this thing's incredible

I Buy All My Socks at the Hardware Store

Photo: Daisy Jones

When I first met my girlfriend, one of the coolest things about her was that she shopped at the hardware store. She bought her tools there, obviously. But she also wore JCB boxers beneath low-rise jeans and plasticky, construction-worker wraparound shades in the mid-summer heat. She even kept her rolling tobacco in a tiny yellow Dewalt tool case. The effect was no-nonsense and utilitarian, and tremendously, unquestionably stylish. We’ve been together for half a decade now, and many of our habits have worn off on each other. She squeezes lemon juice over every meal — just like I do. And I too now shop for my basics in the “apparel” aisle of the hardware store.

Hardware-store socks aren’t for your most glamorous evenings, obviously — they’d look weird as hell with some nice little heels or loafers. But for those who like wearing chunky boots or lounging around at home in something cozy (for example: me), they’re a revelation.

In terms of brands, Caterpillar socks might be my favorite — they’re simple and soft, with a logo you can flash above your Salomons. Specifically, I recommend these that just say “CAT” across the ankle. Crucially, they’re not super thick — I actually hate it when my feet get too hot — so don’t be put off by the fact they’re probably intended for work boots. They’re the perfect thickness, I think: not overly sweaty, but definitely protective. I style these with work pants, or blue jeans and a white tee, or cute shorts and boots when I go out. If you’re into wearing Birkenstocks — who isn’t! — then these look great with them, too.

JCB is good if you’re based in the U.K., like me, whereas Dewalt’s designs are the most “construction-site-looking” of all with their yellow lines. You can pick up a set of three (with a matching cap included) for just $17.99.

I should probably point out here that I have tiny feet, like a Barbie — I’m a U.S. size 5.5 — and these socks tends to run in men’s sizes. (Rude! People who aren’t men can use a drill, too!) But I’ve had no problem wearing the smallest sizes available. In a way, it pains me to pass on my best-kept secret. But I know I must do for you what my partner has done for me, which is bequeath you with the gift of blister-free heels for a mere $24.50 for six pairs.

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These Hardware-Store Socks Are My Best-Kept Secret