The History of Socks: from Stone Age to today’s custom socks

  1. The History of Socks

Socks accompany us for many thousand years. It is a very important part of the wardrobe, it makes our moving more comfortable because shoes don’t wipe us when we have socks on, moreover feet are not sweaty and do not freeze. So it is interesting and worth to learn something about socks, more than from which materials they can be made or what length they have. 

The history of this clothing accessory dates back to antiquity. Experts claim socks appeared already in the Stone Age. They were made of animal skin and tied around the ankle. What is interesting, Hesiod was the first to mention them (in the seventh century BC) and he described them as something made of animal hair. While the Romans used animal leather bels or braided fabrics that they wrapped around the feet. Later they started to sew socks. The oldest found socks come from Egypt and are dated from 300 to 500 AD. 

In the Middle Ages, a knitting machine appeared in Europe. Probably Arabian traders brought it to the old continent. Thanks to this invention Europeans started manufacturing tights. It wasn’t typical socks. They were used to the seventeenth century by men and to the twentieth century by women. Pantyhose evolves - from those that covered whole legs and feet to those which incased even a crotch. In the fifteenth century, tights started to become more and more colorful. It happened that both legs were in different colors, or even one leg had two hues. The sixteenth century brought a division for breeches and stockings (equivalent to today's socks). 

In the seventeenth century, it was fashionable to have very beautiful socks with embroidered patterns. 

The French Revolution caused the impoverishment of society so people couldn’t afford expensive stockings. They cut them and made contemporary socks. 

In the twentieth century, women's dresses began to shorten, gradually exposing the calf, and later reaching to the knee. Stockings were back, this time for women, not for men. In 1938 nylon appeared on the socks’ market. Earlier, socks and stockings were made of silk, cotton or wool. The emergence of nylon gave rise to the mixing of two different yarns, which continues to this day. 

Nowadays, we have a variety of socks. There are no rules that must be obeyed. socks are colorful, short, long, made of nylon, cotton, wool or completely different from each other in one pair. Also, customized socks become more and more popular. We can afford the socks we want, with every print on them. Technology allows us to custom socks for current trends and fashion. 

  1. The first forms of socks date back to the Stone Age. 

As we said before, socks’s forms were changing over the centuries. It started with animal leather or material belts, through the tights which covered different parts of legs depending on the time period, up to shorter and shorter socks, dedicated not only for men but also for women. The industry of socks has a very long history and was adapted to current time requirements. It is hard to say which moment since the inception of socks revolutionized this industry brunch the most. 

  1. The turbulent history of socks also includes the British “sock police”.

From the beginning, socks were worn by richer people. Obviously not everyone could buy or get materials necessary to make socks, so it was exclusive goods. Socks were a sign of luxury and nobility. Nowadays we can’t imagine such a situation but in the sixteenth century in London there was a phenomenon called the British sock police. It was a method of surveillance in which four men would be posted at the gates of the city, making sure people entering the capital were wearing appropriate socks. Today socks are a normal thing for us, we put them in the morning and take off in the evening and we do it every single day, no matter what is our “social status”. We buy socks and give them to others as a gift and everyone is happy about such a present. So we should be glad that the present day brings us to the time when we don’t have to worry about socks and their price.