One of the things I love about vintage clothing and undergarments is the amount of effort that was put into creating them, as well as the attention to detail. Embellished stockings are in my opinion some of the most beautiful pieces to come out of mid-century fashion.
The patterns applied to nylons were often flowers, bows and other pretty patterns. The idea was to draw attention to what was called back then the ‘beauty zone’ which was the ankle and calf. Mid-century women used to dress quite modestly, with high neck-lines and skirts falling below the knee; a pretty, eye-catching detail around the lady’s ankle would have therefore drawn attention to the legs.
Righteous vintage apparel on eBay
Advertising techniques clearly haven’t changed much over the last century, as most of the fancy foot nylon adverts focused on how their new designs have a slimming effect on the ankle of the wearer.
“Come hither nylons are the nylons you want to flatter your legs, slim your ankles.” This advert plays on women’s desire to achieve more beautiful legs, as the lower calf and ankle were the only parts of the legs that were visible at the time. Personally I think they just look really pretty and I don’t care about the so-called slimming effect.
“Pure magic to slim your ankles and pretty your legs.” – I’m not convinced, however I would still like 10 pairs of each please!
The geometric style has to be my favourite. This is the style that was weaved in while the stocking was being made in the machine, rather than having embellishments added after they had come off the machines.
The Reading R100 is the machine on which nylon fully-fashioned stockings were made. During my visit to the Touchable stockings factory a few years ago, I learned that these machines can be configured to produce different heel types, such as the Cuban or the Havana heels. The below designs would have been manufactured in the same way, and would probably have been quite difficult to manage.
Sadly, other than vintage pairs scattered around online shops on the internet, the fancy foot style is extremely rare these days. The only real nod towards this unique vintage detail in modern-made styles seems to be variants of the Broadway heel by nylon stocking manufactures such as Touchable, or the Tentation style by Cervin, pictured below.
I would love to have seen how these patterns and adornments were added to stockings in person, however I don’t think that that is a dream that will ever come true. For now, I’ll have to settle for these beautiful videos.
Which is your favourite design?