They might not be the most glamorous part of your wardrobe, but they are a necessity to make it through a Maine winter: socks. Specifically, good socks, because once you start wearing warm, well-made socks, you can feel the difference immediately.
“I don’t think people think of socks as an important part of what you wear, but it can make a big difference in what your shoes or your boots are doing for you,” said Jennifer Sonnenberg, manager at Epic Sports in Bangor, where she sells countless socks made for a variety of specific purposes. “It can have a big effect on how comfortable you are, just generally.”
Summer Allen, owner of Valentine Footwear, a women’s shoe store in Bangor, sells a variety of socks, ranging from the practical to the fun and fashionable. For the best of both worlds, she recommends socks made out of merino wool.
“It’s a very soft, fine spin that keeps the body’s temperature balanced and keeps moisture away from the foot,” said Allen. “Premium sock brands make socks that are sized, instead of one-size-fits-all, which, as anyone with a small or large foot knows, is very important for comfort.”
Allen also sells compression socks, a style that many people assume is only for those who have diabetes or other circulatory troubles, as well as brightly-colored knee socks, over-the-knee socks and more muted business socks. Outside of Bangor, places like Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Eastern Mountain Sports in Portland and South Portland, Reny’s stores and Lamey Wellehan outlets statewidel offer a wide array of socks to treat your feet, whether you’re hitting the slopes this winter or just trying to stay warm and look good doing it.
1. The sock that you wear around the house: Woolrich The Home Sock
Sometimes you’re not wearing your socks out at all. Sometimes you’re wearing them around the house on a cold winter’s night, and all you want is comfort. Woolrich’s The Home Sock is a slipper sock that’s treated with aloe vera, so it soothes your feet as well as keeps them toasty, with a soft boucle inner layer and a knit outer layer. $3.99 to $7.99 at TJ Maxx stores, Kittery Trading Post and Reny’s stores.
2. The sock that blends in: Goodhew Cashmerino Bamboo San Fran Cable
From the outside, they look like average, everyday socks, that come in grays, browns and blacks. Something you’d wear to the office, a job interview or a more muted affair. But the Goodhew San Fran Cable socks pack an unexpected surprise: the merino wool and bamboo blend is so silky yet durable that you’ll never want to take them off. They might not look fancy, but your feet will feel differently. $16 at Valentine Footwear, and at Kittery Trading Post in Kittery.
3. The sock that keeps your feet dry: Darn Tough Vermont Run/Bike Socks
You might not be a skier, but if you’re a Mainer, odds are you’re spending a fair amount of time outside in the cold. If a thick ski sock isn’t your bag, but you do want something warm that’ll keep your feet dry as you walk or run around the block or shovel your driveway, try the Darn Tough Vermont brand, which wick moisture away should you build up a sweat. $16.95 at Epic Sports, and at Eastern Mountain Sports in Portland.
4. The sock that stands out: Nouvella Space-Dyed Knee Highs
This mostly cotton blend features lots of stretch, since it’s 6 percent spandex. It’s also made in the USA, and comes in a wide variety of colors that can jazz up any outfit. The addition of bright, funky socks can add an unexpected pop of color to an otherwise low-key ensemble — or they can compliment an already color-coordinated look. $9 at Valentine Footwear.
5. The sock that’s practical, but fun: Sockwell Therapeutic Performance On the Spot
If you work on your feet — say you’re a teacher, a nurse or a server — these babies are the ones for you. A pair of compression socks can make a big difference on your feet at the end of the day. Compression socks are for anyone who wants to make sure their extremities get plenty of support and circulation. They can also be super cute, as in these Sockwell socks that come in fun polka dots and stripes. They come in men’s styles, too. $25 at Valentine Footwear.
6. The sock that keeps your feet warm: Smartwool PhD Outdoor Socks
If anyone knows the importance of good socks, it’s skiers and snowshoers, who have got to keep warm while they’re out in the snow. Smartwool socks have the edge in this category, with a wide variety of thickness levels and colors to suit both male and female winter sports enthusiasts. They’re flexible, functional, and, yes, fashionable. $23.95 at Epic Sports in Bangor, Lamey Wellehan and Reny’s stores.