Those who care too much about what they wear know that socks are the ultimate make or break item. When chosen perfectly, they exude an attention-to-detail that begets perfection. When dingy, hole-filled, or poorly chosen, they can ruin even the best outfit.
Yet, as crucial as it is, the perfect sock can sometimes be complicated to find. To start, who wants to break the bank on an item that mostly just gets seen by others in an inch-long flash from the top of your shoe to the bottom of your pant? And, what’s more, who wants to think too much about their socks?
The second question was a trick: It is imperative to think too much about socks. And, in the spirit of tracking down the best men’s hosiery the world has to offer, some of our staffers shared a selection of their favorites over a conference call.
These are the best socks, once and for all.
The Sock of Socks
Thom Bettirdge (Editor-in-Chief): Noah and Herbert, you guys both chose the Uniqlo as your favorite sock. Why?
Noah Thomas (Assistant Editor): I picked this sock because it can be sporty, but more importantly, it can be dressed up. And I personally think you know you have a good sock when you can wear it with a shoe and a trouser, as well as with a sneaker and some shorts.
Herbert Hofmann (Creative Director and Head of Buying): I like that these are affordable because I don’t get buying an expensive sock. Even with the best quality socks, you’re always going to have a hole somewhere. I’d rather spend four bucks on something that looks incredibly crisp, high quality, and classic.
A Designer Sock We Actually Like
Noah: I like the color of these, and the texture is great. Not too much stretch — it’s a sock that feels like wearing a sweater.
Thom: I find it interesting that socks have become the new designer diffusion item. Back in the day, if you wanted something from your favorite designer, but didn’t have a lot of cash, you’d buy a card case or a logo tee. Today, the designer sock is the new go-to for that. Socks, or pool slides.
The White T-Shirt of Socks
6-Pack Sport Sock
Polo Ralph Lauren
Noah: This is like the white tee of socks — like a crisp pair of Air Force 1s, or a Yankees fitted. It’s part of a uniform.
Thom: Do you think the fact that white socks are white, and that they can get old and dingy so easily, makes them feel crisper?
Noah: Yes. And that’s a paradox right there.
The Controversial Staple
Thom: How do we feel about black socks? Because some people are black sock evangelists, and some people find them blasphemous.
Noah: I'm for a black sock over a white sock. For me, I feel like there's really very, very few times you can really get a white sock off.
Thom: What about black Air Force 1s? Because those are equally controversial.
Haley Culp (Assistant Fashion Editor): Only if they’re high, then they’re definitely better than the white ones.
Noah: No way.
Thom: I think we’ve reached an agree-to-disagree moment right there.
“The New Shoe”
Haley: I picked these out because they’re fun and hypnotic, and I think it’s good to experiment with different patterns that bring attention to the shoe you’re wearing.
Herbert: The fact that these are called “Happy Socks” makes me so angry. But I actually just heard that this is one of the brands that’s had the craziest increase in sales during COVID. My idea about why this happens is that everyone is walking around at home, so you really wear out your socks much faster — plus it’s now the one piece that everyone sees if you have visitors.
Haley: Socks are the new shoe.
The Next Generation Sock
Noah: I might run these with a sick flip flop. That’s a look.
Herbert: Someone recently sent me a pair of socks with the five toes, and I was like, "You guys, I'm really not ready for this." Wearing those on the street takes a whole different level of confidence.
Noah: You’d have to be a guy who, like, only eats tree bark. Someone on a whole other playing field.
Thom: I feel like these socks are really doing a public service. Because you know that art-school kid who owns that one pair of Margiela Tabis is going hard in those at every single party of the year. And to do that without the right sock?
Noah: Tabis go through a lot, and your feet also go through a lot when you're trying to live that life.
The “Sound of Music” Sock
Thom: Herbert, for all the non-Germans out there, I think it’s important for you to explain what Manufactum is. It’s kind of a mix between Williams & Sonoma, Sharper Image, and where the witch from Hansel and Gretl buys her broomsticks.
Herbert: It’s basically a master shop that only sells German, Swiss, or Austrian-produced products. It’s very heritage, and everything there is perfect down to the last detail. It’s where you’d buy a bird whistle, or pipes for getting water out of the ground, or gardening supplies. And they also sell these amazing lambswool socks that I grew up with and which are kind of incredibly unsexy. But then a few years ago, I started seeing people wearing them with sandals. And the thing about wool is that it can be incredibly warm, but it can also cool you down. So you can wear them with sandals, but you can also tuck your jeans into them in winter.
The Final Boss
Thom: So this is a very special sock in my repertoire that I own a couple of different pairs of. It speaks to the reason why we all hate no-show socks — because they actually show, and what is there to be embarrassed about with showing your socks anyway? This sock is so proud of being an ankle sock that it hits you with fluorescence in that little area just to remind you. Plus the ankle on these is extra thick, so it’s a fun thing to wear and protect yourself while breaking in a pair of loafers. I love the way a technical sock looks with a leather shoe.
Haley: This might be an unpopular opinion, but I actually love the design and color combos of this. It’s actually well-thought-out.
Noah: It implies high technology.
Herbert: I don’t know. This sock would be the first time in my life where I’d tell a guy to take them off before sex.
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