The Boot Lovers’ Guide to Over the Calf Dress Socks

Over the calf dress socks are the sock of the gentleman. And a classy alternative to ankle socks. But don’t just keep them for special occasions.

Quality calf socks are perfect with any casual outfit and you can wear over the calf socks for everyday wear. But don’t think over the calf socks are boring. Far from it! They are available in a fantastic variety of colors and patterns. So these dress socks should be your next purchase if you want to feel confident your socks will stay up all day long.

What are over the calf socks?

The definition of ‘over the calf socks’ is a sock that extends up the leg, over your calf, and up to your knee — but no further. Generally, calf dress socks are about 18 inches in length and made from cotton or merino wool.

One of the biggest and best brands is Boardroom Socks. They are the USA brand most likely to spring to mind when discussing over the calf socks and dress socks: they’re high quality, available in both cotton and merino wool varieties, come in a variety of patterns, and they’re made and owned here in the USA. (North Carolina, to be exact.)

Your next purchase?

Go into any men’s outfitting store, and you’re sure to find deals on dress socks. Plus, as a quick Google search will confirm, online shops may even ship them to you for free.

Boardroom Socks and other sock brands, like Golden Toe, offer superb fit and superior comfort, no matter what pants you wear.

over calf socks

Why over the calf dress socks?

There are many reasons men want to buy a quality pair of knee high socks, but let’s look at the three most frequently cited reasons in the USA.

Over the calf socks don’t fall down

Any half decent dress sock that extends to below the knee stay up all day. The design anchors the sock and prevents slippage down your leg. Sock manufacturers are very particular about their yarns, finding specific yarns that offer a good balance between non-slip and comfort.

Over the calf dress socks hide your legs

As any well-groomed person knows, no one should catch a glimpse of your shins (hairy or otherwise) when wearing pants and socks. This is just one of the unwritten rules about socks. It’s inevitable, when you sit down and/or cross your legs, that your pants will rise. Shorter-length socks leave legs exposed, but a top-quality pair of dress socks eliminate this.

Over the calf dress socks are comfy

Wearing over the calf socks is super comfortable. There’s no bunching, sagging, or wrinkling that can impede your comfort or cause the sock to move down your feet and wrinkle under your arches throughout the day.  

Over the calf dress socks vs midcalf

In some quarters, the calf length sock has an image problem, viewed as the preserve of the older generation in a country club. (I had to wear them with shorts in my primary school, so I get it.) But there are also the legitimate complaints that over the calf socks can get too hot with certain fabrics or climates.

Ask around, and you will notice dozens of people willing to spend their money on good value dress socks, so let’s discover why a sock that almost reaches your knee is better than the “midcalf” socks they’re often substituted with.

boardroom mid calf sock

Mid calf socks

The mid-calf sock reaches up the leg to the midpoint of the calf. They are taller than a crew-length sock. Mid-calf dress socks are considered a more casual sock length.

Pros

  • cooler in warmer temperatures
  • more comfortable on the calf for some
  • more casual feeling
  • less constricting fit

Cons

  • won’t cover your legs properly
  • less likely to stay in place all day

[Related: The 3 Best Boot Socks Compared]

boardroom over the calf socks

Over the calf socks

Over the calves is considered the more formal attire and the perfect choice for any business setting where a man wishes to appear professional, regardless of age. So it is not for nothing that Boardroom Socks got its brand name.

Pros

  • Won’t slide down your leg
  • Excellent leg coverage for formal settings
  • De rigueur for special occasions or any big day

Cons

  • can appear old-fashioned and stuffy
  • not always ideal for hot weather 

Best material for over the calf socks: merino wool vs. cotton

The answer comes down to personal preference, but what is not up for argument is that natural fibers are superior to synthetic polyester, which — relative to wool and cotton — oftencause sweaty feet almost on contact.

Separating merino wool from cotton is a trickier question as both have their bonuses.

wool

Merino wool

The wool from this type of New Zealand sheep is exceptionally soft. It also has moisture-wicking properties and can absorb as much as 30% of its weight and still feel dry. Along with its moisture-wicking, Merino wool helps combat odors thanks to its natural anti-bacterial coating.

Top benefits:

  • best for moisture control
  • best for odor control
  • warmest in cool temperatures

cotton

Cotton

If you want a good value fabric at a great price, cotton is the real deal. The cotton used in most dress socks is sourced from the USA. So if you want to make your order create a difference domestically, cotton is the best option for your shopping cart in any sale.

Top benefits:

  • softer than wool
  • cool in hot temperatures
  • feels noticeably lighter than wool

How to wash dress socks

Whether they are cotton or merino wool, the washing process is the same. If you follow the steps described here, your socks will stay in shape and retain their color.

Use a laundry bag

This is optional, but worth considering. Not only will keeping socks in a laundry bag keep every pair together, but it also prevents socks from getting tangled up with the other garments you are washing.

Turn inside out

Reversing the socks will protect the socks’ fibers. It will also stop any stray lint that evades the filter in your washing machine from sticking to the sock’s exterior.

Cool wash

Dress socks, particularly those made from merino wool, are temperature-sensitive. It’s best to wash quality socks at a lower temperature, as hot water will deteriorate the spandex and nylon used to keep your socks up.

Dry carefully

It is highly recommended you air dry your socks on a drying rack. If you need to machine dry dress socks, always use a low-temperature setting.

different colored socks

The best over the calf dress socks 

If your search has so far drawn a blank, don’t worry. We have done the legwork for you to pinpoint the best deals at the best prices. To filter out the results, we had to create various criteria, including:

  • good prices
  • great site design
  • ability to pay via PayPal when you reach the checkout with your cart
  • colors

We also looked closely at quality, patterns, attention to detail, value for money, how easy it was to place orders, shipping costs, and website sign posting. In other words, precisely the same factors you would use before placing orders.
In short, we have hastened the search so you can be confident about your purchase:

Best Over the Calf Socks: Boardroom Socks

An American brand with a wide variety of colors and patterns in both Merino wool and cotton varieties.

[Shop Boardroom Socks here]

Best Silk Over the Calf Socks:  Fort Belvedere

If you’re attracted to the luxurious and cooling feeling of silk, you can’t go past the very high end socks from Fort Belvedere, the brand of the vintage menswear blog Gentleman’s Gazette. 

[Shop Fort Belvedere socks here]

Best Value Over the Calf Socks: Gold Toe

At under $15 per pair, these socks will never slip and have a great reputation from reviewers — just note they’re 62% cotton, the rest comprised of nylon and spandex.

[Shop Golden Toe socks here]

Some final thoughts on knee length socks

The USA, it seems, is over-endowed with knee-length sock manufacturers. We would, therefore, recommend this article as an excellent way to dip your toe into the market before diving in with both feet. 

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Emilia Wilson

Emilia Wilson is a professional freelance writer and enthusiast of all things fashion. A voracious reader and avid writer, by day she is constantly researching and writing articles, with a bias for all things fashion and DIY. By night, she grapples with the mind-boggling world of website design and development as she looks to put together her own DIY blog. Say hello: [email protected]

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