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The Deal with Striped Socks

December 7, 2010

Or: “It Was Late and I Was Tired.”

Today’s post is a brief one, but it answers a question a lot of new dancers have about why many of us swing dancers wear striped (or otherwise funky) socks.

Believe it or not, it’s actually a nod to men in the 1930s and early 1940s, many of which loved striped or otherwise wildly patterned socks. For evidence, simply look at the bottom row of almost any class pictures during the 30s and early 40s.

I’ve heard it mentioned before that part of it was a way youth could express themselves in a world with an otherwise rigid-dress code imposed by the idea of “adulthood.”

What many people don’t realize about the swing era is that it is marked as the first time that “youth” became it’s own culture. Before then, teenagers were just waiting to become adults, and had no identity as a group.* But with swing, jitterbug, and, in it’s own small way, striped socks, youth created a voice of their own.

Fred Astaire, arguably the best dressed man of all time, often used crazy socks to make a statement.

For me personally, I like to wear striped and funky patterned socks for the paradoxical reason that my swing friends know why I do it, and no one else in public does.

In the old days (2001-2005), you could only find them in the women’s section at Target. (Yes, I had to get knee highs). Nowadays, though, stores are carrying them for men. H&M, J Crew, The Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy sometimes have good ones, and Urban Outfitters often has great patterned socks. Target also occasionally has some striped socks for men. Vintage Argyles seem to be currently in style.

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*– Jon Savage actually wrote an perhaps-too-intellectually-written but otherwise interesting book about the rise of youth culture called Teenage.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew Thigpen permalink
    December 7, 2010 4:32 pm

    Two random comments:
    1) You can match stripey/multicolored socks with many outfits.
    2) Socks can help draw attention to your feetsies and thus a fine pair of shoes.

  2. Lindsay Longstreth permalink
    December 7, 2010 7:57 pm

    I thought it was so that girls would say “oh! I like your socks!” Kind of like the not-not-quite-buttoned-shirt trick that Sosh uses.

  3. Andreas Olsson permalink
    December 10, 2010 2:00 pm

    yes, it was because girls say “oh, I like your socks”. And it still is.

  4. Snookie permalink
    December 18, 2010 1:23 am

    And many guys have tried the high-water pants to show off their stripeys, but no one can make it look as good as Ray Hirsch did.

  5. March 16, 2016 4:46 am

    you have provide detailed information about socks. I saw that most people does not care about their socks. they think that it is an invisible part of our clothes. But they think wrong. It was possible in old days that people do not care about socks but in now a days socks become a particular part of our personality. You have provide best guidance about wearing socks that how we match our socks with our shoes, pants, or ties. This post is very useful for those persons who do not know about matching socks. Whoever follow this information can get attractive look by wearing attractive socks.

Trackbacks

  1. Swing Fashion: Keds « Swungover
  2. How to dress for a “vintage swing dance” night | toetappinswing.com
  3. Posts in Order of Publication « Swungover*

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