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Though we started off, long ago, with a smaller array of coverage styles (knee highs, long socks, etc), we’ve added so many more coverage levels and styles in the past few years—this past year especially!
Most notably, more and more suppliers are offering true no-shows, little bits of nothing that cover your toes and your heels, but not the top of your foot. And we’ve also started offering shoe liners, a most un-sock-like sock option, but one that does the same job of keeping your shoes and feet from dirtying each other.
Because of this, we’ve refined some of our coverage categories (those thumbnails at the top of the Socks page) to make things easier to find and understand!
Let’s talk Liners
Liners, or insoles, are the closest to not wearing socks, because well, you’re not wearing socks at all! Shaped like the bottom of your shoe and made of materials to cushion or insulate, liners exist to give your feet some distance from your shoes. They can be tricky to first use, since it can take a little wiggling to get them into place. We’ve found holding them at the sides and bending the front edge back a little as you slide them in helps.
Right now we only offer two kinds of liners (we are sock folks, after all). The Alpaca Felt Insoles from Heartfelt are your winter option, adding warmth and coziness meant to work together with your favourite socks to keep your toesies cozy in the cold! SummerSox’s shoe liners are the summer option, for when you seriously could not imagine wearing socks, but don’t want your feet sweating and slipping on your shoes.
Though we were a little sceptical of liners at first, in our testing of them we fell in love! Having that extra layer between our feet and the cold ground that the Alpaca Felt Insoles offered made winter far more bearable. And the bonus to the SummerSox we loved was their soft combed cotton stopped that annoying “slap-slap” you get when walking barefoot in strappy summer sandals!
Colloquially called “peds” although “Peds®” is a registered trademark of the The Peds Company and only Peds® brand peds can be called peds, no-shows (or no shows, up to your personal hyphenation preferences) cover your toes and your heels, but leave the top of your foot bare. When paired with the right shoes, they’re practically invisible! Some brands also call them “liners” and we roll with that in their names, but if it’s covering your toes and heels and nothing else, then it’s a no-show—unless it’s a KeySock, in which case it is the happy child of a no-show and a knee high.
A great option for when you want the no-sock look or feel, but need more between you and your shoes than a liner can provide, the main drawback to no-shows is that the bit at the heel can sneak down into your shoe. Finding a style that fits you fab helps, but some styles know what is up and have grips at the back of the heel to keep things in place and we make sure to note that in Sizing Tips!
There are some no-shows that walk the line of not showing, like ToeSox’s Bella styles. That mary jane strap across the foot (that helps keep them in place) almost makes them . . .
Also called “sneaker socks” and sometimes even “anklets” (which are a whole ‘nother beast that is sort of similar/different to “ankle socks” in the same way crews and midcalves are just the barest difference of length). Footies dance right around the anklebone, landing either just below or just above, it seems like one of the key defining features of a footie is that it’s just the foot of a sock. See, the leg part of a sock is called the shaft (can ya dig it?) and a footie doesn’t have that. It covers the toes, heels, top of the foot and pretty much ends there. At most it has a bit of a cuff that covers the ankle bone.
Because a lot of the folks who make socks aren’t as persnickety as I am, footies also get called “no-shows” even though they show in most shoes (except sneakers, which would explain the “sneaker sock” term). And, as we tend to, we keep that supplier naming, and just sort them accordingly by coverage level.
A perfect summer or spring sock, often the height running styles are made in, footies are fun and fabulous when you just need a touch of sock but don’t want to be up past your ankles in warmth!
As the weather warms up, we hope these refreshed coverage categories make it easier to find just the right sock (or lack thereof) for summer!
We use “t-shirt like” to describe the texture of several styles. It’s difficult, over the internet, to properly convey the texture and weight of something, so we use a lot of similes. A sock isn’t going to feel 100% the same as a t-shirt, but there’s a tangible difference between your average sock and one that feels quite a lot like your favourite tee.
First, let’s start on the opposite end of t-shirt texture and remember what “halo” is when it comes to socks. We talked about it a while ago on the Sock Journal, and it’s basically the fuzzy or hairy texture wool and wool-like fibers have.
The fuzzies of the Este Luxe Crew Sock
Styles that we compare to t-shirts are on the opposite end of the fuzzy scale. They’re cotton blends that are smooth to the touch and lack any real discernible surface texture. If you look at the socks below, you can see the difference between a wool style with a halo, a pretty socky sock and something “t-shirt like”.
As comparatively smooth as they are, t-shirt styles aren’t the smoothest thing out there. Socks and tights that have that total stocking smoothness make the gauge of t-shirt textures look rustic in comparison.
So, we’re looking for this middle ground of smoothness. Essentially, when we touch the sock, it feels like touching a t-shirt. And it’s surprising how narrow that cut-off point is. A style that is pretty smooth, like the Cotton Anklet, is still rougher than the Socklings.
Mind you, this is all how we use the term. It’s rather subjective, and one of those “know it when you see it” situations. Believe you me, I tried counting the knitting gauge, but without knowing the yarn gauge, needle size, tension, or any of the other factors that give a texture its texture, I can’t give you a real set of rules that define what “t-shirt like” is.
To compound that difficulty, there’re a lot of different kinds of t-shirts out there. There’s the thinner, finer kind with more snap and stretch to it; or the thick, “beefy” tees that take lots of washes to get a good drape; the vintage and faux vintage styles that you’ve got to layer for modesty.
But here’s what all these sock styles do have in common:
• high cotton content •
• smooth texture •
• soft drape •
• lightweight •
• feels like a t-shirt •
There aren’t a lot of sock styles that meet those rough requirements. Two brands, though, Una and EG Smith, have the largest representation in the t-shirt texture field. Both offer lots of styles that are the smoothest you can get from a sock with it still being a sock and not a nylon stocking.
For the rest, you’ll need to search “t-shirt like” and see what styles spring up! Remember, they’re just socks (and arm warmers, and tights, and, and) that are pretending to be your favourite tee. Give them a little benefit of the doubt, we think you’ll find them pretty smooth. 😉
Though some feet don’t seem to mind the seam across the toes of their socks, others do. Sensitive toes and certain kinds of toe seams can be pretty uncomfortable. Our Woven Toe Seam section is there to help you find styles that will cause less discomfort!
Before we go into what styles have woven toes seams, let’s look at some regular, machine-stitched toe seams. Socks are knit in a tube by a machine and in large production they’re finished off by another machine that tightly sews the toe closed. It sort of looks like a serged edge, like most seams you see in store bought clothing.
For a lot of folks, this kind of seam isn’t noticeable. On styles with a formed heel, the seam falls across the top of your toes where there is often room in your shoe for toe wiggling. That gives you some ease for things like seams.
In tube style socks, that seam runs across the end of the sock and falls across the tip of your toes, or at the edge of your toenails. Even if you’re someone regular seams don’t bother, the kind on tube socks can be an irritation, depending on where it lands (smaller and narrower feet have more problems with tube socks sometimes, due to excess fabric) and what shoes they’re paired with.
Above, you can see the seam at the end of the toes on the Signature Cotton Thigh Highs on the left, compared to the kind of seam a formed heel style has in the Althea Cashmere Crew on the right. Some Dreamers with sensitive toes choose to turn styles like the Semi-Opaque Color Tights inside-out, so they keep the look but don’t have to deal with the seam. Not all styles are reversible (the nature of patterns and knit!) but there are styles in openwork, fishnet and lace that can work just as well outsides in.
Sensitive toes can also avoid the tyranny of a machine-stitched toe seam by choosing squishier styles. The nature of bouclé, for example (as we’ve discussed previously) adds a lot of loft that cushions your toes from a seam. And terry-lined styles work in the same way. You can see how comparatively minimal the toe seam on the Top Striped OTK Tubes is, once you pack terry loops around it!
In the same vein, thicker styles like the Erin Wool & Silk Socks (or the larger footed Maniche) can cushion around a seam, making for a more comfy fit. If you’re ever curious about how thick a seam is, drop us a line before ordering, our toes run the range of sensitivity, so we’re familiar with all sorts of comfort levels!
But for the ultimate avoidance of toe seams, it’s the woven (or “hand-linked”, or “flat”) toe seam. There’s barely a bump where the edges meet, perfect for those particular feet. Some brands, like Stance (on the left, below) or Sockwell (on the right, below) never use anything other than a woven toe.
You know when you get a new wooly sock and there are those almost microscopic little hairs poofing up from the stitches? That’s loosely called “halo.” Angora has a very marked halo, that’s what makes it so warm! Even some synthetic fibers that are made to imitate wool, like acrylic, have a bit of halo. It’s what can cause itchies for some folks—though everyone has different ways wool can be itchy.
Halo is also part of what makes wooly (and fake wooly acrylic) so great in so many temperatures, too. Those little fibers trap air that keeps the cold out and the warm in (and it works the opposite way too, I swear!).
Combined with blooming, which is when yarn puffs up to make a fuller and fuzzier look after washing, halo is part of what can make a sock so very fluffy-soft or hairy-scratchy, depending on your skin’s sensitivities. As a wool sensitive person, I like that acrylic can imitate that fluffy specialness of wool. Take a gander below!
The Super Long Ribbed Leg Warmers and the Ribbed Knit Leg Warmers are another great example of acrylic halo. The Charcoal are obviously fuzzy, with those little white “hairs”, but the black are just as fuzz—they’re being all stealth about it. All the colours of both styles have a bit of halo, with the Ivory having the least (but still having some).
Of course, that’s not the case for all acrylic styles. Our O Dreamy and Super Dreamy styles also have almost no halo. The Foot Traffic and Leg Avenue acrylic OTKs and thigh highs are super soft, but smooth, with none of the wooly halo.
And wool can have very little halo too. Wool crochet-like styles tend to be smoother and don’t bloom as much after washing and wearing.
Angora has enough halo that adding even tiny bits of it can add to a style’s overall fuzzy halo feel. The Kimi Wool Blend OTKs, like a lot of B.Ella’s angora blends, only has 6% of this fuzzy fiber in it, but combined with 8% cashmere it makes for just the right amount of super soft halo to keep cozy as the days grow cold.
More microscopic than what we call “fuzzy or furry”, the halo found in wool and acrylic blends adds to the warmth and coziness and their beautiful bloom that builds as they’re washed and worn adds to the experience.
“Legging” is a pretty general category. When you look at our leggings section, you’ll find stirrup and capri leggings, along with true leggings and footless tights. Stirrup leggings cover your arch, but keep toes and heel free and capris end somewhere around the knee. Let’s pretend I meant for that to rhyme.
Now, sometimes we have folks talk about “leggings” but mean thigh highs, so it clearly can be a regional term. In the most general sense of how we use the word, leggings are like tights without the feet. They’ve got a waistband and end in the general area of your ankles. We and our suppliers also sometimes use the term “footless tights” to mean leggings—they’re practically interchangeable except for one thing: underpants visibility.
We’ve started to refine our terms the best we can, based on our experience and what words our customers (you beautiful folks!) use when looking for a specific style. Here’s what we’ve found. If you’re looking for leggings, more often than not you are looking for something with maximum underoo coverage. Leggings pair fabulously with tunic-length tops and dresses, things that don’t necessarily go with flashes of your undercarriage. Maybe they’re not perfectly opaque, but they’re at least tattoo-covering level of opacity. You can find all the straight-up leggings we carry with this search.
We’ve used a little bit of magic to sort together our favourite leggings that do the best at keeping things under wraps. Just search “opaque legging”, with the quotation marks around the phrase, and the most opaque of opaque leggings show up. And so do the Narita Sheer & Opaque Footless Tights, but we don’t know why, since they’re not opaque leggings at all. It is an unfortunate side effect of magic.
Make sure to check the descriptions and pictures, some styles listed there have two seams in the rear, which isn’t everyone’s favourite look (or feel). Of course, everyone is built a little differently, so opacity can vary. The more a style is stretched, the less opaque it can be. If you can, buy a size up for more opacity. The Thermo Fleece Lined Footless Tights are a good example of this. If you’re near the upper stretch limit for a size, they’re not very shy about what you’re wearing underneath.
We’ve found the Nouvella Cotton Legging and Cotton Capri are the most reliable for keeping you covered. One thing to watch, though: Charcoal and the Plum tend to run notably shorter in the leg than the other colors, but they’re super stretchy and soft. We also don’t think they’re as opaque as the other colours, so you might want to buy a size up for more opacity. Like a lot of true leggings, they’re a “cut & sew” style, with seams on the inside of the leg.
Okay, okay, so leggings cover your butt like a good friend backing you up that time you said you did a thing you didn’t. But what does that mean Footless Tights are?
Easy, everything else! Is it like tights but without feet? Then it is footless tights. It’s like identifying sharks. Bitey? There you go! Only, I guess, actually simpler than real taxonomy.
Clockwise from top: Side Stripe Footless Tights, Black Roses Printed Footless Tights, Foot Traffic Floral Footless Tights, Lycra Fishnet Footless Tights, Cherry Blossom Printed Footless Tights, Floral Flocked Footless Tights.
And one more time, here are some quick searches for you to bookmark or reference:
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