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The sock theory

| Monday, October 7, 2019

Fall is a wonderful time to accessorize and dig your favorite layers out of the back of your not-so-deep dorm closet. Cozy sweaters, well-loved flannels, ratty-but-perfect sweatshirts, the quintessential denim jacket (with or without personal pin embellishment), even just a long-sleeve tee — the list goes on and on. However, there is a little respected accessory, a piece of personality that I think needs a spotlight moment: the unassuming sock.  

The sock, you ask? Why socks? Are they not the trivial afterthoughts of the dressing process? Plus they’re in shoes, anyway — who even sees them? It is on these points I make my argument. Because of their potentially hidden nature, socks can be a big personal statement. Even just the choice of whether or not to show them can be an important expressional decision. As a sock enthusiast, this might be of more interest to me — I’ve amassed quite the collection. Christmas socks with penguins in Santa hats, inspirational socks telling me to “bee myself,” pretentious art-inspired socks and even the occasional expletive sock for the days you need them.

It is my opinion that the right socks — the ones that make you feel the most you or totally match your outfit —  they take on the quality of a talisman, a way of warding off the bad vibes. Standing your ground becomes that much easier when you know you’re standing in socks with foxes wearing scarves. It’s a piece of you that you can be as open or closed about as much as you want. Flaunt ‘em or not, your socks are your foot forward into the world, like an inside joke you carry with you.

Then there’s a whole other aspect of the issue — noticing what socks others are wearing. What made them choose to wear socks with ladybugs today? Maybe because their childhood nickname was Ladybug and wearing them made them a little less homesick that day (I actually have encountered someone who wore ladybug socks for that exact reason). Does a sock with Munch’s “The Scream” reflect inner turmoil, an art lover or an ironic devil-may-care attitude? It’s a small thing to notice (and there’s always a chance that sock choice had no real bearing on the wearer) but it’s the little things — like socks — that give real insight into the people we interact with from day to day and maybe don’t know beyond just a class in common.

Whether you buy my theory, or think I’m sock-crazed, the different ways we can outwardly reflect self bear some thinking about — how do we present what we like about ourselves to the world? Do you match everything and therefore present your innate organization? Or do you enjoy the unpredictability of life and opt for a casual mismatch? And while all clothes choices are conscious decisions about presentation, socks carry a personal element that make them even better windows into the person you are (even if unconsciously.)

So, as something to think about for next time: What do your socks say about you?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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