Weddings and hosiery seem to go hand in hand, or leg on leg. The ubiquitous under pinnings of brides the world over, of all cultures, are unanimous; hosiery, garters, and structure garments. The prescribed elements of femininity and sensuality under all those beautifully adorned gowns. Apparel that’s chosen with great care for a fitting end to a celebratory day.
1.8 Million Weddings Took Place
I’m not sure why, or what the desperation was, but when the United States joined World War II, young couples were getting married in droves. Proving too compelling to resist. The statistics showed that in 1942 alone, 1.8 million weddings took place, up 83 percent from 10 years before. Two-thirds of those brides married men newly enlisted in the military.
In 1942 and 1943, more than 2,000 weddings were performed at the Church of the Transfiguration, the Little Church’s official name. In 1943, the church’s rector, the Rev. Dr. Randolph Ray, said that three ceremonies in the morning and three in the afternoon represented a “quiet midweek schedule” for him.
Made of Silk From Parachutes
Stories abounded throughout the US of small wedding cakes baked with rationed ingredients, and of brides wearing modest, nontraditional dresses, some even made of silk from the parachutes that had saved their grooms in battle.
It’s hard to imagine a modest bride in today’s fashion climate. The dresses are bigger, grander, and can cost a small fortune. Bejewelled shoes, jewelry that requires a bodyguard, and the silken luxury that makes up a corset, girdle, garter and hose.
Go big or go home, right?
A Hosiery Black Market Soon Flourished
How those poor women suffered during WWII, because hosiery production shifted to the war effort. All those base materials went into making parachutes, cords and rope instead of stockings. Women took to painting seams up the backs of their legs using in many cases, gravy juice or the browning. Even a hosiery black market was soon flourishing.
The surrender of Japan in August 1945 heralded the resumption of stocking production by Du Pont, the world’s leading manufacturer at the time. So overzealous they were, that they began a sales campaign, “Nylons by Christmas” which turned out to be a little more than over-aggressive. Prompting the “Nylon Riots” in Pittsburgh when 40,000 women queued up for 13,000 pairs of stockings from August 1945 to March 1946.
As production ramped up, so too did sales, as wedding fever struck. Post war weddings sky rocketed. More couples married in 1946 than in any other year in American history. Women wanted their favourite accessory, and Du Pont was only willing to provide. Production was soon strictly devoted too hosiery to meet the almost unprecedented demand. Du Pont made the ill-fated claim of production numbers of 38 million by year’s end.
Women weren’t buying wedding hosiery with the ideology they were prior to the war, as requirement. They were buying as a sign of control and independence with their new found body autonomy of the times. They had just spent five years surviving and thriving during the war years without their male counterparts. Owning this new found self-reliance.
Although white seems to be the popular shade of choice, many are opting for other tones and shades that reflect independent and strong personalities. Stockings were the beloved options, but stay-ups and compression pantyhose have nudged their way in. The choice of stay-ups for easy access, and compression pantyhose for control without having to be strapped in with a corset or girdle.
Brides Decide How They Are Going To Look
Not much has changed today as brides decide how they are going to look on their special day. Not only what they are going to wear, but knowing how they are going to seduce their now committed partner at evening’s end. Hosiery, is just the perfect combination for that delightful end.
However you look at it, hose are here to stay as the foundation garment of choice of all brides. Hosiery for the independent woman and the next phase of her life.