Last week UPS delivered boxes from Zappos.com and Land’s End. Inside: spring capris, shoes, two cardigans, a half-zip top, a fresh white shirt and an apple green knit dress for spring! Add this to my new jeans and denim shirt and I am ready to go. Spring shopping done!
I developed my efficient habit of shopping online each season after moving to an isolated small town. I do not enjoy driving 70 miles to Cheyenne, making the rounds of the mall and other stores, then driving back home. Too tiring, selections too impulsive and mis-matched. Online, I can order things that look good together and find both sandals and new work shoes. Free shipping vs half a tank of gas driving to Cheyenne and back.
What excites me the most is the new shoes: a pair of sandals and navy-striped boat shoes.
New shoes always excite me but these shoes have extra appeal! . NO socks. I do not like socks. At all. At night I prefer to sleep without socks but the winter chill forces me to cover up my feet . I love nothing better than arriving home and stripping off shoes and socks. The ultimate treat is a pedicure (first appointment of the year April 10) and summer shoes. Sock-free at least.
I dislike socks for several reasons. I don’t like my feet covered and socks get icky, like an old rag. They get pills and holes. Some cling hopelessly to dog hair, no matter how many times I wash them. And my white socks I wear while walking get dirty fast. Even bleach fails after a while, and that grey/white sock look-yuck.
As we all know, socks get lost. Who doesn’t have a drawer filled with mismatched socks? By the end of each year I have a bagful that I toss. Sometimes I keep my expensive wool socks thinking I might craft something of them, but that never happens. Two years later, I toss those holey stinkers for good.
I realllllllly dislike holiday socks. I don’t mean to offend those who collect Santa, Valentine, Halloween and St. Patricks’ Day socks. One could have far worse habits, but I find them excessive. I think about the kids in the world who have NO socks while we humor ourselves with gaudy holiday socks. What does it mean that we draw so much meaning from owning and wearing holiday socks? Seriously. Give the holiday sock money to a charity or donate a package of socks to a thrift shop.
Gary Larson, creator of the Far Side was making fun of phobias when he created the following:
- Luposlipaphobia – fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly waxed floor
However, that is the only reference I found for dislike of socks. I found just about every other kind of phobia, including the following:
- Cynophobia – fear/dislike of dogs
- Entomophobia – fear/dislike of insects
- Sociophobia – fear of people or social situations
- Somniphobia – fear of sleep
- Spectrophobia – fear of ghosts and phantoms
- Ombrophobia – fear of rain
- Omphalophobia – fear of navels
But, what if the dislike of socks WAS on the official list of phobias? What would the treatment be? Handling socks carefully three times a day? Sleeping with clean fresh socks under your pillow? Or maybe there is a drug in the works?
I should not be so hard on socks and holiday sock lovers. Even socks have ancestors and a long esteemed history. I found this interesting tidbit at blacksocks.com: Tracing the History of Socks. Who knew?
Derived from the Latin term soccus, the Old English word socc and the Middle English word socke, socks are a knitted or woven type of hosiery designed to protect and cover the human foot. Socks provide comfort, ease chafing of the foot, protect the foot from perspiration, keep the feet warm and help define personal style.
Socks in Ancient Times
From the earliest times in history, socks were used to warm the feet. It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that socks were used to enhance personal style.
In socks’ earliest incarnations, animal skins were gathered and tied at the ankles to provide a crude barrier between early man’s foot and his harsh environment. The ancient Greeks wore socks made from matted animal hair, while the Romans wrapped their feet with leather or fabrics. In the fifth century, priests wore socks to symbolize purity.
By 1,000 AD, socks came to symbolize wealth – but these were not the socks that we know and love today. Sock wearers in the Middle Ages donned colored cloth tied around their legs, then secured with garters. Garters were placed over the top of the sock or stocking to prevent them from falling down.
It wasn’t until the fifteenth century that socks became decorative, and the first printed sock designs emerged. At this time, socks crudely resembled the ubiquitous foot coverings of today. People began to wear stockings in various lengths, depending upon their attire. Styles ranged from just below the calf, to the knee, or thigh-high, becoming true extensions of an outfit.
Over were the days of rudimentary foot covering: men wore stripes of different colors on their socks or different colors on each leg to express individuality and add flourish. As men’s pants grew longer, socks became shorter, with the word sock replacing stocking for these smaller foot shelters.
The Advent of the Knitting Machine: Fast Socks
In 1589, sock history sped up when the loom was invented by Englishman William Lee. Now socks could be knitted six times faster than by hand. The loom took the world by storm, and by the early 1900s, the first circular knitting frames were developed, which allowed for a mechanized process. Voila: the mass market production of socks.
Modern-Day Socks: More Fabrics and Colors
In 1938 nylon was developed, which led to the blending of two or more fabrics together, a process which is commonly used today in the manufacturing of socks. Other fabrics such as acrylic, polyester, polyamide and spandex are also used.
The introduction of sock coloring led to a major infusion of new styles, patterns and looks. Colored socks are often part of school uniforms and figure prominently for sports teams who need to spot teammates on the field.
Socks, like people, come in all shapes and sizes. There are knee high socks, toe socks, short socks, anklets, over the knee socks, bare socks and more. There is even a National Knee High Sock Day on June 11 that started in 1942. Trends will always come and go – like the Argyle patterns popularized during the Roaring Twenties – but basic, solid color socks continue to be a favorite among men.