They’re there, they’re on our feet, and most of us have some meager form of love for them. Really, they’re a fantastic invention, warm soft tubes of fabric that go over your feet and ensure that they remain warm and toasty in winter months. They can be wonderful for walking around the house in, and generally just keeping your feet comfortable. But you know what? They aren’t always the answer, and sometimes they’re just downright annoying. No Socks Day is your chance to let your feet fly free and your toes taste the tarmac.
- The oldest known pair of socks is 1,600 years old and was excavated at the end of the 19th century from the burial grounds of ancient Oxyrhynchus, a Greek colony on the Nile in central Egypt. The socks are made from red wool and have split toes for wearing with sandals.
- The word ‘sock’ comes from the Latin word ‘soccus’ – a loose-fitting slipper worn by Roman comic actors.
- Misplaced socks are no laughing matter. In 2011, researchers established that the average four person family will lose 60 socks a year, racking up a total loss of £240 ($314.). What they can’t tell us though is where on earth they go?!
- It’s more common for married people to dress in the dark, in an attempt to avoid waking their spouses. This results in them accidentally wearing socks of subtly different colors.
- A design on the ankle or side of a sock is called a clock. This has been the case since the 16th century, but the origin of the name is uncertain.
- According to traditional etiquette guides, the sock color should match the color of the shoes and/or trousers, but should be at least one shade darker than the trousers and one shade lighter than the shoes.
- By 1589, socks were a necessity but still took a great deal of time to make. However, an English clergyman named William Lee aimed to scale down the time to produce socks so that his wife, who made money knitting, would not have to work so hard. This led him to invent the first knitting machine that was able to knit eight times faster than hand knitting.
- After inventing his stocking knitting machine, Lee approached Queen Elizabeth to patent his invention. However, as legend has it, Lee’s request was thrown out as the wool socks he made were not up to her standards. Lee then reworked his machine to produce finer, silk stockings, but his patent was again rejected as the court worried that his machine would put knitting artists out of business.
- Albert Einstein was known for being eccentric. One such eccentricity was the fact that he despised socks and never wore them after giving them up at a young age. He claimed that not only did he not see the point of wearing both shoes and socks, but he said it annoyed him that his socks would form holes because of his big toes.
- Believe it or not, there is actually a sock capital of the world. The Datang district in eastern China is the top producer of socks in the world, producing roughly 40% of the world’s socks each year. This has caused it to become known as “Sock City”, as it is estimated that in one year they make enough socks to supply two pairs for every person in the world.
- Toe/finger/glove socks, or tabi socks as they are called in Japan, are worn around the world. Wearing socks with different compartments for your toes allows people to easily slip on flip flops or thonged sandals while still wearing socks. This helps keep your feet cool in hot climates while also protecting your feet from the sun. Tabi socks in Japan are split into two sections and have been around for centuries. They are still a part of traditional clothing worn for formal occasions.
- Despite their somewhat gross use, historians say socks transformed from functional footwear to fashion symbols around 1000 CE, in part because making comfortable socks was a time-consuming, intricate process. Nobles and kings alike sported knee-high stockings as a way to express their financial and class standing because, like many belongings, the silkier the material, the wealthier you were.
- Before the 20th century, most stockings were a generous knee length. But as men’s trousers became longer during the early 1900s, long foot and leg coverings weren’t necessary and they began to shrink (this is likely where the stark difference between stockings and socks became noticeable).
- With the combination of World War I and flapper culture leading to shorter hemlines, more women relied on stockings for warmth and modesty. And thus, socks became a popular men’s garment, leaving stockings for women.
- Unfortunately, elastic wasn’t yet used in stockings, and women had to hitch up their sheers with garters.
- The DuPont Company revealed the world’s first nylon stocking at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and American women fell in love with the stretch, comfort, and durability. But, when the U.S. entered World War II two years later, DuPont paused stocking production to create nylon parachutes, ropes, and cords for the war effort. Stockings became difficult to find, and a hosiery black market made nylons a high-priced luxury.
- When the war ended, DuPont went back to making nylon stockings, but high demand combined with heavy advertising and limited production led to full-scale riots. Women lined up outside stores to purchase nylon stockings, and crowds became angry when supplies ran out.