Fashion during Isabella’s lifetime changed dramatically; but for the majority of her years, ladies’ gowns consisted of high-necked collars, long sleeves, and floor-length skirts.
For the most part, women’s clothes were modest and conservative, especially when viewed by today’s standards.
But underneath the “brown alpaca” or “black bombazine” gowns she mentioned in her novels (as well as layers of petticoats, corsets, drawers, and bustles), women found ways to express themselves in—oddly enough—stockings!
In those days, women’s hosiery was manufactured in different weights of silks, cottons, wools, and merinos. The most common color was black, followed by the color white.
But some women expressed their personalities and preferences by eschewing those common colors for something bright and vibrant.
Embroidered stockings were expensive and didn’t last long, considering that stockings were easily ripped, torn, or worn through from wear. These black silk stockings, embroidered with silk and metallic threads, were luxurious and costly:
But cost didn’t have to be a factor. These sensible cotton stockings were fun and playful . . .
. . . while these cotton stockings were bold and striking:
Some designs were more complex. These lovely stockings combined geometric stripes with beautifully detailed embroidery.
When worn, a typical lady’s boot would have covered the lower embroidered portion of the stocking, leaving only the horizontal band and stripes visible (if she lifted her skirt).
By contrast, the embroidery on these beauties was visible from knee to toe.
Which stocking design is your favorite? Which pair would you like to wear?
All the stockings shown in this post were found on the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising website, which documents over 200 years of fashion history. You can explore the FIDM Museum website by clicking here.