Sock it to me, a history of the amazing sock

Our word for sock comes from the Latin soccus but socks have been around far longer that Roman times. According to Wikipedia, the earliest socks were found near the Nile in Egypt. They had split toes for use with sandals. Socks may have been around earlier than this and probably were, these were just the first found. Some of the researchers posit socks made of animal skins and tied around the ankles for warmth. Since the foot is one of the heaviest perspiration producers in the body, I can only imagine what those feet and socks smelled like.

The first knitting machine was invented in 1589, although it and hand knitters worked side by side until the early nineteenth century. Socks became a fashion statement: colorful tights that went up the leg to the breeches and German fashion slashed the overgarments to reveal their dashing hose underneath. These actually weren’t what we would call socks, but were stockings. As men’s trousers lenthened, the stocking diminished. During the Roaring Twenties, the argyle sock was popular but the color settled down to monchromes, and not very interesting ones at that, especially for men. (Anyone remember that scene in ‘The Birdcage’ where Nathan Lane, otherwise garbed in a boring gray suit, is wearing bright pink socks? Because one does want a hint of color.)

Fortunately, today, socks have had a renaissance and are available with patrons and/or bright colors.

 

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