Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ladies Rebel

Ladies’ fashions changed during the 1920s, and not everyone approved. Antiquated corsets with garters attached and bloomers gave way to shorter skirts, rolled silk stockings, and step-ins – an open legged panty that replaced the long-legged bloomers. Rolled silk stockings did away with the need for garters. There was quite an art to rolling them, keeping the seam in the back straight, twisting and turning them to end just above the knee, leaving the thighs bare. It took practice to keep the stockings from falling down, but it was a skill at which every teenage girl was adept.

This cover of Life magazine from February 18, 1926, shows a flapper wearing rolled stockings.
Library of Congress

At the Normal School in Dillon, women students rebelled and cast off their corsets and bloomers in favor of short hems, rolled stockings and step-ins. School administrators were scandalized, and issued this statement: “the girls must wear garters, long stockings, and bloomers, or get on the train and go home.” The dean of women had to enforce the dress code. She posted herself at the foot of the stairs in Main Hall, where she could see underneath as girls walked up the stairs. Any girl detected with rolled stockings and step ins was sent back to the dormitory to change into appropriate attire. The Dillon community watched with interest as this drama unfolded. The rumor was that the Golden Rule and Eliel’s—the two stores that sold women’s undergarments—had to bring out their obsolete inventory of corsets and bloomers for the students to comply with the rules. By the end of the 1920s, dress lengths again became longer, the administration relaxed its rules, and the situation righted itself.  But during the Roaring Twenties, those newfangled fashion trends challenged everyone.

Update: Do you suppose Arline Allen would have worn rolled stockings and step-ins?

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