Long socks

Many, many years ago, when I had, really, nothing better to do with my time, I used to wear stockings and suspenders.  I actually think that girls who wear stockings and suspenders aren’t my sort of girl. It’s so tried at. And let me tell you, despite what ANYONE says, they ain’t comfortable.

But I did. Possibly because I was less sure of myself or had the kind of life where putting stockings and suspenders on was a feasible enterprise of a morning.

One day I was wearing trousers. Smart trousers. I put on some shoes that really needed hosiery with them, not socks. But I was wearing trousers. It’s on occasions such as these I guess you wear pop sox. But pop sox are, absolutely, not my thing. I totally see they fulfil a purpose but not any purpose I’ve come up against so pressingly that I’ve had to put them on. I find them depressing. So I put on my stockings and suspenders under my trousers which, let me tell you, is dedication to duty.

Now all that was bizarre enough. Except at the time (this is relevant) I was on the Pill (if any member of my family is reading this, that’s a pill for medical reasons and nothing whatsoever to do with, you know, the sex). And as the day progressed, I developed this rather alarming pain in my leg.

For those of you who don’t know, the Pill increases your risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis). I worked in Soho (of course) and around the corner was a family planning clinic. So I dropped in and said “I’m on the pill and I’ve got this really alarming pain in my leg”.

This really nice, hippy-ish doctor saw me. He had a pony tail and I remember him because he was so nice. “Well, pop your trousers off and lie on the bed so I can have a look at your leg” he said kindly. “I’ll be back in a minute.” And off he went.

This flung me into deep panic. I knew the procedure for removing my trousers. And if I’d been wearing pop sox I would probably have removed both of them. If I’d been wearing tights (WHY hadn’t I just worn tights?) I would obviously remove the whole tight. But I was wearing stockings, what should I do? Remove both of them? This just seemed odd. If I did that should I also remove my suspender belt? Didn’t that seem like too much undressing? Would he wonder why I was undressing so much? Should I keep my stockings on? No unthinkable, he clearly needed to examine my leg. So I did what any other insane person would do. I removed just one stocking and laid myself on the bed. The doctor came back, and of course he didn’t raise an eyebrow at my one stockinged leg, one naked leg.

But I felt really fucking stupid.

I got the all clear, at least physically, and got dressed and went back to my office.

“I saw a really nice doctor” I said. I described him. “Oh Hank Wangford” someone said, “the Country and Western singer! He works there as a doctor.” I don’t know why, but this made everything so much worse.  Actually it could have been worse still. It could have been Rich Hall.

This brings me, not neatly at all, to my current craze with finding Good Socks to Wear with Trousers. For years now, ever since I ditched the stockings and suspenders under trousers (under anything) I’ve searched for proper socks that reach to the knee, but are of really good quality and of fine denier (of an ‘unimaginable thinness’ as an interview with Julio Iglesias once said of his socks) that could be worn under trousers.

I’ve never found them. And now that I’m older, wiser, have children and live in the country, my concern is not with thin socks but good knee socks. This means they need to be: warm, comfortable (I will not wear socks that are itchy), nice looking and preferably have a high wool content (but not be itchy, have I mentioned I don’t like itchy). Not to wear with ‘fine shoes’ but to wear tucked into boots/wellies and under trousers. Preferably in plain colours and not mentally expensive. I know you can get cashmere knee socks for £35, thank you.

The hardest criteria to fulfil, as you will see, is that the socks are plain. Even when the other boxes are ticked, finding plain socks in wool, blah blah blah: impossible (not if you’re a man, cos you have delicious Pantherella socks, but I can’t wear those as they’re too big).

Burlington argyle socks are not plain, but great in every other sense. They’re not cheap at a tenner each, but I’ve always preferred to have less, good stuff than lots of rubbishy things. I go by ‘price per wear’ when shopping these days (as you can when you don’t have to slavishly follow fashion). Plus I’ve had two pairs of these socks for seventeen years and they are only just wearing out. But you try finding women‘s Burlington knee socks, in wool, available to buy in the UK. And when you do, tell me. I’ve found plenty places that promise to do them, but you either get there and they’re cotton, or they’re ankle socks or something else is not right.

I went into Johnny Loulou’s recently and just wanted to tear my hair out at the lack of warm knee socks that didn’t cost £30 plus. I did however, find these in John Lewis and they do address most of the issues, except, whilst I like the stripes for a bit of fun, it’d be nice to also have them in plain colours; but hey that’s really asking too much it seems.

John Lewis wool (40%), silk,  nylon, elastane sock, £8.50.

Recently I discovered some really useful, every day black over the knee socks from the M&S children’s department. These cost £4 for two. They’re cotton rich, so not warm in particular but they’re great for chucking on when it’s not too cold and you need some knee socks (they’re longer than knee socks but you get the idea). In fact the girls’ department of M&S threw up some pretty good socks, because they go up to a grown up size 7. There are these for example which have a bit of angora in them that are really nice.

I have some excellent, really long, really warm, dark cherry-red cashmere socks that I bought from Ollie and Nic some years ago. They are great to wear with my sheepskin boots but no good to anyone else as they’re not stocked anymore.

In the end the shop that had the best selection: patterned, plain, not expensive, comfortable (not wool but warm) was Uniqlo £6.99 a pair. I know I mentioned this company only yesterday but hey ho. Or rather ho ho ho.

7 thoughts on “Long socks

  1. tina

    I have just returned from Uniqlo (prompted by your article yesterday) with an excellent plain HeatTech polo-neck top and socks – thanks Annalisa!

  2. tina

    BTW – love the Hank Wangford story. There's a village in Suffolk called Wangford – I wonder if he nicked the name from there or maybe it's his real name?

  3. Annalisa Barbieri

    Jayne, sorry it took me so long to moderate your comments, I'm still not used to doing it so I miss where it says X comments need moderating!YES those are the Burlington socks I wanted, you clever thing! And how stupid am I to not look on sockshop's site although have to admit I thought sock shop went bust years ago…Thank you.


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