While socks may not exactly be a style enthusiast’s idea of a “sexy” subject, they can actually have a huge impact on the way your whole outfit looks. Today, we’ll compare $4 versus $40 socks, talk about the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each, and determine why one costs 10 times as much as the other.
Why Socks Matter for your Outfits
Socks have a unique ability to add some color to the bottom half of your outfit and therefore, you can tie your entire outfit together; you can coordinate it with your shoes, your tie, or your pocket square. The only other two options are either to exchange your shoelaces or you can buy different colored shoes, which is a lot more expensive and those kinds of shoes are typically less versatile.
In our opinion, socks are a gentleman’s secret weapon to tying together an entire outfit and bringing it alive. For instance, I use socks to make a neat transition between my pants and my shoes without sacrificing contrast or visual interest. So the big question is, for an item that you need to replace regularly in your wardrobe, should you spend $4 on it or $40?
A Closer Look At $4 Socks
I bought a 5-pack of Dockers Men’s Dress Socks for $20. So, that comes out to be $4 per pair. That seems like a good deal especially since they are sized and I got the size 10 to 13 because I’m typically a US 11. Of course, if you are on the edges of the size category, chances are they may be a little loose or quite tight. When I shopped for $4 socks, I came across much larger size brackets such as 6 to 12 or one size fits most.
Even though I fall within the size range, the problem is that there is so much elastics in there that actually pinches my calves over the course of the day. Not only that it restricts my blood flow, but it’s also quite uncomfortable.
In terms of color on the website, it looks like they came in black and khakis and variations thereof. When I got them in person, there are solid, ripped khaki pairs, there’s an argyle pattern, there is a small pattern in brown and khaki but also two in brown. Although these tones work with khakis or maybe brown pants, you have a problem with any kind of business suit socks such as charcoal or navy or gray.
Also, we take a closer look at the solid socks; it’s really hard to match a pair of solid socks to a pair of patterned or solid pants because most of the time the shade is not quite matching and it just looks off. When we get our $4 socks, they’re pretty limited in the color range and you may find black or gray, something brownish or khaki but that’s about it.
Even though they’re advertised as dress socks, they’re actually mid-calf height and because of that, they don’t stay up. Gravity is just too strong over the course of the day, so they’ll just move down towards your ankle. As a consequence, it will probably expose your legs which is unprofessional because no one wants to see your hairy legs at the office. And no, even though you shave your legs, people still don’t want to see it.
On the material mix on the website, it was advertised as 71% polyester, 26% cotton, 2% spandex, and 1% nylon, the actual package itself looks different. On the actual pack, it says 83% polyester, 15% cotton, and 2% spandex. Upon touching them, they feel quite soft and comfortable because polyester can be finished to be very soft these days.
Frankly though, polyester is the cheapest of all materials that you can use in your clothing but it also ages very poorly and quickly. How? Well, soon you’ll find pilling and it just won’t stand the test of time and always look like a hand me down that’s old and worn. Polyester is also insulating, which means that you’re more prone to sweating with these kinds of socks and just having worn feet over the course of the day.
Verdict On $4 Socks
When I put on those socks, I noticed 2 things right away. One was how thick they were compared to a more expensive pair of socks; and two, the toe area: when you need a pair of socks, it has to be finished in this toe area because machines are not quite able to do that. If it’s done by machine, it’s usually very bulky and that’s exactly what you get with a $4 pair of socks. The problem is you will always feel this elevated seam inside your shoe especially when you walk a lot.
So, in nutshell, who are $4 socks for? They are for men who think short term, who want the cheapest pair of socks that they can find without having to resort to white tennis socks. They’re also for men who don’t mind sweaty feet and don’t really want a comfortable pair of socks.
A Closer Look At The $40 Socks
What exactly makes them 10x as expensive? First of all, they are sized to your foot. Most high-end socks come in a number of different sizes and at Fort Belvedere, we offer 5 different sizes — Small, Medium, Large, Extra-large, and Extra Extra Large. This allows us to adequately cover the size ranges all the way from size 6 to size 15.
Of course, if you look at the length difference, it is apparent. The more expensive $40 socks are the true over-the-calf sock that is below the knee and stays up all day comfortably. Over-the-calf socks are the gentlemen’s choice and at Fort Belvedere, we only offer that style, nothing mid-calf or shorter because they will just inevitably slide down and for me, it is really important to design a sock that stays up.
In our mind, the biggest advantage of a $40 socks compared to a $4 socks is their versatility. And I know most men don’t even think about that when they buy a pair of socks. Obviously, we love men’s style and we want you to look as good as possible.
Forty-dollar socks don’t just come in a much larger range of colors for you to choose from, but they typically also come in two different colors that are combined and the combination of that allows you to wear a single pair of socks with a multitude of outfits and pants and they will always look like it matches and works together versus a solid, plain color sock will always look off.
Just think about navy, charcoal, or gray for a second which are the most popular business colors. They properly come in hundreds, maybe even in thousands of different shades. If you have two colors combined, for example, a navy blue and a lighter blue, you can wear it with any shade of navy that’s always gonna work. Another example is a kind of a grayish blue and a light blue combined, which can work with any type of gray pants, charcoal pants or navy pants that will always look good. That’s the true hidden power of two-tone socks that most men underestimate.
Two-tone socks also work with different colors, for example, these socks are actually a combination of purple and white, and there is something that I would call a faux solid because from afar, they look like a solid but if you look closer, they are actually made up of two colors. They can be worn with any kind of brown pants and they look great. They can be worn with denim or maybe with something in charcoal or with a pair of chinos. That’s true versatility.
Compared to this pair of socks in brown, it just doesn’t work with gray. Yes, it somewhat works with a brown, yes it works with chinos, it doesn’t look that great with any blue or denim.
What Makes Fort Belvedere Socks Special?
At Fort Belvedere, we try to design our socks so you’ll get a large range of different colors in two-tone patterns that work with a multitude of outfits. You also won’t find rocket ships or pizzas on our socks, as we generally find “crazy” socks to be overrated.
Now, as you’ll imagine, a pair of $40 socks is made up of premium materials. For example, you can find silk, cashmere, or blends thereof. Even if socks are made up of cotton, not all cotton is alike. You can find cheaper cotton with shorter staple lengths or you can find higher-end cotton with a longer staple length that is twisted twice for consistency and longevity of the yarn and that way, you just end up with a sock that is much more comfortable because it is all made of natural fibers, not artificial fibers like nylon or polyester and that won’t insulate.
The reality is that just the raw material of a $40 socks costs more than the entire $4 socks. Because of that, you can make a yarn much thinner and knit a sock more finely. Of course, with a larger number of needles, it takes longer to make a pair of socks. However, the fine gauge knit of a high-end dress sock is always a hallmark because you will not be able to find any expensive sock that is fine as a high-quality sock.
Also, the machines used and the country of origin are typically different. All the $4 socks are made in China, Fort Belvedere socks are exclusively made in Italy of 100% natural fibers. And because there’s a tradition of craftsmanship and socks making in Italy, all the socks are finely finished by hand so there is no bulky seam at the toe that would provide any discomfort to you when you walk. Considering that cotton is absorbent and not as insulating as polyester, you will have just a much more pleasant experience walking around in your dress shoes throughout the day.
Is It Worth It to Pay 10x As Much?
Ultimately that is up for you to decide. In my book, it is definitely worth it, especially when you consider that you can buy a pair of 3, 6, or 12 socks and can bring the price down all the way to $30 per pair. That would allow you to get 12 different colors of socks, meaning, you’re basically equipped to handle any kind of situation with the right pair of socks.
It also makes travel easier because you can bring along a small amount of pair of socks and you don’t have to think about what color works exactly with it because you can be confident it’s gonna work out.
Forty-dollar socks come in many sizes, the $4 socks come in very few or just 1 size. While the material of the cheaper socks won’t stand the test of time, the pilling will look bad and make you sweat, higher-end materials allow for thinner socks that look more elegant with your dress shoes and your fine outfit. They’re more breathable and overall more comfortable when you wear them.
On top of that, $40 socks are true over-the-calf versus cheaper socks are mid-calf that cut off your circulation and just slide down top make you look unprofessional. Also, $4 socks are finished by machines in its toe area, making it less comfortable to wear them versus the $40 socks are finished by hand so you have a smooth result and don’t feel anything. Most importantly, while $4 socks usually come in colors of black, gray, brown, or khaki, $40 socks come in a range of 15 or 20 different colors especially in color combinations that allow you to really look your best without having to think about it very much.