In the grand scheme of life, buying socks certainly isn’t among the most exciting and glamorous of things. Unless you love buying socks, that is.
Then again, all good things require some effort and finding the right pair of socks for you is no different. So, instead of grabbing the first multi-sock pack you see, consider the following tips:
The material of your sock has a significant impact on its comfortably and performance. There’s no shortage of materials used to make socks, including cotton, wool, nylon, polyester, silk, cashmere, and so on.
- Cotton is comfortable and absorbent, which makes it great for soaking up the sweat from the skin. However, cotton doesn’t allow wetness to evaporate quickly. Cotton socks are excellent for short bouts of intense activity, such as a gym workout.
- Wool breathes easily (than cotton, that is) and allows wetness to evaporate. It also offers plenty of warmth in cold conditions. Wool is bulky, however, and like cotton, it doesn’t wick moisture away from the body quickly.
- Synthetic materials such as polyester and acrylic – and others – are thinner than cotton and wool and often blended with other fibers to encourage wicking.
- Silk socks will serve you well at a black tie and more formal outings, but are more expensive than other types of socks and won’t last as long as cotton or wool socks.
Socks come in a wide variety of types and these days you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a sock that fits your need. Some of the types include:
ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE SOCKS
Athletic performance socks include the simple cotton tube sock to low-cut running socks with sweat-wicking properties. You’ll even find a skiing sock that wicks moisture and traps in heat. The bottom line is that athletic-performance socks provide comfort while increasing performance during athletic activities.
No-show socks are socks that “hide” in the soles of your shoes while leaving your ankle bare. The bare-ankle look is fairly popular these days, and many sock experts believe that no-show socks are the most acceptable option when wearing shorts. However, don’t wear them with sandals, high-tops, or boots.
Dress socks come in a wide variety of materials and meant worn with a suit or nice casual clothes. They also come in just about every color you can think of, although it’s best to stick with darker colors when wearing more formal clothes.
Note: Never, ever wear dress socks with shorts – unless you want to look like that weird uncle who shows up at every family reunion.
MID-CALF (CREW) SOCKS
Ah, mid-calf socks. You should have a drawer full of them because they’re considered the “workhorse” socks for modern men. They look good with sneakers, loafers, dress shoes, and just about everything else. Moreover, they come in a thousand (well, maybe not a thousand) colors and materials.
If you really, really have to have a pair of over-the-calf socks, you’re going to need some luck finding. Few retailers carry them these days and the style is, ahem, a bit outdated.
Note: If you think wearing dress socks with shorts is a no-no, don’t even think of wearing over-the-calf socks with them. Even the weird relative with dress socks and shorts makes fun of the over-the-calf sock guy in shorts.
Not to be confused with no-show socks, ankle socks sit just below the ankle and protect your heels and ankles from chafing.
3. SIZE & FIT
Like with any footwear, finding the right fit is essential when choosing socks. Keep in mind that most socks aren’t sized like shoes – although you may find more expensive socks that are – but a
“Medium” sock typically fits up to a size 12 in American shoe sizes. Anything above that requires a “Large,” while “Big and Tall” is appropriate for men with long or wide feet.
Also, make sure you consider the thickness of the sock and the type of shoe with which it’s worn. For example, a wool sock is very comfortable in shoes that are a touch too big, and provide an extra bit of padding, but not so good with a shoes that’s already a bit tight.
Traditionally, the more formal sock, the slimmer it should be, although that’s not quite as crucial today.
Even the most well-crafted sock looks out of place if its color doesn’t fit with your clothes. Your primary goal is to blend your sock neatly and unobtrusively into your outfit and dress like a man. If the situation calls for something a bit louder, so be it.
If you want to play it safe, the color of your socks should match the color of your pants. If you prefer brighter, bolder colors, make sure that the sock has some color that matches a part of your wardrobe.
A good fall-back option for business attire is to match the color of your socks with the color of your shoes.