Remember back when you didn't like getting socks for the Holidays?
January 6, 2014 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Point me to your favorite winter socks. Because it's cold here. Really, really cold, and every single pair of socks I own has holes. All of them.

So, I go into stores these days, and all I can find are these crappy skin-tight trouser socks for women, because apparently lady-feet don't get cold, or something. This includes the Eddie Bauer outlet, to my bitter disappointment. Yes, I'm going to be wearing these to work, but I wear slacks for the most part, and I have to walk and take several different means of public transportation to get there, and I'm trying not to freeze along the way.

If I search online, and try stuff blindly, I manage to come up with stuff that wears out in about three washes, if that long.

  • I'm looking for women's socks, but I'll take men's if they'll work for me.
  • I'd like them to almost up to the knee, and to actually stay up (wow, wouldn't that be nice!)
  • Softness matters, a lot. I can't stand itchy or scratchy stuff touching me, and I'm really, really sensitive to it. Yes, I have read a thousand people singing the praises of smartwool, and it's tempting, but I own one pair, and I rarely wear them unless I'm desperate. Is there a brand of smartwool that somehow combines a bit more softness?
  • WARM.

  • posted by instead of three wishes to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
    Best answer: Apparently fleece-lined socks are a thing.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 8:48 AM on January 6, 2014

    Do your feet get sweaty? Can you tolerate synthetic fibers? The people I know who can tolerate such swear by microfiber fuzzy socks, which are super-soft but can cause sweaty feet.
    posted by KathrynT at 8:49 AM on January 6, 2014

    When you say smartwool isn't as soft as you'd like, are you talking about the touch of the fiber, or the thickness of the cushioning underfoot? The company makes many models with varying amounts of cushioning, but if the fabric feels scratchy to you then I don't have a suggestion.
    posted by jon1270 at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Also: this might be too annoying, but if you want the warmth of wool without the itching, you could layer your socks. One thin trouser sock, one wool sock over top.
    posted by showbiz_liz at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2014

    Thanks for posting this; I'm looking for warm socks myself. I own a pair of SmartWool socks, but the pair I have is quite thin.

    On a whim, I picked up some Alaskan Knit Socks from Target the other day. The ones I bought were crew socks (Hiking Crew), not knee-high, but they are lovely toasty warm. They've also kept my feet warm even when they've been sweaty, which is a big plus. If you're interested, there are different varieties: Trekking (79% wool, 21% nylon), Hiking (acrylic, wool, nylon blend), and a thinner knee high version. See the "Lovely socks, but be careful when ordering" review if ordering online. At $8/pair, they might be worth a try.
    posted by wiskunde at 8:56 AM on January 6, 2014

    I have a couple pairs of WigWam wool/silk blend socks. Mine are the big bulky boot socks, so not good for work shoes. But for warmth and softness, they can't be beat
    posted by readery at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2014

    Mod note: Folks, please note asker's reference to SmartWool in the question and make sure you're responding to that specifically if you've got something to say about those.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

    Cashmere socks are amazing, and many of the pairs I had held up to eight-hour days on my feet pretty well. I can't recommend particular brands, but you might want to poke around Sock Dreams for ideas.

    You might also try wearing a pair of cheap cotton tights, and putting your smartwool or whatever over them. I know plenty of women who swear by the tights-under-slacks thing for cold days, even without Sock Problems.
    posted by catalytics at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2014

    With the exception of being not as high as you want, I'd recommend Thorlo. An AskMe comment turned me onto their free pair of socks offer (you do pay shipping), and I'm so in love that I will probably order several more. I got a bunch of Smartwool socks at the same time but I like these so much better I keep shunning the Smartwool to wear them.

    They are as warm as the Smartwool socks I got around the same time, but are much softer. They're also more cushioned, but I got a trial pair with padding due to a foot condition, so YMMV on the thickness depending what style you order. They go about halfway up my calf, and stay up well.
    posted by Stacey at 9:03 AM on January 6, 2014

    My favorite winter socks and tights are by Falke. These are merino but very soft, softer than Smartwool. I also have these tights and love them (shaped feet!) I've found that they will wear holes in the toe if you don't keep your toenails trimmed short enough, but otherwise they wear very well. I wouldn't hesitate to try other Falke products.
    posted by cabingirl at 9:04 AM on January 6, 2014

    Seconding the suggestion for alpaca socks. Just as good as Smartwool and softer. I would also say that there are lots of different styles of Smartwool socks and it would be worth it to stop by an REI or other outdoors store to feel them individually. I have a couple pairs that are pretty standard hiking socks and one that is deliciously fuzzy and soft inside.
    posted by brilliantine at 9:05 AM on January 6, 2014

    Cashmere socks are indeed amazing. Nordstrom has some knee socks, but they are $50, and I don't know how well they stay up.

    Silk sock liners under wool or cashmere are the absolute bomb!
    posted by jgirl at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2014

    Best answer: These Goodhew Lucky Stripe Socks are wonderful. They go in & out of stock every few days, so don't be discouraged if they're currently unavailable. If you sign up for their email list you'll get 40% off coupons pretty regularly, which brings the cost down to about $5/pair. Order via their app (rather than the website) to get free shipping.

    Warm, *soft*, and they stay up! (They are relatively thin, but keep my feet warm in our subzero MN weather. And my feet don't get sweaty, unlike when I wear my smartwool.) I have other pairs of Goodhew & Smartwool, but I like this particular pair the best.
    posted by belladonna at 9:16 AM on January 6, 2014

    B.ella socks are very warm and soft. I have bought a few pair on Amazon and also given them as gifts to great response. Nice color and shape varieties.
    posted by MrsMGH at 9:18 AM on January 6, 2014

    I've bought Mrs Z a few pairs of the Smartwool Mountaineering socks. She loves them. There are some other versions where I can see the scratchiness, but you should give the mountaineering ones a chance as they are super cushy.
    posted by zombieApoc at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2014

    I have no idea what makes one sock stay up and another sock sag. But one solution to the inevitable sock hole (why is nobody doing kevlar socks?) on otherwise perfectly acceptable socks is to darn the socks. Most holes happen at the heel or toes, so you can even use any color yarn you like and nobody will notice. It's easy to learn and it doesn't take long to reinforce an entire toe area or heel. Darning.
    posted by aniola at 9:21 AM on January 6, 2014

    The Smartwool PhD ski socks are the softest wool socks I own--where "soft" means cushioned and with a hand more like combed cotton than knit. They are tall and do not fall down, ever. Also, the ski socks have padding in the soles. They are expensive--I usually buy them on sale at Sierra Trading Post.

    My Smartwool "everyday" socks (the noncushioned crew) are nowhere near as plush and only come mid-calf. They feel much more like regular cotton socks in terms of hand and padding, but I find them much warmer than cotton. However, my everyday Smartwool socks are not the terry loop design, which tends to add cushion.

    I have not noticed a big difference in the everyday noncushioned crew wool socks between WigWam and Smartwool, but I noticed a big difference in quality among brands with the cushioned socks. Smartwool seems superior to me, whether you're going with a light cushion or full padding. But the basic woolness of the sock is the same, whether it's a heavyweight noncushioned or a heavyweight cushioned sock. The heavierweight the sock, the softer it is. So a year-round sock won't feel as thick and blanketing as a snow sock.

    If by you find the Smartwool not soft enough because you react to wool, there are not any wool socks that will feel soft enough. My mother can't do wool--even cashmere is not "soft" to her. Then you're likely better off with something like fleece-lined socks.
    posted by crush-onastick at 9:22 AM on January 6, 2014

    Best answer: As for staying up, Sockdreams sells sock garters.

    They also have one type of fleece-lined knee sock. My fleece-lined tights are the closest to my Smartwool tights for warmth, so if it turns out that wool just won't work for you, maybe try the fleece-lined. "Plush" is the best description I've heard for fleece-lined tights, leggings and long-underwear.
    posted by crush-onastick at 9:29 AM on January 6, 2014

    Holeproof Explorer socks, they also come in a "normal" not thermal version which is also toasty warm and have ones for people on their feet allday. I have only been able to find them in Australia so I get friends and family to send them to me now I live in the USA. My introduction of this socks to my US friends went over so much better than my attempts to convert them to vegemite, that my mothers Christmas parcel to me this year was tim tams and Explorer socks in various sizes for me to share out with friends here.

    They are super warm, wool lining with synthetic outer so they don't get holes in easily at all (unless you have dagger sharp toenails), come up your leg so you don't get that drafty gap around your ankles and stay up (the company was the first to market socks woven to stay up in Australia many many years ago). And despite being wool or wool blend, not itchy in the least.

    A quick google search showed that some enterprising Aussies are now selling them to the world via eBay.
    posted by wwax at 9:39 AM on January 6, 2014

    I hope this is not off topic, but have you considered purchasing new shoes/boots? I ask because the heaviest pair of socks I own pale in comparison to warm/dry footwear.
    posted by phil at 9:48 AM on January 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

    I'm wearing these socks right now, and am quite happy with them. They're scrunched down to just over knee length, over my microfiber long johns. I still do need another pair of thermal socks over them to fill out my boots, but that's more the fault of my Army surplus boots than my socks. With a different pair of boots, the socks would probably be adequate.
    posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2014

    Depending on how cold your feet get, and perhaps the dimensions of your leg(?), I agree about Uniqlo Heattech socks. They're the thickness of regular work-appropriate trouser socks, not itchy, and warm, although not as warm as wool. They make knee socks but I found that they fell down annoyingly. (That was a few years ago, so maybe they've improved? I have pretty narrow calves) If you really just need to be warmer for your commute, consider legwarmers either over or under your pants?
    posted by chocotaco at 10:10 AM on January 6, 2014

    Darn Tough socks are softer than smartwool in my experience, and they come with a lifetime guarantee so if they get holes (which none of mine have despite long toenails), you can send them in and get new ones free.
    The hiking socks and cushioned socks are the warmest.
    posted by rmless at 10:13 AM on January 6, 2014

    Icebreaker socks are the merino wool socks that are so soft and comfortable (and durable, too!) that they make Smartwool feel like burlap sacks. They are a bit pricy, though.
    posted by JMOZ at 11:59 AM on January 6, 2014

    Patagonia women's ski socks. I have the men's, and they are warm and stay in place: lightweight, midweight.

    FWIW, my records indicate that their 30% sale began in mid-January last year and the 50% sale started in mid-February. Happy shopping!
    posted by suprenant at 12:45 PM on January 6, 2014

    Woolie-boolie. I love these socks. Soft and warm. I buy three new pairs each winter to add to my rotation because they do get thin eventually, but I've yet to put an actual hole in a pair. Expensive, but worth every penny. Looks like you can buy them from the manufacturer if you are in the USA.
    posted by Cuke at 5:16 PM on January 6, 2014

    I'm miserable if my feet are cold and I find the Smartwool merino liner socks a bit coarse and scratchy. At work, I live in Falke and Brora cashmere socks and wool tights (even under work pants) in winter.

    With careful hand washing (no fabric softener!) I can make a pair of wool tights last three years. As for the inevitable hole problem, well, it's a bit of a specialty solution, but I have a vintage Speedweve which makes darning relatively quick and simple.
    posted by stuck on an island at 4:36 AM on January 7, 2014

    Response by poster: Thanks everyone! I now have five different types of socks on order, and a few others I am keeping my eye on, since they are currently out of stock. Socks that turn out to be unbearably itchy to me will be re-gifted to a relative, until the search for the perfect sock is successful! (At which point I will probably return to this thread and mark it closed!)
    posted by instead of three wishes at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

    I kind of hate wearing socks inside, and I hate synthetics, but this year I was gifted a pair of those cheapo fuzzy socks and after a few weeks of wearing them I went out and bought a winter's worth. They're amazing, and even with my awful circulation they keep my feet crazy warm but not overheated.
    posted by you're a kitty! at 4:45 PM on January 10, 2014

    You might like to try these Heat Holders socks. I'm quite impressed. They are without question the softest, warmest things I've ever had on my feet. Even though the fit is a bit loose, they're so weightless and fluffy that they stay up quite well. They're very thick, so they may not fit with ordinary shoes. I haven't had them long, so I don't know how well they'll wear.
    posted by Corvid at 12:09 PM on January 19, 2014

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