When you search for “socks,” on Amazon, you get over 100,000 results. Do the same thing on Google, and you'll find over 900 million results. With so many choices, it can be hard to narrow down your priorities when you're thinking about buying a new pair. Since socks are garments that you wear almost every day, you should learn how to select the best ones for your lifestyle.
But first, let's talk about why socks are important. They provide a barrier between your foot and your shoe. In this way, socks can eliminate friction from the rough fabric of a shoe rubbing directly on your skin. By wearing socks, you can avoid painful blisters. In addition, wearing socks can help keep your shoes clean and fresh by preventing the accumulation of sweat inside your shoe.
The Encyclopedia Britannica credits the Greek poet Hesiod with the first mention of socks, then called piloi, in the 8th century BC. Instead of using fabric socks, like those worn today, the Greeks probably used animal fur as a barrier between their feet and shoes. Hesiod wrote, “Lace on your feet close-fitting boots of the hide of a slaughtered ox, thickly lined with felt inside.” So, the felt lining was most likely held to the skin with sandal laces.
Over time, people developed socks made of leather, woven cloth, knit fabric, fine silk, nylon yarn, cashmere, and more. Today, according to Joyce Smith, Ph.D., and Norma Pitts, writing in an article called “Selecting Socks” for The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, “Socks are knitted, giving them stretch and the ability to conform to the foot and leg. Generally, a stockinette or plain knit stitch is used in the foot area and a rib stitch is used in the leg area (though some socks are made totally of rib stitch).”
Below, we've listed some of the types of socks you might consider, while shopping for footwear.
Gendered and Unisex Socks
Keep an eye out for how socks are sized. If they provide a shoe size range, be sure to do any conversions needed to convert from male to female sizing and vice versa. Some manufacturers offer unisex sizing so that their products can be worn by both men and women. At Comrad, our socks can be worn by anyone, and we also offer extra-wide calf sizes.
Thigh-high socks can be worn as women's fashion garments. Also, some compression stockings come in an over-the-knee or thigh-high length.
Knee-length socks can be worn anywhere, from the football field to the lecture hall. While many dress socks are available in a knee-length style, you can also find sports and casual socks in this cut. Comrad offers both Companions and Guides in a knee-high length.
Also described as “mid-calf length” or “calf-length socks,” crew socks come in a variety of patterns, styles, and fabrics.
These socks cover just the lower leg and would pair well with hiking boots. Slightly shorter than crew socks, they hit between mid-calf and ankle.
Ankle-length socks hit just below the ankle, so that they peek out over your shoes. These socks work well for everyday wear with sneakers. Comrad offers Allies—ankle socks with 360-degree arch compression. Quick-drying breathable mesh makes them ready to tackle your sweatiest workouts.
These low cut socks hit far below the ankle. They're designed to go unnoticed under sneakers and other low cut shoes. While they offer an attractive and low profile, these socks have a tendency to roll down and get caught in your shoe.
Tube socks are so named because they are circular knits, made without a shaped heel area. (Smith et al. 2). This type of sock stretches to accommodate the heel, so that you can put it on in any orientation, as long as your toes line up with the single seam across the toes. Because it has no built-in heel, these socks tend to sag around the front of the ankle.
Socks designed for formal dress or office work are called “dress socks” for men and “trouser socks” for women. They're often worn under a suit or pants. Traditionally manufactured in dark colors, dress socks pair well with loafers, high heels, or dress shoes. Smith and Pitts describe this category of sock, saying, “Dress socks may be worn with business suits during the day or for special occasions. Usually, they are a flat, lightweight knit and may even have sheer panels…” Dress socks and trouser socks are available in a range of styles, from mid-calf to knee-high.
By exerting gentle pressure on your veins, compression therapy reduces swelling and soreness, increases blood circulation, accelerates muscle recovery, and energizes your legs and feet. A pair of compression socks can benefit your health in a number of ways. A review of the existing scientific literature asserts that doctors often recommend compression therapy for various medical conditions: “...venous and lymphatic insufficiency in the lower limbs, including varicosities, lymphedema, venous eczema and ulceration, deep vein thrombosis and postthrombotic syndrome.” (Lim et al. E391) Compression therapy offers extra support to keep your circulatory system working well, even during long periods of sitting or standing.
We make fashionable socks with True Graduated Compression, a technology that helps assist blood as it travels up from the feet toward your heart. In addition to providing relief and preventative care for certain medical conditions, graduated compression reduces inflammation and discomfort during and after exercise and reduces a person's risk of developing deep vein thrombosis during a long flight. If you're looking for socks that benefit your overall health and well-being, graduated compression socks are the best socks to choose.
Socks with Advanced Fabrics
Nowadays, technology allows for some pretty advanced materials, including fabric that can keep your socks from getting dirty and smelling bad. At Comrad, we use an exclusive SmartSilver ™ treatment on our socks that permanently binds to fabric to prevent bacteria and eliminate odor. This silver antimicrobial binds to the fabric of our Allies and Companions on a molecular level. The result: reduced odor, fewer holes, and fresher feet.
In addition, we offer Guides, which are quick-drying socks made from Merino wool. These wool socks have natural loft and long fibers, which are perfect for wicking sweat and naturally regulating your foot temperature. The breathable fabric’s natural antimicrobial properties help prevent odor, keeping feet fresh and your socks clean for whatever your adventures bring.
Running socks and cross-training socks sometimes come with extra cushioning. Both our Allies and Companions come with extra padding in the toe and heel. This provides additional comfort, especially for high-impact exercise and long periods of standing. Plus, Companions have a soft terry-backed fabric in the heel and toe, with a bit of extra room so your toes don’t get squished! Our socks also feature linked seams (instead of sewn) which means you won’t feel them.
Ethically Made Socks
Of course, with so many retailers to choose from, you may want to consider the environmental impact and factory conditions for any garments you buy. We encourage you to challenge manufacturers to explain where and how their socks are made. For example, at Comrad, we try to focus on conservation, especially regarding our dye process. Since dying the garments has the most impact on the environment, we go great lengths to ensure our carbon footprint is covered. We recycle 80% of dye water for multiple usage by building our own on-site water treatment facilityfiltration system, use reverse osmosis for removing large molecules from water across our factory, and utilize solar panels on the roofs of all buildings to save energy.
As for the conditions in our factories, Andrew Ferenci (CEO/Founder of Comrad) has personally visited our factory on several occasions before we launched the company to make sure that our factory met the highest standards. Andrew says, “I would not be able to run Comrad if I felt that our workers were not being taken care of.” Our factory has some of the strictest compliance in all of China and we share our manufacturer with companies like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Asics, and Lululemon. Our employees have a strict max of an 8-hour workday and we do not have any on-site dorms similar to companies like Foxconn that manufacture the iPhone. In fact, we provide support for our employees with various activities for their families and the local community like our annual sports festiva, ESL classes,l and a summer camp for kids. We also offer an on-site garden where employees can pick vegetables and pet farm animals.
How to Find a Great Pair of Socks
With so many socks to choose from, we know that you have a lot to think about. Whether you're looking for the right sock to pair with your running shoes, boots, or work shoes, we offer different types of socks to suit your needs. They’re ethically made, using an environmentally friendly dying process. And, best of all, these socks offer True Graduated Compression that’s proven to benefit your health.
Learn more about our products, and see how they can help you feel supported every day.
- Clarke, M. J., Broderick, C., Hopewell, S., Juszczak, E.,Eisinga, A. “Compression stockings for preventing deep vein thrombosis in airline passengers,” Cochrane Database Syst Rev, December 19, 2016, https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/content/signal-000351/long-haul-flyers-could-reduce-risk-of-leg-blood-clots-with-compression-stockings.
- Engel FA, Holmberg HC, Sperlich B. “Is There Evidence that Runners can Benefit from Wearing Compression Clothing?” Sports Med. Vol. 46, Iss. 12. Dec 2016(12):, pp. 1939-1952. PubMed, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27106555.
- Hesiod. “Hesiod: Works And Days” Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White , Evinity Publishing INC, 2011, www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hesiod/works.htm.
- Lim, Chung Sim and Alun H. Davies. “Graduated compression stockings.” CMAJ Vol. 186, Iss. 10 pp. E391-E398. July 08, 2014, https://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/10/E391.short.
- Smith, Joyce, and Norma Pitts. “Selecting Socks.” The Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, HYGG-5544, pp. 1–4, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.168.5602&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
- The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Hosiery.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 July 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/hosiery.