Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Stockings

Date:
1890–99
Culture:
American
Medium:
silk
Dimensions:
30 in. (76.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Mrs. Robert G. Olmsted and Constable MacCracken, 1969
Accession Number:
2009.300.2158a, b
Not on view
Stockings, originally designed for practical purposes, soon transformed into a fashionable accessory with the invention of the knitting frame in 1589 and then the circular-knitting machine in 1816. This technology allowed for a tighter weave and a better fit. Also, it was much easier to produce stockings, making them more affordable and readily available to a larger public. Plain white stockings were in mode for quite some time, until the mid to late-1800s when hemlines rose, and the ankle was revealed. This change in fashion called for colorful and fanciful motifs to decorate the lower leg, a visually appealing effect.

These stockings are particularly interesting because of the patterning, which follows the curve of the calf at the back of the leg. Shaped as they are, they emphasize the seductive curves of a woman's leg, enhancing their flirtatious appeal.
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