Impulse buy; misguided gift; or the lone, last raffle prize pick in your work colleague's charity pub quiz: at some point in our lives, we have all owned a pair of novelty socks.
As sock lovers, it's a big step for us to admit that sometimes, just sometimes, you should cut novelty socks out of your life. That's exactly why we won't. The question isn't when; it's why? At what point do we decide that a little eccentricity or humour woven into our style is unacceptable? A quick Google will see novelty socks featured in both "30 items you should stop wearing at 30" and yet also "10 items you should never stop wearing over 30." Confused? We're here to help. Like any other fashion item, the way in which it is executed holds far more bearing than the item itself and if you can throw caution to the wind and take the stairs three at a time to ensure you flash your Superman socks with the sewn in cape (yes, they do exist), then more power to you.
Most of you reading this may have met the title of this article with a deafening imaginary cry of "IMMEDIATELY!" and yet when we consider why we decry novelty socks to the extent that we do, the answer is not so simple. 'Novelty' is less label and more spectrum, particularly when we consider the sock as fashion item rather than simple necessity (and we do). Last year Vogue spoke of the novelty sock's arrival as 2016's fashion essential, but don't think for a second that the trend has one foot in the grave. Novelty socks are set to be a must-have this Autumn/Winter and if Rihanna's Fenty x Stance release is anything to go by, we're buying it.
(Getty Images/Courtesy Stance)
And so to the why. Why do we have such a reaction to the novelty sock? Novelty socks are the most notorious of gifts, and if they say nothing personal about the wearer then they remain just that: a face-value novelty. However, a well-selected sock can express our personality, taste or even our views, and if a particular novelty sock design says something about your own style then so be it.
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”
Take Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's example: Maple leaf socks, NATO-themed socks for a NATO meeting, and a rainbow striped pair of socks with "Eid Mubarak" during a pride march that fell on the end of Ramadan. Trudeau has taken to the world stage and shown us all that when worn as a deliberate accessory, a pair of novelty socks is simply a statement of originality. Novelty socks could - hold your breath - have no age limit. Sure, there are some novelty socks we'd love to see banished to the darkest corner of your top drawer, but with some careful curating the novelty sock loses its long-suffered label to become one of the best ways of showing everyone just how unique you are.