Crazylegs Hirsch earned his name two decades ago by dazzling football fans with his improbable moves in enemy territory. This fall, crazy legs are back again—but on girls. Gaily patterned stockings are decorating trim ankles and young women's preference seems to be "the wilder the better." Moreover, women who spend long hours outdoors in active and spectator sport have found a way to brave bitter weather without sacrificing style.
Patterned stockings are not innovations—they have been worn from the Gay Nineties to the Roaring Twenties and from the Folies-Berg�re to the Scottish moors. This time they may be here to stay. In France at the Dior Boutique, wool-jersey striped stockings are matched to sweaters while the Italians use hand-knitted stockings as accessories to tweed suits. Once-conservative English girls are now wearing lace hose or Beatle-and guitar-patterned stockings made by England's Ballito Mills. In America more than 200 hosiery mills are busily replacing the knitting needle with fancy looms that produce stockings in intricate designs such as Argyle, patchwork, herringbone, houndstooth, diamond, cable links and stripes.
For zero temperatures Beautiful Bryans have made insulated Thermotards. The fabric was developed in 1951 by Gehring Textiles, Inc. and the U.S. Navy. Cotton was woven with tiny pockets to trap body heat on the inside and repel cold air from the outside. While the Navy still uses thermal fabric in white only, civilians have a choice of nine colors. Thermotards are styled after dancers' tights and include stretch nylon for smoother fit. They cost $5.
The Adler hosiery firm in Cincinnati has been making sport socks for men since 1865. This year they fed their men's hunting-sock knitting machines with soft mohair and Orion instead of heavy wool, producing a fluffy, ribbed women's knee sock with the look of a hand-knit wool. It comes in six colors and costs $3.
Another Adler stitch is named Scandia. The pattern from which it was developed is Norwegian and is in wide use there as a decorative device. Made in knee length, they are available in beige and black as well as sky-blue, chocolate brown, bottle green, fiery red and an orange-gold color called Tabasco. The socks cost $2.
On a trip to Ireland last year to study Erin Isle knitting patterns, Adler's designer Denis Davis found exactly what he was looking for. He made the acquaintance of an 84-year-old Galway woman who had on handmade unbleached wool stockings. He eventually purchased the stockings, and they are now being produced on looms in the same oatmeal color. Made of 75% wool and 25% stretch nylon, they retail for $5.
Bonnie Doon's Irish stockings are hand-knitted on the western coast of Ireland by local fishermen's wives. Made of heavy-ply unbleached wool, they are practical and warm and can be worn with knickers for skiing or hunting and with sweater and skirt for ordinary outdoor activities ($25).
For those who prefer the hounds-tooth checks on their legs there are full-length Orion and Lycra stretch (one size) hounds-tooth patterned stockings that come in black mixed with gold, ivory, red or blue. They are made by Bonnie Doon ($3).
The woolly knee-high sock attached to its own six eyelet, tie bicycle shoe ($5) is a favorite stocking on college campuses this fall. Someforward-looking hosiery designers predict that the day is not far off when everyone will buy his (or her) socks with leather soles or attached to shoes. Today's stockinged shoes are available in five sizes as well as six-color combinations: black with white calf shoes, white with black, and navy with red shoes, camel with fawn, charcoal with black, and olive with loden. The modish shoe-sock combination costs $5 and is manufactured by Adler.