Tuesday, October 17

Sock it to Me

Okay, I should preface this with a reminder that I am a single guy, so perhaps this advice won't apply to everyone. However, there are some subtle strategies you can employ to save money on clothing which you may not have thought of. Thankfully, as well, I'm not talking about wearing your clothes until they are so worn and threadbare that they become see through or simply disintegrate. Hmmm. No, I won't go there.

Today's post was inspired by my sock harvest this morning. Yes, I am aware that gives you far too much information about the state of my life! Anyway, unless you are a fastidous bachelor, unlike myself, your socks will end up all over the place. You know, if you are about to lie on the couch and relax for a while, you have free up those little piggies for total comfort and relaxation. Besides, it's good for you, and I'm sticking to this excuse whether it's true or not.

Anyway, just recently I picked up a bag 'o socks while shopping at Wally World. Oh, and ladies, if you are shopping for your lazy hubby, don't ever, ever, pick up tube socks unless they have been specifically requested. They bunch up and torture the toes until they lose feeling completely. The person that invented those is a very sick person, even if they are a couple cents cheaper.

Today, after sock harvest, it was then time to fold up and put away the laundry. Yes, because I had eight new pairs of socks, it was time to splurge and reassign some that had holes or some that had stretched out useless elastics. Obviously, for money saving purposes, these things become rags, and are great for cleaning or more sacrificial uses if necessary.

However, the real secret, which I've been doing by habit for ages, is that you don't really want to buy white socks. The key point is that when you visit other people, and take your shoes off at their home, it is generally appropriate to have clean socks that don't have holes in them. White socks don't stay clean! Sure, you can wash the heck out of those buggers in bleach, but it isn't worth it. Also, no, you can't buy black socks, as those aren't generally casual enough to be worn with jeans or perhaps shorts during the summer.

The socks I generally buy are the grey socks. You can step in anything, spill anything, or even wear wet shoes and generally they will still look a uniform grey color. They are light enough to be casual and be worn anywhere unless dressed formally or for work. They are the exact same price as the short lived mayfly white socks that sit next to them on the rack. While socks are not an expensive item it is true that every penny saved without hardship or sacrifice is pure gold, isn't it?

The same principle can be applied to t-shirts and other very casual wear items. Yes, it can also apply to underwear as well. Obviously, for guys, tighty whities went out a long time ago, but you can still buy them. Honestly, who are these people that prefer to wear t-shirts with stained underarms and as for the underwear, I'm just going to leave the unmentionables unmentioned.

So, take it from a professional sock harvester who obviously spends most of his time casually dressed. Simple strategies can effectively double the length of time you can wear certain clothing items and over time reduce a few of your clothing expenses by half. I'm not kidding! Next time you absolutely have to buy some of these minor items, if you reach for the white, slap your hand and take my advice, buy some non-white items instead.

Note: Included in this week's Festival of Frugality post.

Frugal Guy said...
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Memphis said...

Great tip!!!

triple-e said...

Another option, when you need white socks, are the grey bottom socks with white tops. They have the same stain fighting power of grey and the good looks of white on top. Don't last as long as grey, but don't die as fast as white.

Mom2fur said...

That a great tip. My husband buys his own socks, but I buy them for my boys. I never thought about gray! Or about tube socks. Now I know.
One way I keep socks mated is to use binder clips to hold each pair together before I throw them in the wash and the dryer. I've saved a lot of socks this way. Just be sure to take the clips off, as I'm pretty sure they would rust.

Frugal Guy said...

Thanks for the comments and additional tips!

I don't see those ones around as often, but they are certainly a good option.

Heh, I generally keep the spares around, until another escapee allows me to make a matching pair again.

Frugal Guy said...

I just had to add that my log files show people finding this page via searches such as "how to clean white socks" or "how to clean the bottom of white socks".

I guess that kind of proves the point doesn't it? ;)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I wear the same socks. They are white with grey bottoms and have only one type of sock in the house saves time and money. I buy them at back to school time when the prices hit rock bottom. I buy about two bags (12 socks) at a time and then donate all the old socks to charity. So with only the exact same type sock in the house their is no matching socks because they all match. Giving away all the old ones means no tracking down mates or have to wash different socks at different tempratures. I wash them all together with the clothes of the same temperature. It is just one way of making my life easier.

Frugal Guy said...


That's awesome... thank you very much for your comment!

Anonymous said...

we have no clue
what those tough cowboys
wear in their boots
do we?

maybe the dear mrs.
washed white socks with
the new bright red shirt
that bled like beets and....

with his fierce boots
he stomps back a blustering bull
and only the mrs.
he's wearing PINK.

Frugal Guy said...


Sorry to hear about your secret sock woes!

Roxanne said...

I discovered grey socks years ago and at a flea market no less.I had a bunch of misc. junk to unload and sold a bit,then decided I had enough.Another dealer had made small talk earlier in the day,so I approached him and asked if he would be interested in what I had left.He said sure,but he was a little short on cash,would I take part in cash and part in trade.Sure,no problem as he had brand new socks and I needed socks for work.I was happy and so was he.I picked up about 20 pairs of grey socks,which I think made him smile even more,since they weren't big sellers.I wore them all the time,even with my slide ons.Not as obtrusive as white socks.
Love your blog btw.

Frugal Guy said...

Hi Roxanne,

Thanks for the note. The word on grey socks is obviously getting around!


Anonymous said...

Grey socks look the worst though! no class, just dirt... in my opinion, and in that of my roomates since we TOLD our roomate to stop buying grey socks and make the grown up transition to black! luckily, he agreed. but there are people who hate the look of black socks.

Frugal Guy said...


Grey socks are good with running shoes, but I'd agree that when you wear anything serious on your feet, or nicer clothing, black socks are the way to go.

However, when you are broke and single, living cheap, it's grey all the way.

ShahidTufail said...

I have had an opportunity to work for a garment manufacturer organizations which are market leaders in Asian market.They deal in all sorts of garments except the socks. This post is full of knowledge about socks, types, designs and even tips. It will certainly help me in selecting some of most appropriate stuff for me as well.Thanks Frugal Guy.

CMHValex said...

Another note - if you want your socks kept together, do NOT do the traditional fold them over and tuck them into the folded down elastic of one sock trick. It stretches out the elastic too much. I simply pair the socks up, fold the pair in half (without the elastic tucking), and stack them up. It makes them convenient and doesn't stretch my elastic (which would result in the sock slowly inching it's way down my foot, getting under my heal, and becoming incredibly uncomfortable as it makes it's way toward my toes).