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Welcome back to our look at stockings through the ages, and which items from our catalog are best for recreating historical fashions. As I mentioned last time, our socks are pretty modern (even those knitted on antique machines, such as most of our DreaM Stockings collection), but some of them are far more convincing as historical garments than others. We’re here to tell you which ones!
In part 1 we left off right around the 18th century, which, to give you a bit of context, was mostly taken up by the Georgian era in England, and was also the Age of Enlightenment, leading up to the French and American Revolutions. The French and English cultures were particularly influential throughout Europe at this time, and their fashions came with them. This era marked a turning point in fashion history, with feminine clothing becoming more elaborate and ornamental than masculine clothing for the first time – a trend which continues to endure! However, women were still wearing floor-length dresses, which meant that men were the ones showing their stockings off, as knee-length, tight-fitting breeches were the style at the time. Both men and women of this era still had to use ribbons or buckling garters to keep their stockings up.
Fine gauge, machine-knitted stockings were a trademark of the upper classes at this time, as lower class people couldn’t afford them, meaning they typically wore hand-knit stockings made of wool. In England these working class wool stockings were typically light grey, which was the color of the sheep that the wool came from – this color was known as “blue” at the time, and is the origin of the term “bluestockings”, but that’s a subject we’ll get into at another time. Our O Woolies (which we mentioned in part 1 ) in grey are a good choice for this look, while the Solid Cotton OTKs are finely knitted and slinky enough to be a good stand-in for the fine stockings worn by the upper classes. The white variety would be accurate for almost any upper class personage, but if you’re doing reenactment as a particularly ostentatious character, consider going for one of the colorful options!
In addition to these basic options, there were some pretty fun stocking trends during the 18th century. Vertical stripes were in vogue, as well as “clocked” designs, which went up the side of the leg instead of the front or back.
The 19th century was a period of dramatic changes, due largely to the industrial revolution. In England this was the century of the Regency and Victorian eras, to give you a better idea of the aesthetics influencing much of the world at this time. The Regency era was also the first time dresses became short enough for stockings to be visible! Men’s fashion went in the opposite direction, with breeches or trousers now overlapping with their shoes and boots, so that stockings were hidden away (so sad!). Both men and women wore fancy stockings if they could afford it, though the vertical stripes that were all the rage in 1790 were dying out by 1800. White was considered the most fashionable color for stockings, as the ability to maintain clean white stockings was a marker of class. Lacy openwork stockings became a more decorative alternative for fancy occasions, though these were typically also white.
While the Victorian era brought a return of the extremely modest floor-length dress, it also brought some really fancy stockings in all sorts of patterns to hide under those dresses. Typically they were black, white or pastel in color, and some featured lace trim. At this time women were wearing corsets, which attached to garters to keep their stockings up. We don’t carry Victorian corsetry, but we do have a cincher from Rago with detachable garter straps, as well as Double Grip Clips, for attaching your stockings to whatever undergarments you might be wearing.
An awful lot happened in the 20th century, and the rate at which fashions changed really started to speed up. Gender roles were challenged and ankles were exposed! Join us next time for the exciting (and relatively scandalous) conclusion of our series on historical costuming.
Of all the colours, why did khaki get saved until October? Well, because it is the scariest! Not like, “oohooOOH, I’m Khaki and I will haunt you!” but oof, it’s a complicated colour that likes to defy both colour-editing and easy classification. So, more of a monster type (though it may haunt a colour namer’s nightmares).
In short, khaki is somewhere between tan and green. Where that “somewhere” is varies highly by supplier, though it tends on the side of tan.
Disclaimer time! I’m not trying to define khaki, just understand it. It’s far too subjective and colloquial to really pin down. Khaki is a slippery beast! I’ve done my best to accurately represent these hues in relation to each other, so you can gather a good idea of what matches and what doesn’t. And we’re going to go over some basics about the origin of this colour term (thanks to this helpful Wikipedia entry), so you can get an idea where khaki is coming from.
But before we get into all that, let’s see how our suppliers handle khaki.
With the widest range of interpretation, B.Ella takes khaki from dusty greenish to pinky tan all the way to a proper safari drab
Probably the most dedicated to the colour khaki, EG Smith also lands a bullseye for khaki ideals. There’s always a bit of dye and fiber batch variation between their three bootsock styles, but otherwise they nail it.
Another solid khaki though, like most of their colours, it’s used more often as a one part of a colourway, rather than the starring attraction.
Not many other brands dare to tread the path of khaki. And when they do it seems a little forced. To be fair, the Julia Over The Knee are technically called “Sage”, but we also add in their Additional Info that they run a bit khaki.
So, what is up with khaki anyway? Let’s corral this sneaky monster of a colour.
We Dreamers wear a lot of hats (and socks, of course), but one of our favorite jobs around here is helping customers find the perfect socks for cosplays and costumes. While finding a good color match for a cartoon character’s socks can be challenging, things get even harder when it comes to historical costuming. This probably has to do with the fact that these “costumes” are supposed to look and feel like real clothes that people actually wore, which means that things like fiber content and construction become a lot more important than they typically are for fictional characters. While our socks are generally a bit too modern to be truly historically accurate, we’ve got some helpful hints on styles that evoke the right qualities for historical reenactment!
O Basics in natural, worn under a full length skirt.
For much of European history, women wore full-length dresses, which meant that counter to contemporary trends, there was quite a bit more variety and decoration involved in men’s stockings than women’s. In fact, our recommendations for women’s stockings don’t change much between the Middle Ages and the 18th century; it’s how the stockings were worn that changed the most! During this time most women would have worn over-the-knee stockings, in wool, linen, or silk, depending on their class. Our O Woolies and O Basics (which are a cotton blend that serves as a decent stand-in for linen) make good choices for women who weren’t part of the upper classes at the time, and while we don’t have silk stockings for the aristocracy, the Zena Knee Socks from B. Ella are made from a fine, slinky viscose blend which mimics the look and feel of silk to good effect.
Of course elasticized fabrics weren’t invented until 1820, so earlier socks needed some help defying gravity! While all of the garters we sell are made from elastic for stretch, most early garters were just ribbons that tied under the cuff of the stockings, to hold them above the knees.
O Basics tied up with ribbon garters
Now, while women were busy wearing floor-length gowns, men wore relatively short tunics or doublets, with hose (similar to tights). This was the norm from the middle ages until the mid-16th century, when breeches became a more common addition, eventually leading to pants. During the medieval and renaissance eras, hose actually consisted of two separate legs, which tied or laced together at the waist, and were worn with a codpiece. Often the legs were two different colors, and the hose were typically made of wool.
Two half-pairs of Signature Cotton Tights, in rust and brown, all ready to be laced together.
As far as recreating this look goes, we suggest forgoing the authenticity of wool fibers, as our more finely-knitted cotton tights can be altered without unraveling. The Signature Cotton Tights or Solid Cotton Tights handle alterations well, and come in a nice variety colors, for fun with mismatched legs! We took two pairs of the Signature Cotton Tights and cut them up the seams, from gusset to waist, then trimmed the waistband off. After that you can either snip small eyelets along the top edge where the waistband was (but not too close!) for lacing together, or to a belt, or just cheat and use some Double Grip Clips to hold them together!
All laced up with a shoelace and ready for a codpiece (worn over leggings for modesty).
When breeches came into style, men traded in their hose for stockings. Early breeches came down to the knee to overlap the tops of the stockings, which were held up by buckled garters. The stockings themselves were not unlike the ones which women had been wearing for centuries at that point – they went over the knees and were typically made of wool, linen or silk. Most of the same options previously suggested for women will work here. The O Rayons are another good choice, and the mushroom and wheat colors are not only typical of historical stockings, they’re also made with rayon blended from flax, which is what linen is made of!
O Rayons in flax and mushroom
As the 17th century went on, men began wearing tall boots which were fitted in the leg, but loose on top. The stockings they wore with these boots had embroidered or lace-trimmed tops, which were made to fall over the top of the boot for added ornamentation. Lace was a popular decoration for men and women alike! This is one of the harder looks to recreate from our catalog, but we have a couple of ways of making it happen. The easiest thing is to choose one of our taller lace-topped styles (many of which are sheer thigh highs, but as long as they don’t have grips on the inside, those should work fine) and arrange them in the boot so that only the lace part is visible, cuffed down over the exterior of the boot. A more difficult, but also more authentic version of this would be to take a sock that is fitted in the leg but loose in the tops, like our M45s, and add your own lace trim or embroidery to the tops so they can flop over the boots to reveal the flourish.
The world of hosiery didn’t change an awful lot during the 18th century, but it did mark the first time in European fashion that feminine clothes became more elaborate than their masculine counterparts. This trend of women’s attire being more decorative than their masculine equivalents’ carried on into the regency era and beyond… and that is when the world of hosiery started to get really exciting!
Join us in part 2, where we will make our way through the advances of the 18th and 19th centuries! Huge strides in technology will be made, and hosiery options galore will become available as we make our journey towards the present!
You’ve probably heard the superstitions about black cats, walking under ladders, and breaking mirrors. We even did a sock journal with some of our favorite common superstitions. But did you know that there are also many superstitions about socks and stockings?
Sports stars are particularly superstitious when it comes to socks. For example, tennis player Serena Williams will reportedly wear the same pair of socks for the duration of a tournament run. NBA star Jason Terry is said to wear five pairs of socks during games to increase his luck. Manchester United footballer Phil Jones admits to either putting on his right or left sock first, depending on whether he is playing a home or away game. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has claimed that his $300 pair of socks helped his team win their last Superbowl. Now, while we don’t carry any socks that will cost you $300, we do carry sporty socks that are worthy of obsessive wear.
Not all of the world’s superstitions about socks revolve around sports. It has long been held that putting your left sock on first will bring you good luck. It was also considered lucky to accidentally put on a sock inside out. The same holds true for unintentionally wearing mismatched socks. In both cases one was supposed keep the socks as they were to reap the full benefit. Here are some of our favorite socks for good luck.
Socks were also connected with certain portents or omens. It was believed that if you put your toes into the heel of the sock, an important letter was on its way. If your socks fell down to your ankles it meant that a lover was thinking of you. If two holes wore in your sock within the same week it was a sign that you would soon receive a gift. You could expect future happiness or a new love if your socks curled while hanging to dry. You were also supposed to dream of your future spouse if you put your left sock into your right sock before going to sleep.
There are plenty of myths about socks and health. It was long held that wearing a stocking wrapped around your neck as you slept would cure a sore throat. Another belief was that placing a sock on the chest of a pregnant woman would help bring about an easy birth. To this day, many people hold that wearing wet woolen socks to bed can reduce a fever. Now while we recommend seeing a doctor for these things, we can also recommend these terrific socks made with wool.
Of course, these may all just be old wives tales. But if you are looking for a little good luck, or a portent of love and happiness, then socks might be just the thing. Hey, it’s always worth a try.
September 23rd, 2015
It’s officially Autumn, one of the most beautiful times of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the season of thick sweaters, pumpkin spiced everything, and falling leaves—not falling socks. Don’t get us wrong, sometimes you want the slouchy look, but not always. When it comes to keeping your socks all the way up, you have three choices: sock glue, garter belts, and sock garters.
For your thicker socks, like Dreamer Socks and Dream Stockings, you’re going to need a garter belt with a little more muscle and less glam. Our Suspender Clip Industrial Garter Belt along with its button-tab cousin the Industrial Garter Belt are the workhorses of garter belts. For a great explanation of the difference between the two types of clips, check out “What is a Garter Clip? Initially designed for hockey players to keep their many layers in place, these styles will keep even the most stubborn of socks from slipping down. If you like the garter belt look, but don’t want to deal with the whole belt, we also have Double Grip Clips, which clip onto your socks on one end, and your shirttails or pocket lining on the other. Choose any of these for medium to heavy weight socks, like EG Smith Thigh Highs, Extraordinaries, and Long Cuffable Scrunchable Socks.
If it’s not quite thick sock weather where you are, we have a whole range of lighter garter belts to choose from. Our newest brand from England, Miss Naughty, boasts a large range of sizes and a really comfy fit. And we still have your old favorites from Rago, which are a happy medium between function and frill. The smaller button-tab clips on these are appropriate for sheer to light weight socks, like Sheer Curvy Stockings or Solid Opaque Thigh Highs.
A good portion of our sock garters also come in either suspender clips or button-tab closures, while others have no clips at all! Sock garters with clips are worn around the calf or thigh, and clip onto your socks. We have a bunch of our own styles, including Classic Sock Garters and Sock Garters with Suspender Clips. We use comfy wide elastic that is adjustable to your comfort and closes with a flat hook and eye. Revivall Clothing is one of our newer brands, and they have a different take on the traditional sock garter. Where ours have two garter attachments on either side of the elastic band, theirs feature one button tab garter right in front of the adjustable buckle for a different look that is quite chic.
These next sock garters are clipless, and go around the cuff of the sock to keep it in place. Our line of Simply Adjustable Sock Garters have the same elastic, sliding adjustment, and hook and eye as the Classics above. Our Buttoned Garters are handmade in small batches right here at Sock Dreams HQ. Since the elastic band features button holes every inch or so, you can really customize your fit. For a more embellished look, check out Snappy Garters. Handmade in the USA by our good friend Shelly, these garters feature fun buttons and baubles for a unique look.
If garters just aren’t your thing, It Stays! Body Adhesive is a great alternative. This stuff is so fantastic that Brenna and Rosalind previously wrote about it and demonstrated its use in “Sock Glue!”
We hope you enjoy the cooler weather, and all the cozy socks that come with it! If you have any more questions on which garter belts will fit, or will work with a certain pair of socks, please Contact Us and our Dreamers will be happy to answer your questions.