Nylons, hosiery that is, were a great improvement from the pantaloons, which were once the undergarment of its time. Women took to wearing dress pantaloons in Napoleonic France. Knee-length and ankle-length versions were worn as undergarments under the light muslin Empire-waisted gowns. White or skin-colored girls' pantaloons were also in vogue at this time.
Needless to say, not much leg was to be seen during this era!
Silk stockings first made their major debut in 1940s, but the real history of silk stockings dates back to 16th century. In the 16th century, the raw silk that was imported into England was used in a broad way for manufacturing silk stockings, which were considered as an erotic icon in their own right.
Before the 1920s, women's stockings, if worn, were worn for warmth. In the 1920s, as hemlines of women's dresses rose, women began to wear stockings to cover the exposed legs. These stockings were sheer, first made of silk or rayon (then known as "artificial silk"), and after 1940 of nylon.
In order to wear the silk stockings without them falling down around the ankles, they were held up either by suspenders attached to a corset, later replaced with a belt or girdle, or by a pair of elastic garters. The garters were not a sightly addition so hemlines remained long enough to show just the right amount of leg but not high enough to expose the garter.
Ooh la la! How the silk stockings slenderized the legs, making them appear flawless and adding just the right amount of color. But, what about the outdoorsy girl who wanted the look of the silk stockings but did not want to worry about the snags?
Cream Replaces Silk Stockings
"Liquid cream that dries to resemble silk stockings is a new cosmetic said to be a boon to the outdoor girl. When applied to the legs, as shown in the photo, the inventors claim that it is practically impossible to distinguish it from real silk hose."
One of the most memorable poses showing the entire leg, both legs in fact, came about in 1943. Betty Grable was celebrated for having the most beautiful legs in Hollywood and these legs were more than likely not covered with any style of hosiery. Just the pure flesh! The studio publicity widely dispersed photos featuring the famous Betty Grable legs.
Her iconic bathing suit poster made her the number-one pin-up girl of the World War II era. It was later included in the Life magazine project "100 Photographs that Changed the World". Hosiery specialists of the era often noted the ideal proportions of her legs as thigh (18.5"), calf (12"), and ankle (7.5"). Grable's legs were famously insured by her studio for $1,000,000 with Lloyds of London. Source: en.wikipedia.org
|Grable's iconic pose from 1943 was a World War II bestseller, |
showing off her "million dollar legs"
For the ladies, how do your legs measure up to those of Betty Grable?