Buying Guide for Knee-High Socks
Why buy knee-high socks?
As the name suggests, knee-high socks are socks that cover the foot and leg up to the knee. The actual height may vary slightly by pair, manufacturer, and the wearer’s own height. Some will stop right at the knee, some just below, and some just above. Like all socks, knee-highs protect your skin from pinching and blisters while wearing shoes, help keep your feet warm in cold weather, and prevent them from getting sweaty and smelly.
Due to their more unique height, knee-high socks also come with a few unique benefits. They’re a common choice for athletic uniforms since they protect more of the leg than many other types of socks. Some schools with dress codes or required uniforms include dress socks for all students, regardless of gender. Many knee-high socks are also compression socks, which help to encourage blood flow from the legs to the heart and make them a great choice for athletes, diabetics, or anyone else with poor circulation.
What should you look for in knee-high socks?
- Material: There are plenty of different fabrics that knee highs can be made from: spandex, nylon, polyester, microfiber, wool—the list goes on and on. You may want to do a little research and figure out which fabric will best suit your needs. For instance, cotton is often considered the best material for everyday socks since it’s soft, comfy, and durable. Wool or cable-knit socks are ideal for extra warmth or a slightly dressier appearance, with merino wool as the best option for hiking since it’s less itchy and offers extra protection. Soft synthetic microfibers are optimal for compression socks, especially if they’re infused with copper.
- Size: Knee-high socks are available for men, women, and children alike. Some socks for adults are unisex and one size fits all/most, but there will be others made specifically for men’s or women’s feet and listed in small/medium and large/extra-large sizes or, less common, a specific shoe size. Children or youth-sized socks are more likely to be listed in their corresponding shoe size since their feet grow faster. Some fabrics will shrink after their first washing, so take that into account.
- Design: Funky and colorful socks are more popular than ever these days. This is a bit less common in knee socks than standard ankle socks, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fun and multicolored options out there. Solid colors in neutral shades like black, navy blue, and white will be most common, sometimes with a colored stripe or two around the top. But there are also a good amount of brighter hues, multicolored options, and knee socks with fun patterns and designs like tie-dye, animals, cartoon characters, holiday themes, and more.
Are there other factors worth looking for in knee-high socks?
Moisture-wicking and quick-drying knee highs are always useful, especially if you plan to wear them for athletic purposes. Moisture-wicking wool socks are more breathable and will draw moisture from your skin to the exterior of the sock, allowing it to evaporate quicker, thus drying your feet even quicker—a useful feature for sweaty feet.
If you want some extra protection from your knee-high socks, you can also look for pairs with additional padding around the heel and ball of your foot. This will provide you with extra cushioning and comfort as well as protection, which can be a lifesaver for preventing blisters and reducing foot aches if you’re on your feet most of the day.
Also consider how many knee-highs you’ll need to buy. Do you want to buy multiple pairs of wool socks at once or just an individual pair? Many socks, knee-highs included, are sold in sets of three to six pairs, sometimes more. This is a great way to save money and ensure you don’t have to do laundry every other day. However, there are also individual pairs of wool socks if you only need a pair or two.
Our Picks for the Best Knee-High Socks
Pros: If you prefer knee-high socks for your day-to-day wear, these women’s knee-highs will fit the ticket nicely. They have all the softness and durability of cotton blended with spandex to make them nice and stretchy. The elastic band at the top ensures that they’re even stretchier and can accommodate most calves’ shapes and sizes without cutting into the skin or leaving impressions behind. These knee socks will also fit more women’s feet, even those a bit smaller or bigger than average; they’re suitable for U.S. women’s shoe sizes anywhere between 5 and 10. Three pairs of socks come per set, providing better value for your money, especially since they’re available in several solid hues and. a few colors with stripes around the knee area.
Cons: If your shoe size falls outside of a U.S. women’s 5 to 10, you’ll be out of luck, as those are the sizes they’re really meant for; they may be too large or too small to fit properly otherwise. And while these socks are machine washable, you’ll have to hang them to dry rather than toss them in the dryer.
Bottom Line: Made out of cotton with a touch of spandex for added stretchiness, these knee-high women’s socks are ideal for everyday wear. Though they’re not the best choice for athletic or compression socks, they’re plenty soft and comfy for all-day wear.
Pros: Knee-high socks don’t have to be solid colored or striped around the knee, as these pairs aptly prove. Though a solid black set is available, the other 27 options come in a wide range of different bright colors and patterns. From rainbow hues to cute polka dots to emoji prints and much more, these socks are vibrant and eye-catching. You don’t sacrifice practicality for aesthetics, either. These socks are not only nice and stretchy, but they won’t lose their color or shape after multiple washes and will fit most feet (U.S. women’s shoe sizes 4 to 10). And since you get six pairs of socks for one reasonable price, you get a good bang for your buck overall.
Cons: These knee-high socks do run a bit on the slim-cut side, so they may not be the best option for those with wider ankles or muscular calves. There also aren’t any alternate sizes available for purchase.
Bottom Line: When most people think of socks, solid, neutral colors tend to be the first that jump to mind. This high-quantity pack, with its wide variety of fun patterns and bright colors, will make you rethink that mindset.
Pros: Knee-high socks aren’t just suitable for day-to-day wear or school uniforms. Many sports uniforms either require or pair well with knee-high socks, and this pair is designed exactly for that. They’re made mostly of hardy, easy-to-clean polyester mixed with some elastane to ensure a close, more durable fit without any tightness or discomfort. The elastane even gives them some compression sock tendencies as a bonus—extra blood flow and oxygen are always useful in the middle of athletic practices and games. These socks are available in 15 different colors to match a wider range of uniforms, and they come in four different sizes to fit a wider range of feet from men, women, teens, preteens, and children alike.
Cons: The only real downside to these knee-high socks is that you only receive a single pair with your purchase, and yet they cost as much as some three- or six-packs of knee-high socks.
Bottom Line: These knee-high socks will have you and your lower legs covered while playing softball, baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, volleyball, you name it.
Pros: If you have poor circulation or are on your feet for 8+ hours a day, compression socks can be a huge boon. And with these knee-high compression-style socks, the blood and oxygen in your calves, feet, and ankles will be encouraged to flow more freely, especially since each of the five pairs is infused with copper. They’re also breathable and moisture-wicking, making them great athletic compression socks. Both size options are suitable for adults of all ages to wear, regardless of gender, and come in 18 different color choices. Multiple neutral hues and more colorful or patterned choices are available.
Cons: Despite the name, these aren’t quite medical-grade compression socks, so they aren’t necessarily the best choice to treat medical ailments; always consult your doctor if you have a condition like diabetes that requires compression socks. Some users also found them a bit too tight for their liking.
Bottom Line: Compression socks are often dull or plain-looking and expensive. While these pairs aren’t quite true medical-grade compression socks, they’ll provide many of the same benefits and will work to stimulate circulation in your legs for a lower price and a much more aesthetically pleasing appearance.
Pros: As you’ve probably seen either in person or on TV, knee-high socks are a staple piece of clothing for schools that require their students to wear uniforms. And they’re usually a part of the uniform that the students are required to provide for themselves. These knee-highs were designed specifically to be paired with school uniforms, though they make great everyday socks as well. The combed cotton-nylon-lycra spandex blended fabric features seamless toes to reduce the risk of rubbing or irritation and is easy to wash; they’re washing machine- and dryer-safe on low temperatures. They also have extra-breathable mesh around the feet to help keep your child’s feet from becoming sweaty and overheated. You get three pairs of these socks for one low price, available in colors commonly required for school uniforms. Several shades can be bought with a ribbed texture as well.
Cons: Check the sizing chart and dimensions for these knee-high socks carefully, as they do run a bit on the large side. Even so, they’re made only to fit kid and youth sizes, not adults. Be sure that you wash them on a cool or cold setting and tumble dry them on low; otherwise, they are at risk for piling.
Bottom Line: If knee-high socks are on your child(ren)’s back-to-school shopping list or if they need a fresh pair or two during the school year, these knee-high socks were made with school uniforms in mind.
If you want more of your legs covered by socks, whether for warmth, aesthetics, protection, or simply personal preference, a pair of knee-high socks is the way to go.