Holey Grail?
October 31, 2013 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Mens trouser socks that will not disintegrate in less than one year - do they exist?

Christmas is approaching and my husband needs socks. All of his current socks have holes and many of them were purchased less than a year ago. I’d like to throw out (or repurpose) all of his current socks and buy 20 or so pairs of new socks. BUT, I’d like these new socks to last at least through next Christmas without major deterioration. Is this possible?

The socks I’m looking for are mid-calf trouser socks, available in grey and/or black (colors/patterns ok too, but I’d like to just buy all of one kind so washing and folding is simpler). Not super thin, but not thick winter socks either. The socks are worn primarily with dress shoes, so they must be appropriate for that context. I’d like to spend less than $15/pair, ideally much less, but quality is the main goal here.

The usual points of weakness are the heels and the second toe. I machine wash and dry; I’m not opposed to hang drying, but would prefer to not hand wash (though if this is the only option it is doable).

These are the socks we’ve tried in the past:

Calvin Klein Cotton Blend – held up the best, but most pairs still developed holes after 1 yr or so

Express Argyle – only one pair of these, received as a gift; holes after maybe 7 months, but they do get a lot of wear

Dockers – Useless; holes in less than 6 months in nearly all of the six pairs

So, any sock recommendations? Any other best practices for sock care? Is the solution just more socks? How long are socks supposed to last anyway?
posted by melissasaurus to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I find the socks I get from Target (Merona, maybe) last pretty long. Make sure your husband is keeping up with toenail clipping and if his heels are rough, putting some lotion on them. That will ruin socks really quickly.
posted by xingcat at 8:11 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Smartwool socks have lasted quite well for me. They are not cheap, probably right at ~$15/pair, but sometimes you can find them on sale at places like Sierra Trading Post. They are not at all itchy, and as with all wool socks, you need to not put them on your toes and then just pull on the back until they get fully on. This will rip the heel. But I have pairs in decent repair (a bit stretched out) that I've had for 10+ years.)
posted by OmieWise at 8:14 AM on October 31, 2013 [5 favorites]

Smartwools (or another all-merino brand) from Sierra Trading Post (sign up for their newsletter thingie and they'll send you a 20% off discount code, PLUS their stuff is often heavily-discounted to begin with). I am hellishly rough on clothing (and on EVERYTHING!), and I still get a few years of wear out of my Smartwools. Buy a dozen at a time so you don't have to mix 'n match.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:24 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wear the heck out of my Smartwool socks and they don't have holes. I also have a lot of socks - many many many socks - which means each pair gets worn a lot less often, and that helps as well.
posted by rtha at 8:31 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can take this or leave it, but if you want hard-wearing dress socks, buy them from somewhere that designs socks to be worn all day every day for two years. Here's where some mormon missionaries get their socks.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:32 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh, and they mostly don't go in the dryer after coming out of the washing machine. I just leave them on the laundry table or drape them on the clothes rack and they're dry enough for wearing in a few hours and certainly by overnight.
posted by rtha at 8:32 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sort of an aside to the actual question, but sometimes you can combat heel wear in socks by using a heel cup insert inside your shoes.
posted by elizardbits at 8:32 AM on October 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I've found that SmartWool socks are nice, but they don't seem to last as long as I would like for the price. I've worn through most of mine in the ball of my foot and by my pinky toes. It probably takes a year or so.

I'm switching over to Darn Tough socks as the SmartWool ones wear out. Darn Tough's lifetime guarantee is worth the price. Wear them out and send them back for free replacement.
posted by advicepig at 8:33 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

hang your socks, don't put them in the dryer

if you email the nice people over at sock dreams they could tell you what their longest wearing pair of trouser socks are. they've always been super helpful when i've asked about durability and sizing.

i second the target/merona suggestion. all my socks that aren't sock dreams come from target.

treat you and your husband to a pedicure date to get any rough edges smoothed out before you get him the new socks. a lot of mani/pedi places even have a couple section that is a little bit separated from the long line of chairs so he won't feel like a) people are staring at his feet and b) like he's part of a knitting circle.

finally - make sure his shoes actually fit. shoes that are a little too small will wear through socks quicker.
posted by nadawi at 8:42 AM on October 31, 2013

Many men's style bloggers recommend Gold Toe for a lower-priced yet durable option. Of course, you could kick down for Pantherellas or Dapper Classics, but honestly they're pretty expensive and not necessarily better. I like my Pantherellas for their color and pattern (all purchased at deep discount) but they have all developed holes with weekly wear during fall and winter.
posted by Frowner at 8:44 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wear dress socks every day for work. I've gotten them from Dillards and Walmart. All are holding up well after at least two years (the last time I bought socks) and I do a fair amount of walking in them with enormous feet and a cavalier attitude towards nail cutting. My shoes have far more wear on them than the socks. I wear decent shoes, which may be part of why the socks are in such great shape.

I would try to figure out how and/or why your husband is tearing through socks in such a manner. Like stated above, are rough heels and nails cutting them? I'm really surprised to hear about so many people wearing holes in socks! The elastic is generally what fails on mine. Interesting.
posted by dozo at 8:53 AM on October 31, 2013

I buy my SO Gold Toe which has solved his hole-y sock problem.

What size shoe does your husband wear? Socks might be too small ("normal" men's socks really only fit up to a 12 or 12 in shoe).
posted by sm1tten at 9:04 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Express Argyle – only one pair of these, received as a gift; holes after maybe 7 months, but they do get a lot of wear

I find the socks I get from Target (Merona, maybe) last pretty long.

I wear a lot of trouser socks and especially these two brands. They are pretty equivalent in terms of wear, and 7-12 months / express sock sounds about right for my feet also (which are bony I guess). This is just to say that target likely won't improve in terms of time, only price. I've tried various other options and haven't found anything really all that much different. (I haven't tried gold toe yet though, I'll have to give it a shot.)
posted by advil at 9:32 AM on October 31, 2013

I have been pleased with the Kirland brand of dress socks at Costco.

It is rather unusual for socks to wear out like that over less than a year. Since you say it is all his socks, I assume they are various types and brands of socks. I think there is likely an issue with either untrimmed toenails or shoes that are too tight. Until that is addressed, the socks will continue to break down.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:44 AM on October 31, 2013

Adding another vote for Gold Toe.
posted by komara at 9:49 AM on October 31, 2013

Another vote for Smartwool! I have a bunch of pairs that have lasted me a half-dozen years or more.
posted by killdevil at 10:01 AM on October 31, 2013

Gold Toe last me very well. Also, should he cut his nails more often?
posted by Kafkaesque at 11:49 AM on October 31, 2013

Another endorsement for Gold Toe. I buy the Metropolitan model in OTC length, but the last time I checked they also had them in mid-calf.
posted by Bruce H. at 11:52 AM on October 31, 2013

A lot of people have feet that are slightly "off" from usual sizes (and even from the other foot!). The motion of a socked foot rubbing against the inside of a shoe can wear out both the sock and/or the lining of the shoe itself.

My feet are close to a half-size different, and the smaller foot rattles around against the back of most of my shoes. As a result, my shoes wear out in back and my socks fall apart early.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:47 PM on October 31, 2013

Response by poster: Ok, after conferring with Mr. S.: (1) the majority of holes are in the heel region, rather than the toe region, so I don't think the toenail length is at issue (2) shoe is is 10.5 so sizing likely not an issue (3) the socks are usually worn with (similar to) these and these shoes.

Possibly the cause: (a) method of putting on socks (b) rough heels (c)???

I thought this was definitely due to the socks themselves, but it seems some of you are able to keep even cheap-o socks hole-free.

I guess I should add that we live in NYC so there is a lot of walking on a daily basis (about 1-2mi/day). Could this be the issue? Maybe these socks weren't made for walkin'? Maybe it's his gait?

I'm leaning toward the Darn Tough, and maybe a pair of Smartwool as well, but if a change in process could fix this issue that would be preferable.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:42 PM on October 31, 2013

It could be all the walking. My SO walks a couple of miles a day, and walks hard on his heels, but with the Gold Toe socks this hasn't been a problem. He definitely doesn't have baby soft heels, either.

OTOH I have no idea how long socks are "supposed" to last.
posted by sm1tten at 2:07 PM on October 31, 2013

I've had black/gray socks from H&M last for years. They're a little bit thicker than typical trouser socks.
posted by zsazsa at 3:00 PM on October 31, 2013

I've had good luck with some uniqlo socks, and if you're in NY checking them out shouldn't present a problem.
posted by smoke at 3:09 PM on October 31, 2013

Wow, we replace our socks every year, I thought that pretty much everyone did. Isn't that a Christmas trope, new socks and underwear as gifts? Anyway a years use from atheletic socks and plain black (cheapish) dress socks seems fine. Though we generally only have 10 or 12 pairs each that we wear.
posted by saradarlin at 12:45 AM on November 1, 2013

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