BY: NADIA ZAIDI
I think we can all agree that most men like to keep things simple. Minimalist style is key to the average man’s interest in fashion. But that doesn’t mean that he’ll settle on his pair of socks.
In fact, for today’s modern man, socks are what jewellery is to women – statement pieces that leverage any outfit. Socks went from being hidden pieces of clothing warn simply for warmth, to accessories of statement.
Socks personalize a man, adding a subtle allure. Polka dots, eccentric patterns and bright colours are trendy ways to showcase personality beneath a well-tailored trouser. This also reflects trends toward modernizing the classic suit and trouser-shirt pairing.
Today, men’s fashion and apparel rests in the details; watches, skinny ties, high-polished shoes, pocket squares. These fell down the hierarchy of men’s apparel for several decades, and now they are symbols of status, intelligence and charisma.
It’s no secret that men’s fashion has evolved into something much more mainstream over the last decade. Prior to this, men’s fashion has lacked creativity and boldness – in large part because clothing is equated with femininity and a highly engendered industry. Today, socks are a 2.8 billion dollar industry.
Men’s clothing has become more of a speaking point, especially given the importance driven by celebrities and talking heads. Many male stars have clothing lines and associate high fashion with a high sense of bravado. From sports anchors to our own Prime Minister, socks have become one of the biggest accessory trends in male fashion. In fact, it may as well be an indicator of success, according to a study done by Harvard University’s Business School.
What they found was that people tend to associate higher status and competency with non-traditional/conformist behaviours. Apparently socks are a great measure of conformity. Traditionally, the darker the sock, the more appropriate. Today, bright colours and eccentric patterns denote drive and intelligence.
Socks have come a long way since they were first constructed from animal skins and wrapped around the ankles. Considering that they are now mass produced and inexpensive, it may come as a surprise to learn that they were once reserved for the rich, elite class. In the early Medieval times, those who wore socks were considered part of the noble class.
In the 16th century with the invention of the knitting machine, socks were more tightly woven. They were made from wool for the general population, and by silk and cotton for the upper classes. In the 20th century, nylon socks were invented.
Today, socks aren’t given a second thought when it comes to expense. Most retail at cost-effective prices. Perhaps the scene may be changing in the men’s department, but if I want a pair of socks to do the job, I’m not heading anywhere fancy.
Some people think that crazy socks might be a passing trend, perhaps having reached their peak popularity. Still, I can’t help but look down when I see a man in suit. After all, if we want to know what he’s all about, look no further than at the colour of his socks.