What are the absolute best every day socks available in the UK?
December 15, 2017 6:09 PM   Subscribe

For certain specific values of "best"... The Good Lady Researcher Her Indoors, being disgustingly kind hearted and wholesome, does not want proper/expensive presents this year for Christmas, preferring to solicit donations to a charity she's volunteering with over the festive period. Obviously I will be sending a hefty donation to said charity, but I'd also like to get her something small to unwrap (I've checked with her that this is OK and in line with her general thinking). She mentioned the other day that she was short of "nice" socks, so socks it is.

Socky snowflakes as follows:

1. While I definitely want nice socks, I actually specifically don't want socks which are clearly too nice. Sort of the whole point here is that I should be sending most of my money to charity and getting her a token thing to unwrap. In practical terms I'm lucky to not be currently hurting for money so will send the same amount to charity either way and don't mind what I spend on socks - since I'm not leaving the price tags on the key thing here is that they don't look like they were super expensive and I splurged. No silk blend fine hose, no well known fancy/designer brands.

2. The socks are to be suitable for everyday wear. To be worn with a variety of footwear, including such things as: smart black ankle boots, converse, brown ladies brogues, 8 eyelet oxblood Doc Martens. Basically what I'm saying here is that I want regular, everyday socks: not woolly winter/hiking socks, not fancy high calf or knee length socks, not super short ankle/trainer socks. Just socks.

3. The main concern from herself, with regards to "nice socks", is having socks which are not embarrassing if she visits a "shoes off" house or venue and has to unveil her tootsys in public. So interesting colours, patterns and designs are encouraged. Her tastes are eclectic and she's certainly not averse to either bright colours or clothing covered in giant pictures of stupid animals.

4. Obviously they should be both comfortable and hard wearing. We both tend to be on our feet a lot for various reasons during the day and also tend to kick off our shoes and walk around the house in socked feet in the evenings, so cheap socks do tend to wear thin pretty quickly.
posted by Dext to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, I should have said - either online or in person purchases are fine. I live and work in London so most popular retailers should be available to me.
posted by Dext at 6:15 PM on December 15, 2017

How about some Burlington Fair-Isle Socks? Or are those too folksy?
posted by The Toad at 6:24 PM on December 15, 2017

I love Boden socks for my toddler and would imagine their adult ones are equally well made.
posted by notjustthefish at 6:51 PM on December 15, 2017

"Nice socks", to me, means Smartwool. Stylish, comfortable, and the wool seems to have magical properties of keeping cold feet warm and hot feet cool. They are available in England, although I can't recommend a particular outlet, either online or bricks-and-mortar. Outdoorsy type retailers tend to carry Smartwool socks in the US, including the casual line I linked to. Perhaps I'm the only dunce here, but when they describe socks as "ultra-light", "light", "medium", etc. they are talking about the density of the cushioning. For everyday wear, you'd want either ultra-light, which would be more like a trouser sock, or light, which would be the thickness of an athletic sock.
posted by DrGail at 6:59 PM on December 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Tabio in Seven Dials was my go to for nice but not extravagant socks. Great for shoes-off situations.
posted by tavegyl at 7:05 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'm particularly partial to BAM socks, though I wear the men's ones.
posted by sueinnyc at 7:10 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Boden adult socks are pretty nice and not too spendy.
posted by sulaine at 7:15 PM on December 15, 2017

Smartwool gives me hives. I bought a pair based on the enthusiastic recommendation people here gave them a while ago and I was glad I only got one pair; I never wear them, even on cold days. To me they just feel like wool, with all its inherent heat-retention and itchiness. If she has sensitive feet or a tendency to get hot then I'd definitely pass on them.

My bamboo socks are pretty nice and very silky soft but they do fall down.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:37 PM on December 15, 2017

I really like these cheap socks, though I haven't had them long enough to comment on their durability (they do seem thin). The colors are nice and the tops have an unusual design that doesn't dig into the leg at all. Calvin Klein socks, like these, have been comfortable and long-lasting in my experience. Uniqlo socks are also nice.
posted by pinochiette at 8:07 PM on December 15, 2017

I was gonna recommend Uniqlo socks too. Sturdy, attractive, and inexpensive.
posted by Peach at 8:11 PM on December 15, 2017

Falke family cotton socks in her favorite colors.
posted by brujita at 9:18 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please go to Tabio as referenced above. They have a brilliant monogram service too where you can have words stitched onto the side of the ankles. Plus the socks themselves are very cool.
posted by stevedawg at 9:54 PM on December 15, 2017

I haven't tried them yet, but sources whose opinions I respect pretty much universally recommend Darn Tough for really great socks.
posted by waffleriot at 9:57 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like Finisterre quite a bit. The Last Long range is pretty diverse -- nice colours, nice patterns -- and the quality/price ratio is bang on. A lot of aesthetic similarities with Uniqlo, but definitely better quality (and knitted in the UK, if that matters) for not that much more money.
posted by holgate at 10:00 PM on December 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

(And Finisterre's London shop is off Seven Dials as well, so you can check them and Tabio out together.)
posted by holgate at 10:08 PM on December 15, 2017

I haven't tried them yet, but sources whose opinions I respect pretty much universally recommend Darn Tough for really great socks

I have several pair of Darn Tough socks and they are very good socks if you like your socks to be durable and comfortable, but not, say, elegant. Look for light weights - there's a Women's lifestyle section that has many options - lots of bold patterns and stripes. The "light cushion" socks are thicker on the part under the foot, maybe as thick as a standard cotton gym sock.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:26 PM on December 15, 2017

PS: Darn Tough are better than Smartwool, particularly given your criteria.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:30 PM on December 15, 2017

(If you ignore the cashmere lines, Pantherella are less spendy-luxe than I expected, but they do perhaps count as a "fancy/designer brand" in the world of sock.)
posted by holgate at 11:17 PM on December 15, 2017

Sea salt are cheerful and nice. Plus I seem to recall they do a sock set in a presentation box.
posted by kadia_a at 4:48 AM on December 16, 2017

You could combine the socks with giving to charity by buying from Stand4 Socks. I haven’t tried them so I can’t vouch for the quality, though.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 5:21 AM on December 16, 2017

Darn Tough are now what Smartwool used to be years ago -- the more recent Smartwool products wear out quickly, whereas Darn Tough are extremely hard-wearing and comfortable. They're on the thicker winter sock end of things, which makes them good for shoeless wearing in a winter house or all-day walking.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:50 AM on December 16, 2017

Darn Tough socks are great, Smartwool are pretty good, b.ella has some great designs and the merino and cashmere ones are reasonably priced, and Ozone socks are beautiful, although the materials (mostly cotton-blend) are not as fancy/durable as the above.
posted by karayel at 7:04 PM on December 16, 2017

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