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Sock-ing Stuffers

Historically, novelty socks were the ugly Christmas sweater of the feet. These days, if you don’t own decorated toe warmers, what the heck are you wearing on your feet that’s cooler?

Michele Chiappetta
Valerie Grant
November 29, 2017

Why be ordinary when you can be unusual? That’s the motto of many a wearer of the novelty sock — those crazy, festive, riotous socks covered in sayings, pictures and kooky designs that, at first glance, seem more appropriate to a comedy movie starring Adam Sandler than the office.

Take another glance though, and you’ll see a different story. Men are wearing these fun socks to the boardroom. Women are rocking pairs along with their fashion high heels. Even Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar broke out a pair when he hosted Canada’s Justin Trudeau. All the cool kids are wearing them.

If this is news to you, don’t feel dismayed. Not that long ago, novelty socks were a lot like the ugly Christmas sweater — a kitschy, ironic clothing choice rather than a bona fide fashion statement. Today, however, they’re a hip, fun way to ratchet up your personal style with an often-overlooked item of clothing that makes you happy and expresses your unique way of looking at life.

Clever, sarcastic, funny, serious, cute… you can find all sorts of options to choose from as you browse the novelty sock selections out there. There are thousands of styles available from a variety of online vendors. But if you’d like to see and feel these socks in person before you slide them on your sensitive tootsies, you can check out what’s on display at Tulsa’s Ida Red.

Over at Ida Red, team leader Olivia Ek helps owner Angelene Wright keep the store’s stock of creative, colorful novelty socks in the eager sights of customers. “We’ve been carrying novelty socks for a long time,” says Ek, as she explains how popular the items are with Green Country residents. “We get most of them from either Blue Q or Sock It to Me.”

Clever, sarcastic, funny, serious, cute… you can find all sorts of options to choose from as you browse the novelty sock selections at Ida Red. (Photo: Valerie Grant)
Clever, sarcastic, funny, serious, cute… you can find all sorts of options to choose from as you browse the novelty sock selections at Ida Red. (Photo: Valerie Grant)

Both vendors are highly popular sources of novelty socks. Sock It to Me has been offering novelty socks since the mid-2000s, focusing on what they call “fun and funky socks and underwear with dinosaurs, cupcakes, ninjas, Sasquatch, unicorns and all things magical.” Blue Q has been around longer — 26 years and counting, to be exact. The company focuses on socks with clever sayings, some of which are not printable here and definitely NSFW, if you happen to work someplace hip enough to allow you to wear novelty socks to begin with.

“Some of the most popular ones [we sell] are the ones that just have kind of funny sayings on them,” says Ek. The variety of expressions these socks trumpet range from serious to hilarious, straightforward to offbeat, and anywhere in between. You’ll find whimsical sayings like “The three things I hate most are math,” “Salad makes me sad,” and “No, YOU act normal.” Other socks offer a message that is more in-your-face, like “This is what a feminist looks like,” while others are intricate checklists or combinations of sayings — all designed in what is clearly intended to be good fun.

You might think that novelty socks would be a one-time purchase — either something catches your eye that you can’t resist, or you find a perfect funny gift for a friend who’s normally hard to buy for. Ek says that while this may be true for some shoppers, others make buying new novelty socks a regular and rewarding habit.

“There’s this one guy who comes in to always see what kind of new socks we have,” Ek says. “And he always buys a new pair of socks every time.”

When asked why the socks are so popular with customers, Ek says, “I love them! I think they’re hilarious. They’re just funny, and how often do you find a funny pair of socks? And honestly, everybody could use a good pair of socks. I personally love getting socks as a gift.”

Ek says she has bought novelty socks many times for friends. The socks make great holiday gifts, stocking stuffers, and dirty Santa items, especially when you see a pair that reminds you of that friend or family member who loves baseball, hates meetings, or enjoys making clever quips.

Most of the socks you’ll find at Ida Red are themed for fun anytime, anywhere, rather than having a local tie-in. But if you want a Tulsa feel to your sock choice, you might want to check out Ida Red’s selection of Bigfoot-themed socks. The big, hairy guy is super popular in Oklahoma, and you can always wear a pair during a night of drinks and chumming around at The Yeti downtown, where a selfie showing off your socks next to the statue could be a lot of fun.

Ida Red

3336 S. Peoria Ave. | Tulsa
Monday-Wednesday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

208A N. Main St. | Tulsa
Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.