THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF FLATBUSH
by Gertrude Lefferts Vanderbilt
Even articles so simple as stockings have been subject to the mutations
of fashions. We read that Queen Elizabeth had them "of black knitted silk."
There is little doubt that at an early period they were of bright colors. In
1737, or thereabout, white stockings were first worn. At first they
occasioned some dispute as to whether they were modest and lady-like. White
stockings, however, continued to be worn, even in the deepest mourning, we
are told, until 1778; at that time black silk stockings were introduced as
the usual wear in England.
Black silk stockings were always worn in our recollection in this country
by ladies in mourning until about 1855, when the fashion of wearing high
boots hid the stocking, and unbleached cotton hose were worn with all
dresses, whether dark or light. At that same period, also, children always
wore white stockings with white dresses; a dark stocking with a white dress
would have been considered in very bad taste. At present that has been
changed; colored hose of the deepest or of the most brilliant dye are worn
with white dresses, and white or unbleached cotton hose are worn only at the
will of the owner.
The knitting of stockings was an important industry in the family in the
last century and in the beginning of this. The ball of gray and dark-blue
woolen yarn was always in the knitting-basket; the stockings for the whole
family were knit by hand at that time; the children's were often of red yarn;
the men's were of gray or blue, and the women's of any color to suit the
fancy of the wearer. To-day, when a good pair of unbleached cotton hose can
be purchased for 25 or 30 cents, and coarse cotton at even a less price, we
can not advise the resumption of the knitting-needle, although it seems like
a pleasant, home-like way of spending the long winter evening, when conversation,
or even reading, offers no interruption to the industrious fingers.
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