The Scintillating Sparkling Spirited Sporty Saga of Socks
The Scintillating Sparkling Spirited Sporty Saga of Socks
As a little girl whose mother was the church organist my “Sunday Clothes” wardrobe was paid careful attention. Women wore stockings, hats and gloves in those days. Little girls didn’t have to wear hats but we too wore gloves and socks- pretty, white, laced-cuff socks that we only wore on Sundays or other dress-up special occasions. “Bobby soxers” was the name given to the popular music fans of the 1940’s. The term derived from the popular style of white crew socks with loafers and saddle shoes that teenage girls were wearing. It was a significant name because it reflected the evolution of the ladies’ dress code of the early 1900’s that had previously required legs to be completely covered with stockings. By the 1960’s the style was updated just a bit to knee socks – and in coordinating colors with your outfit – but still on feet shorn by loafers or saddle shoes. Still, though, it was those “Sunday” socks with the lace that would make a little girl’s heart sing with the dainty femininity of it all!
Most of us had “old fashioned” sock monkey dolls, which had gained popularity in the early 1900s and were made from Original Rockford Red Heel® socks. The red heel that formed the monkeys’ mouths was among its most prominent and garish symbol. In Brownies and Girl Scout troops we expanded our skills to construct “sock puppets” and in Home Economics among the sewing projects we were taught was the proper way to “darn” socks. By the 1980’s Tom Cruise had captured our attention in the scene from the movie Risky Business in which he slides down the hallway to the music of Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll. Wearing a dress shirt, boxer shorts and white crew socks rolled up his calves he created one of the first memes before memes were a “thing”.
Against this brief pop culture historical backdrop of nostalgia, lies the modern day plethora of sock styles, materials, designs and purpose-driven accessories from which to choose. So, if you are glassy-eyed by the complexities of sock shopping, come along with me and let’s see if we can figure it out a little and, perhaps, have a little fun along the way.
Socks by Activity
Walking, Running, Multisport (or “gym”), casual and lightweight hiking socks share the qualities of moisture-wicking and thinner weaving. They will vary primarily by the placement of the extra padding required by the activity.
Backpacking, mountaineering and snow ski/snowboard socks are made from thicker materials for warmth as well as cushioning. The specific footwear, such as ski boots vs. hiking boots, will call for the extra cushioning to be placed where the pressure points are. Your feet perspire even in the cold so moisture-wicking is an important feature of these socks as well.
Socks by Special Feature
Liner socks are especially thin so that hikers can wash and dry them more quickly and prolong the time between washings of the cushioned socks.
Waterproof socks provide the barrier between the moisture of the environment (think rain or cold ocean water) and your feet.
Toe Socks mimic gloves in that each toe is enfolded to help prevent blisters.
Heated socks use low-amperage battery power to generate heat, especially for use in sedentary activities like fishing and spectator sports. Has anyone else watched a college football game in December, in the more northern latitudes at the higher altitudes?
FUN SOCK TRIVIA – 1
According to the New York Times, in the mid-1990s, Fort Payne, Alabama, was the “Sock Capital of the World” with one in eight pairs of socks around the world being made in one of the 125 sock mills in the town.
Socks by Materials
Each of your feet are covered with about 250,000 sweat glands (www.everydayhealth.com) so you haven’t been imagining it – you really do need a pair of socks that can absorb moisture to be comfortable.
Merino wool is a finely-fibered weave of wool that can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water, although that does make the drying time a little longer.
Synthetic materials like polyester spandex can help the socks retain their shape, snug fit and arch support.
Silk is a smooth-textured fiber that is a natural moisture-wicking material that makes it a great sock liner that is less durable than other materials.
Cotton is comfortable when it is dry, but since it saturates quickly and dries slowly, it is not a good choice for active athletics.
FUN SOCK TRIVIA – 2
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has the white cotton socks that astronaut John Glenn wore during his “Friendship 7” mission in February, 1962, when he became the first American to orbit the earth.
Padding on the heel and ball of the sock can be created by increasing the density of the weave or by weaving other durable materials into these areas. You should ensure that the extra padding does not make your shoes fit too tightly.
Arch reinforcements are created with a tighter, reinforced weave, but your shoe is a much greater factor in proper arch support.
Height ranges from “no show” ankle socks all the way up to your knees and is largely a style preference except when the footwear (usually some type of boot) requires some protection from abrasion.
A recent trend in socks has been to make them wildly and whimsically colorful in a wide array of patterns, including reproductions of famous paintings like de Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Van Gog’s Starry Night.
FUN SOCK TRIVIA – 3
Astronauts in the International Space Station don’t need, or wear, socks in the gravity-free, weightless environment and Astronaut Scott Kelly said that after a year in space, the calluses on his feet went away leaving the bottom of his feet as soft as a newborn baby.
The late President George H. W. Bush famously displayed his exuberant socks because, according to his daughter, Doro Koch, when he was relegated to wheelchairs and his ankles were always visible, the socks helped him find his joy in life.
All in all, not a bad strategy for all of us. If fun, colorful, exuberant socks help you find your joy we invite you to browse some of our selections… and
Remember the Great Outdoors!