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 a 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 —
- ACCORDING TO OCCASION
- Dress socks
- Casual Socks
- Sport socks
- Work socks
- Yoga socks
- Winter Socks (Thermal socks)
- Low cut (Ped) running socks
- ACCORDING TO FUNCTION
- Support socks
- Diabetic socks
- Boot socks
- Slipper socks
- Compression socks
- Loafer socks
- Leg warmer socks
- Liner socks
- Grip socks (Anti-slip)
- Water proof socks
- Tab socks
- Trouser socks
- ACCORDING TO LENGTH
- Half socks
- Belly socks / No show socks (Hidden socks)
- Anklet socks (Sneaker socks or quarter crew socks or Footie)
- Mid calf socks
- Crew length socks
- Over the Calf socks
- Knee high socks
- Knee socks
- Over the knee socks
- Thigh high socks
- ACCORDING TO LOOKS
- Split-toe socks (Tabi socks)
- Toe socks
- Half toe socks
- Toe less socks
- Tube socks
- Bobby socks
- ACCORDING TO FABRIC
- Novelty print socks
- Novelty fabric socks
- Silicon foot protector socks
- Hand made Socks
Different types of Socks
ACCORDING TO OCCASION
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.
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.
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 build for comfort and wicking moisture and support.
You need your sport socks to be breathable, comfortable and able to hold up through any intense workout you mean to do. The designers of sports socks incorporates all the features that compliment 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 breath ability. They may have cushioned soles for support for the sole of the feet.
Work socks are meant for work! – so durability and long wear as well as grip and support are all needed. These socks may have a reinforcement in the heel and toe area for extra comfort.
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 is 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)
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
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.
ACCORDING TO FUNCTION
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 is meant as a 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.
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
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 are meant as a 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
ACCORDING TO LENGTH
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.
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)
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
This is the general name given to socks that end midway between the ankle and the knee.
Crew length socks
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
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
These socks end just below the knee – these are very popular length for socks, worn under skirts and by sportsmen under their shorts.
These socks end just over the knee ( between the knee high socks and over the knee socks).
Over the knee socks
These socks are higher than the knee but not quite reaching the mid thigh
Thigh high socks
Socks that end somewhere along the middle of the thigh or even higher up.
ACCORDING TO LOOKS
Split-toe socks (Tabi 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.
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
This socks look like any other socks with 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 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.
These are ankle length socks with a cuff on the top edge.
ACCORDING TO FABRIC
The usual fabric 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 breath ability. 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
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
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