It’s a golden age for people who like to shop without leaving the house. If you prefer to browse the aisles of a store, waiting for a product to catch your eye, that option is still on the table. For those who prefer to hunker down at home, or reserve their outings for other errands and pastimes, never has it been easier to find just the product you want from the comfort of your own home, courtesy of a little thing called e-commerce.
Whatever you want to buy, there’s an online store for it. Socks are no exception.
Compared to books and cookware, however, apparel items like socks have been slow to catch on as an e-comm good. Clothing is very personal, in terms of both style and fit. People often want to see garments on their bodies before making a buying decision. The fit and feel of the fabric can be hard to discern from afar, especially with sizing charts that may have been developed in a foreign factory. Many garments can be returned, but that can be more of a hassle than going to the store.
Still, if you value your free time and prefer not to spend it in department stores, there’s no reason you shouldn’t buy your socks from e-commerce stores. With a little know-how, you can find the perfect pair without seeing them in person before you buy. Here are five things to think about when shopping for socks online.
Socks come in a variety of lengths, but the basic selections are:
- Ankle Socks.
- Mid-Calf Socks.
- Knee-Length Socks.
Ankle socks are typically worn with casual shoes like sneakers, often paired with shorts, to give the impression that you aren’t wearing any socks. Note that if they poke slightly above the shoe line, no one will throw rocks at you But remember that if they are visible, color matching rules still apply. Don’t be caught wearing white ankle socks to an occasion where white socks are a faux-pas. White socks are really only acceptable at the gym, on the trail, or during other sporty activities.
Mid-calf socks are versatile and appropriate for many occasions, including formal, semi-formal, and dressy casual occasions, provided that you color-match them properly. Mid-calf socks are also available in a variety of fabric, color, and pattern choices, so you can get creative. Wearing mid-calf socks has become a popular choice amongst hipsters, but unless you’re going for the ironic and intentional faux-pas, don’t wear these with shorts, even scrunched down or rolled.
Knee-length socks can feel like a comfortable hug for your own calf, and you can get away with them under long pants. However, these kinds of socks are really only for certain athletic events like soccer or rugby. They tend to be colored accordingly.
Whether or not a sock lasts a long time, whether or not it is appropriate to the occasion, the material of the sock plays a big role in those considerations.
Formal socks tend to be lightweight, made of thin cotton or nylon. These socks look elegant and often feel silky-smooth on the feet, which can be wonderful for fancy occasions. Thinner socks, however, tend to rip more easily, provide little warmth or cushioning, do not wick moisture, and tend to acquire funky smells that do not go away. Thinner socks tend to live the high life and die young, so plan on that if you choose a thinner material.
Heavier cotton and wool socks, by contrast, tend to wick moisture and resist tearing or stretching. They cushion the feet, making shoes more comfortable over long time frames. They tend not to retain odor, even after years of use. Higher-quality cotton and wool can even feel luxurious and go over well at formal occasions.
Size does matter when it comes to socks, despite our tendency to treat them as one-size-fits-all. If a sock is too tight, it can put unnecessary strain on the fabric, causing thinner socks in particular to rip prematurely.
In contrast, a sock that is too loose will tend to slide down uncomfortably.
You can combat this by choosing a sock that contains a larger percentage of stretchy fabric, like spandex. Before you order, however, look at the size chart. Take measurements of your feet and calf, if necessary, to hone in on the size of sock that will give you the most comfortable and durable fit.
One of the advantages of shopping online is the amazing selection at your fingertips. Socks available for sale at e-commerce stores have an enormous range of designs, including plain black, brown, and white; conservative patterns like checks or argyle; more whimsical designs like polka-dots and multi-colored stripes; novelty and comedy socks adorned with frogs, martini glasses, or superhero logos.
Consider the image you wish to project with your sock selection. Do you need to be respected by a room full of suits? Make an impression at a theme party? Spice up the workplace with something a little outside the box? Or blend in and not draw too much attention to yourself? The sky’s the limit, so buy with purpose.
There’s no one pair of socks that is the best choice for every occasion. We spend a lot of time ragging on white socks, but white cotton socks may be the right choice for a hike or a game of soccer; white silk stockings may work for an ultra-formal white-tie state dinner, if you’re sitting on such an invitation.
Thin dress socks may get stinky and rip quickly, but they may be just the socks you need for a special occasion. Wear them well and with love while they last! Coarse, inexpensive brown cotton socks may not make an impression at a party or formal gathering, but they could be the perfect workhorse socks that you can mindlessly throw on with your khakis to wear to the office. Everything in its place, everything in moderation.
Follow these tips and give yourself a better chance of picking the right pair of socks from the pictures and description provided at an e-commerce store.
BONUS TIP: If you find the perfect pair of socks, consider buying multiple pairs. Socks wear out and go missing. Guard against your favorite pair going out of commission by stocking up while the getting is good!