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October 05, 2017
An opportunity for self-expression? A barrier to protect from the harsh cold of winter? Just something to you mindlessly slip on your feet before you put on your shoes every day? Let's think about some of the functions that socks have served over the years; most still hold true today, but you might be surprised by a few!
Especially with the surge in popularity of novelty designs and flashy colors over the past few years, this remains the most common way we think of socks. They're an opportunity to add individuality into conservative work attire, or to add a bit of striking elegance to an outfit for a special occasion. From the earliest pairs that were made completely by hand to today’s nylon stockings created with the utmost mechanical precision, this function proves to be most important.
In the entertainment world, socks often become inseparable from one’s image: what would Michael Jackson’s onstage attire be without his sparkly pairs? How would we recognize the Wicked Witch of the West without her classic green and black stripes? Tom Cruise could never have slid across the floor barefoot in his famous Risky Business dance scene. Children across the country were captivated for years by Lambchop, our favorite sock puppet!
Wearing different colored socks is like wearing different colored jerseys: it makes it far easier for athletes of sports where shorts are worn (soccer being the most prominent example) to see one another and detect whether someone is on their team or the opponent’s. In sports pop culture, Curt Schilling’s famous “bloody sock” immediately became the stuff of myths as the Red Sox pitcher threw one of his all-time best games in the 2004 World Series while bleeding from a torn tendon. The sock now sits in the Baseball Hall of Fame, a symbol of perseverance and grit.
It’s pretty safe to say that most of us take socks for granted: most of us have a drawer full of them and can easily buy more if you lose a few. In times of war, however, this hasn’t always been the case. One prominent example comes from the American Civil War, which saw an enormous need for socks to cover cold soldiers’ feet and prevent frostbite, hypothermia and other life-threatening conditions. In a time where socks could only be produced by hand, the army rallied women’s groups to knit 50,000 pairs that were sent to boost morale and body temperature. Needless to say, it would be pretty difficult to take socks for granted after this experience.
(Interesting side fact: A wool shortage at the time also saw cotton - a cheaper and more readily available option - becoming the main textile for the garments sent to troops, a trend that continued into times of peace.)
Are we missing any other ways? Let us know in the comments!
~Ben LoPiccolo - Content Creator for Ozone
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