Mar 5, 2021 | OPINION | By Julia Chase | Illustration by Patil Khakhamian
As a child, I was overly persnickety about my socks. On occasion, I missed the bus in the morning spending time perfecting the way that my socks fit on my feet. Shoes could not enter the equation of my morning routine without the toe lining portion of the sock having been aligned perfectly with the base of each toe, and the toe lining-aligning process could not begin without fresh, matching, perfectly fitting socks. Thankfully, this time-consuming habit each morning did not last forever.
Disclaimer: This is not a piece about foot fetishes, although I may soon dabble into the market for selling feet pictures as a side hustle.
Recently, I was FaceTiming with my long-distance boyfriend when he decided to jokingly bring up the topic of “red flags” in relationships (ours is relatively new). In the midst of some friendly banter, he claimed that my lackadaisical sock wearing habits may constitute as a red flag — that is, my habit for wearing mismatched socks.
His observation was valid — when he visited me a few weeks ago, I gave no thought to the slightly loose black Nike mid-calf and hot pink ankle sock from Target paired on my feet as we cooked pancakes one morning. But I did have issue with his deeming of this sock choice as a “red flag.”
In fact, I vehemently disagreed, and argued that if an individual regularly and nonchalantly stunts mismatching socks, this behavior is likely to be and indicator of emotional maturity.
When I cared too much about perfecting my socks as a child, my priorities were not straight. But then I watched Harry Potter, and when Ron Weasley said about Hermione in an adorable British accent that “she needs to sort out her priorities,” I had an epiphany.
I realized then, chewing animal crackers on my Yogibo, that my perverse sock mindset was unsustainable. Missing the bus for my socks? That was not going to work, especially with my crush waiting for me on there each morning.
So, I changed. I decided I did not care anymore about what the socks on my feet looked or felt like, and ever since I have been a more successful individual for it. This shift left me with more space in my day to focus on more important things, like organizing the folders on my desktop and making superb smoothies in the morning before class. It points to my ability to adapt in life and change my behaviors when I know that they are not productive for me.
It also points to the fact that I do not pay mind to the judgments of others regarding the superficial aspects of my appearance. I strutted into Trader Joes on Monday wearing jean shorts, a mid-calf turquoise sock dotted with sashimi and chop sticks on my right leg, a brown mid-calf sock spotted with pugs on my left, along with some black New Balance sneakers. This chillness about which socks to wear to the grocery store not only attests to my confidence as mismatched-sock-wearer, but it also gave me some extra time to seek out my favorite lemon bars in the frozen section.
On r/changemyview, Reddit users debated the contested matter fervently. GnosticGnome argued that folks who wear mismatched socks in public may bother people with OCD, and that therefore “the harm is disproportionate to the benefit.”
However, Nepene asked a legitimate question in response: “Do you have evidence that it’s a substantial burden to those with OCD seeing mismatched socks? Enough that whatever time I previously wasted looking for socks they would waste being flustered?” Unlike in the case of anthropogenic climate change, the reality is that the evidence just simply is not there.
According to www.socksmatter.com, your socks can reveal more about you than you think. Further, “your socks can leave a lasting effect on everybody you meet at a party, work, sport center, on a date. That crucial first impression left by your socks could affect your everyday life … your social life.”
If socks really do carry such weight in first impressions, perhaps you will think twice next time, then, before tediously choosing matching socks before your next interview. In fact, you might consciously and wisely choose to mismatch them up to display your strength in character. I recommend scooping all of your socks out of your sock drawer, throwing them in the air like confetti, and mixing them back up in the drawer with a mindful declaration of the new and improved version of you.
In sum, if you see a person wearing mismatching socks, whether a friend, a significant other, or a stranger, refrain from your judgments and consider that this might be a confident, adaptable, and rational person who has had their priorities straightened out ever since watching Harry Potter when they were 10.