Who has the widest wooliest socks?
December 16, 2010 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Guessing sock size for my large cousin's Christmas present: she needs warm wooly socks, and I know nothing about buying clothes in big sizes. But aren't socks simpler? Somebody please help me out!

She weighs about 350-360, at about 5'9", shoe size 9/10ish. I know she's had issues with well-meaning parents buying her the largest XXXL (shirt, sweatpants, etc) and that being too small, which makes her feel terrible. Her job is outside in winter weather, so she's got freezing cold feet and not a lot of extra cash to get non-basic socks. I would love love love to help her out. However, I don't want to send her something useless. And yes, I could just ask her. But blah! I want a surprise - a pleasant surprise!

How can I be sure that whatever socks I get aren't going to cut off circulation in her calves?
Are "plus-size socks" just socks with looser cuffs? Does "plus" cover 360lbs? What are diabetic socks? Is there some other key search term I should be using?
What's an awesome store (internet or common US brick-and-mortar) to look for wooly warm socks (as opposed to lady-socks)? Lane Bryant and Sock Dreams advertize plus-socks and REI advertizes warm socks, but where can I merge those?
Socks sound so simple, but I know that things aren't always as simple as they sound for somebody a different size from the average population. Am I totally over-blowing the difficulty here, or is this a terrible idea destined to end badly and I should just send her a gift card?

Anybody who's had experience with socks for large-sized outdoorsy people, please advise!
posted by aimedwander to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, she absolutely needs Smartwool socks in women's size large. REI sells them - REI's house brand wool socks would also do but the Smartwool are nicer (and come in cuter patterns). I'm close to her height and shoe size, though my highest weight was about 330. The biggest problem with regular women's socks is the foot is too damn small*.

Diabetic socks are completely different. They're meant to improve lower-limb circulation, as a common complication of diabetes is loss of peripheral circulation. They're more like support hose than everyday socks.

I love love love my Smartwool socks. They are pricier than others, so they would be a great Christmas treat for her!

*also, the rent is too damn high.
posted by shiny blue object at 8:29 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]

Seconding SmartWool, although I don't know much about the plus size proportions. They are the superstars of the winter sock world.
posted by something something at 8:40 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wear about that size women's shoe and wear a men's medium sock or (usually) a women's medium sock. Here's a size chart.
posted by rtha at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2010

Sock Dreams! They have a plus size section and give measurements and/or stretchability on many items. The only thing that I would caution about is that even in "plus-size" there is a lot of size variation. Depending on size of her legs, she might have problems with even "plus size" especially if you are looking for a knee-high sock. Generally, a a calf would be considered "plus-size" starting at 16 inches at the wides point. But I know plenty of people with calves over 20 inches... and not all plus size sock with stretch that much. There will be less risk of socks not fitting if you buy a mid-calf or shorter.

Regarding diabetic socks, there are different types. Some are meant to be supportive, but others are an intentionally looser knit that won't bind legs. But they are still a soft, warm knit. These look like they might be a good bet, although not wool.
posted by kimdog at 9:03 AM on December 16, 2010

I am not quite as heavy as your cousin, but I am not skinny by any means. I wear a wms 20/22 and I wear a size 10/11 in shoes.

The Smartwool socks are TOPS. I have a number of pair of Smartwool socks, including knee socks. They have enough stretch for me.

That said, you might want to stick with shorter socks, as knee socks can be tricky when it comes to larger sizes.

The REI hiking socks (or these) are warm and comfortable and great. HIGHLY recommended. (My boyfriend and I have 2+ pair each).

The problem with Sock Dreams (and a lot of other websites, IMO) (though I LOVE Sock Dreams) is that they list things as plus size that kind of aren't. They can be adapted for use, but they don't quite work. I was given some over the knee socks that work OK as knee socks, but really aren't very comfortable. They were listed as ok for plus sizes. Oh well. :D

But yes. I also TOTALLY Nth the Smartwool. And ALSO, if you buy things at REI, they can be returned/exchanged pretty much forever with little trouble. They are really great about that.

My one huge wish is that someone would come out with somewhat affordable plus sized wool tights. As a bike rider, they would be invaluable to me (well, not so much that I could pay $50+ for TIGHTS, but you know).

Good luck! And feel free to memail me if I can help you out at all!
posted by bibliogrrl at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2010

Nthing Smartwool -- you can sometimes find them on SierraTradingPost.com at a less expensive price (though I'm not sure about the sizes).

Also, kudos to you for your thoughtfulness about both the gift and your cousin's feelings.
posted by Wisco72 at 9:08 AM on December 16, 2010

Thank you for asking this question! It never would have occured to me that there was a real answer to this problem! I wear a clothing size 8 or 10, but for some reason i have really big lower legs, and constantly STRUGGLE to find socks that fit without cutting of my circulation.

My one tip: Don't attempt knee-length, the risk of failure is too high. If you get shorter socks, they can be scrunched down if they don't fit, and still seem okay.
posted by Kololo at 9:39 AM on December 16, 2010

I'm about her size, both in foot and weight, and I can't wear smartwool's high socks, unfortunately. I could probably wear the ones that just cover the ankle, since generally, fat people don't have terribly fat ankles.

In general, I can't wear anything above the ankle unless I've knit it myself. There are a few crew socks with with fully ribbed tops and no upper cuff that I can wear in the sense that they don't cut off my circulation, but they won't stay up, and end up being more annoying than just wearing quarter length socks in the first place.

I mostly wear Wrightsock double layer cold weather running socks in a size large if I need warm socks for winter. I get them from the Running Room in Canada, but they're available elsewhere. The double layer aspect of them makes them awesome at keeping my feet from blistering if I'm walking a lot, as well as making them toasty warm. They come in a couple of different heights -- I'd recommend 'quarter'.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2010

Sigh. Fucked up that link.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:30 AM on December 16, 2010

Thanks, everybody!
It sounds like, yes this is worth paying attention to, but there are some basic largish products out there - so as long as I don't go too tall, there probably won't be a problem.

Thanks for the recommendations!
posted by aimedwander at 10:50 AM on December 16, 2010

She sounds really similar in size to some of the great FA bloggers; Marianne Kirby of The Rotund has a sidebar with shopping recommendations, as did Lesley Kinzel, now of TwoWholeCakes.com, when she was doing Fatshionista.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:04 PM on December 16, 2010

Just my Size's World's Softest Socks are great. I'm a similar size and they're very warm and comfortable.
posted by eleanna at 10:02 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

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