The History of Socks
From animal skin, to men in leggings. The evolution of socks through ages.
Have you ever wondered how long do socks have been in our feet? Since its a very common item in our daily lives, we probably just wear them without putting to much thought on them. But there’s really a very interesting side to their story. Where do they come from? Who wore them first? And why?
Naturally, socks were invented to protect us from cold and protect our feet from constant movement, in addition to put a smoother layer between our feet and the shoes we wore. They have become a staple in today’s fashion and there is a wide variety of socks in the market. But they weren’t as close as how they are today in the beginning of their invention. It is said that the first socks were actual animal skin wrapped around the ankles. This of course goes back to the Stone Age, then it continued evolving during the years and became a common accessory for the Greeks, the Romans and the Egyptians.
Around the 12th century, the sock became a bit more sophisticated and became an essential for noble men. A curious fact is that what we know today as leggings, a contemporary women approach to pants, were actually first used by men. Men used this two legged hose with a similar purpose of the primitive socks, but also became a fashion statement that usually accompanied a very baroque and over the top outfit that fell just over the knee.
The 16th century was a turning point in the existence of socks not only for men but also for women. Queen Elizabeth’s obsession with socks or stockings became noted but also the invention of the knitting machine made it easier and faster to produce a pair of nice and comfortable socks.
With the later introduction of pants, long stockings were no longer needed and socks became shorter. A wider variety of materials became available and with them, a greater color range. Today’s socks are not only used for warmth but play a very important and specific role for who they wear them. Socks protect athletes with compression and moisture reduction to prevent injuries. During both, WWI and WWII, soldiers asked for socks to prevent trench foot. There is also a very specific sock for people with diabetes which helps them prevent blistering.
With time and technology socks will continue to fulfil and improve their protective nature but they will also help anyone who wears them to express a very proud and interesting side of them. After all, the socks we wear, say a lot of who we are.