Ancient Egyptian socks, circa 250-420 AD.

The Romano-Egyptian socks were excavated in the burial grounds of ancient Oxyrhynchus, a Greek colony on the Nile in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. They were given to the Museum in 1900 by Robert Taylor Esq., ‘Kytes,’ Watford. He was executor of the estate of the late Major Myers and these items were selected among others from a list of textiles as ‘a large number of very useful examples.’

Single-needle knit. Bright red. Amazing. Via The Smithsonian’s Threaded blog.

Ancient Egyptian socks, circa 250-420 AD.

The Romano-Egyptian socks were excavated in the burial grounds of ancient Oxyrhynchus, a Greek colony on the Nile in central Egypt at the end of the 19th century. They were given to the Museum in 1900 by Robert Taylor Esq., ‘Kytes,’ Watford. He was executor of the estate of the late Major Myers and these items were selected among others from a list of textiles as ‘a large number of very useful examples.’

Single-needle knit. Bright red. Amazing. Via The Smithsonian’s Threaded blog.

We Got It For Free: Dapper Classics Socks

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of our readers founded Dapper Classics, a company dedicated to supplying men with high-quality over-the-calf socks. Over-the-calfs, as you may know, have the advantage of not slipping down your leg over the course of a day, so your pale, bare calves won’t be exposed when you sit down. That’s one of the quickest ways to ruin a well-tailored look, in my opinion. Mid-calf socks are acceptable with jeans, and no-show socks are fine with shorts, but with anything like a coat and tie, there should be no other option but over-the-calf.

Harry, the company’s founder, sent me a few of their solid navy socks and one pin dot. All were made in North Carolina by a third-generation, family owned mill. A nice distinction for those who care about American made goods, but I was mostly concerned about their products’ construction. On the one hand, 65% of their socks’ fabric is made from mercerized cotton; which is good. Mercerization is a chemical process that increases cotton’s luster, strength, affinity to dye, and resistance to mildew. On the other, the rest of the materials are synthetic – mostly spandex, but also a little bit of nylon. Some synthetic material is necessary for socks to retain their shape, but over a certain point, they can become less durable. Not so, at least for the time being, with Dapper Classics. I’ve worn and put these through the wash about ten times, which is more than the number of times in took for my Gold Toes to start breaking around the cuffs. These Dapper Classics, however, look as good as the day they arrived. 

The real advantage, however, is in how cool they wear. Dapper Classic’s socks are made on a 188-needle machine, which makes them nicely thin and smooth. The weave also feels quite open, so much so that if you spread your toes and wiggle your feet, you can feel the air whiffing through. These seem to be more breathable than the cotton socks I’ve worn from current leading brands, such as Marcoliani, Bresciani, and Pantherella. They’re also quite comfortable around the calves, which is the main reason why I’ve avoided Gold Toe. Those come in at about $5 a pair, which is considerably less than the ~$25 that Marcoliani and Bresciani charge, but they put a deathly grip on my legs and leave them itchy at the end of the day. 

My only gripe with Dapper Classics that their pin dots aren’t as well made as they could be. After a few washes, the dots started to fuzz. I’ve found this to happen on some of my other pin dots as well, namely those from Pantherella. In fact, Marcoliani’s pin dots are the only ones I’ve found to hold up well over time. For what it’s worth, however, Harry at Dapper Classics tells me they’re aware of this problem and are working with the manufacturer to fix it. This is a young company, after all, just two months old, so a few bumps on the road are to be expected.

Dapper Classics sells their socks for an even $20, with free shipping included. That’s a few bucks less than the current leading brands, and are seemingly just as respectable in quality. As I said, they also have the advantage of wearing cooler, which can be a blessing for men who are prone to getting sweaty feet on hot days. Harry says they’re also working on a 80/20 merino wool range that will retail around $22. It’s nice when I’m able to recommend something on its quality, and not just price, but it’s best when I can recommend something because of both. I’m rather pleased to say that I’m able to do that here. 

Over-the-Calf Socks
A reader emailed us yesterday about a new over-the-calf socks company he’s starting, and his message reminded me of this photo of Yale’s swim team in 1941. Of the four students pictured, two are shown wearing what seems to be over-the-calf socks, and one is clearly not. 
Over-the-calf socks are superior in that they stay up on your leg. Mid-calfs or anything shorter, on the other hand, get pushed down throughout the day as you walk, sit down, or otherwise move around. With dress trousers or even chinos, I recommend over-the-calfs for precisely the reason you see above. Even if you’re not sitting on the grass as this Yale student is doing, your pale, hairy legs can be exposed when you simply cross your legs or sit down on a chair. It really ruins an otherwise sharp look, in my opinion. 
For the moment, I recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani over-the-calfs, which you can buy though Kabbaz-Kelly, Howard Yount, and A Suitable Wardrobe. If you’re in San Francisco, I also recommend The Hound, who sell them for a couple dollars less than what you can find online. At $22-35 a pair or so, however, they’re pretty expensive. I’ve mostly phased my purchases over time - purchasing them whenever I get the urge to buy something, but not wanting to waste money on impulse buys. 
Less expensive are Pantherella and Gold Toe. The first is decent, but the second less so. I’ve found my Gold Toes to be considerably less comfortable and durable, but at least they’re priced accordingly. 
Anyway, the reader said his new company aims at making something that competes with Pantherella in terms of price, but exceeds them in terms of quality. He’s sending me a few pairs to check out, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Over-the-Calf Socks

A reader emailed us yesterday about a new over-the-calf socks company he’s starting, and his message reminded me of this photo of Yale’s swim team in 1941. Of the four students pictured, two are shown wearing what seems to be over-the-calf socks, and one is clearly not. 

Over-the-calf socks are superior in that they stay up on your leg. Mid-calfs or anything shorter, on the other hand, get pushed down throughout the day as you walk, sit down, or otherwise move around. With dress trousers or even chinos, I recommend over-the-calfs for precisely the reason you see above. Even if you’re not sitting on the grass as this Yale student is doing, your pale, hairy legs can be exposed when you simply cross your legs or sit down on a chair. It really ruins an otherwise sharp look, in my opinion. 

For the moment, I recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani over-the-calfs, which you can buy though Kabbaz-Kelly, Howard Yount, and A Suitable Wardrobe. If you’re in San Francisco, I also recommend The Hound, who sell them for a couple dollars less than what you can find online. At $22-35 a pair or so, however, they’re pretty expensive. I’ve mostly phased my purchases over time - purchasing them whenever I get the urge to buy something, but not wanting to waste money on impulse buys. 

Less expensive are Pantherella and Gold Toe. The first is decent, but the second less so. I’ve found my Gold Toes to be considerably less comfortable and durable, but at least they’re priced accordingly. 

Anyway, the reader said his new company aims at making something that competes with Pantherella in terms of price, but exceeds them in terms of quality. He’s sending me a few pairs to check out, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

(via menoftheivyleague-deactivated20)

Some New Navy Socks

I recently picked up some over-the-calf navy socks from Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons and The Hound Clothiers. Navy, as you’ve read a dozen times by now, is the easiest color to wear, and that holds equally true for socks as it does for sport coats. You can wear these with almost any color of trousers and not give the matter too much thought in the morning.

I can only think of a few exceptions. Sometimes, lighter colored trousers, such as tan or light grey, seem to pair better with similarly colored socks or at least something that matches the day’s shoes. For example, last week I wore a navy wool sport coat, light blue shirt made from an end-on-end cloth, sand linen trousers, and a pair of dark brown derbies. Navy socks here made the trousers look a little lost for some reason, so I put on a pair of dark brown socks and things looked a bit more balanced. 

For some bit of a visual interest, a few of my socks feature subtle, conservative patterns. Above are pin dots and herringbones by Marcoliani, and a pair of “slash fashion herringbone” by Bresciani. Marcoliani’s herringbone borders on slightly too bright, but I think they still work with slightly more casual ensembles. The others are dark and subtle enough that they could work with almost anything except a business suit. I wear these under dark olive glen plaid, charcoal windowpane, and plain mid-grey flannel trousers. I think they’re a nice way to have fun with your socks without crossing over into wacky.

If you’re on the market for such dress socks, I highly recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani. They’re a bit expensive, but from my experience, also the best made anywhere. A more affordable alternative is Pantherella, which comes up on Gilt and Sierra Trading Post for about $7-12 a pair every so often. Just make sure you get over-the-calf versions. They don’t slip down, so they’ll never expose your bare, pale calves when you sit down or cross your legs. That, in my opinion, should always be a requirement of dress socks. 

Conservatively Patterned Socks

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says men should match their socks to their trousers. Doing so elongates the leg line, which in turn supposedly makes the man look taller. I’ve never been quite sure of this rule (or the logic). It works fine for navy or charcoal trousers, but matching brown socks to similarly colored pants and shoes seems off to me. I also don’t care for light colored socks, so wheat and mid-grey trousers need a different colored hose. 

In the end, I’ve found that navy socks go with everything. It’s richer than black and complements any color next to it. Thus, most of my socks are a solid navy, with charcoal a close second. I also have a few pairs in odd colors such as dark bottle green and aubergine, which I wear whenever I want a bit of irreverence. Those are never worn to match trousers, of course, though sometimes they complement a secondary color in my tie. 

It can be a bit boring to only have solid colored socks, however, so you can mix in some conservative patterns. This takes a bit more focus in the morning, but can add real character to your ensemble. Time-honored combinations include a two-toned houndstooth with glen plaid flannels, fine herringbone with a chalk striped suiting, or well spaced pin-dot hose with windowpaned wools. The key here is to find a pattern that both complements and contrasts your trousers. If you stick to neutral colors and conservative, traditional patterns, this should be easy. 

Marcoliani and Bresciani makes some of the best patterned socks out there. Marcoliani can be found through Kabbaz & Kelly, Howard Yount, and O’Connell’s. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can also find them at The Hound Clothiers. Bresciani can be bought through A Suitable WardrobeBerg & Berg, and Mr. Porter. Both of these brands are expensive, but the construction is top-notch and the patterns are tasteful.

For more affordable options, keep an eye out for Pantherella socks on Sierra Trading Post. They have more synthetic fibers in their composition, which means they’re a bit less breathable and durable, but their patterns are equally tasteful and they can be had for as little as $5 a pair (just wait for the heavy markdowns). Uniqlo also has these dotted socks which you can buy through Suddenlee, but they’re cotton and not over-the-calf. I recommend waiting for the Pantherella sales instead, if you can wait. 

Photo credits: MostExerent, SpooPoker, and Pocket Square Guy.



Staying Warm
I was joking with friends a few weeks  ago that Napoleon should have waited for global warming before he  invaded Russia. Even in early December, Moscow didn’t feel that cold and  I was able to get by with some good sweaters and a fall coat. In the  last few days, however, it finally feels like winter. It’s  about 25°F here and snow has fallen. My neighborhood looks  like a Russian winter wonderland. 
In weather like this, most people know that they should wear  sweaters, scarves, and heavy coats. Down-filled parkas, duffle coats,  and heavyweight overcoats are good for protection. A pair of  cashmere-lined leather gloves can also be very useful. 
Perhaps a little neglected, however, are good baselayers. I strongly recommend Smartwool for almost all this stuff - long johns and long-sleeve undershirts, mainly, but they also make very warm wool socks. You can get them at REI.  They come in different weights and thicknesses, and they’re the best  I’ve ever come across. Get the pair that matches your lifestyle and  weather conditions. If you get ones that are too thick, you can actually  find yourself to be too warm in the office. 
I’ve also been reasonably satisfied with Terramar, which you can find heavily discounted at Sierra Trading Post.  I don’t find the construction to be as nice, or the garments to be as  warm, but they still serve pretty well. For something even more affordable,  consider Uniqlo’s HEATTECH.  I have no personal experience with them, but they’re well regarded by  many and are currently on sale. The long johns and long-sleeved shirts  are $12.90, warm-lined pants are $14.90, and socks are $9.90. Uniqlo  unfortunately doesn’t have an online store, but you can purchase  anything from them through Suddenlee (who will ship nationwide). Just enter the sale prices into Suddenlee’s checkout process.
You might also want to consider putting a pair of felted wool insoles into your boots. The Great English Outdoors sells  a great pair for a fair price. I guarantee that if you have a have  some good baselayers, felted wool insoles, and a good coat, you’ll be  ready for winter almost anywhere. 
(As an aside, it’s worth noting that even though it’s snowing and  bitterly cold here, many Russian women still wear skirts and high heels.  If anyone ever wants to start a war with Russia, they should probably  know that fact.)

Staying Warm

I was joking with friends a few weeks ago that Napoleon should have waited for global warming before he invaded Russia. Even in early December, Moscow didn’t feel that cold and I was able to get by with some good sweaters and a fall coat. In the last few days, however, it finally feels like winter. It’s about 25°F here and snow has fallen. My neighborhood looks like a Russian winter wonderland. 

In weather like this, most people know that they should wear sweaters, scarves, and heavy coats. Down-filled parkas, duffle coats, and heavyweight overcoats are good for protection. A pair of cashmere-lined leather gloves can also be very useful. 

Perhaps a little neglected, however, are good baselayers. I strongly recommend Smartwool for almost all this stuff - long johns and long-sleeve undershirts, mainly, but they also make very warm wool socks. You can get them at REI. They come in different weights and thicknesses, and they’re the best I’ve ever come across. Get the pair that matches your lifestyle and weather conditions. If you get ones that are too thick, you can actually find yourself to be too warm in the office. 

I’ve also been reasonably satisfied with Terramar, which you can find heavily discounted at Sierra Trading Post. I don’t find the construction to be as nice, or the garments to be as warm, but they still serve pretty well. For something even more affordable, consider Uniqlo’s HEATTECH. I have no personal experience with them, but they’re well regarded by many and are currently on sale. The long johns and long-sleeved shirts are $12.90, warm-lined pants are $14.90, and socks are $9.90. Uniqlo unfortunately doesn’t have an online store, but you can purchase anything from them through Suddenlee (who will ship nationwide). Just enter the sale prices into Suddenlee’s checkout process.

You might also want to consider putting a pair of felted wool insoles into your boots. The Great English Outdoors sells a great pair for a fair price. I guarantee that if you have a have some good baselayers, felted wool insoles, and a good coat, you’ll be ready for winter almost anywhere. 

(As an aside, it’s worth noting that even though it’s snowing and bitterly cold here, many Russian women still wear skirts and high heels. If anyone ever wants to start a war with Russia, they should probably know that fact.)

“Fashion is a dangerous road to go down. Anybody who is going to have children later in life had best not be too fashionable because the photos will come back to haunt them.” — Graydon Carter in the Wall Street Journal, who continues “I think the absence of socks on men wearing suits and brogues is a problem. They’ll live to regret that.”
Sierra Trading Post
There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:
Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there. 
Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks. 
Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal. 
Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26. 
Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill. 
Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.

Sierra Trading Post

There are some really good sales right now at Sierra Trading Post. Once you sign up for their DealFlyer newsletter, you’ll be notified of their daily coupons. Lately, they’ve been offering 35% off your whole order, as well as free shipping if you spend more than $100. That gives the following deals:

  • Derek Rose pajamas: Excellent pajamas available in multiple designs and colors. Starting price is $78. A bit expensive, to be sure, but Derek Rose is one of the better makers out there.
  • Falke and Pantherella socks: Two top-tier hosiery manufacturers, though Pantherella’s quality has taken a dive in recent years. Still, you can get over-the-calf wool socks for about $5 right now, which makes this one of the best deals I’ve seen on socks.
  • Johnstons of Elgin scarves and throws: Johnstons of Elgin is a 200+ year old manufacturer of woolen and cashmere goods. They’re not as nice as Colombo or Begg, but they’re very good and much more affordable. Johnstons’ cashmere scarves can be had right now for $39, while their lambswool scarves are $13. At those prices, these are a real steal.
  • Tretorn sneakers: These aren’t the Nylites that the menswear bloggerotti have been wearing, but I could see this model still working very well for fall. For $45, it’s not bad. They also have other styles for as little as $26.
  • Smartwool baselayers: Smartwool makes some of the best garments for cold weather. If you live in a cold climate, it may be wise to get a few of their baselayers and socks before winter arrives. They’re not the most stylish, but since they’re worn under your garments, they’re also not seen. I even recommend wearing them at home to save money on your heating bill.
  • Trickers shoes: Trickers are a bit too rounded for my taste, but they’re quite popular among men’s style enthusiasts. Of the ones available at Sierra Trading Post right now, I like this boot the most, and the extra discount brings it down to $316. 
  • Bill’s Khakis M3 pants: Bill’s Khakis look a bit frumpy online, but I assure you they’re excellent. The M3 is their slimmest model, but it may need some tapering once you get them. That job should run you about $20, but when the chinos themselves cost $52, these are still a great deal.

The Color Purple

Most men rely on standard colors for their wardrobe - blues, greys, and browns, in various shades and textures. These are good foundational colors since they’re easy to wear and complement each other well. However, only relying on these colors get a bit boring, and eventually cease to excite the eye. As such, it’s good to have a few secondary colors in your wardrobe just to break things up a bit. Salmon pink, hunter green, and bordeaux are all very nice, but today I’ll talk about purple. 

Purple can make a statement since it’s a unique color. However, it’s so closely related to blue that it can also feel familiar and sophisticated. Purple is also much more versatile than men give it credit for. It complements many of the standard colors men wear and serves a good substitute for blue. For example, a dark, deep purple tie goes well with a tan jacket and light blue shirt, and can be used any time you would otherwise wear a navy tie (though the conservativeness of navy can make it more useful). 

I also recommend purple socks. Michael Drake, co-founder of Drake’s of London, wears them as a personal signature of eccentricity. This past summer, I often wore purple socks with light blue shirts and pants in either a grey tropical wool or tan linen (first picture above). I’ve found that this ensemble goes especially well with brown suede shoes. 

Hardy Amies once said of purple, “I can see no use for this handsome, not unmasculine colour except for ties, socks and handkerchiefs.” I, however, think it can be used for more than accessories. For example, lavender shirts go quite well underneath navy or tan suits. You can pair it with a conservative, charcoal tie, and then have a secondary color in the tie pick up the lavender in your shirt or the color of your suit. This practice seems to be common in Moscow. From my observation, one in six men here on the street will be wearing a lavender shirt, and it always looks good (assuming the shirt fits well). 

The standard palette of grey, brown, and blue is a nice foundation, but don’t neglect to have some secondary colors here or there. Purple works with a number of colors and wearing it well can add variety into your wardrobe. Just don’t overdo it. Wearing too much of it will make you look like Barney, and doing things such as matching purple socks to purple ties will make you look too studied. Purple, in my opinion, should be worn with a healthy dose of nonchalance. 

(pictures above taken from Ethan Desu, A Bit of Color, Men of Habit, and me)

Gilt is having a really interesting sale on Pantherella’s wool over-the-calf socks. Pantherella has been adding more and more nylon in their socks over the years in order to save cost. However, Gilt has labeled these either 100% wool or 90/10 mix of wool and nylon (adding just a bit of nylon helps retain the sock’s shape). That would make these even better than Marcolianis, which are either 100% wool or 80/20 blends. 
Gilt is selling these in packs of three for $35, which make each pair of socks about $11.50. Compare that to Marcolianis, which sell pure wool socks for $27 and $22 for blends. 
If Gilt has labeled these correctly, then these are probably Pantherella’s old stock, which used to be some of the best socks you could buy. I’ve long recommended that men wear wool over-the-calf socks and these are great deals to get them. 
If you’re not a member of Gilt, you can become one through this invitation link. For the sake of full disclosure, I get $25 if you sign up and buy something, which would be nice, but I’m posting this more because I want everyone to be able to take advantage of this sale. 

Gilt is having a really interesting sale on Pantherella’s wool over-the-calf socks. Pantherella has been adding more and more nylon in their socks over the years in order to save cost. However, Gilt has labeled these either 100% wool or 90/10 mix of wool and nylon (adding just a bit of nylon helps retain the sock’s shape). That would make these even better than Marcolianis, which are either 100% wool or 80/20 blends. 

Gilt is selling these in packs of three for $35, which make each pair of socks about $11.50. Compare that to Marcolianis, which sell pure wool socks for $27 and $22 for blends. 

If Gilt has labeled these correctly, then these are probably Pantherella’s old stock, which used to be some of the best socks you could buy. I’ve long recommended that men wear wool over-the-calf socks and these are great deals to get them. 

If you’re not a member of Gilt, you can become one through this invitation link. For the sake of full disclosure, I get $25 if you sign up and buy something, which would be nice, but I’m posting this more because I want everyone to be able to take advantage of this sale.