What to Look For When Buying Mens Socks

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What to Look For When Buying Men's Socks

Whether they be thin and black or thick, white, and/or absorbent, socks are an important part of every man's wardrobe. Everyone wears socks from the Prime Minister to Leeds United fans; they are as universal a piece of clothing as has ever been invented. There are dress socks for the banker in the City, and sport socks for the footballer on the pitch. Some pairs are handmade with care, while others are sold by the half-dozen in plastic bags. With such a wide range of choices, many men simply grab the first pair, or package of socks that comes to hand before attempting to escape the shop. Luckily, there is a better way to shop with ease and confidence, providing someone knows what kind of sock they want and why they want it.

History of Socks

Socks have been around in one form or another for a very long time, quite possibly since the Ice Age. They began as simple wrappings around the foot, probably originally made of animal skins, long before the sock reached its modern form. From all evidence, it was the Romans who introduced the modern sock to Britain in the first or second century AD. These socks, or udones, where much like modern ankle socks, and almost completely replaced the previous Roman practice of wrapping the foot and ankle in strips of cloth. Over the centuries that followed, socks changed with the fashions, going to full length hose, knee-length stockings, and finally to the wide variety of socks that are seen and worn today.

Reasons to Wear Socks

Even though one might think socks are most appropriate for cooler climes, there are good reasons to wear them in all weather and climates. Not only are they more comfortable for the wearer's feet, they are also better for the wearer's shoes than going barefoot. The human foot secretes sweat and oils which can not only be damaging to the soles of a person's shoes but also transfer the same odour dirty socks are famous for, to the inside of the shoes. In fact, if someone wears the same pair of shoes without socks on a consistent basis, the odour can reach a point where the shoes become unwearable.

Socks protect the skin of the wearer's foot from scrapes and abrasions, and also help shoes fit snugly rather than rubbing on the foot; and thereby increasing the chance of scrapes.

Different Kinds of Socks

Not all socks are the same, just as not all trousers are the same. Different people wear different socks depending on either what else they are wearing or even what they are doing. Athletes wear different socks to bankers, and those on extreme weather excursions wear different socks than either. The following table shows some of the different kinds of socks available:

Sock Type

When to Wear Them

Dress Sock

These thin, medium-height socks are usually worn with a suit or dress trousers

Running Sock

These ankle-height socks help draw away moisture from the foot while running

Tube Sock

These long socks are designed for exercising at the gym and other forms of athletic activity

Thermal Sock

These heavy socks usually have extra padding and special materials that trap heat and may allow them to be worn for several days at a time


These socks are designed to keep the wearer's foot warm even when soaking wet

A quick look at the list above will show there are socks for literally every person and every situation one can imagine. As always, the key is wearing the right socks for the situation.

Rules for Wearing Socks

While some may think they are nothing more than guidelines, there are actually rules for wearing socks. Some may simply be codifications of fashion, but others are actually very good ideas that should be followed by everyone who wears socks.

Feet Do Not Breathe Through Holes

Even though most people know the saying that feet need to breathe; that does not mean anyone should wear socks with holes in them. Socks are both widely available and inexpensive, so there is no reason for anyone to wear socks that have holes or stains. Clean socks without holes not only look better, but do a much better job of protecting and cushioning the wearer's feet. There really is no point to keeping socks past their useful life.

Socks Should Match Clothes

There is an old belief that socks should match the wearer's trousers, providing a smooth line for the eye all the way down the leg. While this idea does have merit, it can also lead to a sense of drab conservatism in dress. For those who like a little more colour in their wardrobe, another option is to wear socks that match the wearer's shirt or neckwear. This provides more flexibility, particularly for those who pride themselves on their sartorial elegance.

Matching socks to one’s clothing entails more than just wearing socks that are the same colour as one's trousers, it also involves wearing socks that match the degree of formality of the rest of a person's attire. It means wearing dress socks with a suit, and athletic socks for exercise. It means wearing thicker and warmer wool socks with a pair of jeans and walking shoes, and thinner socks with a visible sheen with a designer suit.

Socks Should be Worn to the Knee

This is one of those rules which is more often noted in the breach than the observance, but is still worth paying attention to, especially amongst men who are dressed more formally. Socks are supposed to provide the illusion of a single colour all the way from waist to ankle, something that is hard to do when the wearer's trouser leg rides up, exposing bare skin. It may not be the faux pas it once was, but it still does nothing to add to the air of style that is supposed to go with wearing a suit. Most dress socks are now of medium length, coming part way up the calf, rather than extending to just below the knee. This is a combination of style and economics, as shorter socks require less fabric and so can be sold for less, an important factor in a competitive market.

What to Look For in Men's Socks

The first thing to look for when buying men's socks is whether or not the socks are appropriate for the circumstances under which they will be worn. Someone looking for a pair of socks to wear at their sister's wedding will want something totally different from someone who simply wants an inexpensive pair of socks to wear while walking the dog in the morning. Wool socks are good for wearing with walking shoes, while cotton socks are more commonly worn with trainers. Dress socks are often sewn from silk or possibly polyester. Regardless of the material involved, the key is knowing why a given pair of socks is a better fit than another, and not just because of size.

Buying Men's Socks on eBay

Buying men's socks on eBay is quick and easy, all you have to do is type the word into the search box that appears on every eBay page and watch the results come up. With the results on the screen in front of you, the next thing to do is narrow the results down to just the socks you want. The quickest way to do that is with the filters on the sidebar, which let you limit your results by everything from the material the socks are made of to length and price range. Once you have your results narrowed down, you can use the sorting function to arrange them in the order that best fits your needs.

After arranging the list of socks to your liking, the next step is to decide which of the eBay's sellers you wish to do business with. One of the best ways to determine that is to view the seller's profile page where you can see everything from their feedback to their shipping location. You can also see their shipping policies, such as whether they bundle several items together to reduce shipping, or even allow local customers to save on shipping by picking up their socks in person.


When buying men's socks one of the most important things to look for is a pair of socks that matches the needs of the buyer. There is absolutely no point buying a first-rate pair of the wrong kind of socks and expecting them to do the job they were bought for. Tube socks for general athletic use are not at all appropriate for wearing with a suit, and dress socks will not draw enough moisture away from the foot to be suitable for running a marathon. Runners may often want shorter socks than hikers, and may go for cotton instead of wool. Wool socks are used during the colder months, to help keep the feet warm. In the warmer months, they can make your feet perspire. There are socks for every situation, the key is knowing the situation the socks are intended for. Once that is known, buying the right socks is easy.

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