brightly clocked diamonds

KGregoryA

Senior Member
Hello, everybody
I met a guy (in “NW” by Zadie Smith), who is dressed like this:

His dinner jacket was simple, elegant. A starched pink handkerchief peeked out of the top pocket and his socks were brightly clocked diamonds.

My imagination fails me, when I think of “brightly clocked diamonds”. Can you help me? What kind of socks did the guy wear?
Thanks in advance
 
  • S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    It's this definition of 'clock"
    clock2 (klok), n.
    1. a short embroidered or woven ornament on each side or on the outer side of a sock or stocking, extending from the ankle upward.
    If you google 'argyle socks' you'll see what the author means.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I don't think the term is much used (or understood) nowadays, in BE at least.

    I first came across it as a schoolgirl, in historical novels, where all the gentlemen sported "clocks" on their stockings to draw attention to their shapely ankles and calves. This was a cause of considerable puzzlement to me at the time.
     

    KGregoryA

    Senior Member
    I don't think the term is much used (or understood) nowadays, in BE at least.

    I first came across it as a schoolgirl, in historical novels, where all the gentlemen sported "clocks" on their stockings to draw attention to their shapely ankles and calves. This was a cause of considerable puzzlement to me at the time.
    Thanks it is a very valuable observation
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't think the term is much used (or understood) nowadays, in BE at least.

    I first came across it as a schoolgirl, in historical novels, where all the gentlemen sported "clocks" on their stockings to draw attention to their shapely ankles and calves. This was a cause of considerable puzzlement to me at the time.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup:
    I don't recall seeing it before this thread.
    Thank you for asking the question, KGregoryA!
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    I'd imagine that clocking on stockings has been dying out ever since men stopped wearing knee britches and started wearing long trousers; so sometime around the middle of the victorian era or so.
     

    S1m0n

    Senior Member
    English
    There's a famous story about the golden age actress Ingrid Bergman. The head of the studio of the film she was working on came to her to complain about the bills he was getting for expensive french silk lingerie she was ordering to wear under her gowns. "But Ingrid," he said, "no one will know you're wearing them." She fixed him with a steely eye and said "I vould (would) know."
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    what is the use wearing things that no one can see?
    A tantalising glimpse of ankle when a lady got into or out of a carriage must have been exciting for some onlookers. Then there was the pleasure gentlemen got from removing these fancy articles or watching them being removed.

    Hemlines went up and down at different periods. In the 19th century skirts were worn very long, but:
    Gently-bred ladies were meant to keep their ankles covered at all times, (though from my reading it seems that “accidentally” allowing a glimpse was a relatively innocent form of flirtation), and great care was taken to ensure this.
    Nineteenth Century Naughty Bits
     
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