Legwear Glossary MainStrip

Legwear Glossary

Legwear Glossary MainPic

Fashion and styling


Active Sport Sock: A style specifically designed for sports participation. It differs from an ordinary “athletic sock” in that it offers high-performance features such as special fibers, triple-layer construction or padding.
Anklet: A sock that rises to a point midway between the ankle bone and the thickest part of the calf.


Appliqué: Any pre-prepared fabric decoration that is sewn or ironed onto a finished sock.


Argyle: A multicolored diamond pattern against a solid color background.


Athletic Sock: A style that is most often white and features a ribbed, horizontal-striped top and plain foot construction. Usually knit of acrylic, cotton, wool or combinations thereof, this sock is often referred to as a “spectator sport sock”.


Basics: Classic styles that vary seasonally only in color and form the basis of the sock business. For women, basics are knee-highs and anklets.


Bird’s Eye: A small, evenly spaced pattern such as a dot of fleur-de-lis.


Bobby Sox: A heavily cuffed anklet that was a major teen fashion in the Forties and Fifties and enjoys periodic revival.


Boot Liner: A thin-gauge jersey or flat knit sock designed to provide a comfort layer between the leg and the sock.


Boot Topper: Knee-length socks designed to be folded over aboot top.


Boucle: A sock knit with a looped or knotted surface.


Bubble Top: A pattern composed of large round or elliptical raised designs; a large popcorn stitch.


Cable: A knitted pattern, typically two vertically intertwined bands.


Casuals: A broad term used to describe all women’s socks with the exception of athletic and work styles.


Crochet: Sock fabric created by the interlocking of looped stitches.


Cross Dyeing: A method in which different fibers are knitted into a pattern, creating a multishade effect dyeing. These results are achieved because each fiber takes dye differently.


Cuffed: Socks folded over at the top, usually just above the ankle.


Decals: Designs transferred to the sock by means of heat and pressure. Used interchangeably with “heat transfer”.


Embroidery: The application of decorative trim by machine or hand sewing.


Fair Isle: Nordie or snowflake patterning.


Footsock: Sock with a top that does not extend above the ankle bone. Also known as “footies”.


Intarsia: A geometric pattern knitted into a sock with either a different stitch or color from the background. In intarsia knitting, both sides of the fabric look alike.


Knee-High – Any sock reaching just below the knee. Commonly abbreviated as “knee-hi”.


Layering – Wearing more than one pair of socks at a time for fashion effect or comfort.


Leg Warmer: Footless, knee-length-or-above heavyweight socks popular with dancers.


Mock Rib: A surface texture variation used in flat knit socks to simulate the look of a rib.


Neats: Solid socks with tiny, evenly spaced patterns such as dots or fleur the lis.


Novelties: Non-basic styles characterized by unusual patterning and/or coloration.


Pointelle: An open, lacy-look knit similar to a crochet.


Pom: A women’s or girls’ footsock with a pom-pom sewn on the back.


Popcorn Stitch: A pattern composed of a series of geometrically arranged round raised areas; so named because of its resemblance to popcorn.


Ribbed: Vertical pattern of alternating ridges. Design may be formed through differences in weight, in knit stitch or opacity.


Rolldown, Rolled Cuff, Rolled Top: A top that is turned over on itself and sewn down, often during the knitting operation.


Slouch Sock: An internationally “sloppy” fashion look achieved by reducing stretch nylon or elastic in sock tops.


Spectator Socks: A casual sports sock designed to coordinate with ready-to-wear, but not engineered to provide optimum performance when used in active sports. Varies in length from footsock to over-the-calf.


Sport – Specific Socks: Styles that contain extra padding and differ by placement of protective cushioning (ball, toes, instep, heel, arch, shin), how thick the padding is and what materials it is made of.


Support Hose: Socks made of nylon or polyester with spandex or other elastic fiber added to give support to the leg.


Tartan: Any traditional plaid design.


Textures: A broad term encompassing all socks featuring knitted-in patterns such as cables, herringbones, basketweaves and pointelle.


Thermal Socks: Winter – weight, boot-length sock favored by winter sports enthusiasts. They can be made of heavy duty acrylic, wool, Thermax, silk, polypropylene or Hollofil yarns, or a blend of fibers.


Trouser Socks: Patterned, fine-gauge knee-highs worn with trousers or pantsuits instead of pantyhose.


Tube Socks: Non-reciprocated socks (those without a heel) knit in the shape of a tube. Primarily used as men’s and boy’s spectator athletic socks, although there is some crossover to women and girls.


Work Socks: Designed to meet the needs of people who work outdoors in heavy industry. Contain special cushioning and fibers.


Some Technical Details
In days gone by, socks were something you kept going for as long as possible and if holes appeared, you just darn well darned them. Darning socks is no longer required knowledge; the ‘throw-away’ society reached the human foot a long time ago. Today, the main consumer purchasing considerations are fit and comfort- with performance and longevity following closely behind. Fiber and manufacturing technology has been deployed to meet the requirements, although like chicken or egg- it would be unwise to comment on whether textile development, knitting technology, or finishing techniques have made the greatest contribution. Oddly enough, and unlike most other areas of clothing development, sock manufacturing has kept a fairly low profile despite the magnitude of some of the advances.


Fit is of primary importance. Comfort can be achieved by the acquisition of temperature control and shock absorption but, unless sock fabrics sit closely to the foot, the next most likely acquisition will be friction blisters. Not surprisingly, fit is governed to some degree by the end use, and manufacturers have recently begun to recognize this by designing definitive ‘stress’ areas into the overall knit, adding bands of elastane to hold the sock close to the structure of the foot as particular pressures develop. The exact placing of these bandsvaries according to the direction of the stress. BYORK has taken the concept almost to the ultimate with its Forward Flex Technology which prevents bunching on the font of the ankle joint and thus ensures a close fit even when the lower leg is flexed over the foot as when skiing or ascending extreme gradients. Definitive research by Italian specialists revealed that foot sizes vary not only between individuals but, more importantly, also between right and left on the same body. Basing its work on the fact that there is a 4.5mm differential in girth between one Euro size and the next, the company developed L. OdMod Dynamics- a system that provides the consumer with a series of single socks (not pairs) with a bulk factor differential of 1mm around the girth of the foot section. Bulk factor 1 socks are 1.5mm thick at this point; bulk factors 2 are 2.5mm. in simple terms this means that if an item of footwear is too slack then bulk factor 1can be applied if the foot still slides within the footwear (and particularly at the heel) then moving up to bulk factor 2 should solve the problem. If one foot is too tight then it is possible to move to factor 1 leaving factor 2 on the other. The specialist claim total flexibility for the L. OdMod system which it says accommodates fittings up and down the size range and across the footwear fittings.


Comfortable choice
Heat, moisture and ground-strike shock are the main targets for comfort protagonists. In the broadest of generalities, heat and moisture are taken care of by the application of yarn technologies; shock is dampened by the progressive crushing of loop pile knitted pads strategically placed at the appropriate pressure points. Moisture in the pressure areas on the sole of the foot, the heel and around the toes leads to extreme discomfort. Moving it to the upper foot and thence to the leg allows it to disperse relatively quickly and does not cause a problem in those areas. BYORK’s expert team are making full use of the latest technology in this context, mixing synthetic wicking fibers or treatments with wool, cotton or silk to gain the best of both worlds. Cleverly the techniques allow BYORK to create wicking areas that are also shock absorbers, producing double-faced loop pile pads with hydrophobic yarns at the skin interface linked to hydrophilic yarns on the outer surface. BYORK has moved one stage further by knitting treated yarns into the upper half of its ‘Smart’ socks, vertically wicking moisture into the leg area where further horizontal wicking ensures that dispersal is complete. Having used a pair of these for a hundred miles or so during the spring season, it can vouch for the product’s effectiveness – they even wash ‘softer’ after every use.

Again BYORK developed a model which incorporated the company’s own mvt yarns into the knit, hydrophilic fibers which quickly move moisture away from the foot and disperse it above the ankle.
Synthetic fibers have a reputation for longevity when treated correctly, and they have been given pride of place by BYORK’s knitters for that reason as much as their performance- enhancing characteristics. Less likely to last quite so long and certainly never likely to be repaired by the time-honored process of darning are the new breed of waterproof, breathable socks.