a) The material?
b) The opacity?
c) The length?
d) The gender of the customer?
If you answered c, congratulations! The difference between a sock and a stocking does indeed come down to length. However, there’s still a lot more to know about socks, stockings, hosiery and other sock-related terminology.
To help you pull your socks up when it comes to knowing your clocks from your garters, the sock experts at Corgi have compiled a helpful glossary and guide.
These three nouns are often used interchangeably, however there are some key differences which you should know about.
Although stockings are more typically associated with female wearers today, men have worn stockings for centuries. Stockings differ from socks in length; while socks traditionally reached the mid-calf, stockings rose to cover the knee. In the past, the vogue for breeches left a great deal of lower leg exposed. This style required a covering such as stockings to protect the shins from the elements. As breeches fell out of favour and were replaced by long trousers, male stockings also became a thing of the past.
Hosiery, meanwhile, encompasses socks, stockings and any other undergarment worn on the legs. The etymology of the word is rooted in the Old English hosa, a word referring to leggings.
Do you know your clocks from your garters? These two old-fashioned terms relate to different areas of a sock.
Historically garters were a separate accessory, used to hold up men’s socks - just as they are used in women’s hosiery today. In the past men’s garters took the form of bands placed around the top of the sock to prevent it from falling down. Today, the garter of a sock refers to the elasticated band around the ankle that ensures they remain vertical.
Clocks, by contrast, are an aesthetic addition to a sock. Around 1000AD socks became fashion items as well as practical garments. To display their wealth and status the nobility would splash out on the finest knits, designs, colours and patterns. In the 1600s it became fashionable for the upper echelons to don socks featuring an ornamental design or figure on the side, near the ankle. This is known as a clock.
Use your new sock knowledge to source exceptional footwear. Browse the Corgi online store to discover hand linked socks in a plethora of shades, styles and designs.
Get 10% off your first order when you sign up for Corgi NewsSIGN UP