As you may remember, the nation’s mobilization for World War II meant temporary shortages, if not outright disappearance, of popular household goods. With nylon diverted to parachutes instead of hosiery, textile mills resorted to alternative fibers like rayon. Unfortunately, rayon is less than ideal for stockings and such:
The durability and appearance retention of regular viscose rayon are low, especially when wet; also, rayon has the lowest elastic recovery of any fiber.
Once in a great while, a manufacturer would actually admit to this:
Says the lovely Susann Shaw:
“You’ve just got to treat Rayon Stockings with extra kindness the moment they get their feet wet! The same Rayons that wear beautifully when dry, are apt to go to pieces if handled roughly in water … obey all washing rules. And don’t ever, EVER put on your Rayons till they’ve had at least 36 hours to dry.”
Miss Shaw herself held up pretty well. This shoot was done in 1942; she died in 2009 at the age of 90.