Autumn’s here and the clocks are going back. Which means it’s finally boot weather… and we are thrilled. Why? Because this means it’s also (drumroll please) long sock season!
Long or knee-high socks have always been a great way to cover your legs, keep warm, and remain incredibly stylish. You can create vintage, 20th-century looks or the perfect, preppy back-to-school outfit based on socks alone. No wonder they’re making a comeback.
Knee-high socks are particularly popular in Europe and the US - probably thanks to their extreme versatility. These are everyday socks, special occasion socks, sporty socks, good-for-your-health socks. Truly, these are your do-it-all socks. And today, we’re here to tell you a little bit about where they came from and how you can wear them to create almost any kind of look.
The long history of knee-high socks
Knee-high socks are currently in high fashion, but did you know people have been wearing them for thousands of years? Yes, the Romans and the Greeks really thought they were onto something with the toga and long socks combo. (We’re not sure they went with the sandals though, ourselves, but hey – personal preference!)
Let’s take a quick look at the evolution of the knee-high sock through the ages.
- Ancient Rome - both men and women wore knee-high socks to keep off the chill between the shady colonnades. In fact, a lot of ancient Europeans embraced this trend. However, we probably would not recognise them as socks today, as they were only long pieces of material tied to the leg with a leather strap to keep them from slipping.
- The French Revolution - in an age where women weren’t even supposed to reveal their ankles, the knee-high sock was a flirty way of showing off their thighs under layers of thick skirts. Marie Antoinette apparently loved this style of stocking. Ooh la la.
- 20th Century Socks - the 20th century saw an increase in the production of nylon, rayon, and elastic. This meant women could finally do away with stockings and garters and start wearing what we’d now call knee-high socks. As hemlines got shorter, these socks became a fashion item all on their own. So, during this period, there was a much higher demand for coloured and patterned socks.
- Today - knee-high socks are available in an almost infinite range of styles, colours, and patterns. As you will see, they are perfect for wearing on formal and casual occasions, as well as while you are exercising.
Why do people wear knee-high socks rather than mid-calf?
Proper menswear etiquette dictates that men should not show off their bare legs when wearing trousers. Sitting down and crossing your legs makes the cuffs of your trousers ride up. So, as old fashioned as it sounds, men need to wear longer socks under their suit trousers in a corporate or formal setting to avoid showing too much skin.
There are two different types of dress sock we want to take a look at now:
- Trouser socks/mid-calf socks - longer than your average crew sock, but they don’t quite reach the knee. They’re usually made of a thinner fabric, like cotton, but if you’re feeling fancy, you could get some in silk or cashmere instead.
- Over-the-calf/knee-high socks - typically 18” high, making them the perfect sock to pair with business or formal attire.
Why do people go for knee-high socks over the mid-calf length?
- Staying power - knee-high socks will always stay up better than mid-calf socks, because the top of the calf muscle actually stops them slipping down! If you don’t want to be constantly pulling up your socks in the boardroom or at important functions, you need a pair of knee-high socks.
- Leg coverage - people like to say size doesn’t matter, but knee-high socks are 5” longer than mid-calf socks, and they make those extra inches count. They give you more coverage, meaning that even if your trousers do ride up, you won’t be making a major faux pas, flashing your bare leg at everyone!
- They make a statement - Knee-high socks are not just for formal wear! Create a very preppy, back-to-school look with knee-highs and a skirt. Or, if your style is more individual, go for some in a funky colour or pattern. As we move through autumn into winter, they’re also great for wearing under wellies and long boots, to keep your legs warm.
Ways to wear knee-high socks
The Casual Look
Knee-high socks are very preppy chic. If you want some inspiration on how to style them, check out Blair Waldorf’s best looks on Gossip Girl. They’re very practical this time of year, too. Wear them under knee-high boots to keep your legs lovely and warm all winter long.
The Formal Look
You might think it’s weird to wear long socks under trousers. But as we’ve just proven, if you want to avoid a serious faux pas, knee-high socks are a must for formal occasions.
You simply can’t go wrong with a pair of classic, over-the-calf socks with a pair of dress shoes and a smart suit. If you need them for a summer wedding, though, make sure you get them in a light, breathable fabric like cotton, bamboo, or silk, so you don’t overheat while you’re dancing the night away!
The Sporty Look
Knee-high socks are worn by professional athletes in all sorts of sports, including football, basketball, skiing, and snowboarding. So, whether you’re hitting the slopes this winter or you’re just there for the apres-ski, pull your socks up. You’ll be warmer and more comfortable, plus you’ll attract lots of compliments on your trendy athleisure look.
These are made of gradient elastic which squeezes your leg. Admittedly, they’re not the sexiest of socks, but they can really help you if you suffer from conditions like diabetes, DVT, or varicose veins. You often have to wear them after surgery, but they can also help reduce the risk of blood clots on flights, and relieve aches and pains after a workout.
So, if you’re going on holiday or down the gym, grab yourself some knee-high compression socks and thank us after!
(K)need a pair?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. Unfortunately, a lot of brick-and-mortar shops don’t sell knee-high socks anymore, as they take up too much room. Here at SocksFox, however, we believe in the bigger, the better.
We’ve got a wide range of funky, formal, and sportswear socks for you to choose from. Whoever you are and wherever you’re going, we’ve got your feet, calves, and knees covered, my friend.