Like your underwear, your socks protect one of the most sensitive and important parts of your body. Thus, what fabric touches your feet matters, and that’s why it’s important to pay attention to the materials of your socks. The Manmade team spent countless hours in product development for all types of underwear, and when it came to socks, we put in the same amount of work to make the best sock for you.
The materials of your socks determine how breathable, durable, absorbent, and comfortable your socks are. Plus, there are other numerous properties different fabrics can bring. Certain ones are more moisture-wicking, while others are better at absorbing odor. One fabric might be more appropriate for winter, while another might be more suitable for the summer.
As such, having a good idea of which fabrics do what can give you a better understanding of what materials are best suited for you depending on the time of year as well as your preferences and needs. We’ve rounded up six different sock fabrics to compare and see what factors make each fabric unique.
Cotton is the most common type of natural fabric used for socks in general. It is affordable, soft, and durable, making it one of the most cost-effective fabrics for socks. Cotton also has great heat retention, making it perfect for winter. Of course, this heat retention makes cotton not ideal for summer.
However, the thing with cotton is that it stretches easily and loses its form, meaning that cotton socks will go through quite a bit of wear and tear with use. It also holds moisture, making it terrible for sweaty feet. One way to combat this is to seek higher quality or luxury cotton, like Supima or Pima cotton, or combed cotton.
- Soft and durable
- Good heat retention
- Stretches easily
- Holds moisture
Next to cotton, wool is probably the next most common natural fabric used in socks. It is made from fibers from sheep’s fur, and it outperforms cotton for certain use cases. It has great moisture-wicking properties. It stretches like cotton but it holds its shape even after many washes. It can keep you warm but also cool depending on the weather. It also absorbs odor. Due to such properties, wool can be worn again after use as long as it’s dried. For people who suffer from smelly feet due to sweat, wool is a gift from the fabric Gods.
The downside of wool is that it is more expensive than cotton, but it is certainly worth the money for all the benefits.
- Great moisture wicking
- Regulates temperature well
- Absorbs odor
- More expensive
Modal is a synthetic fabric made from beech tree pulp and while a relative newcomer in the industry, it is quickly gaining popularity for its softness while also remaining breathable and highly absorbent. Not only that, it is resistant to shrinkage from washing and drying, and it has great moisture-wicking properties. Therefore, modal is an ideal fabric for socks. It handles sweat well, it feels comfortable, and it’s easy to wash.
However, this miracle fabric does have its downsides. As with other synthetic fabrics, modal may cause allergic reactions in some people. It is also not the best fabric for heat retention, meaning it isn’t the best choice for keeping your feet toasty in the winter. Lastly, it is a bit more expensive than other more common fabrics like cotton.
- Super soft
- Retains its shape after laundry
- Handles moisture very well
- More expensive
- Can cause allergic reactions
- Bad heat retention
Silk has been known as the king of fabrics and a marker of luxury for thousands of years, but in the world of socks, it might not be the best choice.
Sure, silk is a natural fiber that just feels luxuriously comfortable on your skin, and yes silk does insulate quite well, but it’s terrible when it comes to water absorption. We sweat quite a bit on our feet, and silk will just keep all that moisture in, resulting in sweaty feet which can lead to a lot of problems.
Thus, 100% silk socks are pretty impractical, and they’ll be very expensive. But silk blends can be nice and would be the more reasonable choice.
- Very comfortable
- Doesn’t handle sweat well
Polyester is a common type of fabric composed of synthetic fibers that are widely used in clothing. While polyester is very durable and retains its’ shape, it is neither breathable nor absorbent, meaning it’s not good for sweat.
Therefore, polyester works well when it is blended with other fabrics, as its strengths complement other fabrics' weaknesses. For instance, cotton is not very durable and it loses its form easily. When mixed with polyester, cotton’s weaknesses are covered by polyester’s durability and its form retention. But 100% polyester socks are not a good idea because they would be uncomfortable to wear and they’re not that good for the environment.
- Very durable
- Retains its shape excellently
- Can cause allergic reactions
- Not that breathable
- Can be uncomfortable
This last one is the ultimate sock fabric. Cashmere is made from Cashmere goat fur, and it is known to be super soft, lightweight, and warm, ideal for cooler temperatures. So the best kinds of Cashmere socks are those that have some length, such as crew or anything above that. Wearing long socks made with Cashmere can feel like you’re walking on clouds.
The downside of this fabric is that it is very expensive. A pair of cashmere socks can cost around $60. With such a price tag, you might be better off getting dozens of socks made with cheaper fabric types for the same cost. But honestly, it’s probably worth just having one pair to see what it’s like. Besides, it’s good to spoil your toes once in a while.
- Amazingly soft
- Very light
- Great insulation
- Very expensive