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13 Types of Socks: Why You Should Wear Them + Shopping Tips


March 04, 2024

Thinking of getting a few new pairs of socks during your next shopping spree and wondering what type of socks you should get?

Well, we figured you could do with a few expert tips on types of socks to make your shopping easier. That’s why we put together this article.

types of socks


But before telling you about the different types of socks that come out of the knitting cylinder, let’s consider why socks are important and why you are buying the socks in the first place. That will help you go straight to the right type for you.


Is Wearing Socks Important?

Not everyone loves the feel of socks on their feet and legs. But these anti-socks guys will probably forget about how socks feel on them once they know the more important reasons for wearing socks.

So, why does wearing socks matter?


Below are 5 compelling reasons why wearing socks is important.


1. Socks Protect Your Feet

crew sock-1

Have you ever worn shoes, even well-fitting shoes, and found yourself with blisters at the end of a workday?

If so, you probably didn’t have any socks on.

Wearing socks creates a protective layer around your feet. As a result, the foot and toe movement does not create undesired friction against the shoe surface, which can easily cause blisters.

If you go shopping for socks, those with additional padding at the heels, toes, and soles will give you maximum protection, especially if you, like me, are prone to blisters.


2. Socks Make Wearing Shoes More Comfortable

Imagine your delicate feet and legs inside a pair of heavy winter boots, all naked with no socks!

Frightening, right?

And if you have to keep those boots on for the entire 8-hour work day, that could be the most uncomfortable day of your life.

Socks provide comfort to your legs and feet, especially when you have heavier shoes like boots. If you have no socks on, every move will create friction between the boots and your feet, as well as other points where the shoe touches your leg.

When buying socks, consider that comfort is enhanced by socks specifically made for that purpose. Such types of socks include those with cushioned heals and soles, compressed socks, and those with heel contours and arch support.

These can ease leg fatigue from shoe-wearing and provide greater protection for people wearing shoes all day long.


3.Quality Socks are Moisture-wicking

Did you know that the soles of your feet have more sweat glands than most other parts of the body? That means your feet are bound to get sweaty inside your shoes, especially in the hotter days of the year.


Wet feet come with a range of risks:

  • A feeling of discomfort.
  • The threat of fungal infection.
  • Increased friction between the feet and the shoes, creating the conditions for blisters.
  • Smelly feet.

When shopping for socks, bear in mind that Merino wool and bamboo socks are best at moisture-wicking. Cotton can feel great on your feet, but it isn’t so great at keeping your feet dry.


4.Socks Help with Feet Thermoregulation

Cold feet can make your life miserable, and so can extra-warm feet. And although cold feet can result from medical conditions, sometimes all you need is a pair of quality socks to make life better.

When buying socks, know that a good pair of Merino wool or bamboo socks will keep your feet warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. If you are sensitive to wool or find the price tag a challenge, the more affordable acrylic is an alternative insulator.


5.Socks Have an Aesthetic Appeal

Whether it’s about color, length, material, pattern, or the way you combine them with whatever else you are wearing, socks can make a loud fashion statement.

For women, for example, wearing socks with a short dress or skirt can turn both functional and aesthetic. A bouffant, floral, short dress completed with black thigh-high socks makes a great fashion statement and serves as the warm wear you need for an evening event.

If warmth is your priority, choose the breathable wool or cotton knit type without padding. If fashion is top on your list, the stretchy and lighter spandex blends are what you should go for.


And now that you know why wearing socks is important, you have all the info to help you choose the best type of socks for you from our complete list below.

Note that there is no standard way of categorizing socks. Anyone can decide to use different features to place socks into different types. For this post, we will use the length and material features.


Types of Socks by Length

One of the easiest ways to think of categories of socks is by their length. You simply go by the point of your foot or leg where the sock reaches.

Below are 9 types of socks by length, beginning with the tiniest, the half socks.


1. Half Socks

Half socks are mute socks. They cover the toes and barely extend to the sole and bridge of your foot.

These socks are great when you wear backless shoes like Crocs or mules. You can have them on without anyone suspecting you are in socks.

Half socks can be of warmer wool and cotton materials. But they could also be from stretchy and snug-fitting materials with spandex blends.


Shopping Tip: Because of their length, half socks can easily slip out of your foot. So, be sure to buy those with non-slip features like elastic bands or those made with stretchy material and a snug fit.


2. No-Show Socks

If you don’t fancy visible socks, or your feet hate sitting directly on shoes, or are prone to blisters, secret socks are what you need.

Also known as ‘footies’, these invisible socks simply cover the toes and the heel of the foot without reaching the ankle bone. They secretly function as a barrier between the shoe and the foot.

No-Show Socks


No-show socks are commonly worn with sneakers, so they are often called sneaker socks.

However, they are also perfect with dress shoes, like closed Charlotte or Pam heels for women or loafers for men, staying invisible while you rock in your formal outfit.


Shopping Tip: Choose elastane for a snug fit. Breathable cotton, nylon, bamboo, or a blend of polyester and Tencel are also great.


3. Ankle Socks

Ankles socks are the real sneaker socks. You will find them on literally anyone in sneakers. These are extra low-cut socks reaching just above the ankle bone.

Ankle Socks


Ankle socks are more casual wear than invisible no-show socks. You will see them subtly peeking out from underneath the collar and tongue of sneakers or ankle boots and around the topline.

Cotton ankle socks are quite common with casual sneakers and ankle boots. However, moisture-wicking materials are more comfortable if you keep your sneakers on for long hours.


Shopping Tip: Favor breathable materials such as wool, bamboo, and polyester when buying ankle socks.


4. Quarter-Length Socks

Also known as anklets or short crew socks, quarter-length socks are one of the most common types of socks you see worn. They are regularly worn by men with full coverage professional wear.

Quarter-Length Socks


But quarter-length socks are also sportsmen’s and sportswomen’s kind of socks. They provide ample coverage of the feet and around a quarter of your legs. Their not-too-short length serves to keep them in place.


Shopping tip: Cotton anklets are very common, but wool and bamboo anklets are better at moisture-wicking.


5. Crew Socks

Crew socks stretch up to the mid-calf. We could say they divide the space between your ankle bone and the knee in half.

Crew socks work well with both casual and dress shoes. You can wear crew socks with high-cut sneakers, hiking boots, or underneath professional wear pants.

In cold weather, crew socks are the type anyone will wear to keep their feet warm around the house.


Shopping tip: Cotton is a warm and affordable option when buying crew socks for indoor wear in cold weather. Breathable wool and bamboo work great with dress shoes.


6. Mid-Calf Socks

Like crew socks, mid-calf socks stretch mid-way to the calf. However, they will go a few inches higher than the crew socks and a few lower than the full-calf socks.

Mid-calfs are another common type of socks worn underneath men’s full-coverage professional wear, especially in cooler weather.

Mid-Calf Socks


Women who love to make fashion statements with socks will readily go for mid-calf socks, wearing them with short dresses or those that flow below the knee.


Shopping tip: Thicker wool and cotton mid-calf socks are great options if the purpose is to keep you warm. Lighter and stretchy options with a blend of Spandex (Elastane/Lycra) are comfortable and fashionable with women's dress shoes.


7. Over-the-Calf Socks

Over-the-calf socks, or calf socks, are also called executive socks. They are men’s traditional socks with dress shoes. These socks cover the calf fully, standing just below the knee.

Apart from their formal use with dress shoes, they are also a handy type of socks for sportsmen and women. They will cover and protect a footballer’s or athlete’s legs but still allow flexibility of movement to the knees.


Shopping Tip: If you buy calf socks for sports, avoid cotton as it will absorb sweat and soak easily. Instead, opt for breathable, moisture-wicking, and fast-drying materials like Merino wool, nylon, and acrylic.


8. Knee-High Socks

Knee-high socks go all the way over the knee. For their length, they may not be the type of socks everyone wants to wear daily. Nonetheless, they have the preferred sock length for professions where socks are part of the work outfit, like nurses and flight attendants.

Knee-High Socks


Women choosing a short dress or skirt in cold winter or for evening events will do well with knee-high socks as well. In this case, they have a double function of insulating against the chilly weather and complementing the length of your dress.

Knee-high socks also protect your skin when rocking high boots.


Shopping tip: Cotton will do great in cold weather. Opt for breathable nylon, acrylic, or Merino wool socks in warmer weather.


9. Thigh-High Socks

Thigh-high socks stretch way up to the thigh. Because it can be hard to keep them from slipping down, they often come with an elastic band or belt to fasten them in place at the thigh.

You commonly find thigh-high socks beneath women’s short skirts or dresses, with casual boots or formal dress shoes.

While black, gray, and other monochrome patterns are common with thigh-high socks, some ladies fancy multi-color options as a fashion statement, especially with casual wear. 


Shopping tip: Unless you want to protect every bit of your leg from the biting cold, in which case cotton and pure wool are great options, opt for lighter nylon and acrylic socks or those with spandex blends.


Types of Socks by Material

We have anticipated some details on socks type by material with the shopping tips included in the types of socks by length. But it doesn’t hurt to give a quick focus on these types.


We stick with just four:

  • Cotton socks
  • Wool socks
  • Bamboo socks
  • Synthetic socks


1. Cotton Socks

Cotton socks are probably the most common type of socks you see around. That’s because they are readily available and less pricey when compared to other materials.

When it comes to their function, however, cotton socks are a flop for sweaty feet, especially in extra-hot weather.

Cotton retains moisture and will soak quickly, and that’s not good for your feet. Fungal infections love damp feet, plus moisture enhances toe-rubbing against the shoe, and that’s a risk for blisters.

Besides, cotton will heat up in warm weather and cool in cold weather. It’s not insulating!


Shopping tip: Choose cotton socks when you need to wear them for short periods, like your routine morning walk. Instead, avoid them as whole-day wear or for vigorous sports activities.


2. Wool Socks

Wool has several properties that make it the ideal material for any type of socks. While pure wool can be heavy, fine wool, especially from Merino sheep is breathable, flexible, long-lasting, and anti-microbial.

Wool is thermostatic and pulls moisture from your feet. It can absorb up to 30% of its weight before getting damp. That’s why it’s the best socks material for keeping your feet warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. It also keeps your feet dry when the conditions for sweaty feet are active.

As a downside, wool socks are a lot pricier than other materials.


Shopping tip: Go for Merino wool for perfect breathability. Alpaca wool may not beat Merino wool in other qualities, but it does in softness.


3. Bamboo Socks

If eco-friendliness is your number one factor when buying stuff, you’ll be interested in bamboo socks.

Bamboo Socks


These are made from naturally growing and drought-resistant bamboo plants and are, to a large extent, carbon-neutral.

Bamboo socks have great qualities. They are:

  • Thermostatic
  • Breathable
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Antibacterial

These qualities make them ideal for any sock wearer and suitable for almost every situation and occasion.


Shopping tip: Bamboo socks have a refined, luxurious look, but they won’t last you as much as wool or cotton socks.


4. Synthetic Socks

Synthetic socks are of different materials like nylon, acrylic, polyester, polypropylene, and spandex. They have many good qualities, including:

  • Maintaining their original shape and stretch for longer.
  • Drying quickly after washing.
  • Having a snug fit.
  • Lasting longer.
  • Wicking moisture.

For these qualities, synthetic socks are great for sports. However, they lack the thermostatic quality of wool and bamboo socks.

Also, the best compression socks come from a blend of synthetic materials, including polyester, nylon, and spandex. That’s because these fibers have the elasticity needed in compression socks while at the same time providing comfort.

Read our complete article on compression socks.


Shopping tip: Go for synthetic socks when you want a comfortable fit and easy-to-maintain socks.


Concluding Thoughts

Socks may not be the piece of clothing you think about first when you consider what to wear. However, when getting a new pair for your wardrobe, it’s important to think about what type of socks are best for you.

Because there are many types of socks, choosing the right type can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You only need to find a reliable guide like this one to get the shopping help you seek.

If you are looking for custom socks as a promotional item for your employees or clients, Vivipins has everything you need, from casual to professional wear. Talk to us today and enjoy our ‘no minimum quantity’ orders and quick turnaround time deliveries.



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Article written by

Simon Davis

I’m Simon Davis. I head the custom socks department at Vivipins, thanks to my extensive expertise in design and my knack for sourcing the highest quality sock material. Together with the sock department team, we ensure your feet are in the best socks because the brand label reads Vivipins. We’ve built a 7-year history of the best quality socks for any occasion or need because we have the right resources to create any sock type, size, and design your brand or fashion whims will make you dream of.

  • Variety in exclusive designs: You only need to visit our sock product page to see how spoilt you are for choice: Crew, logo, face, athletic, holiday, special occasion, you name it! Even then, we make them exclusively yours with your custom details.

  • Material every foot will love: We don’t just make socks, we make top-quality cotton, merino wool, bamboo, and cotton-spandex blends you, your team, your brand customers, or your employees’ feet will find irresistible.

  • The healthy foot guarantee: Vivipins socks take the award for all the qualities that brand an apparel of comfort: Breathability, moisture-wicking, snugness, and durability. If you are a Vivipins sock customer, you say goodbye to blisters and bacteria.

  • Seasons and time matter: Do you want your socks now, before the biting cold season knocks, or right now, before that brand promotion and marketing event kicks off? Vivipins has the magic sock wand to get those socks at your door right on time and at no extra cost.

Talk to us and become a Vivipins sock customer today. Your walking, running, and playing will never be the same again in those feet-loving comfy socks.

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