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The Importance of Socks

Men take pockets for granted. If you’re a dude, or wear “men’s” clothing, you’re likely thoroughly confused, but everyone else is almost definitely nodding solemnly. If you’ve never bought or looked too closely at “feminine” clothing, let me tell you: there are no pockets. And when there are, they’re overly shallow, or faux pockets, basically no space to store anything. And, as far as I can tell, there’s no good reason for it. Men should be grateful that some overarching, almost patriarchal, force has decided that they get to have useful pockets. I mention this to illustrate the point that, sometimes, we forget how useful and important seemingly simple items of clothing are. The same could be said for socks.

I’m sorry if you’ve come looking for top fashion tips. Don’t worry, it’s here, just maybe not in this article (or maybe I hold the secret to chic sock couture, you’ll just have to keep reading). Similarly to pockets, socks are so unbelievably important for your general health & wellbeing. Your feet themselves kind of fit into this category as well, in that you don’t realise how much you need your feet working until you come down with an injury. According to the fine people of Foot.com, your feet have around 250,000 sweat glands. To put that in context, you have approximately two to four million sweat glands in your entire body. You reportedly excrete as much as a half-pint of moisture a day through your feet. Socks not only stop you from stinking out your shoes, but they also stop you from getting awful things like plantar warts. And yes, like you I’ve just heard of them now and I am terrified.

I first became aware of the unspoken impact of socks when I was briefly homeless. There are many different degrees of homelessness, especially among students, with the most common being having no home (surprise) and having to crash on a friend or relative’s couch. I didn’t quite have that option, but it wasn’t for a prolonged time so I had it pretty good. But the thing that stood out most was that you need new socks. I was able to wash myself pretty okay, but my socks? Not a hope. And I started to notice my feet were pruney all the time. Constantly soggy, it perpetually felt as if I’ve just finished soaking my feet in cold water. And it never ended. I later discovered this was likely the beginnings of an “immersion foot syndrome,” the most well-known or common of these being trench foot. Effects of trench foot include erythema or cyanosis (turning red or blue respectively), necrosis (tissue death), blisters & open sores, fungal infections and gangrene. If it gets bad, the foot/feet may need to be amputated. Bombas, an online retailer, donate one pair of socks for every pair bought to homeless charities in the US, and have donated around 4.5m pairs to date. So remember how important socks are next time you’re doing the washing!

Now for more of what you’re here for. Socks should form a key part of your outfit whenever you’re going out, or even on a day-to-day basis. If your outfit has to be a bit conservative due to the setting or event you’re in, socks can be your way to be a lot more colourful or outlandish. Next time you’re wearing a grey suit, seriously consider going with some nice pink socks. If you’re used to buying your socks while you’re already in the Pennys queue, maybe branch out: you don’t have to break the bank, TK Maxx and Dunnes regularly have luxury brands on sale. It’s usually easier to get the balance of function and style right with socks than it can be for other items of clothing. As it’s getting a bit colder, you may want to opt for thicker socks. It’s also handy to keep an extra pair of socks on your person: not only as a backup pair, but if you encounter icy conditions if you put the second pair over your shoes it can help with getting grip on the ice!

So remember, next time you’re going to restock your wardrobe, don’t forget to make sure your sock drawer is full to the brim.