With our recent BIG SHOE SALE events, we wanted to bring attention to a big part of shoe style; mens socks!
Most experts believe that in the Stone Age socks were made of animal skins, and that our ancestors tied around their ankles.
In the 8th century B.C., Greek poet Hesiod wrote of socks made from matted animal hairs. The “socks” called piloi. In early Roman times people would wrap their feet in strips of leather or woven fabric. Later they began wearing udones. These were made from woven fabric and pulled over the feet. However the first real knit socks were found in Egyptian tombs of the 3rd-6th centuries A.D.
In Europe, socks know as leggings were strips of cloth or hide that were wrapped around the legs and feet. In the Middle Ages as the pant legs became lower and more fitted, “hose” were fitted to cover the lower leg. Then when “breeches” became shorter, hose began to get longer, but it wasn’t until around the twelfth century, that feet were added to hose. Around 1490 breeches and hose were combined to make one garment, known as tights. TIghts were made of colorful silk, wool, and velvet. Sometimes each leg was made in a different color to add some flair.
In Scotland, knitted hose were worn in around the turn of the 15th century, but it was and in France where the first knitting machine was invented. In 1589, an English clergy man named William Lee, wanting to attract the attention of a woman that he had fallen in love with, invented the machine because she rarely looked up at him from her knitting needles! Many of the principles developed by Lee can still be found in the textile machines of today. When knitting machines became regularly used in the end of the 1500’s, knitted hose became more common all over Europe. The Swiss and Germans favored shorter over-garments, revealing brightly colored hose beneath.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, European fashion became greatly influence by Spain. Fueled by the wealth acquired from the New World, Spanish cloth of the time came beautifully adorned using fine fabrics and adorned with embroidery and gems. Typically, Men’s socks were made of silk, embroidered with the emblems to show off a little. Throughout Britain, shooting socks became popular for hunting.
In the 20th century, nylon, being more elastic than cotton, became popular for stockings. Then as men’s pants grew longer, “stockings” became shorter, and the word “sock” began being used to name these shorter leg coverings. As sports like football, soccer and rugby became more and more popular, colorful uniforms were needed to differentiate between teams and in turn colorful matching socks where needed. In the Roaring Twenties, argyles were very popular, but eventually basic, plain colored socks became the norm for men.
Fortunately, in recent years socks have been undergoing a minor renaissance. Colorful socks are popping up everywhere in menswear, drawing inspiration from times past and styles long forgotten, or completely new and modern design. It is a good time for men’s feet to live in.