see those films where the Americans arrive in town, and everyone practically swoons when they bring out some chocolate and a pair of ww2 Stockings? It was probably the most important missed item in 1940s fashion during the war years, apart from a bunch of bananas.

Vintage  1940s Stockings are glamorous and have an elicit feel to them, they’re so much more feminine and glamorous than a pair of tights. Before the 40s your stockings would be silk and you wouldn’t even consider leaving the house with bare legs, after all this is a time long before fake spray tans and tanning beds.

1940s cosmetic stockings

1940s cosmetic stockings

Garters and girdles

1940s Stockings came up to the thigh and would be held together with that exotic and glamorous invention – the garter. The garter would often come attached to a corset or a girdle.

A corset naturally sounds a lot more interesting and feminine than the latter, the girdle sounds like something your grandmother would have worn. However, it was simply an early version of Lycra all-in-one that held you in all the right places.



1940s stockings – Not enough elastic

Naturally, silk wasn’t particularly elastic and wasn’t easy to hold up, so without the garter, your stockings would be round your knees by mid-morning. They were shaped specifically to the silhouette of the leg and the size was determined by the foot size.

Janos Szasz - Drying In The Window

Janos Szasz – Drying In The Window

New materials for seamed nylons

Rayon and Nylon seamed stockings soon replaced silk and were a lot lighter. Although they had the sheen they were meant to last longer. 1940s vintage seamed stockings were usually in a flesh colour and the best bit was the thick seam up the back of the leg, which you can still buy today.

Seamless stockings came next, but they didn’t catch on for a good 20 years. And rightly so, the seamed stockings were stylish and completely glam. A good pump with a heel finished off the look and created perfect symmetry for the back of the leg.



Stockings become a luxury item

Of course the war changed everything and precious materials needed for the war effort meant that many materials that had been previously used for fashion items, were now used to create military products. Materials used for stockings such as nylon, rayon and silk was used for parachutes and tents, which made stockings a rare luxury for most women.

Any stockings that women already owned were kept back for special occasions and looked after with great care.If women wanted to wear stockings other than special occasions, like for every day wear, they would have to “make do and mend,” and this of course included stockings.

1940s Vintage Stockings-1942-silk stocking donation

1942-silk stocking donation

1940s Stockings-If we can’t buy them we’ll make them

Women used their ingenuity and imagination and came up with the idea of staining their legs with gravy browning, or coffee and drawing a line up the back of the leg to make it look like they were wearing stockings. Cosmetic companies soon caught on to this idea and they came up with a product that would colour the legs – and that was the very first self-tan.

They were a work in progress, at the beginning they stained clothes if you were caught in the rain, but they gradually improved and were even able to offer different shades to suit the skin tone.

spray tan ad

spray tan ad



Cosmetic industry gets in on the act

Big cosmetic companies such as Max Factor muscled in on this new phenomena. Of course for fashion conscious girls, the stocking coloured leg wasn’t enough, they had to take it one step further to complete the look, they would draw a seam up the back of the leg with eyebrow pencil, whoever drew it on had to have a steady hand.

After the war of course, everyone went back to wearing stockings as there was no longer a shortage.

1942 painting on

1942 painting on

Want an authentic Blitz look?

If you want to emulate a true forties girl, or if you’re into the Blitz parties and you want to create a truly authentic look, then you need to buy yourself a pair of stockings, preferably seamed stockings with the back seams, they’re still available and can help create a truly vintage 1940s look. On the other hand, you could be really true to the times and spray tan your legs – and get your friends to draw a seam at the back, as long as they have a steady hand!

Naturally complete the look with authentic 1940s vintage dresses and coats, forties hair and a pair of Cuban heels. You can go retro and vintage inspired, but at the end of the day, vintage is always best.