Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Girl Stuff

Yesterday I received a comment about this old post from back in October. So since my data indicates that most of my loyal readers are of the female persuasion, I thought it might be of interest to bring it out again for the new visitors.

I have had several requests to include more gurly-girl stuff. So here goes. I hope this is gurly-girl enough for you. We’re going to look at women’s hosiery.

Prior to 1937, 88% of women’s stocking were made of pure silk. The silkworms were racing each other to see who could produce the most silk, but they always ended up in a tie. (hahaha)

Then along came Dr. Wallace Carothers of Du Pont. He is credited as the inventor of nylon. "Nylons," as they were soon called, eventually replaced silk stockings. Keep in mind that these nylons did not resemble the “pantyhose” women wear today. They differed in several ways.

First of all, they covered only about two-thirds of a woman’s leg, from the feet to mid-thigh, and they were held up by garters and a belt. Women could buy them in either "full-fashioned" form with seams at the back or "seamless." Also, because nylon didn’t stretch, it was necessary to manufacture them in different sizes.

When America entered World War II, both silk and nylon were commandeered by the federal government (specifically the War Production Board) to supply defense needs. Overnight, stockings made of any materials became hard to find. Nylon became important to the war effort because it was used in parachutes and tires. On the home front, the popular press presented nylon as a miracle of technology that Americans could again enjoy when the war ended.

Since stockings were hard to get, there was a thriving Black Market. Stocking were a popular gift from US soldiers for the ladies back home. It was during this time that women began painting seams on the back of their legs so it appeared as if they were wearing stockings.

When the war ended in 1945, nylon was again available to Americans. When the announcement was made, Macy’s sold out their entire stock of 50,000 pairs of nylon stockings in six hours. At the same time, 40,000 women stood in line in a torrential downpour in Pittsburgh to buy theirs.