Origins of ordinary things: Socks

People wear socks to be warm, to be fashionable or to keep their feet from sweating and causing a foul smell in their shoes. Socks are thus multifunctional. It’s therefore a good thing that socks have been around for a long while. The earliest known surviving socks, according to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia, date as far back as 8th century BC.

People wear socks to be warm, to be fashionable or to keep their feet from sweating and causing a foul smell in their shoes. Socks are thus multifunctional.

It’s therefore a good thing that socks have been around for a long while. The earliest known surviving socks, according to Wikipedia the online encyclopedia, date as far back as 8th century BC.

Ancient Egyptians are said to have had the first the first modern version of socks since theirs were handwoven. Their Greek counterparts wore socks made out of animal fur.

Ancient Romans on the other hand, according to Reference a web-based educational platform, wore the least civilised type of socks. They gathered animal skins around their ankles and tied them up.

Since socks existed way before the industrial revolution, they were handwoven. Because of this, they were limited in supply and as such, a symbol of privilege.

For instance, according to Quora an online knowledge-sharing platform, in 5th century AD people who considered themselves holy wore them as a symbol of purity.  Later, socks became a privilege for the rich.

In the Middle Ages, socks were attached to the pants, forming one piece of clothing. It was later deemed inconvenient since they became dirty much quicker than the pants did and thus requiring frequent change. Socks thus became independent pieces of clothing. This is according to Black Socks, an online socks company.

The invention of the knitting machine in the 16th century meant that more socks were made. According to History Undressed a web-based education platform, the lower social classes got socks made of wool while the upper classes got silk or cotton.

Studies show that men wore socks before women did. At this point, they were called by another name; hose. At first, the garments covered lower parts of the body up to above the knees. They were held up by garters. Later, they went all the way up to the waist.

Women, particularly ancient Romans wore soccus. These were, according to the web-based Fashion Encyclopedia, indoor loose leather slippers that covered only the feet. Women later started wearing panty hose. These were thin nylon undergarments that covered the entire lower part of the body. They are still available today.

The industrial revolution of the 18th century made it possible for massive production of many things that were previously hard to come by. The massive production of socks however started much later on, the 20th century.

This also led to the exploration of different synthetic and organic materials to make socks of different sizes, shapes and feel.

Today, socks are a common piece of clothing. For instance, in some institutions such as primary and secondary schools socks are a mandatory part of the uniform.