In our new advice column, Ask the Strategist, we take your most burning shopping questions and scour friends, call up experts, and draw from personal experience to answer them. As always, please comment with one of your own — we’re here to help.
In our first-ever Strategist post, we asked you, our readers, to weigh in on what you wanted to hear from us. Did you have any burning questions? Could we help you reach shopping Nirvana? A reader who goes by Gangaf replied with a very specific request.
Question: Where can I find black and navy trouser socks for women that come up to just below the knee?
Gangaf, I am happy to report that the answer is Gold Toe’s Microfiber Trouser Dress socks (3 for $10). Here’s how we got there:
Trouser socks have never been my thing, because I’m not a mom or the type of person who needs to wear trousers regularly, but they’re actually having a bit of a fashion moment. They go perfectly with that newly popular look of slightly cropped, loose-fitting pants and culottes paired with Converse or Stan Smiths, slimming out the baggy silhouette and subtly disappearing into a sneaker.
So I started with the fashion source: Rebecca Ramsey, our newly minted fashion director. Gold Toe was her first suggestion, what Rebecca called a classic men’s trouser sock. “This is what my dad wears,” she said. They also make women’s versions, so I called in a pair of Gold Toe knee-high cotton socks and the knee-high microfiber version.
I also called in a pair of Pantherella classic Rose knee-highs (“silky and not too thick,” says Rebecca), which are a bit of a splurge at $30 per pair. And I decided to try Falke at Rebecca’s suggestion, which was seconded by Ryan Willms, creative director of the boutique Totokaelo. I decided the extravagant $355 lace-trimmed Prada socks that Rebecca and I discussed were probably not practical, and she left us with one final tip: “Socks always disappear in the dryer, so never put your nicer socks in there.”
About a year ago, I interviewed New York’s, and possibly the world’s, premier sock dealer, Vivek Nagrani. He’s the guy that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calls when updating his sock drawer, so I reached out again. After his version of women’s trouser socks never picked up steam, Nagrani took them off the market, and now recommends Wolford: “That’s probably the best-made product a woman’s going to be able to buy.” It was an opinion echoed by Erica Russo, the fashion director of accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale’s, who suggested Wolford Velvet de Luxe — which we called in — and Hue’s Soft Opaque Knee High’s, which is one of Bloomingdale’s best sellers.
Once they all arrived in the office, I tried them on, one after the next, and here is where Gold Toe sealed the deal: nothing was more comfortable or more affordable. The Pantherella were too tight around the top of my calf and too loose around my toes. I wanted my sock to disappear on me. The Wolford, of course, were wonderful, but you can get three Gold Toe pairs (each pack comes with black, navy, and brown) for half the price, and they were just as comfortable, and even less constricting. Where the Wolford left a mark after about 20 minutes, the Gold Toes did not. They’re stretchy, comfortable, and spacious, even around the thickest part of my thigh, while still holding on tight without slipping down my leg. They land just about half an inch below my knee (I’m five-five), and you can wear them all the way up — per Gangaf’s request — but they look just as nice sitting a little baggy at mid-calf. They’re warm enough, but not sweat-inducing, and the microfiber makes it feel like there’s room to breathe (if you prefer something really warm that feels less like tights, though, I’d go with the Falke Wool Balance). The only slightly annoying thing is that the seam runs along the toe, but this is a sock we’re talking about after all. Position it above your toes and the problem will disappear, and if we’re being honest, the Wolford has its seam there too.
One More Thing
On a slightly different note Hunter Harris, our colleague over at Vulture, frantically tweeted the other day wanting to know about Dakota Johnson’s jeans:
We heard from Johnson’s publicist that they’re from Frame, and we’ve deduced that they must be the Rigid Re-Release Le Original Skinny in a color called Morrison. Unfortunately, they only have size 31 left in this pair, but there are more sizes in the distressed version — as well as a darker, wider-leg alternative — and Paige has a really similar pair, too. Either way, they’ll all go great with the perfect gray tee.
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