Wednesday, March 9, 2011
One of the unsung technical improvements made to menswear has been the improvement in over the calf socks and the subsequent near-disappearance of sock suspenders. Over the calf hose became widely available in the second half of the twentieth century but the early models did not dependably remain over the calf which rather defeated the purpose. That left most men wearing socks that ended around the bottom of the calf and those had to be kept up with suspenders. And, trust me, the sight of a man in his boxer shorts and socks with suspenders ended more than one romantic evening prematurely.
Fortunately, the geniuses who knit high quality hose have figured out how to properly tension socks above the calf to keep them up without elastic assistance. That means that today the only reason to wear socks of any length longer than anklet but shorter than over the calf is for athletic pursuits where a man will be on his feet all the time. He can safely dispense with suspenders then as there will be no opportunity to sit with his legs crossed and so display a bit of forbidden skin, and the shorter sock wears a little cooler for hours of walking around.
Perhaps the last holdout of the suspender had been with evening clothes, as the higher volume cotton and wool over the calf hose were faster to arrive. But there are silks aplenty now. My mid-calf evening socks and the two pair of sock suspenders that I had had since I was in my teens went into the donations bag at the start of this year, and are now gone forever.
Truly, we have seen the last days of the sock suspender.