For most of us, sock purchasing is an inconsequential afterthought. Either a pair catches our eye or we grab a bargain six-pack on our way to check out. But the reality is just the opposite. Not all socks are created equal, and their differences can have an impact on you, the wearer. Sock length, yarn content, and knitting execution need to be considered before buying because the wrong sock can lead to smelly feet, calloused heels and possibly fungi, bacterial infections (like athlete’s foot), and other skin infections. Oh, oh… hope this didn’t knock your socks off!
Argument for always wearing socks
Our feet have more sweat glands than any other part of our body (over 250,000 for the pair). Specifically, these glands are tiny eccrine sweat glands, and their function is to stabilize your body temperature. They do this by primarily secreting water containing electrolytes to the foot’s surface when temperatures rise. Several sources claim our two feet on average produce a cup of sweat each day! Wearing socks helps to absorb this water. Without socks, this water goes into your shoes which is the major contributor to shoe odor.
There are other reasons, besides absorption, for wearing socks every day. They are a layer of fabric separating your shoes from your feet. This layer helps to keep your feet warm and dry. Wearing socks means that any boot or shoe friction is against your sock instead of your skin which helps to prevent blisters and chafing. Depending on their thickness and knit, socks also create cushiony comfort to soothe our every step. And here’s an interesting fact I came across; do you or someone you know have neuropathy or diabetes? Well, wearing white socks during the day, then inspecting them after each use provides the quickest warning signs of potential injury and abnormalities.
Sock Fabric Content Deconstructed
When choosing socks, their yarn content is important. Most socks are made using a blend of different materials. Here’s a quick primer on what to look for and look out for.
There is no such thing as 100% cotton socks. That’s right. A truly 100% cotton-made sock would have no elasticity, would need to be knit really wide to get over your heel, and then would never stay up. Your tag probably said “100% pure cotton” and this labeling simply means that the cotton used in your sock is 100% pure cotton – a tricky marketing trick. But the #1 fiber used in making socks is cotton because of its breathability, absorbency, and light weight. (See my Tomima Talk on Cotton.)
Nylon or polyamide is frequently added with cotton to give socks more strength, elasticity, and most of all softness. The addition of polyester will give socks resilience to withstand a lot of wear and tear and dry quickly. However, a 100% polyester sock does not breathe well.
Wool is the second most used material for manufacturing socks. Wool socks are great insulators while being breathable, which causes quick evaporation to keep feet dry. And wool is more durable than cotton. This is why wool socks are so popular for hiking and other adventure activities.
Luxurious cashmere comes from the cashmere goat known for its soft, lightweight, and silky hair. Cashmere has all the benefits of wool, but with a lighter softer weight. If you wish to spoil someone this holiday season, a pair of cashmere socks (we have men’s cashmere socks too) will do the trick!
Rayon or modal is a fiber made from beech trees. This fiber has a lovely sheen, feels silky smooth, and holds color. It is actually more absorbent than cotton. So, a great choice for humid climates. However, rayon loses strength when wet, while cotton remains strong.
What Socks to Wear with What
I personally have drawers full of socks, but always have a bit of a struggle when it comes time to selecting the right pair. So, with my feet as their model, my sock buying team pulled me into our photo studio last week and educated me on what socks to wear with pants, leggings, jeans, and skirts along with the various shoes and boots we all have in our closets. There were several “ah-ha” moments for me, and at the end of the shoot, I got caught slinking away with several of the samples.
Wolford Ankle Socks
Wolford Ankle Socks
Hue Slingback Liner
One of the pairs I walked off with were these adorable Wolford hosiery ankle socks that I’m wearing with a skirt and then with pants. They are a modern and chic way to update traditional pumps and loafers while having a barrier to protect your feet.
Take a close look at this toe cover. An absolutely brilliant design by Hue, these perfectly bare slingback liners completely stay on your toes thanks to clear and shine-free elastic that hooks on to your heel. A great solution for sling-back shoes or shoes with a low-cut side.
Falke Crew Socks
Falke Sensitive London Cotton Sock
Ankle boots should be worn with a sock tall enough to protect your legs from the upper edge of the boot. These Falke cotton stretch crew socks with a light pressure band on top were perfect. They boast optimal durability thanks to reinforced stress zones.
When wearing skinny jeans with boots, you should pull on your jeans first, then layer a looser sock over your jeans that is shorter than the top of your boots. This Falke sensitive cotton sock is perfect because it has a patented non-constricting, no pressure top band that keeps the sock up without binding, and a flat whipped seam for pressure-free toes.
Thigh-high boots need a thin, but tall sock that’s slightly shorter. This Hue flat-knit knee-high 3-pack is the perfect solution.
Hue Boot Socks
Ugg Boot Socks
These cotton booties are the perfect solution for my gardening boots. Latex-free and actually made with100% organic cotton, these booties are the perfect liner with zero constriction. They are by Cottonique – a brand dedicated to creating allergen-free products.
Fun, slouchy socks with a pop of color should be worn to peek out over the top of military boots. These Hue supersoft marled boot socks come in several colors and are super cozy.
A tall, chunky sock slouched down like these mid-weight, Ugg tweed-ribbed boot socks are perfect under snow and rain boots like Hunter and Sorel.
Falke Sneaker Sock
Ralph Lauren Active Socks
Sneakers can be worn with no-show or low-cut socks that reveal a pop of color at the ankle. These Falke invisible sneaker socks with their slip-proof, silicone gripper technology absolutely stay on your heels without slipping. And the soft edge creates a pressure-free fit on your foot.
Ralph Lauren makes fun six-packs of active socks that come in seven color groupings from simple to bright and fun.
Ralph Lauren Snowflake Bootie
Ugg fleece-lined Pom Pom
Stockings as stocking stuffers! I couldn’t resist these holiday booties! They come in both red and black options. And, for the dancer in all of us, take a break after a Zoom call and twirl around in these adorable Ugg Pom Pom fleece-lined crew socks – no one will be looking…
A Pitch for the Sock Brand Falke
Several of our socks featured above are from the German Falke brand. Photos simply do not show how amazing they feel and perform. Family-owned for 125 years and only made in Europe, Falke has amazing quality craftsmanship and innovation. Their socks have been meticulously architected to an art form. They own the yarn company, so have spent years refining the perfect yarn for socks. Falke is the only sock company that has invested in different-sized knitting machines that can make uniquely shaped socks for men versus women. They know the foot shape of women and men are very different. Their socks are also knit snugger around the arch area to keep them in place and hug your arch. The Falke toe closures are hand-linked to eliminate the toe seam. Some of their socks actually have a left and right – just like a set of gloves. Falke has also figured out how to stop heel slippage. Mentioned in their no-show socks above, their anatomically shaped heel and special anti-slip system in the heel area guarantees a perfect hold. All these refined details add up to an amazing quality product that fits fantastic and lasts for many years. If you have a sock lover on your Holiday list – man or woman, Falke products are the perfect gift.
Starting tomorrow (but marked down today) my buyers were able to get exclusive permission to mark down basic bra colors – black, nude, and white – in popular styles from Le Mystere, Elomi, Goddess, Chantelle, and others. But, you are being told first! So, if you wear basic colors, here’s your chance to buy them on sale while supplies last. Come quick!
Tomima Founder & CEO