Why do my socks keep tearing??
September 8, 2011 8:35 PM   Subscribe

No matter what kind of socks I buy, expensive brand name ones, or just cheap regular ones, my socks eventually tear at the toe end. It's usually right where my big toe is. I'm talking about my dress socks, not the regular ones I wear with sneakers. I found one pair that lasted for a long while but then finally started to tear. What's the deal? Is the material perhaps? Is it my feet? Am I buying the wrong brand?
posted by blunt_eastwood to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't always keep your toenails trimmed, they may be wearing away at the fabric.
posted by oceanview at 8:40 PM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

Seconding oceanview. After trimming, use a file / emory board to make them smooth.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:57 PM on September 8, 2011

I have funny hobbit-y feet with big toes that don't bend normally and always sort of point up- meaning they are always rubbing against my socks. I wear through them no matter how short my nails are kept and I wear through shoes as well. Maybe you have funny big toes too?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:06 PM on September 8, 2011

It's going to be two factors: (1) As stated before, your toenail length, and (2) the fit of your shoes. If your shoes don't fit correctly, there will be excess movement within your shoe, resulting in a higher degree of wear on your sock (which is, as intended, caught in the middle of things).

Between keeping your toenails trimmed and wearing snug footwear, hopefully you'll find the solution to your problem!
posted by platosadvocate at 9:23 PM on September 8, 2011

I'm the same. Trimmed nails, different shoes, only dress socks. I just buy ten packs from Costco and live with it (though I once entertained buying Holeproof brand socks, putting holes in them, then taking them back to the store to be replaced.)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:40 PM on September 8, 2011

Not just trimming; I've seen trimming, just a straight-across cut, that leaves sharp corners on the nail. Do away with the sharp corners; trim them a little (not too much), and definitely file.
posted by amtho at 9:47 PM on September 8, 2011

I've got the same issue, and I'm brutal about trimming my toenails as far down as I can go. I've just given up and gone about trial and error shopping. If I find a brand that holds up for a while, I just stock up on those. Easily the worst, though, have been J. Crew socks, followed by Gap. The J.Crew socks didn't even make it through the day, and the Gap socks were clearly worn out by the end of the first day, and obviously wouldn't last a second.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:26 PM on September 8, 2011

Are you also wearing away your shoes in the same place? It may just be your foot. I know my shoes wear out in pretty predictable ways; not at the toe, but elsewhere.
posted by Gilbert at 11:23 PM on September 8, 2011

I have the exact same issue. I also have pointy feet, where the big toe is quite larger than the other ones. I just look for sales, and stock up on socks then. Also, Goodwill and rummage sales are another good source for me. I just accept that eventually, my socks will get holes in them. At that point, I turn them into fingerless hand/arm gloves. Great for winter!

Luckily, I'm not in an industry where my sock appearance is crucial; I can wear nearly anything under my Converse shoes as long as they fit. The best socks I've gotten recently have come from Maggie's Organics. Very comfortable, durable, and colorful to boot. Sometimes they put their socks on sale under their 'Irregular' tag; two years ago I got 12 pair of olive dress socks that said 'Simplify' on them in deep purple for only $20!
posted by spinifex23 at 12:06 AM on September 9, 2011

I find when I buy socks a size too large, then wash and tumble-dry them a few times, they last longer than socks that are "my size" given the same treatment. Because they shrink.

Also, put them on gently as opposed to plunging them on toe-first really fast and hard. You break the fibres that way. Do you wear your socks around without shoes? That can wear them out quickly too.
posted by evil_esto at 4:37 AM on September 9, 2011

Your say you found one pair that lasted a long while but then eventually gave in. That's exactly as you'd expect. What would be weird would be a pair of socks, worn regularly, for a very extended period, that did not start to wear out.

Some of mine go at the toe, some at the heel, but they all go sooner or later. It's an inevitable consequence of fabric rubbing against shoe. I'd say find the most durable pair you can (sounds like you already have) and then resign yourself to replacing them when the toes start peeking out at you in the evening time.
posted by pines at 5:36 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, but usually my white 'casual' socks (probably because I wear them a lot more) but my go-to 'dress' sock is GoldToe
posted by pupdog at 5:49 AM on September 9, 2011

I don't remember where I read this but I always leave "a bit of room" at the top of my socks, i.e. I put them on and make them snug, and then pull on the toe-end until there's about an inch of head room.

I haven't head toe-holey socks since, but all my socks eventually degrade in other places!
posted by asymptotic at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2011

Best answer: This happens to me, too. I usually get exactly one wearing out of sheer pantyhose, for example. Like ethnomethodolist, it's my weird big toes. Mine kind of curve up at the end, so that my big toe nail rubs against the inside of the shoes I wear. In fact, if I feel the inside of most of my shoes, there are spots worn away right where my big toe hits the top part of my shoe. Keeping the nail trimmed doesn't help, it just moves the spot where things rub slightly.

The main thing that helps is changing the shoe, not the sock. Shoes with a bigger toe box make a difference. My rounder toed shoes or those with more height in the toe box have less wear on the insides. The combination of my big toes and pointy shoes eats socks for breakfast.

I have a friend who wears little toe socks inside her other socks to help preserve the toes. That might help if your problem is something other than freaky toes. In my case, it just increases friction against the shoes, wearing out the sock faster while the toe sock is safe inside it.

You can also learn to darn!
posted by looli at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: I've never had a pair rip until I started having to wear dress socks for work. Before I would regular white cotton socks which were thicker and didn't cut my nails any more or less than I do now.

I just realized that it could be the size. My feet are size 13 and I believe socks only go up to 12, but I can't remember for sure.

Any brands anyone can recommend for some size 13, cheap, durable dress socks?

I bought a bunch of Goldtoe's from Costco which lasted a little while but eventually gave.
posted by blunt_eastwood at 7:57 AM on September 9, 2011

I'm a size 13 and I have the same problem with dress socks, and sometimes even with "gym" socks. I've found gym socks of larger size at Target that seem to be doing well so far, but I too have had difficulty finding anything larger than the 9-12 size in dress socks (not to mention tall shirt sizes, or shirts with 37" sleeves, etc.). I'm generally pretty good about trimming my nails, but I do also have the slightly-upturned big toe nail that people here mention.
posted by LionIndex at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2011

Best answer: I am a size 13. When I started wearing dress socks regularly, I experienced your issues until I became meticulous about keeping my big toenails trimmed. (A great way, for certain values of great, to handle this recently was to play a lot of soccer in boots that were slightly too small and have my big toenails fall off completely)
posted by Kwine at 10:28 AM on September 9, 2011

I had a pair of Rockports that were perhaps exactly the wrong shape on the big toe, although very comfortable. Had to ditch them, the sock maintenance was ruinous.
posted by Wolof at 7:52 AM on September 10, 2011

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