Rare are the opportunities for me to participate in my sons’ sartorial choices — or, for that matter, in my daughter’s. I do not have an "eye." I cannot throw together incongruous items from my closet to create a stunning ensemble. And I missed the memo on how to properly accessorize. Truthfully, I can’t even claim a signature style, though I’d like to think that I’ve improved my fashion sense over time.
So it was with a mixture of excitement and trepidation that I accompanied my two youngest sons to shop for enough office attire to tide them over until they could afford their own. One was starting his first grownup job in New York as a CPA and the other an actuarial student internship with a ginormous insurance company (brag, brag), which meant they needed grown-up clothes beyond the standard job interview outfit. The suiting of choice for Florida college students, namely T-shirts, mesh shorts and sneakers, won’t do in the brave, new world of finance.
But once we finished purchasing the blindingly bright-colored shirts and the slim-fit slacks, the good leather belts and the plain black slip-ons, their interest fell on what I would consider the most pedestrian of all frills: socks. My boys, 23 and 21, are into hosiery, the flashy, sassy kind. Tangerine orange and pistachio green and lemon yellow. Striped and cubed and plaid. Chevroned and squiggly-lined. With tiny beer mugs and Marvel comic super heroes. With works of art and motivational logos.
It was hard to reconcile these young men to the boys who, not so long ago, wore only black Nike socks. I bought those by the dozens for my four sons.
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I was reminded of that shopping experience just this week when I heard on the news that Dwayne Wade, fabulous guard for my hometown Miami Heat, has teamed up with the sock company Stance for the third installment of The Wade Collection. Holiday 2014 will showcase 18 styles of casual socks, gentlemen’s socks and, a new addition, kids’ socks. The eight themes featured in the collection include "The Classic Stance," inspired by Wade’s love of boxing, and — as a shout out to my beloved 305 —"Weather Report," focused on Miami’s tropical weather, and "What Is Art," influenced by Miami’s funky Wynwood Art District.
Socks, I come to find out, are the new ties. In offices where everyone pretty much dresses the same, hosiery is how you stand out, how you express yourself. Today’s statement socks don’t come cheap, though. While the Wades range from a reasonable $10 to $14 a pair, I found some on the web priced for three figures. And here I thought Gold Toes were a splurge! (Half a dozen pairs is what I got my husband for our anniversary, by the way. He’s making me a sofa table. We are the ultimate power couple, huh.)
Socks are so popular, such a must-have item for the urban male that some industry professionals point to men’s footsies as the economic engine behind the boom in men’s fashions. Sock sales grew by 2 percent in the past year, outperforming other apparel sectors. Analysts with the market research firm NPD Groups calls this trend "a move from commodity to fashion piece."
Well, OK, I get it. Socks as foot garments. Socks as accessories. Socks as lingerie and bling. But just one question, please:
Does that mean the new fashion faves will remain forever paired, never to mysteriously disappear in the wash?
Follow Ana on Twitter @AnaVeciana