Some people say that shoes make the man. More recently, a case has been made that stylish socks are the thing, especially in Silicon Valley, where tech's trendiest show them off like bankers show off designer ties. Inspired by the launch of a new socks site for men, Zoraab, in October, we went on a little shopping spree to gauge the competition. Below, our mini-guide to socks sites, so you can get a leg up on the competition.
A site carrying 200 styles from 15 brands might seem daunting for anyone accustomed to shopping for socks at Target, but Zoraab is searchable by pattern, color, material, and more. Sibling founders Tina and Sunny Israni suggest "'bigger, brighter, bolder patterns for fall," such as Q*bert-inspired argyles from Ozone ($16, pictured) or orange-and-white Richer Poorer pinsquares ($12). Or try Portland-based Sock It to Me's Monkey Love argyles ($11), because: monkeys.
Judging by the colorful designs trotted out by Argoz, argyle socks aren't solely the playthings of conservative office drones and irritating golf partners. We salute you if you're daring enough to attempt the bright red Tomato Bisque ($15); safer bets are the green and orange Socktoberfest ($15, pictured) and the blue-and-magenta Hamilton ($15) designs. And scatterbrains, meet the Stevens—complementary sock pairs intended to be mismatched.
This free-spirited California company's offerings range from boardroom-ready to skateboard-ready. If you're hitting up the ski lodge this winter, you might want to grab something from its Snow collection such as the aptly named Scotty Dog ($15, pictured). Like any piece of art—many of Stance's socks are designed by bona-fide artists—these puppies require care: You're going to want to hand-wash and line-dry these knitted masterpieces.
For proof that SmartWool has earned its name, look at the Diamond Jim ($20.95, pictured), the company's subtle work-and-play sock, accented with a smidge of argyle. Not only does it look snazzy, there's a "wow" factor involved—namely, the socks' WOW technology (shorthand for wool-on-wool) that concentrates much of the Merino wool in the sections where you most need cushioning: the heel and forefoot.
This Stockholm-based company has collaborated with everyone from Opening Ceremony to Barneys New York and, thanks to a miraculous process called "silicon washing," its socks don't shrink on first wash. The brand loves big, bold colors, like those found on its stripe half socks ($12, pictured), but even its comparatively muted black-and-gray stripe socks ($12) will help give your feet their long-overdue makeover.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.
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