10 Different Types Of Socks – Guidelines On How To Wear Them

Your handy guide to selecting the right socks that serves all your needs

Reviewed by Josephine Rigney, Certified Fashion Stylist
Written by Pratima Ati, MSc
Edited by Subhrojyoti Mukherjee, MA (English)
Fact-checked by Srijani Roy Chowdhury, MA (Journalism & Mass Communication), Certified Style & Image Consultant  • 

Although it might seem that picking the right pair of socks is easy, it is not really. You should know that there are many different types of socks, and all of them have their own significance. The texture might differ, the fabric could vary, and the length too. And since people have different requirements that need to be catered to, it is essential to have a thorough understanding of these different types of socks that are available so that an informed purchase can be made. But don’t worry because this is exactly what we are going to help you with. Scroll down and understand these types better.

protip_icon Ace The Look
  • Hot Water: Hot water helps remove soil and dirt from the fabric with ease.
  • Clean White Socks: Soak them overnight in hot water with lemon juice or vinegar to deep-clean the fibers.
  • Smell-Free: A vinegar bath for 30 minutes can help remove any unpleasant odor.
  • Match Them With Your Pants: Match your socks with your pants and not your shoes to make your legs look longer and appear taller.

 

10 Different Types Of Socks With Names

Socks are made up of different materials like wool, cotton, nylon, and polyester and can be patterned, striped, or have a solid color. First, let’s look at the different types and how/when to use them.

  1. Ankle Length Socks
  2. Quarter Length Socks
  3. Crew Length Socks
  4. Mid-Calf Length Socks
  5. Calf Length Socks
  6. Knee Length Socks
  7. Thigh High Socks
  8. Slip On Paddings
protip_icon Did You Know?
The first sock dates back to the 3rd or 5th century AD and was discovered in the 19th century at sites excavated along the Nile river in Egypt. Today, it is on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

1. Ankle Length Socks

Ankle length socks
Image: myntra.com

If you were wondering what to wear with your low cut shoes like loafers, casual shoes, or just something to protect your feet, these are perfect. As the name goes, ankle length socks cover your feet just till the ankles and are perfect for all casual occasions. Also, these look sophisticated and tasteful. Ankle-high socks have a popular variant known as toe-socks where a fabric barrier separates each toe to prevent blisters and provide support. These novelty socks can be worn with slippers. They are generally worn by basketball players and those performing yoga, pilates, and dance.

  • Perfect With – Informal and low cut shoes for sports, running, gym, etc.
  • Meant For – Both men and women.


protip_icon Trivia
It is believed that a warm pair of socks of ankle length can promote better circulation and help you achieve a restful night’s sleep.

2. Quarter Length Socks

Quarter length socks
Image: zappos.com

Quarter length socks go a little above your ankles and cover till your shins. They give you good coverage and protect the back of your feet from blisters and shoe bites. Men use these for professional purposes. Women generally use these to protect their feet.

  • Perfect With – Informal shoes – mostly for men for both formal and informal purposes. Women can wear them with their running shoes.
  • Meant For – Men and women, depending on their need.

3. Crew Length Socks

Crew length socks
Image: Instagram @floorplaysocks

Crew length socks are used in winters and for outdoor physical activities like hiking, running, etc. These are about six to eight inches long, so depending on the length of your legs, they can go up to your calf muscles. They give excellent protection and coverage.

  • Perfect With – Informal or running shoes – for physical activities like tennis and cycling, and informal purposes. At home during winters.
  • Meant For – Men and women, depending on their need.

4. Mid-Calf Length Socks

Mid-calf length socks run up to your calf muscles, but do not ride over them completely like your calf length ones. These usually come in woolen material to keep your legs warm during winters, particularly for people who are involved in physical activities. These also come in sheer and net fabrics for women.

  • Perfect With – Running or informal shoes. Perfect for physical activities and informal purposes. At home during winters.
  • Meant For – Men and women.

5. Calf Length Socks

Calf length socks
Image: nike.com

Calf length socks cover up to your calf muscles and a little below your knee. Usually, athletes wear these because of the protection they give.

  • Perfect With – Running or sports shoes. Perfect for physical activities and high intensity outdoor workouts.
  • Meant For – Mostly for men.

6. Knee Length Socks

Knee-length socks
Image: Shutterstock

Knee length socks are used by women, usually under their boots, during winters. They act as a cushion and add an extra layer to keep the feet warm. These knee-high socks are used extensively in the aviation and hospitality industries as a part of the uniforms.

Ski socks and athletic socks like the ones used for snowboarding, soccer, football, baseball, and golf are generally of this type.

  • Perfect With – Running shoes or boots. Great for physical activities and under boots in winters. You can also wear them at home during harsh winters.
  • Meant For – Men and women.

Dana Cristina Straut, a fashion blogger, likes to style her outfits with knee-length socks and shares her excitement for the trend in one of her blog posts: “These comfy sexy, fun, playful feet cover-ups offer infinite styling options, millions of choices, designs, lengths, textures, colors, prints, styles….Oh my god, just thinking of it makes me wanna try this trend over and over again (i).”

7. Thigh High Socks

Thigh High Socks
Image: IStock

These go above your knees. A very good idea for women to pair them with skirts. If you want to add a little funk to your outfit, you could also try the printed socks. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about thigh high socks is Scottish men and women wearing them with their knee length skirts.

  • Perfect With – Running or sports shoes and boots.
  • Meant For – Both men and women.

8. Slip-On Paddings

Slip-on paddings
Image: Shutterstock

 

Slip-ons are thin and form a protective layer that is perfect for low cut loafers, ballerinas, or shoes. Since not wearing socks is not an option (yes, your feet will stink), slip-on paddings are your go-to. They also protect you from shoe bites. These are a blessing in disguise – always keep a few pairs handy. They are also known as no-show socks.

  • Perfect With – Low cut loafers, shoes, and ballerina shoes.
  • Meant For – Both men and women.

 

9. Half Socks

 

Half socks
Image: IStock

Half socks are shorter than traditional socks, covering only the foot’s lower part. These no-show socks are ideal for wearing with low-cut or casual shoes such as sneakers and loafers. The moisture-wicking socks provide ample comfort and make a great choice for warm weather, sports, or when you want a more discreet sock option.

  • Perfect With – Low-cut loafers, sneakers, moccasins, ballet flats, and espadrilles.
  • Meant For – Both men and women, when wearing low-profile shoes.

10. Leg Warmer Socks

Leg warmer socks
Image: IStock

Leg warmer socks are cozy, calf-length socks ideal for colder seasons, outdoor activities, and dance workouts. They help keep the muscles warm and flexible during practice and performances. You can wear them with skirts, dresses, or over leggings to add a touch of warmth and style to your outfits.

  • Perfect With – Winter boots and cozy outfits.
  • Meant For – Both men and women.

Aside from these socks, graduated compression socks are also popular. They are generally worn for their anti-embolism (prevention of blood clots) effect during long travel and on flights.

protip_icon Fun Fact
December 4 is celebrated as “National Socks Day” in America and in the UK, May 4 is officially declared as “Lost Sock Memorial Day”.

Infographic: 8 Varieties Of Socks And Ways To Style Them

While you might choose your go-to pair of socks for every occasion, there are actually different varieties that can easily level up your fashion quotient. Time to look beyond the classic ankle-length socks and get familiar with different styles you can experiment with. Check out the infographic below and instantly pull up your game!

8 varieties of socks and ways to style them (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Save the high-quality PDF version on your device now.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Different types of socks help cater to our varying requirements according to our activities, looks, weather, dresses, etc. While mid-calf length socks are best for physical activities, slip-on padding socks are ideal for low-cut loafers, shoes, and ballerinas. So, get yourself the right pair of socks that meets your needs. And while you do so, make sure that the sock fabric is suitable for your skin and allows it to breathe. Finally, go for the options that are soft and keep your feet comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

What color socks to wear with a blue suit?

The general rule of thumb is to match your socks with your pants so that it follows a pattern without breaking the silhouette. But it would be best to consider your shoes when choosing the right color for your socks. For example, white or light-colored socks go well with light-colored shoes. However, if you want to opt for something funky, try neon colors, captioned socks, or anything that seems fun.

What color socks to wear with a gray suit?

As we just discussed, matching your socks with your pants is the norm. If you want to follow this, the answer is to go with gray socks, but you could also do with dark colors like black or navy blue. Or, completely shift gears and follow the bright and colorful socks trends. For a slightly informal look, you could totally go all out and have fun.

What types of socks to wear with loafers?

Since loafers are low cut, they go with slip-on paddings. Anything else can look off and awkward.

What types of socks to wear with boots?

For winter boots, you could go for anything from ankle length to knee length socks, depending on the length of the boots. For ankle length boots, go with ankle length, crew cut, or quarter length socks. For the longer boots, you can go with socks that give you more coverage.

What type of socks are popular?

Crew length socks that reach the mid-calf are the most popular. They are the ideal length for uniforms and formal wear for men, making them a necessity for school dress codes and office attire.

What socks are best for feet?

Socks made of synthetic, breathable fabrics that wick moisture are good for your feet.

What socks are good for standing all day?

Compression socks are good for the legs when you have to stand or be active all day. They reduce discomfort and swelling and maintain a healthy blood flow.

What are the thick socks called?

Thermal socks are thick and come with padding to provide insulation and protect your feet from the harsh cold.

Key Takeaways

  • Calf-length, knee-length, thigh-high, and ankle-length socks are exactly what the names suggest, but they are designed for various purposes.
  • Low-cut loafers, ballerinas, and other shoes are ideal for slip-ons because they are lightweight and create a protective layer.
  • Slip-on paddings are your go-to when you don’t want to wear socks, avoid stinky feet and shield yourself from shoe bites. It’s always good to keep a few pairs at hand.
  • Crew-length socks reach your calf muscles and provide outstanding safety and coverage. They can be used during physical activities, such as running, hiking, or just keeping warm at home.


Know the different types of socks and when to wear them. From dress socks to athletic socks, this video will help you decide the right pair for the right occasion for you.

Personal Experience: Source

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