A question for the ladies about the correct leg coverings for a ball gown

Dave Hull

Sergeant Major
Jul 28, 2011
Northern Virginia
This will sound like a real bone head question, I only understand about half of what my wife is talking about. She took her mom back down to WV for a visit before her next Cancer follow up visit. She also took with her, her 3/4 complete ball gown she started about two weeks ago, under garments, which by the sound of it is somewhere in the area of one hundred pieces, at least to me anyway.

So she is down there sewing like a mad woman and asked me to ask if anyone knows what the proper period correct leg coverings would be with a gown. Being a dolt when it comes to ladies fashion, I can only assume she is talking about socks or stockings.

Can any of you help out an old Neanderthal?

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Jul 21, 2011
New Mexico
Have been researching women's clothing of the period, but only for a few months, so I'm not an expert.

Stockings are probably what she means, but when she says "leg coverings" may mean both stockings and drawers.

What I've learned that is relevant of stockings:
- most stockings were white or black, made of mercerized cotton or wool
- they rose to just above or just below the knee, and were held in place by gaiters
- many of the gaiters sold now are incorrect (lace or other trim, thin elastic bands like hair bands, etc.); a more correct, comfortable and easy alternative is to simply sew together the ends of .75" white elastic, sized to your wife's leg where she wishes (above or below knee); the top of the stocking folds over and covers the gaiter
- for balls, etc., stockings were sometimes "opaque or with fancy open work" (from Christen)
- the purpose of stockings was both for warmth and for modesty

References (all on-line, just don't have links)
-Elizabeth Stuart Clark, 2010 Full Wardrobe
-Fanny and Vera, Ladies Undergarments
-Glenna Jo Christen, Dressed for the War: Footwear
-Abraham's Lady, Educational Guide

Hope this helps, Dave, and Mrs.

And experts, please correct my errors. Thanks!

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