To Half Calf, Or Full Calf, That is the Question

Any man interested in style has certainly come across this sock debate somewhere online, today I will sum up the arguments with a few points from each side as well as offering some shopping resources for both sock lengths at the end of the post.

One of the main things I hear over and over again is the need for socks to stay up without having to adjust them constantly throughout the day. This (regarding construction of the sock) comes down to two components, length and elastic strength. However, not to be overlooked is the calf shape itself. In general, if the elastic component is just below the knee (OTC socks), the tendency for the material to make its way downwards as you go about your daily routine is diminished as compared to the sock that sits on the calf.

On the other side it has been stated that if you have large calf muscles OTC can be quite uncomfortable and if the half calf sock is long enough to avoid any exposure of skin when legs are crossed, then no issue should be found. Still others opt to wear sock garters with mid calf socks when comfort is compromised with over the calf socks and so they eliminate the fuss with socks that need to be put back in place.

Although those that wear OTC socks exclusively feel that they are the only option for a gentleman, I think we can manage to find a little wiggle room. After all if you feel as if the sock is cutting off blood circulation, what’s the point? In the end is it not just a matter of choice? As someone who has both types, I am willing to accept that some may not like the look and or feel of OTC socks and that’s fine with me.

One thing to keep in mind is that the length of half calf socks in not uniform across manufacturers so you may have to shop around to find the brand that suits you best. Also most quality English made socks can be found in size medium and large which will impact on the overall length if you are buying socks that are inappropriately sized for your foot.

I order quite a few socks online and one of my favorite sources is Woods of Shropshire. They are mostly half calf but do have some select models including Pantherella cotton Lisle and Superfine Merino in full calf. They also stock Scott Nichol which is a personal favorite for casual socks. One of the great benefits for those ordering from North America is the reasonable postage fees for smaller items like socks.

More expensive in general (as well as having higher postage fees to the U.S.) is Drake’s who only have full calf. Most are solids but as a consolation the choice of colours is quite good.

If you are in the U.S. and only want full calf socks try CustomShirt1 who offer a lot of pattern as well as the expected solids from names like Marcoliani and Bresciani among others. Lastly a mention should go out to Howard Yount which has an equal selection of both lengths. Most are from Marcoliani in addition to their house brand which is made in Italy.

These links are by no means exhaustive but will help you get a handle on a good portion of what’s available .

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Joseph Fields