Socks are famously a Christmas present for men. Along with, or instead of, a Boots gift box of Old Spice or similar aftershave. Shelf Appeal like socks, pictures of socks and packaging with pictures of socks on it, like this box.
A grand and colourful 1930s gift box for Tenova Socks (they stay up!) it is of a size that would indicate there would have been more than one pair inside. The lovely repeat pattern all over the box is not too overtly Chrismassy, there are no santas or reindeers to be seen – just small stars throughout the pattern. It’s masculine but not sentimental.
The ‘staying up’ refers to a built-in band of lastex (thread containing a core of latex) around the top of each sock, which would have, in theory, prevented slippage. The ‘self-supporting’ benefit means less to us these days, when sock suspenders, or garters, are almost obsolete. The odd looking cut-out shape visible at the top of the sock apparently helped keep legs cooler in hot climates. Cool in two senses of the word then.
A smart gentleman would never want an unkempt sock profile peeping out when he sat down. And a man who surely never wanted to expose a weakness like wrinkly ankles was Winston Churchill, a Tenova customer who had his personal secretary order them from Austin Reed. The internet reveals another eminent Tenova-wearing gent in Lord Louis Mountbatten, in the odd form of a framed pair of Tenova socks he allegedly wore. The socks, in reality, are rather ugly. The whole elastic upper part is rather utilitarian and best hidden.
Inside this box there is still a piece of the original lining paper. It is a deep cream tissue paper with a raised cobweb pattern all over. And it would have crinkled nicely on Christmas morning when being pulled back to real the woolen goodies underneath.