One snowy winter my father decided he’d had enough of my grandpa’s rules. Being all of 14 years old, he decided to rebel, and my grandpap led this little horse to water and was going to let him drink. As a matter of fact, “he’d” be on all fours.
He said, “Son, if you think you can beat me in a fight you can run the entire house.” I wasn’t born into a family of smart people. On wintry ice they squared off, youth staring down into the eyeballs of a mean old man. My father gave it an “all you got” punch and slid ungracefully onto the ice, falling upon his hands and knees. This is where granpappy launched a hard leather shoe into my dad’s rectum.
I wasn’t born into a family of nice people either. My grandpappy told him to get up but he lay on the ground making fetal shaped snow angels. My father told me he couldn’t walk for a week. Lesson learned. When a man has four crazy sons, his patience runs dry, so he unleashes hell even on the littlest wild one. That story reminded me to tell you about dress shoes but we’ll cover that in our next article. Right now I want to steer you toward dress socks and what makes most sense for a gunslinging bad boy to use with a sharp suit.
We all know that our feet sweat. A good sock will help absorb the sweat and distribute the perspiration out of the material and into the air where it can evaporate. A good sock can do a lot more for your feet such as provide cushioning and good compression. Here are some features to consider when buying a sock for your active dress wear.
Anatomical Design: Many quality Italian sock manufacturers offer socks tailored for the left and right foot. Higher quality socks are manufactured using better materials than standard wear that is purchasable at Target or Wal-Mart big box type stores. They call this quality bespoke tailoring but you don’t have to spend $40-$90.00 dollars a pair to get the right fit for your feet. Search around the internet or find a good men’s wear store that offers something more substantial. A sock that is too tight on the toe box can restrict your toe movement. On the other hand, if it’s too loose then it can bunch up and create blisters. A good anatomical fit obviously gives you a true fit.
Breathability: Some sock brands such as Drymax offer breathable mesh air vents or channels which allows your feet to feel cooler because heat can escape. Other brands on the market offer open stitching, similar to a sheer window-pane cut into the sock; it has a thin material and offers a lot of breathability.
Compression: Increased knitting tension provides a better fit at the ankle. Compression-zones gives you good support in areas such as the arch, instep and mid-foot for a better fit and support. A band holds the sock in place on your foot so it doesn’t slide down. They should hug, without feeling restrictive, and shouldn’t bunch up under your feet. Socks should have a contoured fit and not look like a simple tube of material. The overall cut of the sock cradles your foot and the compression fits rightly on the areas that are necessary to cushion. (Heel and Forefoot). An elastic top prevents the sock from sliding down and a good compression will increase circulation in the calves.
Cushioning: You want good padding, especially for people who stand for long periods of time. Also look for a bit of padding on the top area of the toes for protection against friction. A sock that is too thick won’t fit well into close-fitting shoes such as a typical lean, sleek Italian styled model. When looking for socks, be sure to know what shoe you’ll wear them with. A good heel is a must.
Color: If you want to keep it simple wear brown shoes, with brown socks or black shoes with black socks. An easy trick is to match the sock with the pant legs; gray socks with gray pants or black socks with black pants. Most dress pants should be paired with brown, burgundy, brown or black socks. I do not recommend wearing loud patterns, however stylish patterns such as a dark houndstooth or herringbone look well and aren’t too obvious. If you know how to blend colors and patterns then do so but try to keep it low-key.
High versus Low: I recommend only wearing over-the-calf/knee-high socks and not mid-calf. Why? Because your hairy legs have a chance of being exposed when you cross your legs. Who wants to see that? No matter how ‘swole’ your calves are from working out, it’s not exactly professional looking.
Longevity: Will the sock hold up to lots of wear and washing? Some brands hold up better than other brand. A good way to tell quality is to feel the material with your fingers. Look for firm stitching and adequate padding.
This is a sock from my collection that I purchased at a high-street store years ago. Notice the generous amount of padded material?
Material. Wool is warm and has good wicking ability. Great for those doing duty in the cold. Wool is general more resistant to odor, although many synthetic sock materials have anti-microbial fibers and can be somewhat odor resistant too. Wool is often blended with synthetic fibers to increase the strength and abrasion resistance of the sock. Wool also has great insulation properties; warm in the winter and cooling in warmer temperatures. Cotton is great for cool summer days but does not have good wicking ability. Cotton socks are better than synthetic socks because they are lighter and cooler.
Needle Count: A good, high needle count combined with a good material means you can get a quality performance sock. Lightweight and sheer means you can get a more anatomical sculpted fit to your foot.
No Slip: A good no-slip grip construction prevents blisters from occurring.
Seamless Toe Closure: A perfectly flat toe reduces blisters that occur because of friction. You don’t want to feel the seams, and you don’t want to get bunching at the toe.
Synthetic or Non-Synthetic Sock, Feel and Texture. What do you prefer? Some wool socks are itchy, so look for something that’s comfortable on your skin. But natural fibers can shrink a bit in the dryer. Some manufacturers offer completely natural fibers that work well but you can also find multi-fiber blends as well, that could work for you and keep you under budget.
Value: Is it a good price to pay for the wear and tear you’re going to inflict on that sock? Is it justifiable to pay $20.00 per pair or can you do with a $12.00 to $15.00 dollar sock? In a sense, can you get two for $24.00 or one for $20.00?
Weight: Lightweight, Mid-weight and Thicker. Find a sock that fits your foot but make sure the sock works with the footwear you select.
(Images courtesy of IMDB.com)