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When Did Socks Become a Thing?

You may have noticed that women basic socks aren’t what they used to be. Think back: for a long time socks were just something you used to cover your feet. Possibly black, probably ankle-height and definitely an afterthought. Socks are now an important part of your outfit at the least, the making of an outfit at most.

Socks have become an area of diplomacy and woke-signalling – the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is perhaps the biggest name to use socks in this way, choosing pointedly themed ones for public occasions. Or a telling insight into a political mind: Boris Johnson was criticised recently for not washing his lucky socks, emblazoned with a ruler of the Neo-Assyrian empire King Ashurbanipal, often enough.

Socks are such a basic item that they're easy to take for granted...and leave on the floor, shove under beds, or lose to the dryer monster. (It happens to the best of us.) But socks actually deserve mad props for keeping our wiggly and sometimes stinky feet dry, warm, and free from blisters, so in honor of National Sock Day, here's a little history of how they became a thing and some guidelines on what kind to wear and when…or not.

Until the 17th century, men basic socks were called stockings, but according to Wikipedia, the modern English word sock (first recorded in 1690, btw), evolved from the Old English socc which evolved from the Latin soccus…"a lightweight shoe worn by ancient Greek and Roman comic actors." Socks are worn on our feet (mostly) and come in various lengths, fabrics, colors, patterns, and styles, depending on their intended purpose, i.e. thick wool socks for skiing, thin wool dress socks for business, and short white socks for running. But the first socks were actually made from leather or matted animal hair – called "piloi" in 8th century BC Greece. A thousand years later in the 2nd century AD, the Romans were the first ones to sew woven fabrics together and make fitted socks ("udones").

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