Pair Of Stockings (France), early 19th century
Medium: silk Technique: knitted and embroidered Label: knitted silk, embroidered with silk. Bequest of Richard Cranch Greenleaf in memory of his mother, Adeline Emma Greenleaf. 1962-55-14-a,b.
What is this?
Pair of green knitted silk stockings with a red insertion at the ankle surrounded by embroidered decoration in pink and white.
Why is this important?
In the early eighteenth century, men of all social classes wore close-fitting knee-length breeches and stockings. The shaping of most stockings was accomplished by the insertion of triangular gussets (known as “clocks”) on both sides. The fashion for decorating clocks and areas bordering the clocks seems to have emerged during the reign of James I, and was eventually adopted by women as well as men. Generally, this decoration took the form of embroidery in contrasting thread on otherwise plain white silk stockings. Sometimes, as was the case with these green and red stockings, the decoration was much more elaborate. Plain or fancy, decoration of the clocks was clearly intended to draw attention to the wearer’s calf. By the 1770’s, this trend led some men to wear pads on the inside of their stockings to enhance the shape of their legs.