Socks are created from a wide range of different materials. Materials are combined in the production of a sock in order to produce different textures, change elasticity, and increase softness. There are also specific sock material combinations specifically designed for sports, protecting against cold air, or to provide extra cushioning on the foot.
A Closer Look at Sock Materials
Cotton is the most popular sock material. Cotton provides the most cushioning out of all materials and absorbs perspiration the most effectively.
Nylon, first produced in 1939, helps give a sock its elasticity. Nylon and cotton can often be found as a material combination to produce a soft, stretchable sock.
Wool is a durable material best known for its heat-holding properties. Wool can most commonly be found as the main material used in winter socks.
Polyester is a fast drying and easy to maintain material. Polyester can be found in men’s dress socks. Usually polyester is used as reinforcement when blended with other materials.
Acrylic is a multipurpose sock material because it is easy to clean, it absorbs perspiration well, and it is soft.
Keep the Sweat Away
The purpose of a sock is to keep the foot dry throughout the day. The average foot has about 250,000 sweat glands. The average pair of feet give off about half a pint of perspiration per day. Socks absorb the sweat and move it to areas where air can draw the perspiration away. If socks aren’t worn, the moisture from perspiration becomes stagnant in the shoe, which causes fungus to grow and gives the foot a foul odor.
The Key to Comfort
Socks provide a barrier between the sole of the shoe and the foot. The fabrics in socks provide a cushion to the foot, which is imperative to those that are on their feet all day. Cotton and wool provide the most comfort in socks. It is imperative that a sock is not overly worn-out. Old socks lose their cushioning and absorption properties.
Don’t Have Cold Feet
In cold environments, socks help to retain/remove the moisture given off by one’s feet, decreasing the risk of frostbite. Socks also help to retain heat around the foot in cooler weather. Wool is most commonly used for making warm socks.
There have been all different types of socks throughout the course of history. Some of the earliest versions of socks were made of animal skins, which were held up by being tied around the ankles. The Ancient Greeks, in the 8th century BC, made socks from bunched-up animal hair. The Romans made socks from woven fabrics and leather. In the 5th century AD, holy people in Europe wore socks called “puttees” to symbolize purity. By AD 1000, socks became a symbol of wealth.
The Modern Sock
Socks were knitted by hand from materials such as silk, cotton and wool. In 1589, the knitting machine was invented, and revolutionized the sock production process. Knitting machines could make socks six times faster than knitting by hand. In 1800, knitting machines first became completely independent of human aid, which further increased the rate at which socks could be produced. Nylon started to become incorporated in the production of socks in 1939.
After the introduction of nylon, blending of two or more materials in the production of socks started to become more popular. Nylon and cotton socks, the most common material combination, helps provide comfort and elasticity. Including wool as one of the materials in a sock provides warmth. Silk is usually combined with nylon, making dressy socks.
We watched a news story on NBC’s Today show that raised the hair on the backs of our necks. They pulled in and interviewed an expert on Internet sales, Donna Rosato, from Money Magazine. She said that Internet sales are growing, and that last year clothing sales passed computer sales on the Internet. Whoop De Do! Then she stuck her foot in her mouth and stated that you would have a hard time finding drastic discounts on the Internet. Having an Internet store myself, I really don’t see any difference – a deal is a deal. Does she think that Internet businesses exchange trade secrets and make secret pacts with other Internet businesses so that we can conspire to charge higher prices compared to a traditional business or visa versa?
Black Socks – On the Road
Donna Rosato kept drilling in the point that when you order online, you have to pay postage. So I thought it would be a great exercise to comparison-shop socks in brick and mortar stores. My first stop was Walmart. I began by telling my wife where I was going, then went looking for the car keys. Luckily they were where I always leave them. I drove 4.6 miles to Walmart, searched for a parking place, parked the car and walked in. I rumbled around the store until I found the sock section. Wow, what a selection! All kinds of fashionable solutions, but all I want is a plain, black sock. I came across a deal, $8.88 for a five pack. They were thin nylon dress socks (which I hate), but our Black and White socks were still cheaper. I headed back to my car while pondering where to go next. The mall is about three miles from Walmart, but it was hot and I didn’t feel like going through the effort just to make a point. So I gave up. In fact, if I went through all that effort to drive to the mall, I just as soon would pay more for those lousy socks. When I backtracked to figure what I had spent, it broke down into workable numbers.
Breaking Down the True Cost of Black Socks
If I drove to Walmart and the mall to price socks, I would have driven roughly 15 miles round trip. The gas would have cost roughly two dollars. Wear and tear on the car would be roughly $7.20, according to the IRS allotment, and it would have taken me over an hour. The biggest pill to swallow is the time. You can compare prices on the Internet in minutes, if not seconds. The costs for shipping are made up in your personal time and the price of gas and transportation, and then some. Although I hear of Internet connection costs dropping every day I still keep hearing about the gas prices going up and up. Save the wear and tear on your socks and do your shopping on line, you’ll save in the long run and have a lot of extra time to spare.
The great conundrum that has challenged men for ages — how are you supposed to match your socks to your outfit? The rule of thumb for the past century has been that your socks should match the color of your pants as closely as possible. This was because of the illusion created of the pants continuing all the way down to the shoes. With the introduction of the leather belt came the matching of the socks to the belt. Black socks, shoes and a black belt paired with brown slacks became a classical combination.
Black Socks – The Staple of Formal Attire
With the majority of formal events, you cannot go wrong with black socks. Typically, you’re going to be wearing either black trousers, or black shoes. Black socks go with both of these. If you’re one who wears white suits to formal events, then let’s face it, you’re not going to be the person that needs to determine what color socks you need. For the rest of us who are more fashion-challeneged, most suits will go with black socks perfectly.
Colored Socks – The Clashing of the Titans
While fashion doesn’t have strict rules like Formula One and the Geneva Conventions, it does follow principles based on aesthetics. If you had a company party, and you were wearing black pants, white shirt, and a red tie, wearing red socks would not be a smart idea, unless it happened to be a Christmas party, or the cute girl from accounting had a thing for red socks.
The thing about colored socks, is that you have to be in tune with the rules of fashion aesthetics in order to wear them. Deviations from these rules could be catastrophic, similar to the ?white socks with sandals? fiasco that lingers in the back of all of our minds. If you want to start trying to incorporate colored socks into your wardrobe, a good guideline is to have your socks match your shirt, and your pants match your shoes. Again, it bears to be repeated that if you aren’t completely certain of what you’re doing, either get female sense into the picture, or stick with black socks, or the old tried and true, white socks.
White Socks – Tried and True
White socks have been the gold standard for tennis shoes for decades. Every child in the 1950s can remember his/her mother folding up their white crew socks and putting them in the sock drawer. Clorox made their fortune off of white socks, as they do to this day.
When are white socks appropriate? Basically, any situation that we haven’t covered already can handle white socks. White ankle socks are great with sneakers, especially for athletes. The white crew sock is wonderful for an all-around sock, whether you’re mowing lawns, or keeping the ankles warm on those chilly days. Once you get to the over-the-calf and higher sock, you’re getting into socks that will keep you warm, protected, and stylish.
At some point in your life, you’ll have a necessity for all varieties of socks, from black ankle socks to white crew socks to rainbow toe socks. (Nevermind, strike the last part, there’s never a need for rainbow toe socks in the world) In any case, by simply considering the colors of your outfit and the rules outlined above, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, you’ll be standing out in a dull crowd in no time.