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What Are the Best Socks for Women?

A sock for every occasion. Photo: Retailers

Insignificant as they may be, socks can have an outsize effect on the course of your day. Too loose around the ankle, and you’ll be pulling them up every few blocks. Too rough — blister city. Then there’s the matter of picking a sock that’s actually stylish — choosing between, say, a pair of actually attractive tube socks and some glittery mesh going-out socks. We reached out to 21 stylish women to hear about their favorites for all occasions — for slipping on under heels (Darners, Tabios), and avoiding slip-sliding on the pilates mat (Sticky Bes and Pointes). Consider your sock drawer revived.

Best no-show socks for sneakers and ankle boots

We’ve heard high praise for Bombas socks from everyone from Yeardley Smith (the voice of Lisa Simpson) to chef Jonathan Waxman. People are especially fond of the brand’s no-show socks. “For me, it’s all about comfort and functionality,” says stylist Jasmine Caccamo, who loves the brand’s no-show style. “When I’m wearing everything from my YSL Court Classic sneakers to my Nike Air Pegasus, Bombas socks are my go-to. These socks have a ‘blister heel’ (meaning gel grips on the heel that keep the socks in place) and the high quality of the cotton makes them super cozy, comfortable, and breathable.” Allison Tray, founder of Tres Belle Spa in Boerum Hill, told us that she is “totally obsessed” with how comfortable Bombas socks are, and compares the feeling of wearing them to “a little hug on your feet.” She wears them to the gym, and also pairs them with ankle boots.

Best no-show socks for flats

From $9 for 4

If you want to wear socks with flats, you’re going to need something with a deep cut in the front, and, crucially, something that won’t slip off. Dolley Frearson, co-founder and creative director of High Fashion Home, found a pair that does the trick: Hue’s No-Show Socks. “They’re the best no-show socks ever,” she says. “I had to go through so many brands before I found ones that didn’t slip off.” These socks feature an elastic topline and a silicone back so they stay in place, and according to Frearson, they work with just about every type of shoe: “They’re perfect for flats, booties, sneakers, everything.”

We’d be remiss to leave off the pair of no-show socks that come recommended by investigative journalist Marian Wang, who applied her expert research skills to the hunt for the perfect no-show sock. Her answer: Jarseen Women’s No-Show Low-Cut Non-Slip Liner Socks. “This sock was the clear winner,” she wrote. “Unlike many no-show socks that have just a tiny dab of silicone gel at the heel for grip, these socks have a ring of gel all the way around the edge, which is much more effective.” There’s also silicone at the ball of the foot, which helps your sock stay in place in flats. “If I were only buying one pair, I’d get these,” says Wang.

Best winter no-show socks

$25 for 3

“Winter no-show socks” may sound like an oxymoron, but costume designer and Strategist contributor Alison Freer found a pair that is just that. They are knee-high no-shows, which she describes as “kind of like a pair of Peds on steroids.” The socks cover your toes, the bottoms of your feet, heels, and calves, but leave your ankle exposed. It might sound strange, but Freer swears they’re extremely versatile: “You can wear them under jeans or pants with high heels, moccasins, oxfords, ballet flats, or even Toms (seriously, have you gotten a whiff of your Toms lately?), and absolutely nobody will be the wiser,” she says. The socks are made with Coolmax polyester, a moisture-wicking technical fabric, which Freer says helps cut sweat and odor in half.

Best socks to show off

Both former Maryam Nassir Zadeh buyer Carnelia Garcia and swimsuit designer Melisa Denizeri raved about Maria La Rosa silk-blend socks. “Maria La Rosa socks feel super luxurious and the colors are always fun,” says Denizeri. Garcia, who calls the socks “super chic,” told us that she liked to pair them with MNZ sandals (but you could wear them with any kind of sandals). We’re into the brand’s recent horoscope-themed silk-blend socks — which would make a great birthday gift for the Co-Star addict in your life — and this two-tone golden pair, which is at a slightly more affordable price point.

Denizeri is also a fan of Tabio socks — she says visiting the Japanese brand’s London store is a highlight of her family trips to the U.K. — for their unique designs and high-quality construction. “I think what sets Taboio socks aside is the quality sourcing of the yarn and their production standards,” Denizeri says. “But also the original designs — I don’t really see any similar socks by other brands.” Maayan Zilberman, founder of the confectionary company Sweet Saba, is a Tabio devotee, as well. “They have the finest yarns suitable for wearing with heels,” she says.

Of all the brands making show-off-worthy socks on the market, art director (and former Need Supply Co. fashion director) Krystle Kemp says that Hansel from Basel “is the one that creates fun-to-wear socks in the most aesthetically appealing way.” According to Kemp, the sock line’s designs fall “somewhere between subtle and loud, and they strike the perfect balance of eye-catching interest and thoughtful design.” Ear-piercing start-up Studs founder Lisa Bubbers is a fan, too. “Hansel From Basel socks are the most beautiful, delicate little works of art made in Japan,” she says. “They’re made for showing off with some loafers or chunky heel.”

“These feel so lovely on your foot, almost delicate — they feel special, like someone really cares about your feet (lol) and not so much like an afterthought,” says stylist Juliana Salazar, who also notes that the brand offers colors you might not find elsewhere, like this summery lilac.

Best thick socks

You don’t have to be hiking bear mountain to slide on a pair of thick socks — they work just as well for a day in the office. Denizeri says that in the winter her go-to are traditional camp socks, like these from L.L. Bean and Roots Canada. “I usually wear heavy boots and I love to wear thicker socks,” she says. “They’re super cozy when worn indoors.” The L.L. Bean are made of a chunky cotton knit and the Roots are a cozy acrylic and wool blend.

Best knee-high stocking socks

If wearing a pair of chunky socks under boots sounds too heavy for everyday wear, take note from costume designer Leesa Evans, who says she “loves to wear a thin knee-high stocking with boots.” The thinner sock makes for ease of wear: “It makes getting your boots on, especially a knee-high boot, extremely easy,” she says. We think these would be practical to have on hand for wearing with loafers and flats in the cooler months, as well.

Best mesh socks

“I love Darner Socks because they come in so many different types of fabrics, and I love how they hit where a tube sock does — super chic and a little dorky, too,” says stylist Christina Pacelli. “My favorites are the mesh socks worn with sneakers or an oxford platform.” Designer Tyler McGillivary loves Darner’s socks, too, in large part thanks to their smooth mesh texture. “Their heavy-duty, transparent mesh material looks so good with heels, or peaking out of boots.” She has her eye on the brand’s hot-pink mesh pair “to wear with purple or red shoes.”

Best tube socks

Designer Batsheva Hay told us her favorite socks are Brother Vellies’ Cloud Socks. “They feel like leg warmers that happen to hold your feet,” Hay says. “They’re extra roomy and soft and ’80s and the pink color — ‘Flamingo’ — is so perfect.”

Alexa Buckley, co-founder of shoe brand Margaux, told us that her “absolute favorite” socks are from Kule (which happens to be one of our favorite stripes brands). She calls the socks “whimsical and comfortable” and says that they “add the perfect punch of color to any outfit.” The socks — many of which feature retro tube-sock-style stripes — are made of thick acrylic and nylon, which Buckley says goes well with boots during the colder months. And, importantly, they stay in place: “The elastic holds your foot beautifully and they’re just thick enough to keep you warm, without being so thick that you’re unable to slip into a sleek pair of boots,” says Buckley.

Lingerie designer TyLynn Nguyen loves Lacoste’s tennis socks from the men’s department: “They’re my favorite — the fit is nice and they are super soft,” she says. They’re also a good option if you like a (subtle) logo.

Best “investment” socks

Wolford Jeanne Socks

It’s no secret that Wolford is considered a reliable source for long-lasting — and pricey — hosiery. Sarah Pierson, who co-founded Margaux with Buckley, confirms that their socks are worth the high price. “Wolford’s stockings and socks are no doubt an investment, but are also totally worth it,” she says. “By the time your Wolford pair gives out, you’ll have worn through an aisle’s worth of drugstore sheers. Trust me, I’ve wasted too many CVS ExtraBucks proving this point.” To keep the socks in tip-top shape, Pierson suggests washing them with a delicate detergent (she likes the Laundress’s) in a mesh bag, and never putting them in the dryer. Her favorite pair of late are the Jeanne socks, which she calls “cheeky” and says go well with open-toed sandals.

Best novelty socks

If the phrase “novelty socks” gives you flashbacks to corny socks received during a game of White Elephant or from a well-meaning uncle, fear not. Designer Nikki Chasin recently surfaced a pair while visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West residence that are more “cool art teacher” than “gag gift.” The socks come in two color combinations (both pictured above) that are worthy of the most discerning modern art and architecture fan.

Another pair of fun socks comes to us recommended by rapper Junglepussy, who says she’s “very loyal” to Ozone socks. “My Ozone socks somehow never get holes, despite how many weeks I go without trimming my toenails,” she told us. The rapper says she has “60 percent of the socks on Ozone’s site,” including this cool oceanic pair.

Best anti-slip socks

SLT founder and CEO Amanda Freeman told us that Sticky Be socks are her go-to for everything from SLT class to a long run. “They’re super thin and have a great grip,” she says. The socks come in various lengths, and feature phrases like “Be Great” and “Be Strong.” “Depending on my mood, I choose the motivational statement I’m most in need of, and of course the color I’m feeling that day,” says Freeman. “They are comfy and easy to put on.”

If socks with motivational sayings aren’t your thing, try grip socks from Angie, which Richer Poorer co-founder Iva Pawling says she wears both for working out and in lieu of slippers. “They are super grippy, great for lounging around the house, and also for their actual intended purpose of Pilates and barre,” she says.

Best black socks

Perhaps you’ve already banished plastic bags from your apartment — but did you know that sustainably made socks are a thing, too? We heard about them from the Great Eros co-founder Christina Viviani, who says Swedish Stockings Ingrid Ankle socks are her favorite for “the fit and fabric,” but also for “their vision of building a sustainable company by using recycled yarn for every pair.” Plus, she says, they’re just a downright reliable pair of black socks.

Shoe designer Emme Parsons told us about the new sock line Plus Ultra, which makes socks that have all the material technology of workout socks, but that could easily go with regular clothes. “The concept is dress socks that you can work out in,” says Parsons. “They are super versatile and a good price point.”

Parsons is also a fan of Falke’s cotton ankle socks, which are made from a thin and silky stretch knit that fits comfortably with all kinds of shoes. “I really love Falke ankle socks with loafers or boots and a mid-length skirt or ankle-length dress pants in neutral colors like black, gray and ivory,” she says.

Best white socks