It’s Paul’s fault. Phil’s nephew. He posted on Facebook the other day that he was wearing shorts, socks and sandals, as it was a nice day. It reminded me, instantly, of an article that I wrote last year for an expat magazine. I was going to copy the link (as I would usually do) to the magazine archive onto the thread on Facebook. However, when I typed in the URL, I found that the domain hadn’t been renewed; so the article wasn’t accessible. Not wanting to deprive you all of this tongue-in-cheek look at summer footwear, I have adapted my original piece:
We’ve all seen them – and probably winced – but just why do some people insist on wearing socks with their sandals? It’s difficult to find any real reason why people have come to adopt this way of dressing. Type ‘shoe’ or ‘sandal’ into an internet search engine and you will get plenty of information about the history of both types of footwear, but not the point in time when they joined forces to become the butt of many an expat joke. Of course, when you put the two words together, the majority of search results are of sites like this one – http://www.sandalandsoxer.co.uk/home.htm – which is a collection of photos of serial sock/sandal offenders – including some very famous celebrities.
It hasn’t been a recent evolutionary process, either, as this extract from Wikipedia on the history of socks explains:
The Ancient Egyptian style of sock is a blend between modern Western socks and Japanese tabi, both of which it predates. Egyptian socks have one compartment for the big toe and another for the rest, permitting their use with sandals.
So, it looks like the Japanese are comfortable wearing socks & sandals although it does, however, give a whole new meaning to ‘Walk like an Egyptian’ – don’t you think?
In fact, it looks like it’s been quite a common trend throughout history. The Dreary Torygraph ran an article in 2010 stating that remains found on an archaeological dig in Yorkshire (UK) proved that the Romans wore socks with their sandals – so maybe it’s another thing that should go on the ‘What Have The Romans Ever done for us’ list?
Delve deep enough into an internet search and you can find discussion groups both for and against. Here are some of the (best) reasons men give for looking like a dork wearing socks:
1) They prevent my sandals from rubbing my feet (Poor baby!)
2) They keep my feet clean (yes, but the sweat? Really?)
3) They hide my hairy big toes (Yuk!)
4) They stop mosquitoes from biting my ankles (they’ve got a point, there, I think!)
5) I don’t feel properly dressed without my socks on (You are kidding, right?)
6) I feel unsafe because my feet sweat so much that they slip around inside my sandals (I could have lived the rest of my life not knowing that, thanks)
7) My feet don’t get cold in the evening when it’s cooler (probably because you cooked them during the day, Sweetie!)
And the women:
1) They show off my Barbie pink flip-flops better (yes, someone actually said that – I know – the shame…)
When it comes to the reasons why people don’t wear socks, the answer was unanimous from both camps:
1) I don’t want to look like a dork
I was very surprised to discover that it’s not only the north Europeans who have been affected by this phenomenon. Many of the discussion groups were in Canada and the USA who were a little more – how should I put this – forward with their thoughts on the subject:
When asked the question “Who should wear socks with sandals?” one guy responded:
“There are only three types of people who should wear socks with sandals…. (1) Men who are insecure about their feet. – (2) Real life Ninjas or wannabee Ninjas and (3) Samurais.”
Another responded with this; when asked how they felt about the concept of wearing socks with sandals:
“That’s sorta like having your rubber on long before ever having sex, right??”
When asked if there was ever a circumstance when it would be permissible for anyone to wear socks with sandals, one response was:
“Nope, none whatsoever….though usually it’s old men doing it…………the same guys with their pants pulled up dang near to their armpits”
It’s big business too. During my on-line research, I found at least a dozen specialized sock companies selling sandal and flip-flop socks. Bizarrely, one of the best-selling patterns/designs is of cartoon ninjas (maybe that guy had a point with the ninja thing?).
I could have spent the rest of my lunch hour researching this more deeply and still not reached a conclusive answer. I think it should best be left that we, as a species, are just plain old weird! What one person may find aesthetically pleasing, is another’s worst fashion nightmare.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Are you a sock wearer? What are your motives? – Seriously, I’d like to know.
Personally I would never contemplate the notion. For one thing, I would think that they just give you the most bizarre tan lines. I mean, it must look as though you’re wearing wellies when you’re naked. I’ll leave you with that thought……..