A Brief History of Men’s Dress Socks. Everything You need to Know

Not all dress socks are made equal, and we’ll explain why in this post. Teeanime will discuss the history of socks, how they are created, and why men wear dress socks.

We’ll also delve into what makes an excellent pair of dress socks, offering advice to help you refresh your sock drawer. Let’s get this party started.

A Brief Origin of Socks

Socks were created out of necessity, whether to keep feet warm or to regulate sweat. Socks have been documented dating back to the 8th century BC in Ancient Greece. In the beginning, socks were made from the materials that were available: animal skins and animal hair.

The current English word sock is derived from the Old English word socc, which means “light slipper,” according to Wikipedia. This is derived from the Latin soccus, which refers to a “light, low-heeled shoe” worn by Roman comedic players, and from the Ancient Greek word sykchos.

Socks are designed to absorb sweat, keep our feet cool or warm, and can also be used as a fashion accent. Sock styles and materials made from natural and synthetic fibers are available today.

Sock Materials

While manufacturing procedures have evolved greatly over the centuries, animal hair, specifically merino wool, remains one of the most popular materials used to make socks. The wool is now cleaned, treated, and spun onto cones, although the first stage is still shearing the sheep’s hair.

Plant-based materials, such as silk and cotton, have long been popular in sock production, but DuPont created nylon in 1935, which revolutionized the business. This marked the birth of synthetic, or man-made, fibers such as polyester, rayon, spandex, and others.

Socks made primarily of synthetic fibers do not breathe or provide the level of comfort seen in natural fibers, leaving the wearer feeling uneasy. The advantage of synthetic fibers is that they are generally robust and difficult to wear out.

Why Wear Dress Socks?

Dress socks have arisen as a specialized hosiery type, created to satisfy the specific needs of dress shoes. Dress shoes are designed to fit more snugly, necessitating the use of a smaller sock; a thick sock worn with this sort of shoe would not only be unpleasant, but would also bunch at the ankle and distort the drape of the wearer’s pants.

What Makes a Great Dress Sock?

You know why dress socks are important, but what makes a high-quality dress sock?

Let’s find out.

The Materials

A fantastic pair of dress socks necessitates a great material blend. As previously said, natural fibers like wool and cotton are incredibly comfortable, however synthetic fibers like nylon can increase fit and durability. At Boardroom Socks, we think that blending natural and synthetic fibers will produce the best dress sock.

To promote comfort, the natural yarn should account for the majority of the sock’s construction. Natural fibers used in dress socks are typically merino wool or pima cotton, both of which have distinct advantages.

Merino Wool

Merino wool is regarded the best option since it retains its color, is resilient, and breathes well, keeping your feet dry and comfy throughout the day. A well-crafted merino wool dress sock is produced using colorfast and shrink-resistant pre-treated or “superwash” wool.

Pima Cotton

Pima cotton is another popular natural yarn choice because of its buttery-soft quality. We use supima cotton, an extremely long staple cotton cultivated in the southwestern United States, for our Boardroom Socks. We can make really pleasant and long-lasting pima cotton dress socks using this yarn.

Sock Construction

Dress socks, as previously stated, must be thinner than conventional socks in order to be worn comfortably with dress shoes; yet, they are available in a variety of thicknesses.

The number of needles used in the knitting machine is the fundamental determinant of thickness. The higher the needle count, the thinner the sock, and the faster the sock wears out.

We knit our socks at Boardroom Socks on a machine with a slightly lower needle count than most European producers. This results in a somewhat thicker sock that is also significantly more durable and comfy.

A reinforced heel and toe is another key design characteristic found in high-quality dress socks. Because these regions of a sock normally wear out first, adding an additional layer of yarn here can dramatically lengthen the life of the socks. A cushioned sole is typically seen in casual or athletic socks, not high-quality dress socks.

The toe seam of well-made dress socks should be modest, if present at all. To achieve a “seamless” toe, the socks must be seamed by hand or by a sophisticated knitting machine that seals the toe automatically. A flat toe seam reduces irritation on the wearer’s toes and results in a comfortable, well-fitting sock.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Dress Socks

You learned what makes a great dress sock, but what are some of the rules to wearing dress socks?

Here are the do’s and don’ts you’ll want to keep in mind.

Proper Footwear

Do: Wear The Right Shoes

Dress socks are made with fine count yarn, often known as lightweight yarn. This, along with the machine’s needle count, determines the thinness of dress socks and the type of footwear required for dress socks.

Dress shoes, loafers, or other lightweight shoes should only be worn with dress socks. Heavy-soled shoes, such as boots, cause greater friction and are difficult on dress socks, leading to holes and premature wear. Shoes with thick soles will also pull the sock down.

Do: Wear Properly-Fitting Shoes

Not only can wearing the wrong sort of shoes cause premature wear in dress socks, but wearing the wrong size shoe can be just as damaging to excellent hosiery. Loose-fitting shoes, which are typical with loafers, cause significant heel rubbing. This causes pilling, which eventually results to a hole.

Care Instructions

Although dress socks are not sensitive, you need follow a few basic care requirements.

Do: Use A Laundry Bag

When washing dress socks, you may have noticed that they pill or collect a lot of lint in the washer and dryer. You can assist prevent these occurrences by washing and drying your socks in a laundry bag.

The bag prevents your socks from rubbing against abrasive goods and also prevents direct contact with lint-containing items.

Don’t: Avoid High Heat

To begin with, avoid using high heat throughout the laundering process. Natural yarn, such as wool or cotton, is typically preshrunk, although nylon and spandex are heat sensitive. High temperatures will cause the socks to lose shape and will soon degrade the flexibility of the spandex.

This will cause the socks to sag over time. We recommend either air drying or tumble drying your dress socks on low heat.

Don’t: Never Wash or Dry Your Dress Socks with Towels

Lint is known for shedding off towels during the washing and drying procedures. Lint sticks to your socks and is nearly impossible to remove, quickly ruining an otherwise fine pair of dress socks. You should never wash or dry your socks with towels.

Wrong Materials

Don’t: Steer Clear of Synthetics

Examine the contents closely before purchasing your next pair of dress socks. Socks made mostly of synthetic yarns like polyester, nylon, and rayon will be hot and uncomfortable, causing your feet to sweat.

While menswear fashion trends come and go, the most basic rule for coordinating your socks is to match them with your pants. This surefire strategy will ensure that you are dressed appropriately for every occasion.

We’ve put together a few examples of how to pair socks, shoes, and trousers below.

When in Doubt, Keep it Simple

To begin, always examine the situation before putting together your clothing to put your best foot forward. Half the struggle is dressing appropriately for the occasion.

Do you have a job interview or a networking event coming up? Perhaps you’re going out to dinner with friends or for a drink? Always dress appropriately.

As previously said, the general rule is to match your dress socks with your trousers. This makes a smooth transition between your leg and your trousers, as well as making you appear taller.

This also prevents bringing emphasis to any one element of your clothing, enabling other components of your outfit, such as tailoring or fit, to shine. When in doubt, remember this for a failsafe look.

Go Monochromatic for a Powerful Look

A monochromatic ensemble, which is the preferred appearance for CEOs and politicians, exudes confidence and power. A dark suit with matching dark dress socks, such as navy, is elegant and likely to impress. Choosing a creative pair of socks instead would swiftly undercut the strength of this ensemble.

Add A Splash of Color

Pastel colors, particularly pink, look wonderful with charcoal gray for males who enjoy a flash of color. A pink dotted pattern sock paired with dark gray, for example, looks great with the pink tie.

Coordination of the pattern’s color with other elements of your attire, such as your tie or pocket square, can be a terrific way to put together an outfit.

Tastefully Mix and Match

While traditional menswear norms prescribe that a gentleman should match his socks and pants, there are other colors that can be used elegantly. Grey, navy, and olive, for example, go nicely together and are considered traditional colors in menswear.

You’re the Captain of Your Own Ship

Don’t forget that rules were made to be broken. Men’s clothing is an art, so don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it.


Not only will a good pair of dress socks keep your feet comfortable all day, but they will also be a key part of a sharp outfit. We hope that this article has been helpful and interesting to you.