black silk dress socks
One of my favourite things about wearing black tie is silk socks. In particular, the lovely pair of Brooks Brothers black, silk, full-calf socks I own. They rarely get worn except at black-tie events, and are therefore as much a part of the ceremony as the bow tie or the shirt studs.

Every time I wear them I am amazed by how cool silk is. Somehow, they feel cooler than bare legs. Each time an ankle is exposed or you remove a shoe, a gust of cold air rushes over the skin, as if it the silk were taking breath. Bare skin doesn’t do that.

Silk is used in wool mixes for a similar reason. Summer, cashmere sweaters often contain a percentage of silk as it is good at keeping you cool in heat and warm in cold. While wool on its own is very good at ventilation (which is why all the old cycling jerseys were made from loose-weave wool), the silk makes the material a good summer weight.

The same applies to socks. Many cashmere socks contain a percentage of silk in order to make them more usable day to day. (I recommend the Pantherella wool mix sock, which contains 17% silk alongside cashmere.) Without silk, cashmere socks are really only good for the coldest of winter days or for wearing around the house.

Which brings me to the title of this post. If silk is so breathable and comfortable, why does no one sell silk socks for everyday dress use? A 100% silk sock has a sheen to it, and is a little transparent, so I can understand why these would not be practical. But why not silk/cotton mixes? Surely a minority percentage of silk in a cotton sock would make it more breathable without any noticeable difference in texture?

For an answer, I turned to my local tailor here in the City, PA Crowe of 11 Ludgate Square. His response: “Silk socks are not considered to wear well, lasting proportionately less time than cotton or wool. Plus some people say they pull a little on the heel, retaining their shape less well and becoming uncomfortable over time.”

Both of these are good reasons why silk socks are fine for special occasions – they are worn infrequently and usually only in the evening.

However, a silk/cotton mix sock would suffer far less from these problems. The biggest reason they are not manufactured in bulk, in turns out, is economy. Combining the two is expensive and the market is untested.

Instead, PA Crowe recommends Cotton Lisle – a much finer cotton that has some of the properties of silk. But I maintain that someone should begin offering cotton/silk mix socks. Has anyone seen any on sale anywhere?

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Arctic Penguin

I can’t say.. I’m still trying to find full-length pairs of socks in a decent pattern and of a decent quality that don’t cast 20 dollars a pair.. so sadly, I make most of my sock purchases at Costco. Any suggestions? I promise to keep my eyes open for silk blended socks though..

Todd

Great socks. But I guess it can be wore out easily. Right?

-H

Winter Silks has casual silk and silk blend socks: http://www.wintersilks.com/products.aspx?BRANCH=251~2034~&dept=Silk+Accessories-silk+for+your+toes

I find the longer socks a little short and narrow at the calf if you have much muscle there.

Manny Paltiel

French socks maker Bleu Foret offer cotton/silk blend socks — and they are very nice indeed!

Vikingo

Have you tried the ones from Mazarin that Mes Chaussetes Rogues carries? And if so, do they have too much sheen to them for wearing with “business suits”?

zorab

I have never wore these types of socks because I don’t like black colored socks. I always wear colored socks but by telling lots of qualities of black silk socks in this post you have changed my opinion. Now I am thinking to try these socks then I will tell you that how I feel by wearing these socks.

Kris

These are dress socks but are very nice and last a long time. I buy them for my husband.

Stanley

Hi Simon,

Recently i brought some Over the Calf Socks (cotton) from the Pantherella

I’ve started wearing them, they grip onto the bottom of my pants and the pants don’t drape properly.

May i know is it normal? or any other solutions to resolve?

Stanley

Hi Simon, actually my trouser is not too narrow, and i should say the sock grip onto the calf section of my pants, rather than the bottom of the pants

but i do think it is also related to my large calf, i google the solution, and some of them advised to use anti-stick spray , do you think it is a good solution?

or the best solution is not to wear the OTC sock

kh

The best solution is to wear sock garters with a pair short socks. The sock garters are still invisible even if do the extreme posture like sitting down on the floor and cross your legs. They always keep the short socks up even better than OTC socks. Not to mention they never stuck your calf with the trousers legs unlike OTC socks. If you have some short socks with slipping issue, why not buy one pair? You may easily find one at Albert Thurston, Ben and Clegg or even eBay.

Mark G

The Armoury offers a silk/cotton blend sock from Tabio. They are thin, but I find them to be excellent.