Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
To begin at the beginning - before the mid C16 most stockings were cut on the bias for neater fit from woven cloth. Then, early in her reign, Elizabeth I was given a pair of hand knitted silk stockings. From then on they became high fashion.
A History of Hand Knitting is now back in print. Interweave Press at http://www.interweave.com just republished the book. You can purchase it from them, through Amazon or your local bookstore.
How they were held up: men's garters were worn in plain sight, below the knee and above the calf.They are still worn thus, and referred to as "knee ties", by the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in London, as can be seen at http://www.hac.uk.com/pikemen_musketeers.htmThe HAC, granted a Charter by Henry VIII in 1537, was around in Sam's day and still flourishes.While the Company of Pikemen and Musketeers was only formed in 1925, it wears the uniforms and practices the drill of the mid-17th Century.
EARLY HISTORY OF SILK STOCKINGS
“April 30th 1560. Sir Thomas Gresham writes from Antwerp to Sir William Cecil, Elizabeth’s great minister, ‘I have written into Spain for silk hose both for you and my lady, your wife; to whom it may please you I may be remembered.’ These silk hose, of black colour, were accordingly soon after sent by Gresham to Cecil.
Hose were, up to the time of Henry VIII, made out of ordinary cloth: the king’s own were formed of yard-wide taffeta. It was only by chance that he might obtain a pair of silk hose from Spain. His son Edward VI received as a present from Sir Thomas Gresham—Stow speaks of it as a great present—’a pair of long Spanish silk stockings.’
For some years longer, silk stockings continued to be a great rarity. ‘In the second year of Queen Elizabeth,’ says Stow, ‘her silk woman, Mistress Montague, presented her Majesty with a pair of black knit silk stockings for a new-year’s gift; the which, after a few days wearing, pleased her Highness so well that she sent for Mistress Montague, and asked her where she had them, and if she could help her to any more; who answered, saying, “I made them very carefully, of purpose only for your Majesty, and seeing these please you so well, I will presently set more in hand.” “Do so,” quoth the Queen, “for indeed I like silk stockings so well, because they are pleasant, fine, and delicate, that henceforth I will wear no more cloth stockings.” And from that time to her death the Queen never wore cloth hose, but only silk stockings.’”
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