By Jeff Allen, Contributor
You’ve never felt intimidation until you’ve had someone like David Beckham lock eyes with you. I can attest to the intimidation felt in his gaze: he in his skivvies, I in my Pearl Jam T-shirt circa 2003. It happened last week while browsing H&M. Beckham’s black and white image on a box of dangling Ginch, eyeballing me while I browsed for socks. White socks, specifically.
I don’t need Beckham or the alluring pout of Lana Del Rey to inform me that I’m neither fashionable nor fit. I’ve made peace with my body image and have fully embraced the poutine and Timbit lifestyle. I’m more into band names on shirts rather than brand names on shirts. That said, I’m not beyond the seduction of new apparel. But what is a walking fashion “don’t,” like myself, to do? A guy limited not only by budgetary constraints, but his own inherent lack of fashion imagination? I say start from the bottom up.
I have always been partial to white sport socks. My level of optimism on any given day correlates to the condition of sock I step into. Do they match? Are they embarrassingly stained on the foot? Or worse, do they have that telltale terminal hole in the heel? Not only do white socks reveal your mindset, but like all modes of dress, for better or worse, they reveal who you are. I’m a man of simple tastes and decided to weigh in on three options for you like-minded connoisseurs of chaussettes de sport.
1. H&M sport socks ($6.95 per four-pack): These utilize a clean Scandinavian design, and are a throwback to the tube socks of my youth, sans coloured rings at the top. Incorporating that wonderful Swedish (IKEA) philosophy of letting the consumer do all the work, this sock allows the wearer to determine heel-placement within the form. Tube socks were swell when I was 10. However, I am an adult now with responsibilities; a potential inverse tube sock situation when I’m late for class is another challenge I don’t need. In terms of ankle support, I felt the elasticity was sub-par. Nobody needs that loose feeling around the ankles midday. My buddy swears by H&M undergarments, as he claims they “make your package look bigger,” alas, I find their socks lacking.
2. Old Navy crew socks ($8 per three-pack): Although slightly more expensive, they adequately represent the white sock sensory experience. Though bottom cushioning could be improved, the socks should last through several washings. The added benefit of the Old Navy line is the grey bottom footing, which makes it easily identifiable when pairing socks on laundry day.
3. Joe sport socks ($8 per four-pack, available at Superstore): These promise a “fresh” experience, and I suppose it makes sense that a grocery chain would promote their clothing in the same way they do their milk and packaged cow tongues. The sock doesn’t disappoint in terms of overall comfort, and offers “antimicrobial protection,” which implies that my feet will never smell.
Ultimately, these socks, like so many designer brands, lack that special je ne sais quoi you find in hardier socks found at manly-man retail outlets like Mark’s Work Warehouse. I don’t know if white sports socks make the dude, but in my experience, a fresh clean pair can definitely improve your outlook, even if you’re not waking up next to a Spice Girl. As I journey down the road to self-improvement here at Douglas, my quest for the ultimate white sport sock will continue.