Learning about the different types of socks is essential but often ignored since they’re just a tiny piece of garment. Whether it might be in length, style, and special function, the socks we'll discuss are great additions to your closet. However, wearing the wrong socks can often lead to feet issues because their main function is protection.
Types of Socks According to Length
People often choose a sock length that will work best for their footwear, their skirt or pants, and the style they’re going after. Some may also select a pair that will help cover and protect several parts of their lower extremities. Here are 10 of the most popular types of socks based on differences in length, including their most common uses:
- Half Slip-On (Toe Socks)
- Ankle (Extra-Low or Low Cut)
- Thigh High
1. Half Slip-On (Toe)
Aptly named, these socks are easy to wear and only cover some parts of your feet, specifically your toes and half of your feet. They’re made of light materials but still have great sweat-absorbing and protective properties. These no-show socks are perfect for slip-on shoes that also cover only half of your feet.
Compared to the half slip-on, belly socks cover your entire feet, making them perfect for doll shoes, ballerina shoes, boat shoes, and low-cut loafers. Some prefer to wear them under their sneakers when they wear many types of skirts, shorts, cropped pants, and other bottoms that expose the ankles.
3. Ankle (Extra Low or Low Cut)
Also called booties and extra-low-cut socks, these types of socks will cover your entire feet and rest below your ankles or mid-ankles. Such a design makes them ideal for those who wear low-cut shoes and want to protect their feet but not their calves and legs that can make them feel uncomfortable. You may also wear them underneath low-cut casual shoes such as those mentioned for the invisible, as long as you don’t mind some exposed socks.
Bonus: The ankle socks have a variation: the bobby socks. You’ll easily identify them because of the cuffs included.
A few inches longer than the ankle sock, quarter pairs cover your entire feet and ankles, resting on your shins. As such, they’re also perfect for running, jogging, working out, and other athletic activities. However, thanks to the full coverage, they’re better because they can prevent bites and blisters caused by shoe contact and friction.
Experts also recommend quarter socks to individuals suffering from diabetes and those who have other foot problems such as cold feet and nerve damage. You can also opt for them if you have footwear with insufficient cushioning and don’t want to buy shoe cushions.
A pair of socks with a length ranging from six to eight inches, the crew has the length you’re probably most familiar with. That's why it's hard to determine where the crew socks really end, especially since it will also depend on your height.
These socks work well as summer and winter socks, depending on the material used to construct them. Athletes or physical activity enthusiasts who want more lower extremity coverage wear crew socks, even with low-cut shoes. Similarly, fashionistas choose fashionable pairs and wear them with their skirts, shorts, and mini-dresses.
As the name suggests, these types of socks will cover half of your calf muscle. You’ll usually find them made of wool, making them perfect feet warmers during the winter or rainy season.
Contrary to the mid-calf socks, these socks will cover your entire calf muscles and stop right below your knees. They’re also ideal cold-season socks and are common in some sports such as soccer or football.
These types of socks are a few inches longer than the calf socks, ending right around your knees. They’re also popular sports socks, and fashionistas usually pair them with their short skirts.
Nonetheless, some fashionistas also wear knee-high socks under their sneakers, low-cut shoes, and open shoes. These socks have a length that ends right above the knees, perfect for your winter boots. They’re also popularly included in the uniforms of those working in the aviation and healthcare industries.
10. Thigh High
Aptly named, these types of socks reach your mid-thigh or a little higher. They’re the best socks for mini-skirts, whether you’re uncomfortable or comfortable showing off some legs because they can up your style. That’s especially true if you wear a pair with cute characters, patterns, designs, and fashionable palettes.
Types of Socks According to Style
Apparently, the style of socks refers to how they look and how they’re designed. These types of socks are easy to identify, and some of the most famous ones are:
- Half or Split-toe
- Toe Less
- Fence Net
These socks have a “pocket” for each of your toes. That’s why they’re also called five-toe, finger, digital, and glove socks. They prevent the toes from rubbing together, athlete’s foot, and allergies, so some runners love these socks.
2. Half or Split-Toe
A variation of the toe socks, the half-toe only extends midway your feet. Dancers commonly wear them during practices or training.
These types of socks separate the big toe from the rest of your toes. Meaning they have a specific “pocket” for the big toe. They’re the perfect socks to wear under your toe slippers or sandals.
4. Toe Less
As the name implies, the toe-less socks don’t cover the toes. Dancers and yogis are the usual individuals who wear these for easier and more comfortable movement.
These socks are often confused with the toe-less because they also have top and bottom openings. The difference is that tube socks don’t have the socks’ shape because they lack the heel part, so you can insert your feet in either of the openings. Plus, they don’t cover your feet since they start at the ankles.
Made from spandex, cotton, or polyester, these types of socks cover the feet inconspicuously. Thus, the skin-tone colored ones are ideal for women who need to wear skirts or shorts but are not comfortable going “bare skin.” Nonetheless, they can simply be fashionable summer items since they’re also available in several colors, and some of them have designs, prints, or patterns.
7. Fence Net
Doing away with the typical socks design, the fence net has wide gaps in between them, creating a net. It is usually made using a combination of acrylic and spandex.
This item doesn’t offer coverage but is simply a fashionable pair of socks. You’ll typically see women wearing it during dance parties, clubbing, and other entertainment events.
The fishnet has a similar function as the fence net socks, but it has smaller gaps. These smaller gaps allow you to wear them during semi-formal events, apart from the ones mentioned earlier.
Types of Socks According to Specific Function
Often ignored, there are actually types of socks designed for a particular purpose. They might look similar to standard socks, but they have added features that make them special. Some of them are:
- Grip (Anti-Slip)
- Heel Tab
- Leg Warmer
- Odor Protection
1. Grip (Anti-Slip)
These socks have plastic or rubber dots or nubs on the soles for better grip so that the wearer doesn’t slip, especially when worn without footwear. They’re perfect for dancers and those attending yoga, Pilates, and other activities that require you to wear socks without footwear.
2. Heel Tab
These types of socks are highly recommended for individuals who love to do physical activities that can lead to blisters, such as hiking and running. As the name suggests, the heel areas of the socks have an extra tab of fabric for better comfort, cushion, and fit.
These socks have a design that can help improve blood flow in the area, leading to feet and/or leg tiredness and pain relief. They also help prevent injury while running and jogging.
People with diabetes need to avoid cuts, bruises, and the like because they heal slower than normal. That’s why they need a pair of socks with enhanced protective properties without compromising comfort and breathability.
Diabetic socks are made of soft, thick cotton with cushioned lining and reinforced with terry cloth. These materials ensure protection and better blood flow while also preventing skin irritation. These types of socks also have mesh vents for improved airflow; some manufacturers also add gel insoles that help absorb shock.
5. Leg Warmer
Basically, these are long tube socks made of thick fabric, such as wool or cotton yarn, meant to be worn over any other socks for added warmth. Some leg warmers have embellishments, such as lace and large buttons, perfect for those who want to up their style during the winter season.
These socks will help keep your feet warm and dry, especially when skiing or doing any winter activities for extended periods. They come with batteries that you need to recharge to ensure they provide the warmth that you need within a given period.
Although waterproof shoes exist, some hikers and outdoor activity enthusiasts pair them with waterproof socks for better protection. You’ll also find rubber-made waterproof socks that you can wear as is when working in damp areas like in your home garden. It goes without saying that these types of socks will help prevent water from touching your feet.
8. Odor Protection
Most socks are breathable, but some individuals tend to sweat more than others. We all know that sweat often leads to odor if they don’t get exposed to air immediately. Hence, some manufacturers add natural odor protectants to their socks.
Choosing the Right Types of Socks
That said, there is no such thing as too much when it comes to socks. After all, you change them every day; in fact, some of you even need to change twice or more within the day, like when you go to the gym or attend practices. With the many types of socks available, it’s best to evaluate your specific needs, lifestyle, and fashion style.