Has anyone ever done more to popularize—and fetishize—thigh high stockings than Bettie Page? I think we all know the answer to that one: Hell no. Thigh highs (also known as stay-ups or hold-ups outside the United States) with garter belts are such a signature aspect of Bettie’s iconic look that it’s impossible to think of this style of hosiery without thinking immediately of Bettie. Between signature black bangs, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, that sly and sexy smile, and her world-famous curvy figure, it might seem hard for Bettie’s legs to compete for attention, but they most certainly do.
She also took care of the physical gifts a very benevolent creator bestowed upon her. In interviews later in life, Bettie said she spent several days a week toning her thighs and calves at a Manhattan gym. This was at a time when very few women would’ve been working out in public gyms; one more example of Bettie following the beat of her own drummer. In almost every photo of her, those strong, shapely stems work overtime to draw all eyes towards them. Pose after pose, Bettie arched her feet to accentuate the world’s sexiest gams, instinctively knowing how to magnify their appeal tenfold.
Photographers who worked with her always extolled the virtues of her work ethic, but also heaped praise on her natural instincts in front of the camera—they would often point their cameras and then let Bettie do her thing, because she had a knack for knowing what would work best for the shot. Standing just a shade over the average height for women at 5’5″ tall, Bettie sometimes managed to seem taller than that in photos. Certainly, her sky-high heels play a part, but for much of her modeling work she also wore thigh highs, which draw the eyes upward, creating the impression of longer legs.
Bettie famously said, “I never kept up with the fashions. I believed in wearing what I thought looked good on me.” From lingerie—which she designed and made herself—to stockings and heels, Bettie’s instincts were always on the money. During her camera club work days, she and her photographers knew that this style of hosiery would add an extra dose of devilish decadence to the photos and raise the prices they could charge for them too.
From doubled-over nylon welts with garter belts to rolled tops sans suspenders, from silky smooth stockings to fabulous fishnets—I’ve learned a lot doing research for these Bettie posts!—Bettie and her legendary legs rocked thigh highs like no one before, or since. The following gallery was actually put together late last year, but I’m finally getting around to posting it for public consumption! I went a little overboard with photos this time, but in my defense, it was impossible to nix any of them. Bettie is the Queen of Thigh High Stockings, after all, so there’s a seemingly endless bounty to share.
Without further delay, heeeeeeere’s Bettie…
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