Cotton socks are the staple of any gentleman’s wardrobe and are often wrongly overlooked. A worn out, faded pair of socks can ruin an otherwise fantastic look and so it pays to invest in top quality socks.
It is said that to produce the finest products you must start with the finest materials and this is true when making cotton socks. The finest will be made from Lisle Cotton, but what is it and why is it the best choice for socks?
Lisle cotton, or “pearle” cotton as it is also known, is cotton yarn which has been through the mercerization process. A technique discovered and patented by John Mercer in the mid 19th Century. Cotton fabric is treated with Caustic (Sodium Hydroxide – NaOH), under tension, then neutralised with acid. The carefully controlled process chemically changes the cellulose in the cotton making the fibers shrink and in doing so the grain of the thread becomes smoother and tighter. It is an expensive technique so is only used to make the very best socks but the resulting yarn has a number of improved properties including:
- A more lustrous and reflective thread
- A better ability to fix dye allowing more vibrant colours and reduced fading
- Increased resistance to shrinking (as the process has already shrunk the yarn)
- Increased thread strength and durability
- Increased mildew resistance
In my search for traditional lisle cotton socks I came across the London Sock Company, a fine establishment producing some of the finest Lisle Cotton socks I have had the pleasure of encountering. Their “Simply Sartorial” range offers a wide range of colours traditionally made with the sole (forgive the pun) focus on quality of materials and workmanship.
Embroidered with the company’s logo – a dashing Victorian Gentleman with his “High-Wheeler” (the correct term for what is more commonly known as a Penny-Farthing bicycle) their socks give a nod the time that mercerisation was invented and an era when gentlemen dressed like gentlemen.
You can always join the London Sock Company “Sock Club” where you will receive a new pair of lisle cotton sock each and every month, delivered to your door.