Socks can add a fun pop of color and variety to your wardrobe, all while helping to keep your feet protected and dry throughout the day. Yet, how much do you really know about this fun and functional article of clothing? If you are like most people, you have probably not given much thought to where your socks come from or their fascinating history. To help catch you up, here are thirteen fun, random, and useless things you likely never knew about socks.
1. "Socks"- The Origin of The Word: Like many words in the English Language, the modern word "sock" has evolved over time, having come from the Old English word "socc", meaning 'light slipper'. Socc comes from the Latin word "soccus" used to describe a 'light, low-heeled shoe'. The word sock is likely also derived from the Ancient Greek "sykkos", which referred to a thin shoe worn with sandals.
2. Why We Wear Socks: At some point in your life it would be natural for you to have questioned why we wear socks. Is it done out of tradition? Or do socks provide a function? It turns out that the latter is the case. Socks provide an important function by protecting your shoes from your body's sweat, as your feet sweat nearly half a liter a day. Socks also help prevent the bacteria from forming in your shoes that can lead to smelly feet. Additionally, socks provide vital padding to your feet that prevents chafing and rubbing, and socks also help to provide extra cushion to your feet, making them a vital part of your wardrobe.
3. A Brief History of The Sock: Socks have been used to keep feet warm, healthy, and dry for millennia, with the oldest surviving pair of socks that have been discovered dating back to between 250 and 420 CE. These socks were discovered in the ruins of a Greek colony along The Nile River in Egypt and are made of woven wool. The earliest socks were likely made of animal skins gathered and tied around the ankles. Later, the Romans used leather and woven fabrics to make socks. As technology and fashion evolved, so did socks, leading to the variety of styles, designs, colors, and fabrics we see today.
4. Toe Socks: The Original Sock? While it is now often considered to be a fashion faux pas to wear socks with sandals, and toe socks have become more of a novelty item, it is likely that early socks were actually made to be worn with sandals. The oldest socks discovered that we previously mentioned featured a split toe, making it easy and comfortable for them to be worn with sandals, and it is likely that early socks were actually meant to be worn with sandals.
5. The Greeks Wore Fur Socks: By the 8th century, it was popular amongst the Greeks to wear socks made out of matted animal furs. As you can imagine, these socks were extremely hot and make us grateful for the breathable sock materials we have today!
6. Socks Were Once a Status Symbol: By about the 10th century, socks had transformed from purely functional footwear to a fashion symbol. This was primarily due to the fact that making comfortable, fashionable socks was a time-consuming process only affordable to the rich. Nobles, royals, and kings alike wore knee-high stockings as a way to express their financial and class standings, as long silken socks were considered a status symbol at the time.
7. Socks and The Origin of Knitting Machines: 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.
8. Queen Elizabeth Was Picky About Socks: 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.
9. Albert Einstein Hated Socks: 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.
10. The Sock Capital of The World! 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.
11. Sustainable Sock Materials: While recent years have seen a rise in environmental awareness and people trying to take steps to be more environmentally-friendly, you are not alone if you have given little thought as to which sock material is best for the environment. Most socks are made from natural fibers such as bamboo, tencel, cotton, silk, and wool, with cotton being one of the most common choices. However, if you are looking for a sustainable sock option, you should consider switching to bamboo as bamboo grows extremely quickly, requires no pesticides, is completely biodegradable, and it requires one-third of the water to grow that cotton requires.
12. Does Your Sock Have a Clock? While your socks are not likely meant to actually keep time, the area on a sock around the ankle from where a pattern may run up the side of the leg is known as the clock. It is likely that this term comes from the way the stitched or woven pattern can look like clock hands when viewed from far away.
13. You Can Join a Sock of The Month Club! Now that you know all of these awesome and random facts about socks, you may be in the mood to buy more fun and exciting socks to add to your collection. Well, did you know that you can join a sock of the month club? At "Say it with a Sock", you can sign up for a membership that will send fun socks to your doorstep each month. When you sign up, you will even have the option to decide how many pairs of socks, and in what style, you want delivered to you each month for your membership. Contact us to learn about how much fun a sock of the month club can be!