Men's socks in bold colors and patterns are an easy way to break out of the mold.
Here is a holiday enigma, wrapped in a big Christmasy bow.
If the perfect gift can be defined as something someone would love to have but would never buy for himself, what does it mean if, as it turns out, he is perfectly willing to buy that something for himself after all? Would we then have a present on our hands that was, at best, past perfect?
Perish the thought.
Especially, that is, if the presents in question are great socks. Is any gift more foolproof? High-quality socks are indeed the kind of small luxury a man can secretly and blissfully appreciate all day long but that can seem like a perverse expenditure when he is faced with a $35 price tag for them. (Corollary enigma: Is a status symbol a status symbol if no one else sees it?)
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Granted, as brain-imaging scans would surely reveal, the cerebellum’s gift-receiving quadrant does not light up with quite the same intensity upon unwrapping a packet of black cashmere socks as it does upon finding, say, a gold Cartier Tank, no matter how they cushion one’s sole.
But socks have become far less pedestrian of late. Those festive cousins of the trusty charcoal-gray sock — crazily colored and/or patterned hosiery (soccus ludicrous) — are no longer destined for the back of the sock drawer. Far from it. Not since the 1980s, when men last considered daring socks an outlet for personal expression, have so many guys gone feet first into style and had so many great options for doing it.
“Men have really been embracing socks lately,” said Eric Jennings, the men’s fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, who added that he was surprised by the strength of the trend. “The more novelty, the brighter or bolder the pattern or color, that’s what men are buying. A year ago it was compression underwear. Now it’s these crazy socks.”
That assertion reverberated in data from Happy Socks, the four-year-old Swedish line that is fast gaining popularity in the United States. All of the company’s socks are unisex and sold in just two sizes: small and large, or female and male. Graphic styles, especially those with circles, stripes and squares, have generated strong sales with men, a spokeswoman said.
The thinking seems simple enough. Distinctive socks are a clever and easy way to add a little oomph to your look without going overboard. A pair of multicolor Nordic socks is one thing — a bit of style you can flash when sitting down or crossing your legs — while a sweater in the same pattern might represent an unsportsmanlike reindeer overkill.
In other words, there is no need to wear your self on your sleeve, not when you can wear it on your ankle so much more expressively.