Some may view fashion as frivolous, but clothes are an interesting reflection of what is happening within a culture. Studying what was fashionable can provide insight into the social norms of a particular era and tell us a lot about how women were viewed (and how they viewed themselves) in society. Throughout its history, hosiery responded both to the rise and fall of hemlines, sociological changes, and technological advances in both fiber and manufacturing. In many cases because these aspects are at play at the same time, it’s not always clear which was the strongest influence precipitating the changes.

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Photos excluding family snapshots courtesy of Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto, Canada.
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