Monday, January 7, 2013

Kayser Nylons (1947-1948)

Good morning!

Monday morning, Monday morning...and phew! I wasn't sure I would get here! The estate sale listings have been nothing to get hyped about lately, so I spent Saturday trudging around some junk shops with my dad, and we did find some pretty grand stuff, but as usual, I have neglected to photograph it. Bah! What kind of a blogger am I? I'll have to show you my spoils of war sometime later this week-- today, up on the block, I was nosing around some late forties' Life magazines on Google books, and didn't these ladies and their mile long gams give me pause for thought!

Kayser, as you can see in the bar at the bottom of the page, was a fine manufacturer of "hosiery, gloves, underthings, and lingerie". I'm almost positive I have at least one slip or at least one nightgown of their make, because doesn't this tiny little tag look familiar to me (answer: yes)! What struck me about these advertising spots was the zip and zing of the text, and the forties' Harper's Bazaar, yet bizarrely whimsical nature of the illustrations. As a staunch, every-single-day wearer of black tights in colder weather, I marvel at the thought of hosiery to "fit all proportions", and wonder if the "Longs" designation of the line really means "L-O-N-G". I also quail at the thought of trying to decide what "sketch book hosiery color" to choose-- again, I stick with Edie Sedgwick opaque black like they were paying me to do so.

I was recently reading Sybil Exposed, an investigative report into the real story of the famous multiple personalities case study, and was struck by a comment about the extreme poverty the case study subject fell upon at one time, illustrated by a unique to the mid century dilemma. When asked about her reclusiveness, the girl admitted to not being able to go out in public because she didn't have a single pair of stockings that weren't in complete disrepair, and I was thinking "What? Seriously?". However, not owning a single pair of black pants (I haaaaaaate shopping for paaaaants, too tall and too bizarrely proportioned on all counts), and only two pairs of jeans (which are against library employee dress code in the Reference didn't know we were that swank, did ya!), I have actually had the dilemma on a fall or winter day of "Um...I wonder if I wear a long skirt and boots if people won't notice I've completely run out of tights". Think of how important and influential a commercial presence the stocking and gloves industry was for years and years and years, only to run aground as women's clothing habits went much more casual. Crazy!

This one on the left may be my favorite...a giraffe of a lady rides an actual giraffe! "Are you tall, too? Then Kayser has the perfect fit for you! And if you're very short and small- or any other size at all- Kayser has your size too!" reads the singsongy accompanying text. I personally love, if you want to click and close up on the insets, the pointing finger at the arch and heel of the foot illustration, and the diagram of many different kinds of legs. It's interesting how far we've come from custom fits to semi-custom fits to "What do you mean your calf measurement is not proportionate to your foot measurement? You're just going to have to try and squeeze into these completely not-fitting fitted items". These advertised hosiery items come in five length varieties and sizes "8 1/2 to 11". I have no idea what this corresponds to in modern sizes, but I'm sure it would have to be somewhat more scientific than "Queen Queen" or "Semi Queen" or "Single Queen" names of current tights sizing.

This is a particularly cute illustration, and how I love that the plus size isn't called "husky" or "big girl" or anything else demeaning, but bears the charming description "Outsizes-- too-- for girls who grew and grew!". Can't quite put my finger on whether or not that's meant to be an inflammatory remark, but you get the gist. "You owe it to your audience" is what I say in the morning to my reflection as I wing-out my eyeliner to well past my eyebrow's end.

A) Poppa Bear is like "WHO IN THE...WHAT IS HAPPENING." on the left hand side, as a fifties' Bardot-legged Goldilocks stages a bear home invasion, and at right, THE STORY OF MY LIFE. I can't count on both hands the number of times I have had a pair of tights ruined by usually a hopping-dog. There's just enough time to realize they're going to jump at your legs before their tiny little razor sharp toenails shred my delicate hosiery. The agony! The agony.

And last but not least, here's the color swatch selection I was telling you about. More exciting that "nude" or "suntan", and yet very confusing for offering shades such as " exciting taupe" (the first and last time that color was described as exciting) and "charcoal...a naughty off black" (NOW we're talking). Isn't the bunny at the right adorable? There were tons more gloves ads, but they were pretty tame in comparison to the can can girl length skirts on these illustrated models to show off the hosiery.

Don't you wish more advertisements had the wistful charm of these semi-sexy vintage ads? How do you stand on the hosiery issue-- are you bare legs all the way, a pants wearer, or do you hose-up every morning before leaving the house? Which one of these ads gets your "Miss Personality" vote in terms of content?

Hope you guys had a killer weekend-- did you have any better luck at the sales? Let a girl know!

That's all for today, and I'll see you right back here tomorrow!


  1. All of these ads are completely wonderful! I do wish advertisements were as cute now. I try to go with stockings or ghts whenever I can. Since I have so much physical stuff at work I can't really wear stockings ( darn it) but tights often make an appearance when I still want to dress in skirts and dresses.


    1. I saw the mermaid one first and went "This begs further investigation!". I've never tried skin-tone stockings, but if I can stay away from snagging book carts and my own running-into-desks at work, it might be doable... I'm chicken, though! Tights for the win!

  2. Oh, stockings. I actually used to wear a garter belt/stocking combination when I worked in academia. Seems like ages and ages ago! Now I'm not sure if I could be bothered... Vintage clothing sure required a lot of underpinnings! Love the adorable ads.

    1. Now that's the whole nine yards! That is so cool. I haven't tried either of those; again, just tights and maybe weird pantyhose one time at some formal family event or the other in middle school. They sound so elegant/sexy to wear, yet remain mysterious to me!



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