What various socks are best for work, walking, lounging, and more?
June 2, 2014 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Askmefites always recommend socks. The best gift for dad, the best thing to spend money on, the best things to put on your feet, etc. Sometimes they recommend brands, sometimes they recommend uses of the socks. Usually, they just say "buy good socks". This is basically a question asking for more details.

Askmefites always recommend socks. The best gift for dad, the best thing to spend money on, the best things to put on your feet, etc.

Sometimes they recommend brands, sometimes they recommend uses of the socks. Usually, they just say "buy good socks".

Where do you buy your socks? what do you look for in socks? What do you do about those loose threads? How often do you wash socks? If it's every time, and you suggest $15 socks, do you own $300 in sock?

1. Work socks

What [Brand and product] work socks are the best for a sitting around at work all day job? They need to - Look neutral professional - be durable - provide comfort. Ideally these wouldn't put much pressure on your calves, almost all cotten patterned dress socks in the world leave harsh creases on your skin after 8 hours.

2. Athletic socks

What [Brand and product] socks are the best for wearing with tennis shoes for long periods? I've heard a ton about things like wool socks, and compression socks are a thing, so where do you look for these?

3. no-show socks

These are to wear with boat shoes, leather shoes, things that you aren't supposed to wear socks with but still want to so your feet don't sweat. I would love to hear what socks are best for this too.
posted by bbqturtle to Shopping (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: [I am male in case that makes a difference for any of your sock related answers... size 11 shoe, flat feet, not huge calves]
posted by bbqturtle at 12:10 PM on June 2, 2014

Mr tavegyl and I agree that Tabio socks, if available where you are, are great for #1, and can often be found on sale.

I wash socks every time they're worn even if it's for 20 minutes. If they've had only light use, I wash them in the washing machine on the 'handwash' setting with gentle spin and hang them up to dry. Even when I wash them at 40 degrees C, I never put them in the dryer. I never turn sock pairs inside out as that stretches the calves. Instead I use hair elastic bands or small binder clips to keep pairs together depending on how bulky they are.

I find that department stores almost always have racks and racks of good quality socks and stockings on sale. This may or may not be true in the men's section.
posted by tavegyl at 12:26 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I love LOVE almost any kind of (mostly) "wool light hiking sock" - REI, LL Bean, SmartWool, Wigwam and others have wonderful ones with different thicknesses in different parts (eg thinner and snugger in the sides and over the crown of the foot, thicker and cushier on the sole). They all breath pretty well and some brands (I'm thinking SmartWool for example) have models that can pass for dressier work socks.

Now, I know what you are thinking - wool is hot and sweaty, but these socks tend to wick moisture away and are really comfortable even when it's hot out and the extra cushioning and structure make them better at preventing rubbing and chaffing in sweaty times. I have not noticed a huge difference in wearability or duribility in the brands between say an REI store brand and a "name brand".

Incidentally: Middle aged male here with size 11 feet and "normal" calves.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:27 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I think you would be hard pressed to find better socks than those made by Darn Tough. I prefer them over my Smart Wool socks, although the Smart Wool aren't bad.
posted by Silvertree at 12:32 PM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Silvertree: what products for what uses? I can't seem to find darn tough in work-appropriate colors, and there are so many options...
posted by bbqturtle at 12:37 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

You will pry my Smartwools from my cold dead feet, although I've also got some North Face socks that are a close second favorite. I'm a petite female, but my male ex also loved his Smartwool (first pair he'd wear out of the laundry).

I wash socks every time I wear them, though I do tend to wear them to bed when lots of people don't. I cannot tell the difference between Smartwool hiking socks I bought five years ago and the pair I bought five months ago. I can tell the difference in the black knee highs because they pill. I have not had this problem with the thinner "dressier" Smartwools. I've never had a loose thread.

I guess I probably do own $300 in socks, but they've been purchased over such a long period of time that the expense was not very perceptible. Sometimes Sierra Trading Post has them on sale.
posted by desjardins at 12:59 PM on June 2, 2014

Smartwool quality has either gone down in the past few years or there are many mefites with different sock needs than me, because I totally regret all the money I spent on these expensive socks which all have holes in their heels after 2 winters' worth of wear.

I am currently trying out another mefite suggestion, the Darn Toughs, because whether or not they are a superior sock to the Smartwools, they come with a lifetime guarantee.
posted by elizardbits at 1:02 PM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

Ditto the regret on Smartwool socks. I have some I got for Christmas that are already starting to go in the heel, and I don't tumble-dry them ever.

I wear Uniqlo men's socks in all colors for work and lounging at home.

They keep my feet warm but not sweaty, and they stay up all day (no endless ankle tugging). Plus they're cheap, so you won't feel too bad about buying a bunch in the same color and swapping out the busted ones. They fade a little after weekly washing for a couple of years, but that's fine with me.
posted by vickyverky at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2014

Best answer: I use these with my dress shoes/business casual attire, I don't think I would hesitate to wear them with a suit, if they were charcoal or tan. I have never had a problem with the logo or my leg showing. I also use them under my cordovan Alden's.

I use these for hiking, general outdoor use, and for wearing with my Alden Indy Boots. The Indy boots are a bit bigger when compared to the cordovans. I have a pair of the half cushion, but I don't wear them as often.

Finally, I use these for bike riding, weightlifting, and working out. They aren't a true no-show, at least not when compared to the others I have seen, but I really like them nonetheless.

My feet are terribly sweaty, I noticed a big difference when I moved to the Darn Tough compared to the other socks I had tried, including several high-end brands.
posted by Silvertree at 1:13 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, Silvertree, I'm convinced. What is the best place to buy them? Also, do they pinch calves very much? That is my least favorite thing with target dress socks.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:18 PM on June 2, 2014

Best answer: I never wash my wool socks unless I spill something absolutely awful on them (and even then, wash cold hang dry). I let them air out on a rack when I'm not wearing them.

I wear wool every day during the colder months, but now that it is s/s I have switched to thinner, flashier socks.

I bought one pair of smartwool socks last fall and like Elizardbits, mine have already started to wear out.

MFA recommends ninja socks for no-show.

I've had a lot of luck browsing Marshall's sock rack for unique pairs, I suggest not paying more than $6/pair unless you know it's something you really want.

also: Purge purge purge! Don't keep that pair of socks you haven't worn in 3 years!
posted by rebent at 1:20 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

one of my biggest sock regrets is buying all the "cool" looking socks at Target, and having them feel aweful. I avoid polyester now. I might do a cotton-poly blend.
posted by rebent at 1:21 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Is wool too hot for summer?
posted by bbqturtle at 1:25 PM on June 2, 2014

Not at all, it is really comfortable. I mean probably don't wear knee-highs for the summer as that would be unnecessary unless your office is freezing like mine. I am wearing ultralight knee high darn toughs right now that I will just shove down to my ankles for the walk home in 78 degree city weather and it'll be fine.
posted by elizardbits at 1:27 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I (machine) wash mine every use. I'm just too OCD germaphobic particular to let them go without washing. They generally last about 3 years on this rotation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:32 PM on June 2, 2014

Yeah, I will wear them two days in a row in the winter but not in the summer, even though they almost always still smell like laundry detergent when they come off. But I usually want to burn everything I've touched after I walk home after work in the summer.
posted by elizardbits at 1:36 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, I guess I'm an adult now, I just payed $75 for some darn toughs.
posted by bbqturtle at 1:37 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am guessing you found a good place to buy them. Normally I shop right at Darn Tough, if I can't find what I am looking for at Amazon.

I wear the dress and workout socks year round. I don't wear boots often in the summer, but if I do, I still wear the Darn Toughs.

I have massive calves and do not have any problems with them being overly tight. In fact, I think they are quite comfortable. I turn mine inside-out and wash them in cold, tumble dry, just like the rest of my clothes.
posted by Silvertree at 5:30 PM on June 2, 2014

I've tried all the brands mentioned for walking & light hiking and prefer Wigwam. Durable & comfortable, and better value/price than Smartwool and others. The Trail Mix Fusion in particular is a favorite.
posted by artdrectr at 11:39 PM on June 2, 2014

If you have access to a Costco, the Kirkland "trail" socks are thin merino, $3, and at least as high in quality and comfort as my $10 smartwools.
posted by susanvance at 6:50 AM on June 3, 2014

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