Buy One Thing: Really Good Socks

Wrap your feet in something nice.

These socks look great! via Flickr

Every time I go home, before my sister and I sit on the couch and watch hours of television, we do a brief walkabout of town. Town is small; there’s one main street, one stoplight and a lot of tiny stores that we will probably never buy anything from. The bulk of our time is spent at the bookstore, touching paperbacks and walking up to my dad with a book in hand that I think he should read, only beause I want to read it myself.

Across the street from the bookstore is Cabin Fever, a outdoor apparel store full of Patagonia and an impressive display of Smartwool socks. The Patagonia is a waste of my time; I have no desire to look like I’m about to scale a mountain at any moment. Smartwool socks, on the other hand, are a worthy investment. My father loves a Smartwool sock. My sister and I each have a pair or two, gifted to us as presents. Mine have a hole in the toe, but I’m holding onto them until they disintegrate into a pile of wooly spaghetti.

Socks, generally speaking, are an unfortunate necessity. But it’s clear to me that my feelings on the subject have been influenced by the inferior socks I’ve bought in my life — most of which have been purchase as an afterthought in line at H&M while holding another striped shirt and a pair of pants I want to try as an experiment. Cheap socks are horrible; they fray at the toe within what feels like minutes, creating an opening for your big toe to poke through, choked as if in a tourniquet. But an expensive sock, a sock made of something natural and nice feels right. A pair of thick hiking socks, purcahsed at REI and worn maybe on one actual hike, serve nicely as slippers in the winter months. Cozy wool socks are pleasant and warm and toe the line of luxury in a way that feels acceptable only because they’re practical. A ten pack of socks from CVS does the trick, you might think, but a good sock does wonders.

The task of purchasing things that do matter, like underwear, socks and presents for weddings that I am expected to attend feels onerous. I already have socks and underwear for that matter, so why bother replacing them with the top of the line when what I have is already fine? What happens when you actually put thought into the things that you buy? Good socks — the kind you wouldn’t be embarassed to wear in a room full of strangers — are worth the money.