Of all the things that could be used to replicate nylon stockings, gravy juice seems like a strange option.
But this was indeed a real practice during the World War II, thanks to the stocking shortage that threatened the monotone panache of ‘40s American woman. Mashable on the nylon scarcity:
Nearly 4 million pairs could be bought in a single day in 1939.
Then, due to the war, valuable resources and labor were redirected away from civilian production to provide equipment for the armed forces.
In the U.S., nylon manufacturer DuPont retooled factories to produce nylon parachutes, cords and rope, instead of stockings. Soon, a stockings black market flourished.
Amid the widespread war rations, women felt the need to keep up appearances—or rather, were “encouraged” via advertising to find new ways to solve their minor wardrobe crisis. Forced innovation thus birthed the well-known practice of women having their legs painted to mimic stockings and using makeup to draw faux seams.
And yeah, gravy juice also became a quick fix. Gravy stockings.
Wartime propaganda machine instructed women not abandon standards of dress (this might be bad for morale). “Make Do and Mend” became the motto. When mending old stockings failed, women actually painted dark stripes up the backs of their legs to mimic stocking seams. Gravy browning was a popular paint. This wartime look was termed “Glamor Hose.”
Glamor Hose also sounds like the name of a Lady Gaga single.
Image via Getty, taken in 1940, shows a beautician painting a seam on a woman’s legs during the WWII shortage.