Today I Will Teach You About Socks

by Mark Dvorak

I bought a new batch of Gold Toe brand socks at the store today, and it turns out they're too small and too difficult to put on. I hate that. I hate wearing tight socks.


Once upon a time a basketball player, Pete Maravich, made a name for himself first at LSU and then for the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA. He later starred for an expansion team called the New Orleans Jazz, and finished out his career with the Boston Celtics. Maravich was an exceptional player. He was young and talented and in the spotlight. At his best, he was a scoring machine. He could hit the outside jumper and was a dazzling playmaker. He was an acrobatic ball handler when driving the lane and in transition. His nickname was 'Pistol Pete,' and floppy hair and baggy socks were his trademark.

Any kid in school who wanted to emulate Pistol Pete could do so with a pair of Converse All-Stars laced up over two pair of baggy socks. Emulating him on the court of course, was a very different matter.

I used to keep a supply of socks on hand called sanitary stockings. Sanitaries were a kind of sock worn by baseball players under their stirrups. In those days, real baseball pants were a cotton-polyester blend and as comfortable as pajamas. The leg openings on some baseball pants were hemmed with elastic so they clung to your calves, but real baseball pants had no elastic in them anywhere. The leg openings of real baseball pants were loose and had no hem. They were meant to be rolled to make a neat, dirt-free seam between your socks and your pants.


First you'd pull on your white, one hundred percent cotton sweat socks, and then pull your sanitaries over them. Sanitary stockings are really long and go way up your leg. Then you'd pull on your stirrups nice and tight, and turn your uniform pants inside out. You'd put a foot in one of the leg openings and pull it up your leg to a point below your knee cap. Then you'd fold the end of the leg opening over on itself once or twice before turning the top of your sanitary stocking and stirrup stocking over that. Then you'd roll the whole thing over a time or two and do the same thing for the other leg. Then you'd pull up your trousers and you were styling.

Modesty was indicated when your pants were rolled to a relative midpoint between your ankle and knee cap. Some preferred to show very little team color on their stirrups, with their pants rolled really low on their leg, which was a very cool look. Others liked to roll their pants so their socks showed all the way up their knees. Some rolled their pants and socks for show, but most I believe did it for comfort. Socks are about comfort.

So I always kept a supply of sanitaries on hand, even long after my playing days ended. Sanitaries are light and comfortable and easy to put on. For everyday use, the sanitaries go right onto your bare feet, and slightly larger than necessary cotton socks will glide on right over them. No rolling necessary.

I still almost always wear two pair of socks, even in hot weather. Perhaps just a habit carried over from my sporting youth, but with two pair of socks, my feet are always very comfortable. And when a lot of walking is required, two pair of socks ensure that my feet will remain blister free. In cold weather my toes stay toasty warm and also, my feet are never stinky. No kidding.

A good socks strategy begins with buying only two colors, gray and black. No little lines or patterns, just plain gray and plain black. The Gold Toe brand makes a decent pair of socks.

Grays are for shorts weather, and blacks are for all other occasions. Of course when wearing boots, either will do. With only two colors, matching socks on laundry day is much easier. When a hole appears in the heel of one of your socks, the new orphan will only need to wait a short time by itself in the sock drawer. Soon enough another sock couple will lose one of its partners, and the two orphans can form a new union no worse for wear. Of course with only two colors, one need not even match socks on laundry day. The blacks on one side of the drawer, grays on the other.

Buy your socks a size larger than you really need. Larger-sized socks are easier to pull on and easier to pull over another pair. And whether you wear only one pair or two at a time, larger-sized socks will flop a little around your lower leg, something like Pistol Pete's used to. Very comfortable and still kind of cool.

Polyester socks are simply a no-no. They cost too much, and only look nice when wearing shoes that cost too much. And polyester socks make your feet stinky. One hundred percent cotton, please.


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