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In the past few years some of Europe’s bigger sock makers have been pushing their own branding and online sales. There is now far greater availability of high-quality over-the-calf socks, which is great.

The problem is, the design element can sometimes get lost. The vast majority are plain colours, ribs or small designs like hound’s teeth. When sock makers do experiment, they tend towards the quirky. Bright colours. Polka dots. Even piano keys. Not things that find favour with sartorially discerning men.

The same usually applies to mixes of materials – both of which are reasons I am so interested in new sock company William Abraham


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The founder, Bram, is a big fan of shoes. Edward Green, Gaziano & Girling, Corthay: we were introduced by Steven Taffel at Leffot. But Bram couldn’t find socks that he wanted to wear with those shoes. And so, as with all of these stories, he decided to create his own collection. 

The result is a range of socks with a unique range of materials and weaving techniques. He likes silk, for instance, both for its longevity and potential for lustre. Across his range, there are therefore socks with a wool to silk ratio of 75/25, 70/30, 50/50 and 10/90. Plus three of those in cotton/silk, and some cashmere. There is also 100% silk, but woven 2-ply in order to give them more body and prevent them being sheer.

It is almost four years since I wrote the post ‘Why no silk socks?‘ That was stimulated by the remarkably cool sensation of wearing 100% silk dress socks. There were of course silk socks, and still are, but they are usually semi-sheer, for dress wear, or in a small proportion to add longevity to cashmere. Nothing compares to the William Abraham range.


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There is also variety in the weaving techniques. The Mirror Rib, for example, reverses the weave on the front and back of the sock to give the impression of a vertical line. A double-faced technique is used on the Milky Way and Vanisé Reverse Rib socks, on the other hand, with cashmere and silk on different sides of the material – one has silk on the outside, the other on the inside. 

I have tried four of the different designs, concentrating on the interesting material mixes. The silk/cashmere mixes are sumptuous to wear, particularly the 50/50 ratio. They feel like the most luxurious wool you could possibly have against the skin. And I’m also glad that the 100% silk functions so well. It is no more sheer than some thin cottons, and breathes fantastically. 

Which inevitably means that they are very expensive. They start at $62, with most of the models mentioned being between that and $100. There is even a model using cervelt (down from the red deer) at $1275. 

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twitter_Greedanddisgust

Fantastic! Sometimes you just want a tasteful, understated pair of socks.

Simon, I’m a bit naive on the subject matter of silk though — are silk socks breathable in comparison to cotton?

Anonymous

Is it garish to just wear really bloody bright red socks? Because even if it is I don’t care. Few things make me happier than brown suede and red socks.

Anonymous

I find socks to be the most erotic item of menswear. And these socks really are something.

Anonymous

Simon for cheaper footwear do you recommend Churchs? Or another brand?

Angus

Simon, do you have a recommendation on which socks work best for tall men. I am 6’5″ and more than half of the OTC socks I have bought are an inch or two too short, and fall down if I walk for a reasonable distance.

I have found it inconsistent as to whether my socks are long enough or not (eg my T&A wool socks are nice and long, though the T&A cashmere ones are much too short – and my Mazarin cotton socks are mostly too short, the Bresciani ribbed cotton ones are just about long enough but quite tight so they don’t fall down).

The length from the ankle to the opening is not ever disclosed anywhere in measurements, just the foot size. Hence trial and error seems to be the only way I have found to do it so far. My preference would be a sock that went right over the calf to a couple of inches below the knee – but that would probably be over the knee of a shortish man.

Anonymous

ASW offers made to measure socks:
http://www.asuitablewardrobe.net/made-to-measure-cotton-dress-socks.html

There are also european alternatives if you google bespoke or made to measure socks.

rodes

Where are the clock socks of yesterday?

BespokeNYC

Angus, have you tried Falke? I had the same issue with Bresciani but Falke seem to have a longer ribbing at the top, which makes them stay up better.

Also, Simon, do you ever find that long socks can cause your trousers to “stick” to them, creating an unsightly bagginess around the knee and ruining the drape of the trousers. Any suggestions on how to minimize? I think cycling might have given me chunky calves but I’m not ready to give it up yet!

BespokeNYC

Interesting idea on the lining. Would this just be a standard bemberg all the way down the leg? Have you ever had it done?

Johan

Hello mr Crompton, and might I say thank you for a formidable blog. And further a most inspiring post!

I have a question concerning durability of socks. Unfortunately being a student, I hardly find it feasible to throw away socks because of holes, and living in Sweden, good quality OTC-socks can cost you quite a lot (although fortunately not as eyewatering as the cervelt sock). So I have given some thought and experimenting concerning the most durable sock material. Cashmere has proven to damage quite easily, some woolen socks as well. According to my research, I feel cotton is the most durable, however wool is the most comfortable. Asking friends and salesmen haven’t gotten me anywhere, they all come to different conclusions. Have you got any ideas here?

Thank you,
Best regards, Johan

Johan

Correction: Because of a sock getting holes too easily, is of course what I meant. Nothing worse than a man with a shabby sock!

Peter

Dear Simon,
Assuming I understood question and answer correctly:
Which fabric is most durable for socks i.e. least pry to holes?
Wool

I’m sorry, but 100% wool or 100% cotton socks in my own experience do not prove hole resistant. Especially not pure cotton. Addition of synthetic proves hole resistant. I have not sufficient experience to judge hole resistance in regard to various amounts of synthetic: 10%, 20%.

John C Vesey

Good Show!! I have already placed an order and, assuming the quality intimated, I shall add many more to my collection. Thanks to you, I am a fan of Mes Chaussette Rouge and this complements the Italians great socks.

jon di blasi

$1275 for socks?…thats deer

Anonymous

LOL

Bradley

Dear Simon
At last – more choice of OTC socks. Bad news is that Abrahams is not cheap.
It is interesting how many comments you have received on something so simple and readily available – just goes to show that it is an item that most people can afford and want to experiment with.

To help BespokeNYC i have asked my tailor to cut the area around the calf a little wider than is usual but, still finish the trouser at the desired width. This can be seen when you lay the trousers down but, cannot be seen when you wear them. So i find that my large calves do not hold the trouser leg up as bad. This does not eliminate the problem though but helps overcome most of it. Furthermore – choice of suit (heavy is better) and sock fabric help.

For longevity of socks – you cant beat Bresciana – just make sure you never tumble dry them! It is such a pity that their full range is not available here in the UK. Simon – do they have an outlet in Italy that stocks the full range do you know – or perhaps a factory shop?
Great article –
Bradley

Anonymous

Simon
I don’t know if you are a Shot, or indeed a Sportsman of any type. I was, however, wondering if you knew the ability of tailors and cobblers to construct bespoke items to a weather resistant standard that would make them practical in the field. Most notably I think of a Norfolk Jacket or shooting suit with wind and water resistant abilities and a pair of boots that are water repellent? I would love a bespoke pair of boots like these (http://www.purdey.com/clothing-accessories/mens-grain-leather-twin-strap-boot-boot042.aspx) that had water repellent capabilities.
Thank you
Mr Grouse

Anonymous

@AnonymousNYC
I’m also cursed with the trousers-getting-caugh-by-OTC socks phenomenon. Happens mostly when I wear my PT01 flannels which are fairly slim. On top of that my feet and ankles are so slim that width D from G&G, or the shaft of my CJ Northcotes are so wide that I’m forced to lace until the tongues touch. Pretty annoying to have too slim feet and calves at the same time too wide and slim. Should have been more careful about the choice of parents I assume. Solutions apart from bespoke anyone?
/A

Rups

Hi Simon, I’m in the market for some MTM trousers at the moment, I just read one of your very good previous posts entitled (5 tips on trousers). This may be a silly question but what is the difference between a cotton drill trouser and a cotton chino? Also, looking through some cloth books online at trouser fabric they offer wool cavalry twill, how does this wear, does it need a lot of maintenance as its a wool trouser with a crease?

Cheers, Rupesh

Rups

Simon, sorry forgot to include this in my previous question, but any recommendations for places in London to have MTM trousers made? Budget is about ~£350-500 max .. for a casual trouser. Cheers in advance. R

Anonymous

Hi Simon can you please tell me the top ten best tailors in the world

Anonymous

Simon
Could you let us know how this socks wear? Obviously quite a hefty price tag but may make a special gift to friends when going to stay, shooting etc. Always fun to be able to give affordable luxury. Perhaps you could do a few pieces on that note, affordable luxury? As comments often show very few of us can afford full on bespoke, or even stretch to a few hundred pounds. Would be great to see some more sub 150 pound pieces that depart from the usual hankerchiefs and ties?
thanks
Tarquin

Anonymous

Also, I know that Jewellery is far from your expertise and that you almost certainly won’t be able to make contact with this reclusive genius, but the jeweller JAR is the most inspired designer perhaps alive today. Faberge has nothing on the man, and everyone who collects contemporary jewels would kill for one of his. Just thought you, as a man of craftsmanship, would appreciate him!
I know a man called Simon Teakle who has very good knowledge of him, based out in New York, who also often stocks very lovely mens goods as well as jewellery obviously!
http://simonteakle.com/category/gallery/objects/miscellaneous/
Tarquin

Sam E

Simon,

I recently bought 2 pairs of knee length socks, from Bresciani. Marking the start of my knee high sock conversion.

However… during wearing for the first time today, I note that the extra fabric, although extremely fine, seems to be causing friction against the leg of suit trouser around the calf, resulting in it catching and changing the shape of the leg (and not for the better). This means I either have to constantly fiddle and pull the trouser leg down or, what I have ended up doing… rolling the sock down beneath the calf. Rather upsetting.

Is this simply down to wearing poorly fitted suit trousers that are hanging too close to my calf?

Sam E

I have just seen the comment above regarding the same problem. I guess I will just need to get slimmer or wear a looser fitting trouser!

Anonymous

Re: best tailors in the world
Something like this? Huntsman(and som other SR tailors), Caraceni, Rubinacci, Cifonelli, Smalto, Camps de luca

Rups

ooooohh controversial simon .. you realise rubinacci is at the top of the tree as far as iGents are concerned .. I’ve never been to an Italian tailor (use the row) so no experience but why do you not rate their tailoring? they are certainly ‘priced for perfection’ .. which is curious.

Vk Nagrani

We started this 15 years ago, glad to see socks gaining the long over due respect. Alden Pyle once said, “A gentleman matches his socks to his mood.”

Anonymous

Do they only sell online?

Anonymous

Where would you rank Panterella OTC socks, cheaper at only 15 a pair? much worse than mes chauseetes rougeS

J

Simon, could you recommend a brand that produces a fairly *thick* sock?

Some of my shoes are a little wider on the foot than ideal, or new and give blisters, at which point I prefer to wear heavy thick socks (basically black sports socks). Not exactly stylish.

Can you recommend a brand that makes a fairly plain, but thick sock which would work well here?

Cheers

J

Cool, I will check those out, thank you.

Can you believe it, I was in the Drakes factory shop just Wednesday this week got ties and handkerchiefs, did not think to look at socks.

By the way, I have an update on one of my other questions to you about how to find S.R. Tailors who work erm.. “Off the record”. I was going to use the term “foreigner” but I think that maybe a Northeners only expression.

Anyway, the good news is I found someone ex-SR, great prices, so no employee rules being broken! planning my first commission soon, will have to share pics here once complete if interested/possible.

Anonymous

Aren’t we getting a little too particular with all these clothing options.

Socks aren’t going to get you laid.

zorab

I want to buy all these socks now because any of these sock don’t have old and general pattern. These all socks are with unique and trendy look. I am really very fond of wearing socks matching with my dark colored dresses and I am sure that I can get my choices’ socks only through your website.

Lindsay Eric McKee

At this moment, my favourite sock is the Super Durable in cotton made by Manzarin and bought from Mes Chaussettes Rouge. I’m UK shoe size 12 but their size is up to 11.5 which is fine.