When done well, the overlooked becomes the “can’t look away.” Nowhere is this truer than with socks. For most men, socks are an afterthought: whichever Value-Pak (removing “c’s” saves on printing) satisfies the lowest cost/unit will do. Unfortunately, all that Value-Pakaging means something else had to give. In this case, it’s both the looks (ratty, not like the rodent) and the quality (holey not like the Pope).
While a pure utility mentality may save you $10 during your twice a year restock (or however long it takes one to burn through a “Pak”), with a little bit of time and an eye towards style, you can find cheap, good-looking socks that augment your look instead of hinder it. Here’s our picks for the best good-looking men’s socks across every category, from no-shows to wool stockings and everything in between:
Best Wool Socks
Given its amazing natural properties – wicking, microbe resistance, insulation, the list goes on – wool is a no-brainer choice for your socks. Plus, thanks to a long history of looming and spinning across cultures worldwide, wool socks often feature artisan-derived visual flair. Look no further than Japan’s Anonymous Ism for an example of wool socks at their best.
$: LL Bean
$$$: Norse Projects
Best Dress Socks
The wool sock goes to charm school. Most dress socks are made from either fine cotton blends or a special strand of wool called “merino.” Merino wool comes from a specially-bred variety of sheep, and when spun, feels noticeably smoother than lambswool (or for that matter, pretty much everything). If you need to present a polished image, details matter: make sure that same level of refinement applies to your socks. While nearly every menswear brand produces “dressier” socks, heritage men’s labels like J. Press have both the pedigree – and the quality – to meet your needs.
$$: J. Press
$$$: Brunello Cucinelli*
- Brunello Cucinelli socks are actually cashmere, which comes from goats that are even more specially-bred than merino sheep. Which explains both the fabric’s softness. And sky-high price tag.
Best Statement Socks
The dress sock burns down charm school. Sometimes, you just gotta show off, and frankly, socks are a relatively safe channel for your unconventional expression. Even out of the office, your socks are by far the least-visible component of a standard outfit – you’re mostly wearing them for you anyways, so why not make them something you really like? Besides, themed ties are overrated.
No matter how you choose to make your statement, Danish brand Happy Socks has a pattern, color, or dinosaur for you.
$$: Happy Socks
$$$: Anonymous Ism
Best No-Show Socks
The sockless look without the sockless stench. Also known as “loafer socks,” no-show socks are designed to provide a layer of washable anything between your sweaty feet and your porous, pliable insole. These socks are often made from cotton blends, but always cut low enough to slip under the surface of even the sleekest sneaker. It’s “cuffed & sockless” without the olfactory baggage. Check out Ninja Sox for the best no-show socks in the world.
$: Stomper Joe
$$$: Ninja Sox
Best Gym Socks
The athlete’s choice. With the exception of highly-specialized, sport-specific options from brands like Nike Basketball, most gym socks follow a simple pattern: take ribbed cotton sock, print brand logo, price accordingly. That’s it. Game, blouses. With the options below, shop based on whatever brand you prefer. Then please wash on “Hot.”
Best Hiking Socks
The only socks tough enough for both Rocky Mountain hikes and fights over the Thermostat. Hiking socks are heavy duty socks designed with performance, durability, and warmth in mind. In short: what some may lack in delicate style, all redouble in sheer utility. If you spend lots of time on your feet or live anywhere within one Tropic of your hemisphere’s snow line, hiking socks are an essential. Look to brands like Darn Tough Vermont for both quality and rugged good looks alike.
$$$: Darn Tough Vermont
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