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The Great White Sock Review

Oh socks. How we adore thee. Socks are almost always an afterthought in an outfit but they’re an item we most often wear for ourselves. A garment in that nebulous space between exposure and underwear.

We’ve reviewed about two dozen pairs of (mostly) white cotton socks to help those of you who might not have the time nor the inclination to sort through all of them yourself.

If you want to cut to the chase and add to cart immediately, my favorite sock overall was the Lady White and the best value pick is the Gold Toe 656. Read on to find out why or just buy them right now:

  • Lady White Athletic Sock available for $31 at Lost & Found
  • Gold Toe 656 White Crew Sock 6-Pack available for $16 at Amazon

Why Should You Trust Me?

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-This-is-a-freebie,-Wikifeet.

This is a freebie, Wikifeet.

I’m the managing editor of Heddels and I’ve been writing about heritage clothing professionally for over eight years. I’ve visited factories and studios all over the world and been able to meet and sample just about every brand we’ve featured on the site. I’ve reviewed dozens of jeans, boots, jackets, and everything in between. I’d also put good money that I’m the only person on the planet that’s had this variety of socks in front of them at the same time.

I also did our Great White T-Shirt Review a couple years back, and the New York Times just took a decent amount of notes from it for their own so I must be doing something right…

Full disclosure, we do earn affiliate revenue from purchases of some of the socks in this review. But we only get to keep the earnings if you keep the socks, so it’s in our best interest to promote what we think is truly the best.

What Are Our Criteria and Who Are Our Competitors?

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-measure

The subject of this review is plain white socks. Not hiking socks, not dress socks, just your basic garden variety cotton sock. I looked for ones that had the following characteristics:

  • Mostly cotton
  • Mostly white
  • Mid-calf length
  • Priced less than $40 a pair (except for Rick Owens because I was curious)

Based on that criteria, I bought the following:

  1. Adidas Solid Crew Sock 3-pack
  2. American Trench Silver Crew Socks
  3. Anonymous Ism Line Slub Crew Sock
  4. Carhartt Chase Sock
  5. Champion Reverse Weave Color Block
  6. Chup Life Long Cordura Crew Socks
  7. Gold Toe Men’s Cotton Crew 656s Socks
  8. Hanes 6 Pack Fresh IQ Socks
  9. Human Made Heart Logo Pile Sock
  10. Kirkland Signature 6-Pack Crew Socks
  11. Lady White Natural Sock
  12. Left Field LF Skull Head Sock
  13. Maggie’s Organics Organic Cotton Crew Sock
  14. Merz B Schwanen Recycled Cotton Blend Socks
  15. Nike Cotton Cushion Crew Sock 6-Pack
  16. Norse Projects Bjarki Cotton Sport Sock
  17. Polo RL Sports Sock 3-Pack
  18. Railroad Crew Socks Solid White Crew Socks
  19. Rick Owens Short Sock
  20. Tender Hand Linked Lightweight Cotton Socks
  21. Uniqlo Supima Cotton Pique Socks

These were all purchased at retail price from a retailer or directly from the brand. This was to ensure we weren’t sent any “ringers” that were of a higher quality than what you might experience as a regular consumer.

THE TESTS

All of the above tees went through the same battery of objective and subjective tests (for multi-pack socks, one pair was picked at random for the review).

Quantitative Tests

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-price-per-pair

Price ranged from the near disposable $1.67 per pair for Hanes and all the way up to nearly $80 (on sale no less) for the Rick Owens. I defined “value” socks as anything less than $10 a pop and premium offerings for what came above that. Most of the Heddels usual suspects came in between $20 and $30.

Measurements and Shrinkage

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-socks

Most socks we ordered were one size only, where there were options for size I opted for the one that included a men’s size 10, which was typically the large option.

Socks were measured by the following dimensions:

  1. Length (from opening to toe end)
  2. Width (across the midsection of the foot)
  3. Toe Stitch (across the very end of the sock where it’s sewn shut)
Length (in) Width (in) Toe Stitch (in)
Rick Owens 13.25 2.75 2.75
Maggie’s 14 2.75 2.75
Tender 14.75 3 3
Merz B 15 2.75 3.5
Nike 16.25 3.25 3.5
Norse 16.25 3 3.5
Rothco 16.5 3 4
Lady White 16.5 2.75 3.75
Human Made 16.5 3.25 3.5
Polo RL 16.75 3 3.5
Carhartt 16.75 3.5 3.5
Gold Toe 17 2.75 1
Left Field 17 3 3.75
Hanes 17.25 3.25 3.5
Kirkland 17.5 3.25 3.5
Wigwam 17.5 3 4
American Trench 17.5 3 4
Uniqlo 17.75 2.75 3.5
Anonymous Ism 17.75 3 3.5
Chup 17.75 3 3.5
Champion 18 3 3.75
Railroad Crew Socks 18 2.75 4
Adidas 18.5 3.25 3

We added these values up to create a Total Linear Inch (TLI) value that we could use to judge shrinkage after three hot washes and dries in the laundry.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-shrinkage

Most of the socks shrunk around 10% but oddly enough, the Maggie’s Organics socks got about 5% bigger. Uniqlo, however, will shrivel like a prune.

Fabric Density

I also used TLI to calculate the fabric density of each sock with its weight in grams.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-postwash

Anonymous Ism produced the beefiest sock at nearly 2.5 grams per linear inch while the Tender Co model was less than half that.

Density doesn’t necessarily equate to durability, but the amount of weight loss after laundering does. I reweighed every sock after the washes and dries to see how much of each ended up in the lint trap.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-weigh-loss

And again, some of the socks ended up generating new material in the wash! Norse projects came out about 8% heavier while Adidas lost a similar amount (perhaps via osmosis).

Stretch and Recovery – The Bean Dangle Test

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The final and most novel of the tests I designed was to test stretch and recovery. I put a plastic bag with 500 grams of pinto beans in each sock and clamped it to a table by the sock opening to see how far it would stretch compared to its normal unstressed length.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-socks-2

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-dangle-with-beans

There was a huge range here. Some socks were very resilient and drooped only about 20% and then there were the lighter, more loosely woven models that stretched over half their length.

I removed the beans after stretching and measured the total length of the sock compared to its pre-bean length to see how much it recovered. This will hopefully give you a sense of how stretched out these socks will get over the course of their lifespan.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-dangle-with-beans-2

Chup took it straight on the chin, no change, while Maggie’s, Tender, and Rick were disfigured over 15%.

Qualitative Tests

These were more the subjective tests, where I had to hone all of my concentration into my feet to feel out the little nuances in each sock.

Fit

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-model-socks

What’s in a sock fit? I was looking for something secure but not constricting that stops a few inches above my ankle and is able to stay there without leaving weird indentations when I take it off. It also has the toe seam in the correct place so it doesn’t chafe against the side of your shoe or, worse, curl under to the bottom of your toes. In short, you want a sock you aren’t aware you’re wearing.

The best one for that is the Lady White. It’s a good height, snug without being tight, and almost feels like a second skin on your feet almost immediately after putting it on.

Fabric

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-sock

Sock fabrics came in a variety of flavors, from the terry knit with the little loops on the inside to svelte smooth tightly knit cotton. My favorite was again the Lady White.

The beauty of their sock is that it fits closely and the cotton fabric is knit tightly enough with smooth, high quality cotton that it can pull double duty as a dress sock but you also wouldn’t be covered in blisters if you walked a few miles in it. If you lived in a mild climate, you could have a whole drawer full of these and never think about socks again.

On/Off Difficulty

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This is me splitting hairs (or pairs), but in the midst of all my on foot testing, I noticed that some of the socks were much easier to put on and take off than others. Some slipped on with grace and ease, while others required much yanking and encouragement (and damage to the sock in Tender’s case) to dislodge from my feet.

It might not seem like much, but I personally would rather not devote a few frustrating minutes to the task of applying and removing my socks everyday. The easiest for this task was the Gold Toe, which was a surprisingly great sock all around.

Construction Quality

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-white-socks

Some of these socks were built much better than others. My notes for the Hanes included “cheap like a cotton foot condom but loose like a Payless try on sock.”

If there was one pair I had to take into a dystopian apocalyptic future confident it would never break, it would be the Chups. Calling these socks bulletproof isn’t an exaggeration because they’re literally knit with a small percentage of Kevlar. I expect this pair to last at least a thousand miles beyond everything else I tested.

THE WINNERS

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-white-green-socks

If money wasn’t a factor, my everyday sock would be the Lady White Athletic Sock. They won my heart in the t-shirt review and their knack for elegant high quality basics has translated beautifully into sock form. The fit is ideal, the fabric is smooth and hard wearing, the construction and finishing is solid, and they aren’t a pain to get on or off. They’re also made in Japan, a country with much stronger than average labor laws.

They aren’t cheap comparatively at $30 a pair, but I think they’re also the best white sock money can buy and $30 is like one pocket and some belt loops on a pair of jeans around these parts. Pick up a pair and see what all the fuss is about.

Available for $31 at Lost & Found.

The-Great-White-Sock-Review-bundle-socks

But if you’d rather keep it economical, the Gold Toe Cotton Crew 656 is a surprisingly strong contender. The fit is good and natural, it’s nice and plush, and you can get 10 pairs for the price of one Lady White.

6-Pack available for $16 at Amazon.

If you’d like to see my full review on all pairs individually, join our new Heddels+ membership program. It’s full of loads of extra content, exclusive giveaways, and discounts at partnered stores (some of which sell Lady White socks). We’re also giving away all the socks from this test!

All the links to the other reviews are below in alphabetical order but you need to join in order to view them.

  1. Adidas Solid Crew Sock 3-pack
  2. American Trench Silver Crew Socks
  3. Anonymous Ism Line Slub Crew Sock
  4. Carhartt Chase Sock
  5. Champion Reverse Weave Color Block
  6. Chup Life Long Cordura Crew Socks
  7. Gold Toe Men’s Cotton Crew 656s Socks
  8. Hanes 6 Pack Fresh IQ Socks
  9. Human Made Heart Logo Pile Sock
  10. Kirkland Signature 6-Pack Crew Socks
  11. Lady White Natural Sock
  12. Left Field LF Skull Head Sock
  13. Maggie’s Organics Organic Cotton Crew Sock
  14. Merz B Schwanen Recycled Cotton Blend Socks
  15. Nike Cotton Cushion Crew Sock 6-Pack
  16. Norse Projects Bjarki Cotton Sport Sock
  17. Polo RL Sports Sock 3-Pack
  18. Railroad Crew Socks Solid White Crew Socks
  19. Rick Owens Short Sock
  20. Tender Hand Linked Lightweight Cotton Socks
  21. Uniqlo Supima Cotton Pique Socks