40 different types of socks

The basic purpose of Socks is to keep the feet warm and comfortable- it extends the life of your footwear by keeping it clean and away from direct contact with sweat and also keeps the feet clean inside your shoes (provided you regularly change the socks). The attractiveness of socks is the icing on the cake. 

There are many benefits to keeping the feet warm – even at night – not just when you wear shoes. According to this article, the National Sleep Foundation recommends wearing socks on the feet while you sleep to ensure a good night’s sleep.  

Before writing this post, I had thought of socks of as “Work socks” and “Gym socks” and then, may be ones with one or two different lengths. A look below will show you the many different types of socks – maybe it will boggle your mind as it did mine. Some of the types do overlap, but even then! – So many kinds. Socks is no more just gym socks or work socks for me. They are —

Different types of Socks


 Dress socks

different kinds of socks

These are socks worn with formal clothes like evening wear, business suits, tuxedo etc. These socks are made of a lightweight comfortable knit fabric and are usually calf length or over calf length, and available in neutral and formal colors like black, blue, gray or brown. A rule of thumb in choosing the dress socks is to match it to the color of the trousers of the suit. Read more such tips here.

 Casual Socks

different types of socks

These are everyday socks worn for less formal occasions. Comfort is the key driver in these socks, as well as appearance. They are usually calf length and  may have fun prints and patterns.

 Sport socks

many kinds of socks

Sports socks are ankle length, calf length or knee length socks designed specifically for active sports and most probably made of cotton for comfort, with some spandex fibers for stretch. They are built for comfort and wicking moisture and support.

You need your sports socks to be breathable, comfortable, and able to hold up through any intense workout you mean to do. The designers of sports socks incorporate all the features that complement these desires. These socks may have a ribbed construction through the ankle, arch, and calf for support – The areas around the heels and toes may be reinforced also for durability. They may have mesh panels for ventilation and breathability. They may have cushioned soles for support for the sole of the feet. 

 Work socks 

types of socks

Work socks are meant for work! – so durability and long wear, as well as grip and support, are all needed. These socks may have reinforcement in the heel and toe area for extra comfort.

 Yoga socks 

These yoga socks will have small dots on the heel area which gives it an anti skid property – you do not want to skid and fall as you do yoga. They are usually ankle length, with or without toe separation.

The yoga socks are meant to make you do yoga with comfort and give you enough balance and stability even while doing complex yogic moves.

 Winter Socks (Thermal socks)

different types of socks

These are meant to give additional thermal insulation in cold weather – these socks will be made of thick wool/acrylic fibers and they may also have extra padding to ward off cold. They are meant to be made of an insulating fabric which is absorbent, breathable and quick-drying.

 Low cut (Ped) running socks

different types of socks

These are short socks that fit slightly above the top edge of a shoe, with a ribbed edge  – these are usually worn with running shoes.


 Support socks

Support socks have become more popular and acceptable in recent years. Generally, in men’s socks, they are in over-the-calf lengths. Support socks contain higher percentages of spandex to help support muscles and relieve fatigue and strain. Sport socks are available with arch support – these socks will have an extra support section around the arch of your foot.

 Diabetic socks

Diabetic socks are meant as protective socks in all the sense of the word. A diabetic patient wants support and protection from cuts and bruises- they also want to prevent small blisters that form when ordinary sock fibers rub against their skin.

The diabetic socks will be made of very soft but thick cotton so that it is soft on your skin without any irritation and will have mesh ventilation panels on them for improved air circulation and a cushion lining and terry cloth reinforcement on toes to give comfort and prevent skin irritation. Some will have a gel in sole support liner for shock absorption.

 Boot socks

different types of socks

These are mid calf high socks meant to be seen well above the high top edge of boots. These are usually made of fabric thick and sturdy enough to protect the leg inside the boots

 Slipper socks

This is almost the same as yoga socks- though slipper socks are lengthier – these socks are meant to be worn indoors without the shoes. Because you need to have grip to prevent skidding when walking on socks without shoes, these socks will have small plastic dots on the outside of the heel portion that will prevent skidding.

 Compression socks

Compression socks are meant as support socks for people with leg pain. They utilize the effect of compression in increasing the blood flow of the legs and thus relieve pain and tiredness from legs.

 Loafer socks

types of socks with pictures

These are short socks which cannot be seen outside once you wear a loafer. These are for those who want to wear socks without it being obvious from the outside.

 Leg warmer socks 

different kinds of socks

These are socks without feet – they start at the ankles and go up to the knees and will be made of thick woolen/acrylic fibers meant to give warmth. They are usually worn over other socks for added warmth in winter or as a layering option.

 Liner socks

These are thin socks usually worn inside other socks – these protect the skin of the feet by wicking moisture and protect it from direct contact with thick fiber of socks.  

 Grip socks (Anti-slip)

Some socks come with a rubber sole for anti slip property – The non-slip sole is the highlight of these socks. These are usually seen in kid booties. Another kind of grip socks is the same as the yoga socks – the small dots on the heel area made of rubber or plastic prevent slippage. You may also hear of it as Pilates grip socks. 

 Water proof socks

These are thick waterproof socks made of a waterproof material like rubber – these are worn on its own for work that involves getting your feet wet.

 Tab socks

These are sports socks with an additional tab of fabric on the back of the sock that prevents the shoe from rubbing against the back of your heel. This is a good option to prevent repetitive contact blisters.

 Trouser socks

types of socks names

These are thigh high length socks meant to be worn under formal pants and skirts by women – it is usually made of very thin lightweight material 


These are decorative socks worn over socks; They were known as spatter guards worn over footwear  to protect them in the early days. They usually cover the ankle area of the shoes.


 Half socks 

These socks cover just the toes and mid arch of your foot. They are meant to be worn inside footwear like moccasins, mules, slide shoes.

 Belly socks / No show socks (Hidden socks) 

invisible no show socks

Thin nude colored socks which just about covers the heel (see loafer socks) making it suitable for wearing in plumps are called no show socks or Invisible socks.

There are also socks which are even shorter than loafer socks – they will have just a strap that connects the thumb and the heel area. They are meant to cover the feet heel area even as you wear any fashionable footwear.

 Anklet socks (Sneaker socks or quarter crew socks or Footie)

types of socks length

These are socks that end around the ankle bone covering the entire ankle area. They may rise above the shoe just slightly – these socks are used by runners inside their running shoes. They are also called booties.

 Mid calf socks

sock names and lengths

This is the general name given to socks that end midway between the ankle and the knee.  

 Crew length socks

types of socks for men

These are mid calf length socks with ribbing on the top edge.A crew length is said to be about 6 to 8 inches up from the heel.

Over the Calf socks

types of socks with pictures

These end between mid calf and the knee. May also be considered as Knee high socks if it ends just under the knee.

 Knee high socks

socks names

These socks end just below the knee – these are very popular lengths for socks, worn under skirts and by sportsmen under their shorts.

 Knee socks

These socks end just over the knee ( between the knee high socks and over the knee socks).

 Over the knee socks 

types of socks with pictures

These socks are higher than the knee but not quite reaching the mid thigh

 Thigh high socks

type of socks

Socks that end somewhere along the middle of the thigh or even higher up.


 Split-toe socks (Tabi socks)

kinds of socks

These socks (also called thumb socks) have a separate space for the main toe. They can be worn with slippers – I see this as the main advantage of split toe socks. Japanese socks called Tabi socks are these kind of socks – they are worn along with kimonos.

 Toe socks 

types of socks for women

These socks have individual separations for each toe. Other names for toe socks are finger socks, glove socks, 5-toe socks or digital socks (Wikipedia)

 Half toe socks

These are short socks with separate spaces for the toes individually but with out being closed at the end – leaving the toes exposed. These are usually used for dance practices and exercising.

 Toe less socks 

types of socks for women

This socks look like any other socks with a formed heel but will have an open space at the top with no covering for the toes. Toe less socks are usually used for movement involving wearing no shoes – like yoga and dance. 

 Tube socks

Tube socks look like toe less socks but the difference is that there is no formed heel. It is just a tube made of socks fabric, usually a one size fits all.

 Bobby socks 

These are ankle length socks with a cuff on the top edge.


The usual fabrics for socks are wool, acrylic, cotton, nylon, polyester, olefin. Spandex fibers are added to the fabric for stretch. Synthetic fibers dominate the socks fabric content nowadays though many prefer natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo – because of their moisture control, anti-microbial properties, and softness and comfort.

Rayon fibers made from bamboo are used to make socks but these are not the same as natural bamboo fibers.

Winter socks are made of bulky yarn and are specifically meant for giving warmth. Winter socks are always made of wool and acrylic fibers. Cotton is soft on the skin and very comfortable. Mesh is usually added as a panel so that you are more comfortable, because of the breathability. Spandex fibers added to the socks fabric give stretch and as a result more fit and also durability. Olefin fibers give the ability to wick away moisture and hence make you comfortable

 Novelty print socks

types of socks length

Most of the socks buying customers used to prefer neutral colors for their socks like white, black, grey, navy blue –  but that is slowly changing. Fluorescent colors and startling prints and patterns are taking over the socks market.

 Novelty fabric socks

types of socks length

Most of the socks are made of fibers of cotton, wool, polyester etc. But fabrics like lace and faux fur are used to make different and interesting looking socks – faux fur is used to make beautiful winter socks. Lace Topped ankle length Socks are the most popular type of lace socks – these have lace trims over the cuff of the socks and can be turned down or worn up- these are best for formal dressing for kids.

 Silicon foot protector socks

These socks are made of a soft silicon material and is worn as an extra protective layer for crack prevention. It is basically a foot protector socks and can be worn under or over your socks.

 Hand made Socks 

Crochet and knitting are techniques that can create beautiful socks with the most interesting patterns

Related posts :How to wash socks; Different types of Clothes ; Fashion Vocabulary.

Comments 9

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  1. iam looking for socks with tassels. i got them from USA many years back. the imprint says CEI… can yu help me find them. can send you a picture

  2. I once visited Victoria Market in Melbourne, Australia. There I found a small store dedicated solely to socks, with a section for dance socks: socks for ballet, socks for jazz, socks for ballroom dance, etc.
    Being a dancer, I wanted to buy the whole store, but ended up with 4 pairs only. I wish I had bought more….

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  3. Thanks for sharing the different types of socks, however my all time favorite were the ones that I called slouch socks. If you pulled them up they went about above the calf but they were made to be pushed down around the ankle therefore, I called them slouch socks and I loved them.

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