Jason asks: For years I’ve been buying discount and department store socks and I think I’ve finally hit a critical mass of mismatched, holey, crappy socks. I think I’m going to throw them all away and start over. I’m a causal dresser for work and play, but I’m getting married soon and I’m also looking to dress more impressively to improve my career. Any recommendations on brands or types?
If you’re looking to simplify your sock life, I recommend navy over-the-calf socks for all non-athletic-shoe wear. Gold Toe socks are inexpensive and easy to find, and hold up quite well. Go with wool or cotton. You can get Gold Toes very, very inexpensively at Costco, if you’re a member there. A dozen pairs of identical navy over-the-calf socks will get you through almost any situation.
If you want to go a bit higher end, sign up for the deal flier on SierraTradingPost.com. They carry some very nice English socks, and if you wait for a “30% off everything” sale, you can do quite well on them – less than ten bucks a pop.
Navy isn’t the be-all, end-all for socks, though it is the one color to go with if you’re going with one color. The general rule is to match your socks to your trousers, which will lengthen your leg line, so if you’d like to get more creative, some gray and lighter socks would help. You can also wear colored socks that compliment your outfit – sort of like a pocket square for the lower half of your body. I myself sometimes wear red and purple socks for this purpose.
For colorful casual socks, I’m a big fan of the sales at Banana Republic. Banana Republic has a pretty tired aesthetic generally, but their hoisery is quite nice. Often towards the end of the season socks dip down to $1.99 or $2.99 per pair in store. Strike fast and hard when this happens. These socks are generally too short to wear in a situation where it would be embarassing to show leg (like with a suit), but are fine for casual wear. They’re often quite good-looking and I’ve found them to be reasonably durable.
In winter, traditional ragg socks are best with your boots. I’ve been very happy with the pairs I bought on clearance from Lands End. Nothing wrong with the classic sock monkey socks, either. If you need more warmth, check out the various technical wool boot socks at Sierra Trading Post.
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