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Posts tagged ‘stockings’

The Lovely Nazimova

By , 15 February, 2013, 1 Comment

Some photos of Nazimova from an article in Films in Review, December 1972. The article was written by De Witt Bodeen, who says “her film career was a pale reflection of her genius as an actress”. Clearly, the author was smitten, for the article begins thus:

There has never been any doubt about the greatness of Alla Nazimova as an actress. I would not hesitate to name her the foremost actress of the 20th century American theatre. Certainly, for what she brought to this country as a discipline of the realistic school of acting, she is a towering figure. She reformed and revitalized acting in America just as Elenora Duse did throughout Europe.

If Nazimova is new to you, check out a list of her works and biographies. You can find photos of her on eBay.

Nazimova Puts On Stockings

With Alan Hale in A Doll's House

With Valentino in Camille

In Revelation

In The Brat

In War Brides

Touring with D. W. Griffiths

Elmer Gantry: A Reason To Get Up In The Morning

By , 31 January, 2012, No Comment

I just discovered that one of my favorite films, Elmer Gantry (1960), will be on TCM today, Tuesday, January 31, 6:00 AM (ET). I’m going to be up to watch it because I haven’t yet purchased the DVD.

Starring Jean Simmons and Burt Lancaster (who won an Oscar for his role as Elmer Gantry), this is a powerful film about faith and fanaticism, foibles and fairness — but above all, it’s character-driven story about human character. It’s the best combination of issues to chew on and characters to consider, long after the film is over.

I love those sorts of stories.

Shirley Jones Seducing Burt Lancaster

In terms of fashion, the spotlight is on Shirley Jones (who also won an Oscar for her role of Lulu Bains) in classic lingerie, most notably visible in the scene in which Lulu attempts to seduce and shame Elmer. (Click the link to watch!)

What may have begun as the vengeful opportunistic act of a lover scorned (deflowered and left to prostitution) is quickly shown to be more complicated, exposing more than unfinished business but unrequited feelings between the two.

It’s brilliant stuff, really. Not what many may expect from the Shirley Jones they remember from The Partridge Family or know from musicals (although I cry every time I see Carousel).

But if you watch Elmer Gantry, this is precisely the sort of thing you learn to refrain from. For Jones’ performance as Lulu (as layered as anyone else’s in the movie), should teach you to look beneath the surface, what you think you know. The perceptions of “who and what Shirley Jones is” that the viewer brings to this classic film is, in this case, a layer of experience that only adds to this film.

Getting A Bang Out Of Dorothy Sebastian

By , 26 March, 2010, No Comment

I must watch too many film noirs and assorted crime dramas, because I swore there was a gun in her hand!

Dorothy Sebastian

Dorothy Sebastian

I bet many folks don’t even see Dorothy Sebastian‘s hand; they get lost in admiring her — and her lingerie. So, gun or no gun, we get a bang out of Sebastian. *wink*

Photo via an auction for Dorothy Sebastian negative by Ruth Harriet Louise.

How To Determine Vintage Stocking Size

By , 13 November, 2009, No Comment

Vintage stockings, original non-stretching nylon stockings, are sold by two measurements: foot size and leg length. But what if the stocking’s size markings, usually printed on the stocking welt (the top, where you attach the garters), aren’t legible or missing entirely? Well then you are going to have to measure the stockings themselves to determine their size.

Before we begin, please note the following:

In this case, “vintage stockings” refers to non-stretch nylon stockings which were made mainly from the 1940s through the 1960s, when Lycra and other stretch hosiery entered the market. Though 100% nylon stockings continued to be made, and its form of sizing continued to be used by some brands, the stretch hose limited the range of sizing to today’s more familiar ‘Small’, ‘Medium’, ‘Tall’ and ‘Queen’ — and the related A, B, C or D. (The extra give in these stretchier stockings and pantyhose literally allowed manufacturers to ‘lump’ women into fewer sizes, reducing cost and, we vintage fans feel, decreasing a more specific fit.)

Then, as today, there are variations in sizing by stocking brand — and sometimes within the same brand. The top brand names tend to be more consistent in their sizing (Hanes & Berkshire, for example, tend to be incredibly consistent), but even specific brand consistency may vary greatly from the sizing of other brands (stockings by Alberts, including the sub-brand of Araline, for example, measure an extra half inch in the foot and an extra inch longer in length too).

Since worn stockings will be a little larger (even freshly laundered ones), than unworn stockings, these sizing measurements work for unworn vintage stockings.

However generalized these sizing measurement tips are, you can get a pretty good idea of fit — especially if you compare the measurements to the measurements of your favorite fitting pair of worn vintage stockings!

How To Find The Size Of Vintage Stockings

In order to best measure the stocking, I recommend beginning by securing a tape measure to a table top, taping it down just like at the counters in fabric departments, so that you have both hands free to handle the stocking.

If you don’t have a measuring tape, get one; they’re cheap and you’ll use them over and over again. (I suggest you carry a tape measure with you when you visit estate sales, thrift stores, flea markets, etc. too — you can always ask for a literal hand with measuring!) Or, you can tape paper the length of the table, mark off your dimensions, and measure them later.

Once you have the measuring tape securely in place, you’re ready to get your measures. Since true stocking size is always determined by the foot measurement, we’ll begin there.

The industry standard for measuring the foot of a stocking is to measure from the tip of the toe to mid heel, however, most people are more comfortable defining the end of the heel rather than making a guesstimate of the middle of the heel, so I’ll be discussing measurements from the tip of the toe to the end of the heel. That said, that’s what you do.

Place the tip of the stocking toe at the top of your measuring tape and, holding it firmly in place, extend the stocking foot taut along the length of the tape measure. As you extend the stocking’s foot, keep it pulled taut — not stretched; apply just enough tension to remove the folds and wrinkles in the nylon. Measure the distance between the tip of the stocking’s toe to the end of the heel (the darker, reinforced area).

Just as with shoe sizes, a measurement of 10 inches does not equal a size 10 stocking — well, not quite, anyway. If your measurement was taken from the tip of the toe to mid-heel, then the number of inches does indeed give you the stocking’s foot size. (So if you’re comfortable with assessing the middle of a stocking’s heel, go for it!) But if you’ve measured the stocking from the tip of the toe to the end of the heel it’s still easy to get the size: subtract either ½ or ¾ an inch to obtain the true stocking size.

Which one? If your stocking is smaller, measures 9 ½ inches or less, subtract half an inch; if your stocking is larger, measures 10 inches or more, subtract ¾ inches. (Larger stockings have a larger heel reinforcement.)

To get stocking length, measure from the bottom of the heel to the top of the welt, using the tips above. The measurement you get is the size; no math necessary.



8 1/2 28 1/2 29 31 33
9 29 30 1/2 32 33
9 1/2 29 1/2 31 33 35 37
10 30 32 34 36 38
10 1/2 31 32 1/2 34 1/2 36 1/2 39
11 33 35 37 39
11 1/2 33 1/2 35 1/2 37 1/2 40
12 40
13 40

What You Need To Know About Vintage Full Fashioned Stockings

By , 12 November, 2009, 16 Comments

After getting the following email from Crystal, I decided it was time to do another primer on buying and wearing vintage:

Hi Jaynie,

I have a question… After hearing that “vintage full fashioned stockings are the best!” I bought several pairs on eBay. They feel lovely, but after a few hours of sitting at work I find they are bagging around the knees and wrinkling at the ankles… Is that normal? Am I getting the wrong kind — too cheap of ones? Or am I buying the wrong size?

Thirteen Points To Know About Vintage Fully Fashioned Stockings

#1 ‘Full Fashioned’ or ‘Fully Fashioned’ stockings are easily recognized by the sexy seam that travels the length of the stocking and the famous ‘keyhole’ or ‘finishing loop’ at the back of the stocking welt (the top portion of the stocking, made with a heavier gauge of nylon which is doubled over and finished closed, were the garters are attached).

Vintage 'Star' Full Fashioned Seamed Stockings With Key Holes

Vintage 'Star' Full Fashioned Seamed Stockings With Key Holes

#2 Full Fashioned stockings are also called ‘flat knit’ stockings because they were knitted flat and shaped to fit the leg; flared at the thigh, and curved to fit the calf.

#3 This ‘knit to fit’ shaping was done by decreasing the number of stitches towards the ankle, dropping stitches much like hand knitting. This cast off stitching gives the stockings ‘fashioning marks’ — the little V’s on the back near the seams — and so explains their name.

#4 The stockings are then joined at the back on a looping machine by hand, creating the seam up the back. This is how black, contrasting, or other color nylon seams can be made.

Vintage Glamour Girl Fully Fashioned Stockings Ad

Vintage Glamour Girl Fully Fashioned Stockings Ad

#5 Generally speaking, the ‘knit to fit’ shape of a vintage Full Fashioned stocking favors a long slender leg; lengths are available.

#6 For those who have shall we say a curvier or more difficult leg proportion, look for ‘outsize’ vintage stockings which were made wider for larger legs. Fewer outsize stockings were made, which makes them more difficult to find (and pricier when you do find them); but the better proportion makes for a better fit and so they are worth the extra investment.

#7 Because vintage Full Fashioned stockings are 100% nylon and do not contain Lycra or stretch spandex, they will generally wrinkle (and even sag a bit at the knees) after a few hours of wear, requiring some adjustment in the ladies’ room. (The good news is that perhaps your face could use a bit more powder, your lips more color?)

Tiana Hunter Wearing Black Stockings

Tiana Hunter Wearing Black Stockings

(I think we can all agree there’s not a thing wrong with the lovely Tiana Hunter‘s legs, yet her stockings have that — to be expected — bit of wrinkle at her ankle. So don’t take it personally; nylon is not Lycra.)

#8 Once the stockings stretch, they’re stretched — until you wash them. Washing them frequently not only helps them regain their original shaping, but prevents damages. (Even the smallest grains of sweat & dirt can do a great deal of damage to such fine nylon yarn.)

#9 I recommend that you always wash hosiery by hand. Don’t even be tempted to trust those hosiery bags for vintage full fashioned stockings.

When it comes to fit, some ladies also consider the denier and/or gauge of the stocking:

#10 Denier an Italian unit of measure for the density of knitting yarn — it’s mathy, and really all you need to know is the basic principals here: The lighter the thread (the less number of deniers) the finer the weave; stockings knitted with a higher denier tend to be less sheer but more durable. So a 15 denier (15d) yarn is twice as fine and sheer as 30 denier (30d) yarn. And some women swear that a 30d fully fashioned stocking resists stretching (wrinkling) twice as well as a 15d stocking. Also note that the seams usually are less visible on low denier stockings.

#11 Gauge is an English unit of measure, equally mathy, which measures the number of needles in a 38-millimeter section of a knitting bed, so a 60 gauge (60g) knitting machine has 60 needles to a 38-mm section. What you need to remember here is that the more needles you have in a section (the larger the gauge number), the finer the needles are — and the tighter the weave will be. The two most common gauges of Fully Fashioned stockings were 51g and 60g; the 60g stocking will have a have smoother, denser look (and feel) — and the tighter weave will help the stocking keep its shape longer.

Vintage Taylor-Woods Ad Explaining Nylon Denier & Gauge

Vintage Taylor-Woods Ad Explaining Nylon Denier & Gauge

#12 If all else fails, check your size. Vintage stockings are sized differently than modern ones; Stocking Showcase has great sizing charts.

#13 When buying vintage stockings, check the stocking welt itself for the stocking size rather than trusting just the box. The box may be easier to read (much easier than the previously worn & washed stocking welt), but the box may no longer contain its original contents. Even when the stockings appear never to have been worn or are “new old store stock,” what lies inside may be quite different — sometimes the pairs don’t even match! So look them over carefully or ask the seller to check for you.

Come back soon for more on buying vintage stockings!

More Thursday Thirteen participants can be found here.

First June Vintage Roadshow

By , 5 June, 2009, No Comment

Things Your Grandmother Knew has tips on darning stockings.

The Bobbypin Blog shows us how to get a fingerwave look like Keira Knightley.

Kitsch-Slapped shares vintage party games.

Glamoursplash has a customer win a prize in a vintage beach bathing beauty contest.

Debutante Clothing introduces Vintage Style Muse Helsinki Pinup, Freelancer’s Fashionblog.

Couture Allure shows how to stretch your wardrobe with a vintage sheath dress.

The Fabulous! Festival

By , 18 May, 2009, No Comment
Vintage Hane's Stockings Ad

Vintage Hane's Stockings Ad

For fashionistas who like to learn about fashions — old & new — I’m proud to share with you this month’s edition of the fabulous! festival. Hosting was fun!


Icy presents L’Oreal Infallible 16 Hours Lipstick Compact posted at Individual Chic.

Woman Tribune presents Piggy Paint Finally Makes Non-Toxic, Kid-Friendly Nail Polish a Reality posted at Woman Tribune.


Azrael Brown presents Three Gents In Snappy Hats posted at Infomercantile.

Deanna presents Smoking Hot Fashion: Recycled From Cigarette Butts posted at Kitsch Slapped.

Ed Biado presents Today’s most common fashion mistakes posted at Ed Biado at MST Life | Philippine Lifestyle News.

Ed Biado also presents Sunglasses at Ed Biado at MST Life | Philippine Lifestyle News.

Fabulously Broke presents 3 work environments to dress for posted at Fabulously Broke …in the City.

Pop Tart presents Tips On Darning Stockings & White Satin Blouses Yellowing? at Things Your Grandmother Knew.

Savings not shoes presents How to update your wardrobe after a major weight loss or gain posted at Savings not Shoes.

Personal Style:

Deanna presents The Answer To One Of Life’s Hardest Questions posted at Kitsch Slapped.

Icy presents A handbag of uniqueness, Part 1 & Part 2 at Individual Chic.

Pop Tart presents Kilgallen’s Boo-Boo posted at Kitschy Kitschy Coo.

Tali presents Mexican Pinups – A Cinco De Mayo Special- The Pinup Blog Way posted at The Pinup Blog.


This one may not entirely fit the theme, but I found Matt Curt’s Mafia Looking College Basketball Coaches (posted at NCAA Football 10 News) too clever not to include.

The next edition of the fabulous! festival will be hosted by Barry at 3stylelife.com on June 15 and the deadline for submissions is June 12th. You can submit your posts here.

Vintage stocking ad Found in Mom’s Basement.

If You Ever Wondered About The Names oF Vintage Lingerie Pieces…

By , 8 May, 2009, 38 Comments

I think we all know & recognize bras, panties, girdles, nightgowns, robes and slips, but some of the older pieces, which even our mothers likely didn’t have in her drawers or closet are very unfamiliar. So I’ve decided to scan these pages from a vintage lingerie catalog to help us identify other styles.

Before we get to the scans, I’d like to discuss what I know about the booklet.

The catalog is from the Dutchmaid Garment Company of Ephrata, PA, and though it has few pages, it has many lingerie styles shown with photos.
The catalog is not dated; I believe from the hairstyles, printing and the style of the pieces themselves, it dates to the 1930s. However, as use of the “PA” to designate Pennsylvania typically dates a piece to the 60’s, it is very possible that Dutchmaid, being a smaller company with a small line of lingerie and hosiery, simply made small changes to it’s promotional pieces, using them over several decades.

The catalog is small, just 16 pages, including covers, and measures 8 1/2 inches X just over 5 inches. It has a simple glue binding and, as you can see by the uneven “swoop” at the top, rather crudely cut. (I have cropped the scans to an even rectangle in all but the cover image, just for my own personal neatness — but the uneven cut exists on all pages.)

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Garment Company Catalog

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Stockings

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie Vests & Tight-Knee Pantie (Pettipant)

Vintage Dutchmaid Vests & Tigh-Knee Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Chemise (We'd Likely Call It A "Teddie") & Pantie

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Panties

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Slips

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Nightgowns

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Pajamas & Robe

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie (Slip and Nightgown)

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie

Vintage Dutchmaid Lingerie

Rolled Stockings, Bees Knees, And All That Jazz

By , 18 March, 2009, 13 Comments

The first time I heard the song And All That Jazz from the movie Chicago, the line, “I’m gonna rouge my knees. And roll my stockings down,” struck me… Did women once rouge their knees?

Zeta-Jones wearing rolled stockings in Chicago

Zeta-Jones wearing rolled stockings in Chicago

Yes, Virginia, like courtesans who rouged their breasts (or, more accurately, their areolas), flappers heightened the color of, and therefore the attention to, their knees. My guess is though, that they rouged post placement of their stockings. *wink*


Woman From The 1920s Wearing Rolled Stockings

Why were knees so important? Well, as we (I hope) all know, the 1920’s were about female liberation, especially in terms of fashion. Gone were the bustles and skirts which rendered women unable to enjoy even the simple joy of riding bicycles. Without the bottom part of the hourglass, less emphasis was put on the top half, and corsets which whittled waists and pronounced bust lines were escaped.

Now, I’m not against corsets or figure forming via foundation garments, but if it’s not fashion but rather enforcement which limits activities, akin to foot binding, then I’m not a fan. And to some extent, Victorian dress was as much about women’s place in society as it was the placement of breasts — about the ease and accessibility to life and their own sexuality.

Naturally, such freedom would lead to a mocking fashion frivolity in which women, especially young women, would relish in the abandonment of fashion’s constraints & an exploitation of fashion loopholes such as higher hemlines to express themselves, their attitudes and their intentions to live life fully.

Where once legs and even ankles had remained lily white in the dark shadows of skirts, now flappers dared to bare. They exposed skin to kisses of sunlight, trading the pasty pallor of invalids for the rosy complexions of those who lived life fully. As skin kissed by sunlight is also exposed to kisses from beaus, flappers used bare skin and its coloring to garner attentions and announce intentions. Like bees to flowers, flappers drew admiring glances and those that gave them. They used the natural appeal of revealing what had so recently been forbidden to see — and they used the artificial appeal of cosmetics.

It’s no coincidence that a more portable & easier to apply form of lipstick (in the tube) and other cosmetics (in compacts) were made at this time. And as odd as it may seem to us to color the knees, legs were all the rage so why not color & accentuate them?

Legs were so much the rage in the roaring 20’s that there was even the expression, “the bees knees” which means Its origins aren’t completely clear, but two theories seem possible…

One is that because bees carry pollen back to their hives in sacs found in the middle of their legs (the ‘knee’, if you will), the phrase alludes to the goodness to be found around the bee’s knee. Euphemistically, it’s racy; which certainly fits the 1920’s. And it reminds me of those lines from Maya Angelou’s Still I Rise:

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Speaking of dancers…

Another possibility for the origins of “the bee’s knees” may be found in the dancing legs of Bee Jackson. Jackson, once a member of the Follies, is said to be the first white girl to feature the dance we all associate with the 20’s and flappers, the Charleston.

Dancer Bee Jackson

Dancer Bee Jackson

Bee Jackson went on to become a world Charleston champion and her legs were insured for a whopping $10,000. Surely the glimpses of this Bee’s knees could garner a catchphrase along with admiring glances and erotic thoughts, and inspire other young ladies to dance and to show off their legs with short hemlines.

Obviously, such states of fashionable undress were seen as brazen & inappropriate by many; and not all women dressed (or acted) like flappers. While the moral majority & fashion minority may not have agreed, everyone knew of flappers and rolled stockings. In fact, there was even a 1927 film called Rolled Stockings.

Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

The film stared the fabulous and iconic Louise Brooks as Carol Fleming, the girl two boys — actually brothers — Jim and Ralph Treadway (James Hall, Richard Arlen), fall in love with. The movie is believed to be lost, so not only have I never seen it, but don’t know a soul who has. However, there are a few remnants of its existence, such as promotional photos like this one:

Promotional Louise Brooks Photo

Promotional Louise Brooks Photo

You’ll no doubt notice that lovely Lulu is not wearing rolled stockings — but the irony continues! According to Hal Erickson:

Not unexpectedly, one of the publicity photos taken for this film was a close-up of a pair of rolled stockings, ostensibly filled by the trim legs of Louise Brooks; in fact, Brooks refused to pose for this cheesecake shot, whereupon her legs were “doubled” by her co-star, Nancy Phillips.

Rather strange for a woman who posed for nude photos… I guess completely bare equals “artistic nude” while rolled stocking promotional photos are exploitative? Or maybe she thought rolled stockings ruined the lines of a lady’s leg?

In any case, I can’t find a single photo of Louise with rolled stockings — but here’s one of Louise with her younger sister, June, who is wearing rolled stockings.

Louise Brooks (L) and Sister June (R)

Louise Brooks (L) and Sister June (R)

June looks so sweet — like a young woman wearing knee-highs, not some risqué flapper. But that’s just the way time — and stockings — roll by… *wink*

Reproduction Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Reproduction Rolled Stockings Movie Poster

Little Black Basics For Your Little Black Dress On Black Friday

By , 28 November, 2008, No Comment

If you, like me, would rather stay home & eat leftovers than head to the mall, here are a few basics to get yourself this holiday — a girl can always use these basic black pieces.

For beneath that little black dress — little black slips.

A pretty vintage black nylon slip, from Etsy seller Schmoo1515, which is special enough to wear as the little black dress.

Pretty Vintage Black Slip

Pretty Vintage Black Slip

This vintage full slip from Etsy seller houseofvintage has such pretty ruffles that you may never want to take it off. It could double as a nightie, but I’m betting the lucky guy or gal who sees you in this will want you to take it off… eventually. *wink*

Sexy Vintage Black Slip With Ruffles

Sexy Vintage Black Slip With Ruffles

If you only need a half-slip (and I’m guessing that means you already have a black cami!), then how about this vintage lacy half-slip made by Saramae for Lord & Taylor? It’s available from Etsy seller Sassycatts.

Lacy Hem Of Vintage Black Saramae Half-Slip

Lacy Hem Of Vintage Black Saramae Half-Slip

For your legs…

Super cute and sure to put new life into your little black dress, vintage stockings with a rose pattern. Three pairs available from Etsy seller whyteboots.

1960s RHT Stockings With Rose Pattern

1960s RHT Stockings With Rose Pattern

For your feet…

Platform Oxfords are a staple in vintage dressing; the Nine West Women’s Kimball Platform Oxford is sure to become a classic in your wardrobe as well as give you a lift. (Additional colors available too.)

Platform Oxford Shoes By Nine West

Platform Oxford Shoes By Nine West

To top it all off…

No, not (quite) a top hat, but a stunning black silk velvet Edwardian hat. Derby styling with a rose velvet bow and beaded accents available at (in?) Dorothea’s Closet.

Black Silk Velvet Edwardian Hat

Black Silk Velvet Edwardian Hat