As the weather in the UK has suddenly turned a little wintery, this seemed like a good time to talk about something that makes me happy: socks.
Although I lament the passing of summer, I do look forward to the sort of weather that requires an extra layer between the elements and my joints. Socks are a necessity, but they’re also one of the areas that you can get away with some colour and design, even if you have to be suited and sartorially muted for your work dress codes. Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow is a good example of this. He always looks professional, yet has an amazing sock collection.
So, for interesting design my go-to shop is the Swedish company Happy Socks. They are really hard-wearing, my current pairs got worn all the time last winter and they’re still going strong (no toe holes thank you). This is a pity actually, because they always have lots of new designs that I want. Recently they have been doing some collaborations, and I particularly like the Iris Apfel-designed pairs, and these in particular (size 36–40, if anyone is stuck for a Christmas present for me):
Iris Apfel is a bit of a legend in my eyes, and although I don’t always readily identify with her look in itself, I love her attitude of dressing how you want, for yourself.
Happy socks aren’t all about the eye-popping bright colours. They also do variations of their brighter colours in muted tones, for people who can’t or don’t like to do colour. The designs are still sharp, however, so they still a good choice for the greyphiles in your life:
For serious cosiness, I look no further than Catherine Tough for her lambswool socks. Championing hygge before the hipsters got hold of it, these socks are perfect for curling up and snuggling.
The wool socks, which are made in Portugal from Italian wool, come in knee-high or ankle lengths; they are very soft (not itchy at all), and the really nice designs make excellent gifts.
As they are wool, you do have to look after them a little or they will shrink (I wash mine on the wool cycle in the washing machine), but there really is nothing better on a cold day. She also does a range of silky-soft bamboo socks. Bamboo is lovely, and better for the environment than cotton, but I find it not as hard-wearing so although these are lovely socks, I can’t justify the price:
Finally, in winter, I need to be serious about keeping my feet warm or else the misery of a cold arthritic joint permeates my life, and this is never truer than walking my dog, where the dampness of the UK’s famously inclement weather can get through the toughest of layers. I take my walking socks seriously, and I tend to favour Bridgedale:
These socks are designed for walking so they keep you warm, but they also wick moisture for when you get going. They’re also very supportive and never rub. I prefer the merino fusion for general walking in cooler weather:
If it’s very cold, I also have pairs of mountaineering socks. It may seem like overkill, but my feet value toastiness. The thickness of these socks means you can’t wear them with your usual shoes, but I always size up in my snow boots (and I will talk about these later) to accommodate thicker socks:
£22 is a lot of money to pay for a pair of socks, but I have Bridgedale winter socks that are 14 years old, and they are still going strong. The average marriage in the UK lasts 11 years 6 months, so there we go, better value than a spouse and less likely to complain about your smelly feet.