Socks are the New Shoes

Socks have swaaag?

Moms, there was a day not long ago when a gift of socks was an insult unless it came from grandma. Otherwise your kids could not have been less interested in a pair of socks, and it was a victory to see them wear two of the same color together. Never mind having them match in style or brand.

You may have noticed that things have changed. Now socks are as important as the shoes, claiming to have as much performance power as any sports accessory. They wick away moisture, they support, they absorb shock, they prevent odor. If only they could locate one another in the dryer, we would be in sock nirvana.

When you see the prices for these socks, you’ll miss the days of buying them in bags of 12. Back when Ft. Payne was the Sock Capital of the World, you could mix and match a bag of white or black socks all day long and not care so much when one went missing. It’s not so now that apparel manufacturers have recognized the status potential of socks and gotten the kids going along with them.

The tube socks of our youth were literally tubes of looped cotton fabric, one size fits all, with only a seam to guide us. Now socks are fitted to the left or right foot (a setback for the laundry sorter, to be sure) and specific to each sport. Nike Vapors are for football and Nike Elites are for basketball, but even your non-athletic kid probably wants a pair of each. Adidas and Under Armour have their special socks as well. These socks aren’t cheap. Vapors are around $17.99 and Elites are $14.99, sometimes less in youth sizes.

You can’t afford to let the dryer swallow one of these, since it’s the economic equivalent of ruining a shirt. For the first time, your kid probably isn’t willing to let the Sock Monster keep these socks wadded up under the bed or behind the chest of drawers. It’s too important to be wearing premium socks as a symbol of coolness. Can we blame them, when moms have perfected the art of athletic wear for non-athletic purposes, like running (errands)? The power of a stretchy, soft undergarment is powerful. We know Spanx.

It’s hard to say whether this fascination with socks is a good or bad development. On the one hand, it’s good to see kids keeping track of socks and keeping them matched and in the drawer. On the other, it’s a shame that socks have become more complicated and expensive.

No matter how well they perform, they all wind up as dust rags in the end.

Interesting: I visited Track Shack because I’d forgotten to pack a pair of socks for a short run. The wall was full of socks and the salesperson asked if I cared to try one on. Honestly, I had never felt the need to try on a sock before, but it only makes sense when you’re looking at a $15 investment.They are pretty neat socks, even if I do more lounging than running. Am I getting sock fever?