What are the best socks for men? That really all depends. Are you looking to keep your feet dry in swampy heat, or keep your feet warm in cold weather? Do you need extra arch support, or a reinforced heel and toe? Athletic socks or dress socks? Crew socks or ankle socks? Supima cotton or merino wool?
Maybe you’ve got specific answers to those questions, or maybe you need all of the above. Either way, we’ve rounded up the eight essential types of men’s socks you’ll want to reacquaint yourself with once you start wearing shoes that aren’t cozy slippers. (Which, to be clear, should be now.) From weighty hiking socks to moisture-wicking performance socks, here are the 24 best socks for men for every situation, style, and budget.
The All-Purpose Half-Calf
If you’re looking to overhaul your sock drawer from the ground up with the most useful, versatile pairs around, these are the ones to stock up on first.
Nike Dri-Fit cotton cushioned crew socks (6 pairs)
The Swoosh’s signature crew has ribbing to mimic a dress sock, but enough cushioning to keep you comfortable through four hours of open-bar-fueled bad dance moves with nary a blister in sight. And though it’s thin enough to slide into sleeker shoes—your loafers or oxfords—it’s thick enough to keep your toes warm should your fancy footwear carry you to freezing locales.
Bombas performance running socks
A thousand podcasters can’t be wrong: Bombas socks really are as good as advertised. They’re comfortable, cushion-y, and come in every color, pattern, length, and weight known to man. Best yet? Right now, you can score a pair—along with a whole host of fall essentials—in the latest edition of the GQ Box. We’re sending out out calf- and ankle-length versions, but either way your feet won’t be disappointed.
Gold Toe cotton crew socks (12 pairs)
Got a landlord who refuses to crank the heat even in the dead of winter? Treat your dogs to a pair of Gold Toe’s heavy-duty socks—knit with fibers made from recycled plastic bottles—and never stress the plunging temperatures again.
The C-Suite Essential
Ribbed, solid-hued dress socks are still the very best way to fill in the gap between the cuff of your suit trousers and the tops of your oxfords.
Uniqlo color socks
Want to experiment a little with your socks? Start with Uniqlo. Their ribbed dress socks are shockingly high quality (tightly woven, comfortably padded, super-saturated in color) for a low, low price. Plus, they come in nearly every hue you can imagine. Get teal! And eggplant! Neon pink? They’ll look good against gray or navy pants! If a color isn’t working, you’re only out a few bucks.
Pantherella “Danvers” ribbed-knit socks
Pantherella’s cotton socks made this list because they’re knit from Egyptian yarn with a bit of nylon (it’s a 70/30 blend, if you want to get specific). The cotton’s soft but strong, while the nylon delivers stretch and grip. Fabric weights and finishes are something the company is obsessed with at their Leicester, England, factory (the site of the brand’s sock production for the past 80 years). Beyond that, they’ve got a not-too-thin, not-too-wide rib, which keep the socks from drooping down around your ankle; come in a lineup of rich, saturated shades that would make Crayola jealous; and currently clock in a perfectly respectable $13 a pop.
Paul Stuart cashmere blend ribbed sock
Buying a pair of socks from Paul Stuart, the venerable bastion of American style, should encourage the same “Mom I made it!” feeling as springing for the brand’s luxest tailoring. These mid-calf numbers are made out of a cashmere/viscose/nylon blend, making them a flex you can actually feel.
The Heavy Hitters
Big winter boots call for big winter socks.
American Trench merino activity sock with silver
Got the kind of feet where people start leaving the room before you’ve even finished untying your laces? American Trench’s signature socks will help. There’s anti-microbial silver knit directly into heel and toe to ward off odors at the source, and the breathable merino wool that comprises the rest will keep your dogs toasty and moisture-free.
Smartwool classic hike extra cushion crew socks
Wear them now while you blast the AC in your apartment with impunity, and then bust them out again to keep your feet toasty come winter.
RoToto reversible brushed mohair socks
The Summer Camp Specials
Sleepaway camp: good for making lifelong friends, learning practical survival skills, and developing excellent taste in thick, nappy socks.
L.L.Bean merino wool ragg socks (2-pack)
L.L. Bean has the whole durability thing down pat. The brand’s merino wool socks are built to last, and to keep your feet in prime condition no matter how beastly the going gets. To paraphrase Aubrey Graham (who, as a proud son of Canada, likely knows a thing or two about warm socks): Who better for you than the Bean?
Thunders Love recycled cotton-blend socks
Slubbily knit on vintage machines from recycled materials, Thunders Love’s socks are the kind you’ll want to wear with sandals to expose as much of them to the world as possible.
Parachute cotton marled socks
Parachute’s crisp linen sheets routinely rank among our favorites, but the brand’s plush, subtly-flecked socks show it knows its way around cotton, too.
The Retro Athletic Tubes
Adidas solid crew socks (3-pack)
If you—like Jonah Hill, Kerwin Frost, and Prada—have chosen to ride hard for the Three Stripes these last few years, you’ll need the appropriate socks to pair with all your new Sambas, Gazelles, and Superstars.
J.Crew athletic crew socks
An ideal pairing of old school good looks and retro-leaning prep style. These guys are breathable, comfortable, and ready to be pulled up with all manner of short-shorts this summer.
Tabio striped crew socks
Tabio has only been in the U.S. for a few years, but they’ve been a go-to socksmith in Japan for half a decade. Looking to gear up like a champ this season? These perfectly retro guys are just what the doctor ordered.
The Hippy-Dippy Hosiery
Even if you aren’t a full-blown, hemp-wearing flower child, you still need at least one pair of vibe-y tie-dye socks in the rotation.
Hobo cotton tie-dye socks
Swirling cumulus clouds, the ocean at low tide: No matter what you see, it’ll look even better on your feet.
Mr P ribbed tie-dye socks
Your stuffiest striped socks, if your stuffiest striped socks chugged a whole lot of ayahuasca, decamped to Joshua Tree, and came back sick and tired of the corporate grind.
Auralee tie-dye socks
Like flying first class or eating dry-aged wagyu, springing for a pair of top-shelf socks is one of those completely unnecessary luxuries you need to experience at least once in your life—and that’s doubly true if said socks are the type you’d be proud to show off going through security.
The Total Swerves
We don’t much abide by novelty socks anymore—sorry, Justin Trudeau—but these freaky patterns will scratch the itch your Frasier socks used to.
Missoni cotton-blend socks
Because no discussion of trippy knits is complete without mentioning Missoni.
Solmate mismatched socks
If you have fond memories of frequenting the J.Crew Liquor Store, you might still even have a pair of these mismatched eyefuls lying around somewhere.
Anonymous Ism animal crew socks
All the rejuvenating power of a childhood trip to the zoo, courtesy of Japan’s foremost sock savants.
The #menswear-era heyday of going sockless is long behind us, but as our guy John Cho once proved at the Oscars, there’s still a time and place for flashing some ankle. Here’s how to do it without swamping up your brogues.
Bombas cushioned no show socks (4-pack)
Bombas has mastered the low cut, no-show sock, adding to it a honeycomb compression ring over the center of the foot, a Y-stitched heel, and footbed padding, all in Peruvian cotton. The results are spectacular.
Nice Laundry six-pack
The build-your-own six pack box from Nice Laundry is a great way to replenish your summer sock options all at once. Plus, they’re made from three-way stretch fabric and have a heel grip so no matter how sweaty your feet get, they’ll still hang on for dear life.
Mack Weldon two-pack socks
Mack Weldon, a newish brand known for its mastery of menswear basics, has made a well-cut, no-fuss version of the no-show loafer liner. Each comes with two versions, and there are numerous colors and patterns to choose from on their website.