In the late 1960s I was a college student with a temporary Christmas job in the hosiery department at Stewart’s Department Store. My workspace was a square of glass-topped counters with storage space in the center and just enough room for me to walk around to any of the counters. Mid-thigh stockings held up by garters or garter belts were still popular although mini-skirt wearers wanted the new pantyhose.
The few men who came to the hosiery counter typically handed over a piece of paper on which the wife had written the brand, size, and number of pairs of stockings she would like to receive for Christmas. The men usually wanted to make the purchase and get away before being seen by anyone they knew.
One day a dapper older gentleman walked past my counter, glanced at the stockings on display and stopped to rub a stocking between his fingers. I had never before seen a man do that. The brand of stockings that caught the gentleman’s attention was not familiar to most Indiana shoppers. It was a Southern brand not carried by other retailers in our area. I not sold a single pair.
“I haven’t seen this brand in a long time,” the gentleman said when I approached. “These are my wife’s favorite kind of stockings.” He confidently selected colors. “This shade of forest green will be perfect with my wife’s new suit and I’ll take two pair of this china blue. She wears this color often.” He finished out his purchase with three pair in different shades of tan.
I was in awe of a man who knew his wife’s wardrobe and stocking preferences so well. The memory of that encounter remains with me half a century later.
For an interesting history of stockings see: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/50-Years-of-Pantyhose.html