Socks: Tips and top picks
Last week I introduced my top ten picks for women’s cycling kit. I have to admit that I was fairly thrilled that you took to the comment section and social media to challenge my choices – and introduce me to a few new-to-me brands. It’s clear that everyone has their own opinion on kit, and I love seeing such a wide range of options available for women.
This week I’m talking socks. I’m well aware this small bit of fabric attracts a huge amount of attention amongst cyclists. Socks to cyclists are spices to chefs. They can either compliment your fabulous sense of fashion or underscore your fashion faux pas.
Let’s be fabulous together.
There is something about socks that get cyclists all revved up. A topic that sparks fierce debate on the road and at the coffee shop. The option are endless: short or tall? black or white? solid colour or pattern? matching your kit or a unique, bold statement?
There are written rules about socks (yes, really) and unwritten nuances that you must consider when making your sock choice. Height and colour are the primary talking points within these guidelines, so I’ve focussed on both below.
Fabulous: Cyclists socks are about 12cm or taller in height.
Faux-Pas: Cyclists should never, ever wear ankle socks, knee length or compression socks on the bike. There is actually a UCI rule that governs this. I kid you not.
For me, sock height is all about personal preference. Personally, I prefer a tall sock that sits just under my calf muscle. I have short legs, so a 12cm sock often looks like an 18cm.
On the odd occasion that I wear ankle socks on the bike (maybe commuting home from the gym), I always give myself a fine. They just don’t look good!
Fabulous: Traditionalists will say you must wear either black or white socks. Apparently black socks make your calves look bigger and white socks make your legs look more tanned. Oh – the colour of your socks must match your shoes.
Faux-pas: According to the traditionalists, anything beyond the above. No coloured socks. No black socks with white shoes or white socks with black shoes. No fun.
I say these rules are meant to be broken. Within reason. Let’s make sure your sock colour matches the colours in your chosen kit, ok? Beyond that, socks are your place to get creative!
I’m bound by sponsor commitments and generally wear white socks that match my white and red kit. When I ride in the rain, I make a pull on black socks, so I don’t have to bleach the white ones to keep them clean.
Socks are one of those items of cycling clothing where you can have the most fun. There are heaps of cool socks on the market at the moment, allowing you still look fabulous whilst introducing some colour, style, fun and personality into your kit.
Here are 10 of the sock brands I’m lusting over at the moment:
These cute little flag socks come in both white and black variations. The MAAP range is full of stripes, dots and block colour.
What they say: “Created and designed in Melbourne Australia, and distributed through select Australian and European cycling stores, we produce premium cycling apparel for men and women who appreciate quality, design and art.
Our philosophy is all about creating cycling staples with longevity; combining timeless style with premium quality and performance fabrics. Our products are proven on the road, in real life. Our socks are proudly made in Australia, and our apparel is made in Italy.”
I’ve been following Happy Socks for a while now for their cute casual socks. They have recently released an athletic range, featuring unique patterns and bold colours. They are very cool!
What they say: “It all started under the cloud-ridden April sky of yet another belated Swedish spring in 2008. Two friends had a vision: to spread happiness by turning an everyday essential into a colorful design piece with a rigid standard of ultimate quality, craftsmanship and creativity.
A concept now brought to perfection by the Happy Socks collective of creators.
Today Happy Socks are sold in more than 70 countries and on every continent.
Happy Socks features an almost endless variety of models and designs, using a broad spectrum of color combinations and original patterns.
Simply put: there’s a pair of high-quality socks and underwear for every occasion, mindset and style.”
I’ll admit it. It was a complete oversight on my part not to include Velocio in my kit piece. I’m not going to make the same mistake twice. The company behind Velocio-SRAM produces high-end cycling clothing for men and women – and socks! They come in the tradionalist colours of black or white with a pop of colour above the heel. Both socks are available in short and tall to cater to cater to all height preferences.
What they say: “Velocio was founded by a cycling advocate and a designer. They decided there should be a choice. That every rider should have really great cycling clothing. Clothing designed, from the ground up, with the goal of making every ride beautiful and amazing.
They worked hard to find the best fabrics and the best sewers. They spent hours pouring over sample swatches considering drape, softness, comfort and performance on the bike. They considered the last pedal strokes of a day-long ride when you feel… ahem …everything.
They learned early that details matter. They obsessed over every color, every cut and every option we had. The result is clothing that performs like a well-tuned bike: efficiently, quietly and with ruthless reliability.
There’s art in cycling. It is too beautiful a sport to ride a jersey with those bubbling fabric folds. (You know the ones that happen from poor, boxy designs, like you’re trying to smuggle baguettes on a ride? If you want baguettes, you’ll stop at a bakery, thank you very much.)
Finally, to love progress and to draw inspiration from the sport’s much celebrated history, Velocio was designed as something to wear pedaling into its future.
That’s our philosophy.
Welcome to Velocio.”
These reflective socks come in a range of cool patters that will make you be seen – especially at night.
What they say: “In 2012, designer Mike Cherman was struck by a car while riding his bike. This unfortunate event inspired an idea to design stylish yet functional clothing, with the goal of providing added safety and increased visibility. By utilizing reflective materials on key areas of apparel and accessories, ICNY is able to provide pedestrians, runners, and cyclists alike with clothing to keep them safe during any activity, while looking good doing it. The philosophy behind ICNY is the continued exploration of boundaries with fashion and function, aesthetics and athletics, and the evolution of hi-visibility.”
So many prints and patterns that pop.
What they say: “STANCE is dedicated to the spirit of individuality with a design philosophy that believes in expression and function. Expression that creates an emotional visual connection and function that also provides comfort and performance. Building outstanding socks with the best fit and performance characteristics from the highest quality materials is the unspoken priority. The outward facing personality of the brand and our products are the creative and artistic stories that go into every single sock we make.
Unravel the spool of convention and celebrate bold expression with this free-thinking fabric. Send a crystal clear mixed message that’s silently loud and quietly bold. Designed in San Clemente, worn everywhere.”
Leading the way with fluro and pro length socks!
What they say: “Capo has established itself as a premier brand of cycling apparel and accessories. Our products are designed to deliver technical performance, progressive design and proven quality. Our passion for the sport, its rich history and rewarding lifestyle make up the core of the Capo brand.
Capo was founded in 2004 by Gary Vasconi and Robert Carbone. The initial offering of technical socks and casual apparel was widely accepted within the marketplace. Soon thereafter, the product range expanded to include a collection of men’s kits along with the launch of our custom apparel program. Over the years, the level and breadth of product have matured with new category, design and technology introductions each season. Our established markets include retail, amateur team and club, corporate event and OEM.
Capo products are designed and developed in the US with the majority of manufacturing taking place in northern Italy. Our corporate headquarters are located in Emeryville California and our European office is located in Varese Italy. Capo is currently distributed in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK. Our employees are all active and passionate cyclists.”
4Shaw have been producing cool socks for years and continue to impress with bright and bold pattern and colour.
What they say: “There are a lot of things to love about cycling and the biggest thing is a deep passion for watching the world roll by under your own power. At 4SHAW we’re unashamedly proud to be passionate and excited about cycling. We’re connoisseurs of two wheels, here and now but we also appreciate our riding past.
Every form of riding deserves respect and and we make products which are unfailingly designed and made as love letters to the best sport in the world. Our gear is designed from the ground up to be; high quality, rider tested and approved, high falootin’, carefully engineered and of course, super sharp looking.”
These socks are so fun. TenSpeed Hero offers a huge range of bright colours and patterns – all to regulation length.
What they say: “Unable to sell capes – at least until we find a way to fly, TENSPEED HERO works up a sweat crafting gear for you to sweat in. We picture steep cliffs, hot tarmac, and breezy coasts as we design with primary colours and other ones, too. Always considering a cyclist’s swiftness and deft determination, if our small friend-based company had a board of directors it would be called the wheel of directors. Together in vibrant regalia, we aim to keep you awake and dreaming.”
Bold, bright colours and patterns to match any kit.
What they say: “SAKO7SOCKS are a range of socks created by Sean Sakinofsky, a road cyclist based in Cape Town, South Africa. The name SAKO7SOCKS comes from his nickname: Sako, his lucky number 7, and Hi Top or Tall socks. So how did it all happen? Well, one night, late… while pondering about love, peace & all good happiness stuff, he was staring at his refurbished vintage bike. He was looking at the name on the down tube, which had been masterfully placed there by his mechanic / spray painter, Jared. The name was SAKO 7. On the top tube there was a pair DeFeet® Sugarskull Aireators, then it all dawned on him, ‘SAKO7SOCKS’ and so it all began.
The designs of SAKO7SOCKS are influenced by either Sean’s life experiences, famous artists, individuals or movies which have made an imprint on Sean’s life. SAKO7SOCKS are manufactured in the USA by DeFeet®. A brand which Sean is passionate about. DeFeet® is not only the finest sock manufacturer but is the most successful sock brand in cycling history.”
Variety of colours. Variety of heights. Something to love for everyone.
See all The Athletic’s socks here
What they say: “Delicately treading the line between a sport & cycling blog and just sporty. Also, we make socks. “
I don’t want to be sock-ist, so if I can’t persuade you away from ankle socks or you are a legitimate triathlete, make sure that you wear stylin’ ones. Lululemon and Rapha sell some lower profile socks that are pretty cool.
With so many sock options available to cyclists these days, you don’t have any excuses not to look fabulous.
Your turn to weigh in – have I missed you any key players in cycling socks? What sock rules do you follow or break? What’s your absolute favourite pair of socks?
About the author
The tagline to Verita Stewart’s personal blog reads: “Not a professional cyclist, yet” and it’s the “yet” that’s most telling. Verita is a Melbourne-based cyclist riding for Specialized Securitor. New to the sport, she’s quickly made the jump from commuting to recreational riding to racing.
She now juggles full-time work with full-time NRS racing and hopes to make the leap to the big-leagues sometime soon. Verita is full of stories and smiles and snark – and will bring all three to you on Ella. Follow Verita on twitter and instagram and strava.