Women in the 1930s continued to wear back seamed stockings (seamer stockings) just as they did in the 1920s. Not all seams were real or noticeable. A black seam was added in the later 1930s to accentuate the leg even more.
Colors were shades of dark nude, tan, or deep grey with various shades in between. Some color names were suntan, copper, beige, woodbrown, townwear (taupe), sun-burn, brown, mode, gunmetal, smoke, cloud, black and white. Matching skintone to stockings was not common. Women tended to favor darker shades for slimming effect.
Women with deep skin-tones usually choose dark grey or dark tan for their stockings. Black was worn in the service industry- women would avoid wearing them outside of working hours.
Stockings were usually fully fashioned, meaning they were sewn, with a seam, into the shape of a leg. The top was attached to a stretchy knit band that was then held up with stocking clips attached to girdles or corsets.
Stockings sizes were sold by shoe size and height, with wider cut sizes for full-figured “outsized” legs.
While the circular knitting machine was available, it didn’t produce very good stockings. Mock seams were added to circularly knit stockings and give them the look of fully fashioned stockings. Circular knitting machines were best used for knitting socks, until improvements in the 1960s made seamless stockings more fashionable than seamed.
The back seam always matched the stocking color, although there were some color heeled stockings that contrasted. For example, dark grey with a black heel, light grey with a navy heel, tan with a brown heel. etc.
In the late 1930s the new vogue was for black or dark brown heels and seams over sheer stockings. New heel shapes such as the “pointed” heel also entered the market.
Most heel shapes displayed was a “French heel,” which was a square column part way up the heel and connected to a sandal foot. A reinforced heel extended the life of stockings.
Stockings came in degrees of sheerness. Pure sheer nude, called chiffon, was best for evenings, although the dresses were so long that they were never seen. Semi-sheer or medium weight was for afternoon dresses, and serviceable weights were for housework and labor jobs.
Knee high stockings were a more comfortable alternative to full stockings. Made of the same silk, cotton, or rayon material, the knit tops held them up over the calf. Similarly, stockings could be worn without garter supports.
Lastex woven into the tops of the band or welt held stockings around the thigh. If the fit wasn’t perfect, they could reduce circulation.
Read about women’s socks history here.
Winter Weight Stockings
In the early 1930s many women were still wearing ribbed or heathered wool stockings in winter. But as the flapper look was replaced by elegance, women choose smooth but heavy weight wool-silk, wool-rayon, and cotton hosiery. The came in the same colors as summer weights with a trend towards darker shades.
Shop 1930s style stockings online
When shopping for 1930s style stockings, choose nude, tan, taupe, or grey with matching back seam stockings or knee high stocking socks. Choose a medium to heavy weight for day use and lights sheers for evenings. In winter, I wear ice skating tights or knee high socks.
Although pantyhose were not invented yet, they are significantly easier to use. I also advise against fully fashioned stockings for the same reason. In the case of hosiery, comfort and ease trump authenticity in most cases.