Athletic looks from the days of old — everything from zippered jogging suits to Kangol hats — are hitting the streets again.
So it makes sense that the socks from that era would also be afoot. White cotton tube socks with stripes — monochromatic and multicolor — are in-demand again. And in this total-throwback frame of mind, is there really another option when wearing vintage Air Force Ones?
Where do they come from?
All socks — even athletic ones — were generally black or gray through the 1960s. During that decade, many sock manufacturers, from Fruit of the Loom to Hanes, began introducing white cotton socks by marketing the idea that white was a fresher, more-athletic hue and that cotton better protected athletes’ feet.
The crew-length version of the sock became popular on the basketball court as stars like Dr. J, Walt Frazier, and Wilt Chamberlain played in them — Chamberlain, by the way, made sweatbands hot with the masses, too. These players inspired young men everywhere to pair the socks with an array of tiny basketball shorts. (This was decades before the University of Michigan’s Fab Five seniors turned longer shorts into a must-have fashion trend.)
Tube socks hung out in our dressers until around 2010, when Nike Elites were released. These colorful basketball crew socks appealed to the fashion fancy of young men who were willing to drop hundreds of dollars on countless pairs. Nike Elites spurred knockoffs that became equally as popular with skaters and with ballers.
Who is wearing them?
Knee-high tube socks are paired with short shorts and a wedge Converse heel on women in a rather Gwen Stefani way. And then there are the hipsters who, seemingly without thought, do the cargo-shorts-white-socks-Birkenstock combo that’s so not fashionable that it has become, well, fashionable.
Would Elizabeth wear them?
As a Catholic school tween, I regularly stole blue-and-white tube socks — they matched my plaid uniform — from my dad’s underwear drawer. Those days are over.
Should you wear them?
We can all take advantage of the functionality of the tube sock, especially peeking out of a high boot during the winter months. But using them to make a fashion statement takes the finesse of a trained eye. The good news is, you can experiment rather cheaply.
Where to get them?
These tube socks are available at Boat House Sports for $12.