Three days ago my sister-in-law (we’ll call her Sil for short) texted me asking for a phone back. Usually this means there’s a question, story, or a fun anecdote. I’m never fully prepared for the questions she has for me.
How many socks should a person have?
Our conversation went on about socks for a good twenty minutes, while I imagined – because my mind has multiple tabs open and there’s always background music playing – how I would turn this question into a blog post. And she’s musing about ski socks – how she hardly ever wears them but they’re really nice and quite expensive so she can’t get rid of them. And hospital socks – there are seven pairs (SEVEN!) of hospital socks – why, for the love of Lysol, do we keep those?
Together we pondered the answer to the sock question and how to find out – google it? Ask our friends and family? Is that weird? Well, sorry, we are weird, and – Glory Be – it turns out there’s a whole tribe of like-minded weirdos who also appreciate the mundane and equally interesting details of people’s sock lives. And so here follows my very first attempt at a survey, which was composed too quickly and therefore imperfect and lacking in some respects. You’d be surprised how such an ordinary topic could be so serious, with equally strong feelings. Also, for all you voyeurs out there, some soft sock porn for your viewing.
I called it simply, We Want to Know About Your Socks. I am thrilled that 233 people answered my survey. Here are the results, with percentages for all you numbers geeks:
Question #1: The obvious – Do you wear socks?
87.1 % – or 203 people – said Yes
28% – or 28 people – said No
2 people declined to answer
Question #2: If you answered no, why not? (89 responses)
I find socks uncomfortable (too constricting, make my feet hot, etc.) – 24 (27%)
I rarely wear shoes that require socks – 20 (22.5%)
I prefer to go barefoot – 40 (44.9%)
I live on an island where no one wears shoes – 3 (3.4%)
This is a weird survey and I refuse to answer this question – 29 (32.6%)
Question #3: How many pairs of socks do you personally own?
Less than 20 – 66 (28.3%)
More than 20 but less than 50 – 124 (53.2%)
I’m embarrassed to say – 43 (18.5%)
N/A – 0
Question #4: If you have a significant other, how many pairs does he/she own? (226 responses)
Less than 20 – 70 (31%)
More than 20 but less than 50 – 77 (34.1%)
An obscene amount – 19 (8.4%)
I don’t do their wash so I don’t know/don’t care – 18 (8%)
N/A – 42 (8.6%)
Question # 5: If you have a child/children, how many pairs do they have? (223 responses)
Less than 20 – 50 (22.4%)
More than 20 but less than 50 – 43 (19.3%)
You mean “matching?” – 44 (19.7%)
N/A –86 (38.6%)
Question #6: How many of your socks do you actually wear?
All of them – 83 (35.6%)
Less than half of them – 107 (45.9%)
There’s probably thousands of them languishing in the back of the sock drawer – 41 (17.6%)
N/A –2 ( 0.9%)
Question # 7: What types of socks would we see in your drawer?
Here are the types I included and (the number of people who said they have them.) I sincerely apologize to one lovely who pointed out my egregious omission of toe socks. The inclusion of toe socks would surely have brought all the kids to the debate yard. Ugh. Hindsight is SO 2020. (Remember that phrase – I think it will be famous. If it isn’t already.)
Gym socks (120), trouser socks (95), ankle socks (182), no-show socks (123), ski socks (27), fun patterned socks (190 – which is a full 81% of you!), fuzzy slipper socks (167), compression socks (65), Other (63), and (1) N/A.
72 of you still have hospital socks lying around, or neatly folded, or whatever you do with them. (Yeah, I forgot to ask HOW one folds or stores them – which WAS a natural segue between SIL and me. And surely we can’t be the only ones who want to know.)
Question #8: What is your preferred material for socks?
Overwhelmingly, and perhaps not so surprising, 200 of you choose cotton. Wool and nylon/polyester were close at 63 and 50, respectively. 21 selected “what else is there?” and, because peopling has been hard this year – 51 selected “The skin of my enemies.”
Question #9: How often do you purchase socks?
Every time I go to the store, kind of like buying toilet paper in a pandemic – 8 (3.4%)
Often, but you won’t find my dead body buried under a mountain of socks – 56 (24%)
If, and only IF, they get super dirty or holey. Otherwise, they’re still good – 68 (29.2%)
Rarely. I spend my money on more important things, like wine and takeout – 78 (33.5%)
Once a year. Everyone gets socks for the holidays – 20 (8.6%)
Never – 3 (1.3%)
Question #10: Where do you most often purchase socks?
I got lazy and didn’t offer choices, left it open. 214 people wrote in responses. Target was the #1 place, followed by the usual suspects like Walmart, Amazon, and Costco.
There was also Kohls, Dicks, TJ Maxx, DSW, various small retail and department stores, and dollar stores – where one person buys them for the kids because “we wear them once and I can’t find them ever again.” Bombas, who regularly bombard my Sirius XM with commercials, adorn at least five of your feets. And there’s BlueQ, which I’ve not heard of and now must find out because “I have always hated socks until my bestie bought me a pair of BlueQ. Now I love socks (if and only if they have swear words or are super geeky…)”
Many receive them as gifts, two of you make/knit your own (I bow to you), and one person said, “they just appear,” which is probably the greatest thing ever. (Well, assuming they’re clean and new.)
Another said, “wherever I come across them after studying them and their merits in regards to my feet,” and, I may be wrong, but – I’d bet my last pair of no-shows that I know this person IRL – and, if not, I get you.
Question #11: Do you wear socks with sandals?
Yes – 10 (4.3%)
Jesus didn’t, so why should I? – 19 (8.2%)
On the 8th day, God invented old men, who wore socks with sandals – 38 (16.4%)
Eww – 102 (44%)
I take offense to this question – 40 (17.2%)
I happen to love wearing socks with my sandals, and would appreciate your not mocking that – 9 (3.9%)
N/A – 14 (6%)
Question #12: How do you feel about men not wearing socks with shoes, even in business attire?
Why not? Einstein did it – 24 (10.3%)
Smokin’ hot – 3 (1.3%)
If women can do it, why can’t men? – 36 (15.5%)
There’s something dirty about a man’s bare, hairy ankles peeking out from a pair of pants – 44 (19%)
I can’t get past the smell of those feet once the shoes are off – 99 (42.7%)
I hope this trend goes away fast, like a cold sore – 87 (37.5%)
N/A – 5 (2.2%)
So obviously there were a few kinks to work out in my foray into surveying, and by kinks I mean details and structure, NOT 50-Shades-of-Grey, kinks. And, before you say it – yeah, I could’ve included that too but I was trying to keep it aboveboard and wanted to avoid trigger warnings.
Speaking of shades, I also forgot to ask about colors. If I had it to do over, I’d definitely ask about colors, how ya’ll store them, and also offer more choices in quantity, since several of you lamented the options. Also, what ya’ll do with socks when they get holes in them.
Finally, on a personal note, Sil has “sheepishly” admitted to “about 100” pairs, though she has spent the last several days organizing and purging stuff. Right now she’s working on her filing cabinetS (with a capital S because you won’t believe how many drawers she has and I’m not sure she wants me to share that information – perhaps more on that later). Socks with sandals? ~ “no, that would defeat the purpose.”
Todd estimates approximately 50-60, give-or-take. He has sport socks (ankle length) and a bunch of “cool” socks pictured below (I included my 7 pairs in with his). He used to wear socks with this one pair of closed-toe sandals because they rubbed his toe raw, at which time I insisted he throw them out. He is not a sandal-wearing man, and definitely DOES NOT go without socks in ordinary shoes. What kind of wife do you think I am?
I have roughly 40 pairs of mostly ankle socks, because anything longer makes me itch, and of course lots of no-shows which are beginning to no-show in my drawer and the laundry. I love sandals. Without socks. My son wears socks with his athletic slides, because this is a Gen Y thing, so we’ll let this one pass.
And since no one asked, I will admit to rolling/wrapping socks together inside out. Sil said a friend of hers said that is absolutely wrong, as it damages the integrity of the sock, but I will say after over 40 years this has been the least of my sock problems. However, as a result of this experiment, I will now be rolling Todd’s socks like a haberdasher and Kondo that drawer.
I absolutely abhor long blog posts and this one has exceeded my intentions, so I shall leave it here and thank you all for coming and for participating in this with me!
Todd’s “fun socks,” though I’m convinced there’s still more. Sil’s extremely organized drawers.
If you choose to read on, I included some comments and miscellaneous tidbits below. It is accompanied bySarah McLaughlin’s Angel (but only in your head), there is no obligation and you can cancel at any time.
“Socks are a necessary evil, only to be worn when absolutely necessary.”
“I LOVE toe socks. I also have orange toe socks that are super shiny fuzzy so my feet and lower leg look like a muppet! I have a problem.”
“I feel underrepresented because yes, I wear socks because I’m not insane, but I also hate socks.”
“I am the weirdo who wears socks all the time.”
“I’m happy ballet flats became a thing and will die in them because I really prefer not to wear socks…”
“I don’t like socks and only wear them when I have to so I am extremely picky about the socks I do wear (texture, weight, appearance). However I do like when people give me cool socks. I will never wear them but I like to look at them so I keep them out like a fun piece of art.”
“I have to wear socks because of hyperhydrosis. Unless I’m in Berkeley. Then I’m sock free.”
“So… I love socks I hate being barefoot. I wear socks to bed and I know how some people feel about that, but I can’t stand my toes being cold… also, people’s feet gross me out. I hate sandals”
“I don’t wear socks often because I like being barefoot at home + I go insane if I’m wearing socks and step in something wet and I always step in something wet within minutes of wearing socks. I love flip flops and I will wear them in a snow storm in the dead of winter…NOW MY KIDS? …When I do a load of laundry, I wash about 5 socks. I know there should be 30 pairs, but I can only seem to find 5 socks. I have no idea where the socks go. MEN? I think there should be a law against men [being sockless].”
“I never knew I hated wearing socks until the pandemic. I just put them on. Now that I don’t leave the house much, putting them on seems like the worst thing.”
Socks are important for the health of your feet because they absorb moisture and provide a cushion of protection between your foot and the inside of the shoe you’re wearing.
Einstein never wore socks. He wrote in a letter to his cousin, ‘When I was young,’ he wrote, ‘I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock. So I stopped wearing socks.’
From a podiatrist website I found: feet need to breathe. After a shower/bath, thoroughly dry feet and between toes, allowing time to breathe, before putting a clean pair of socks on. Also good to change socks during the day if they get exceptionally sweaty or dirty.
Here’s a little article I found on LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-deal-men-wearing-socks-today-stephen-viscusi/
*I got some great feedback for my very first survey, which – I will admit – wasn’t perfect because I get nervous when I have to come up with stuff like this and then I forget questions I might’ve wanted to include and then options for answers too and then I got all confused with the technical crap and had to start over so many times that I got impatient and just posted it. So, as a result of real-time feedback, I edited and fixed a few things as requested. I just want to say how thrilled I was with the responses and the reception I got from those who participated.
Thank you so much again!!