Socks have come a long way from the original Greek ‘piloi’ version. Today, there are hundreds of sock variations, each with a specific purpose. One of the most popular is the crew sock.
While most people only think of them as regular socks, that doesn’t cover what they are and how the right crew sock can elevate your day-to-day activewear and your athletic performance.
So, what are crew socks, exactly? Let’s take a look at what they are, their history, and the benefits they could have for you.
What this article covers:
- What Are Crew Socks?
- What Is Crew Sock Compression?
- What Are Crew Socks Used for?
- Crew Socks By the Season
- What Are the Benefits of Wearing Crew Socks?
- What Is Crew Socks FAQ
What Are Crew Socks?
Crew socks pull up to just below or to the midpoint of the calf. Crew socks are very popular around the world. They come in many colors, patterns, and sizes, including sock sizes for kids. They’re a great addition to any person's wardrobe and can tie together many looks.
The traditional crew sock is a regular tube-shaped sock with a thicker welt or cuff that hugs the leg. But they can come in a variety of variations.
One of those is crew socks that are used by athletes. Athlete crew socks, like these mid-calf socks with grip, have a grip on the bottom that improves the athlete's performance. But this all depends on the company you buy the crew socks from. How socks are made can differ widely from one retailer to another.
Besides its signature length, another identifier is the sock material. Crew socks are known to be made with cotton or cotton polyester blends that give them a thick and sturdy feel.
Crew socks are also great to wear with boots or other types of work shoes. Because of their thickness, they are comfortable and provide great padding that keeps feet protected, warm, and secure.
What Length Are Crew Socks?
Traditionally, a crew sock’s welt or cuff–the strip at the opening of the sock that keeps it up– can sit anywhere from a little above the ankle to right in the middle of the calf. Some can pull up to the knee but keep in mind that this is how far they stretch and not all people will wear crew socks fully extended.
The stretch of the crew sock also depends on the material of the sock. Some of the most commonly used sock materials are cotton, wool, acrylic, and nylon.
Certain materials will have more give and stretch further than other materials, but this can lead to the sock losing its shape. It’s important to test sock brands and stick to one that has the material you like.
When buying crew socks, the foot section of the sock and the leg section of the sock usually look the same length.
But crew socks can also come in not-so-traditional sizes, like the mini or micro crew sock. Mini crew socks will have a shorter leg and sit below the calf while a micro crew will look almost indistinguishable from an ankle sock.
The best way to tell them apart is to learn what an ankle sock is. You should also always feel the sock material before purchasing. Ankle socks are usually made of a thin material that will easily slip into most shoes. Crew socks, on the other hand, are made of thicker material and have a more compact, banded design.
What Is Crew Sock Compression?
Besides length, crew socks also come in a variety of compressions. Because they are made of a thicker material and are worn by athletes and other active individuals, they are built to provide support. They do this with compression.
Sock compression refers to the pressure a sock applies to the foot. The more pressure there is on your foot and ankle, the more support you have. If you have support, you are less likely to roll your ankles or hurt yourself because of an activity.
Sock compression is measured in mmHg or millimeters of mercury. It’s a scientific measurement that is used by sock companies to measure sock compression. The grade goes from 8 mmHg to 50 mmHg, with 8 being the least compression and 50 being the most compression.
If the sock doesn’t have an mmHg measurement on the packet, it might have another indicator like ‘mild’, ‘medium’, or ‘high/firm’ compression. The more support you want for your foot, the higher the compression should be.
And, finally, if there is no indication on the packet about the compression, you can pull the sock over your fist and feel for yourself what the compression is like.
Compression placement can also make a difference to the crew sock and how it sits. Most crew socks with compression will have it all over the sock. That means the foot, ankle, and leg parts of the sock provide support.
But some socks have more compression on sensitive spots. This usually happens if the compression sock is built for specific sports or activities. For example, people who hike often will use crew socks with more compression bands around the ankle.
Again, the packet should indicate where the compression on the crew sock is. If there is no indication on the packet, feel inside the sock if there are spots that are stiffer than the rest of the sock. These will be the areas that have compression bands for extra foot support.
What Are Crew Socks Used for?
Now that you know what crew socks are and how to tell them apart from other socks, it’s time to learn what they’re used for and why you should own at least one pair.
After its introduction into military wear, the crew sock took the world of athletics by storm. Today, most gym enthusiasts and recreational athletes own crew socks and use them to improve their performance and support their feet during strenuous activities.
When choosing socks for sports:
- Make sure the compression is in the right place for the sport you play. If you need ankle support, find crew socks with sturdy compression bands.
- Make sure the compression level is correct. The more support you need, the more compression you need. Aim for medium to high compression socks or an mmHg above 20.
- Choose the right leg length. Sock length isn’t such a big worry for most athletes. But if you need to minimize friction, air resistance, heat, etc., get crew socks with a shorter leg section like the mini and micro crew socks.
- Check that it has the right accessories. Socks have come a long way from traditional designs and some are built to help athletes perform better. For example, crew socks with grip are amazing at helping athletes perform better because of the supportive equipment.
As we discussed earlier, crew socks were originally introduced by the US Navy. The socks provided support during training and missions and helped the crew stay warm and healthy.
Crew socks are still used by the military today and are used by almost every military in the world.
If you’re not into sports or exercise and you're not in the military, don’t worry. You can still enjoy crew socks. They’re extremely versatile and make for a great addition to any wardrobe.
You can wear them with work shoes, during formal occasions, or as a fun addition to an outfit. They’re also great during rainy or cold seasons for extra insulation.
Socks as gifts are a severely underrated practice. Crew socks are available from almost every retailer, so you can easily find an amazing sock gift for a friend, family member, or co-worker.
They’re a safe gift, budget-friendly, and can be made the match hobbies of whoever you are gifting them to. Another bonus is modern sock designs. The increase in personal customization and quirky sock companies means you have a wide array of choices to pick from. You’ll easily find a sock that matches your giftee's personality.
Crew Socks By the Season
Not only do crew socks come in a variety of compressions and lengths, but they also come equipped for different seasons.
Crew Socks in Summer
Crew socks that are made of thinner and more breathable materials will work better in hot weather. The extra air will protect your feet from overheating and prevent fungal infections from sweat accumulations.
In summer, you can also opt for the mini and micro crew sock variants. This will shorten the leg length of the sock and will prevent heavier sweating.
Crew Socks In Winter
Crew socks make a great addition to any winter wardrobe. Some crew socks are made of thicker or insulating materials that are specifically designed to help with the cold. A longer and thicker leg length also works as a leg warmer in frosty weather.
Not only will the crew sock help keep your foot warm, but thick winter crew socks work as a great buffer between heavy winter boots and your feet. You don’t have to struggle with cold, sore feet in winter anymore, not when you have a thick pair of crew socks on hand.
What Are the Benefits of Wearing Crew Socks?
You now know everything there is to know about crew socks. But you might still be wondering whether or not you should invest in your own pair. Well, here are the reasons why you should.
Crew Socks Provide Support
Whether you are a professional athlete, a hiker, a cyclist, or an everyday Joe, your feet are constantly being used. And with all that use, it’s only natural to want support. Crew socks are a great, effortless way to support your feet, whether at work or on the field.
Crew Socks Can Protect Your Health
Crew socks are thicker than normal socks. It’s because of this thickness that they make such a great addition to any wardrobe. If you wear heavy-duty work boots or shoes that give you blisters, crew socks can act as a buffer that protects your feet from getting hurt.
They’re also really warm, which is a great benefit during winter. With a thick crew sock, you’ll keep your body warm, your spirits up, and your health steady.
Crew Socks Are Extremely Versatile
Crew socks are extremely versatile. No matter the outfit, the occasion, or your physical needs, a crew sock will be ready to wear and support your body and your look.
When it comes to socks, nothing beats the crew sock. With a long history of being a supportive garment for the military, it’s gained traction with athletes and become one of the most popular socks in the world.
Every person should have at least one pair of crew socks. But if we were you, we’d take it one step further and enjoy epic sports socks that help you perform better. For good measure, add in a funny or cute crew sock for the days when you’re feeling extra quirky.
What Is Crew Socks (FAQ)
Why are they called crew socks?
The ‘crew’ from the name ‘crew sock’ comes from the fact that crew socks were originally worn by military members in the US Navy.
Crew socks are, to this day, still worn with uniforms around the world and are used to promote neatness and discipline within units while still offering support for strenuous activity.
Is a crew sock the same as a dress sock?
No, crew socks are not the same as dress socks. But they can work in a pinch. Crew socks are mostly used by active people but a neutral pair of crew socks can work as dress socks in a pinch.
What is the difference between crew socks and calf-length socks?
Crew socks sit a little above the ankle to the mid-point of the calf. Calf-length socks, on the other hand, pull over the calf and usually cover the muscle completely. Most people wear calf-length socks because they stay up and work great with formal wear.
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