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Are you wearing the right socks? Experts share what to look for in a pair

From Bombas to Hanes, these picks will offer the support and durability your feet deserve.
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Socks are often a wardrobe afterthought, but it's worth going the extra mile and searching for a pair that will last you longer than a few laundry cycles. A proper pair of high-quality socks will keep your feet healthy, warm and dry. Plus, they're another chance to show off your unique style.

The Shop TODAY team spoke to experts and scoured the internet for some of the best women's socks around. Go on, stock up on some durable, long-lasting socks that you'll hold onto for a while. Keep scrolling or use the links below to jump to a specific category.

What to look for | Best budget | Best crew | Best for hiking | Best for workouts | Best for all-day comfort | Sock FAQs | Meet our experts

What to look for when shopping for women's socks

First and foremost, the role of a sock is to provide "a nice layer between the foot and the shoe," says podiatrist Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson. "A sock should do what you think it should do, which is basically to provide comfort, absorb sweat and maybe look good, as a fringe benefit," he says.

So what exactly do you need to consider to make sure your sock checks those boxes? Here's what the experts say to keep in mind when shopping for socks.

  1. Material. How you plan on using the socks, whether for hiking or all-day comfort, can help determine the material that you should be looking for. "If it's just an everyday sock, then generally it's a blend of natural [like wool or cotton] and synthetic materials, which tend to do well, because they provide both a level of comfort and also a level of sweat absorption," Isaacson says. For more athletic activities, like runs, walks or HIIT workouts synthetic materials are the way to go. "Synthetic materials are so much better at wicking moisture away from the feet and keeping things more comfortable," Isaacson adds. Natural materials tend to bunch up more, which can potentially cause blisters or discomfort.
  2. Cushioning. "Cushioned socks are generally more comfortable, especially when extra cushion is added to the bottom of the foot; however, a sock that is too thick can be hot and cause shoes to fit differently," says Dr. Ashley Lee, a foot and ankle reconstructive surgeon at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists who recommends cushioned socks if you do a lot of walking.
  3. Shoes. The shoes you plan on wearing, such as loafers or boots, will also determine the sock style. For instance, you might prefer a no-show sock with a loafer, but a crew or knee-high sock with boots.
  4. Quality. Lee recommends that no matter what, you purchase the highest-quality socks you can afford. "High-quality socks use a superior moisture-wicking fabric, which can help to prevent sweating — which can lead to athlete's foot and blisters," Lee says. "A high-quality sock also will ‘hug' your arches, giving you support. Quality socks also often are labeled right and left, which will help to maintain the shape and fit of the sock over time."
  5. Construction. Look at the construction as you're purchasing. While some things that may not seem like a big deal at the store, they can effect how your feet feel. "If you have a sock that has an annoyingly prominent seam, then that's going to build up during the day," Isaacson says.
  6. Sizing. Finally, while shoe sizes generally correspond to sock sizes, if you're wearing a thicker, cushioned sock, you may want to go up a size.
No matter what, you should purchase the highest-quality socks you can afford, recommends podiatrist Dr. Ashley Lee. "A high-quality sock ... will ‘hug' your arches, giving you support," she says.
No matter what, you should purchase the highest-quality socks you can afford, recommends podiatrist Dr. Ashley Lee. "A high-quality sock ... will ‘hug' your arches, giving you support," she says.Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

Best budget socks for women

Pro Mountain No Show Socks

Material: Cotton, spandex, polyurethane, polyester | Sizes: 6-8, 8-10 | Colors: 4 | # in one pack: 4-8 pairs

"Nothing makes me more irrationally angry than my socks falling down in my shoe," says associate editor Shannon Garlin. "These ankle socks have a silicone strip that helps it fit snugly and stay in place. They're my new favorite socks and I get sad when they're all in the hamper."

Something to note: While they are advertised as "no show" socks, some people note that you can still see them when wearing sneakers.

Hanes 10-Pair Value Pack Crew Socks

Material: Cotton, polyester, spandex, other fibers | Sizes: 5-9, 10-12 | Colors: 2 | # in one pack: 10 pairs

Crew socks are a classic style that every wardrobe needs, and this set from Hanes has earned a stellar reputation for its durable, comfortable construction. It's made of a breathable cotton knit, the toe and heels are reinforced, and the sole is cushioned. These have over 29,000 verified five-star ratings on Amazon (81 percent of all ratings), and one reviewer raved about how his wife has loved the style for years.

"My wife lives in her socks without shoes most of the time. They get quite a workout. This brand has proven for her to be the most long-lasting and comfortable of all she has tried over the seven decades of her life," he commented in the reviews.

Something to note: A bit shorter than the average crew sock, not as durable as slightly pricier socks

Champion 6-Pack Performance No-Show Cushioned Socks

Material: Polyester, spandex | Sizes: 6-12 | Colors: 3 | # in one pack: 3 pairs

These Champion socks feature Double Dry technology that is said to keep moisture at bay and keeps your feet nice and cool, even when running around all day. The durable set of six socks fits shoes sizes 5 to 9 and comes in three color options: black, white and gray.

They might look lightweight, but these soft and stretchy socks also feature a cushioned bottom that makes a big difference when you find yourself going, going, going all day long.

Something to note: Thinner than older versions according to users, those with wide feet may have to size up

Best crew socks for women

Girlfriend Collective White Please Recycle Crew Sock

Material: Recycled polyethylene terephthalate, spandex | Sizes: 5 - 7.5, 8-10.5, 11-13 | Colors: 6 | # in one pack: 1 pair

"I really like Girlfriend Collective's crew socks," says senior SEO editor Jees Bender. "They're thick (but not irritating so I can still wear them in the summer) and have a decent amount of compression and support around my arches."

According to the brand, they also feature a flat seam at the toe for comfort.

Something to note: Many of the color options have limited sizes available.

Dickies Moisture Control Crew Socks

Material: Cotton, polyester, spandex nylon | Sizes: 6 - 9 | Colors: 3 | # in one pack: 3 pairs

These socks are so popular on Amazon (they have over 17,000 verified 5-ratings) that they're often selling out, but we also found them on the Dickies website in multiple colors. The bestsellers feature Dri-Tech technology, which is said to keep moisture at bay and help your feet breathe. Plus, they offer compression support!

Many Dickies customers agreed that the socks do a great job of keeping feet dry. One reviewer commented, "I have been wearing these Dri-Tech socks for two years, and I won't wear another. These stay up, keep my feet dry, and are warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer. A must-buy for me."

Something to note: Thinner than some reviewers expected, tops can get tight

Solmate Crew Socks

Material: Recycled Cotton, recycled polyester, nylon, lycra | Sizes: Small (6-8), Medium (8-10), Large (10-12) | Colors: 1 (multi-colored) | # in one pack: 1 pair

For those of us that see little point in having matching socks, there are Solmate socks. Several years ago, my local library sold these intentionally mismatched, colorful socks as a fundraiser, and I've been obsessed ever since.

Hand-knit from eco-conscious cozy materials and made in the U.S., these socks are warm, comfortable and fun.

Something to note: May be too heavy and stiff for some

Nike Everyday Max Cushioned Training Crew Socks

Material: Polyester, cotton, nylon, spandex | Sizes: S (4-6), M (6-10), L (10-13), XL (12-15) | Colors: 2 | # in one pack: 3 pairs

Reviewed as "very comfortable," "stays dry," and "warm," these socks are a thinner alternative to heavy wool socks without compromising on all of the factors, including a snug yet pillow-like fit that makes them suitable for everyday wear no matter the temperature outside.

Something to note: Some say they expected more cushioning, tops may be a bit tight

Best hiking socks for women

Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew Socks

Material: Nylon, merino wool, spandex | Sizes: S (4.5-7), M (7.5-9.5), L (10-11.5) | Colors: 3 | # in one pack: 1 pair

The brand's name says it all — these socks are darn tough. The crew hiking socks combine comfort with durability and can withstand all sorts of elements, the brand says. We love that they're made in the USA and have plenty of cushioning to keep your feet happy.

"These are the best hiking socks hands down," says production coordinator Camryn Privette. "I used to get blisters before switching over to these. On my last 40 mile backpacking trip, these kept my feet cool, blister free and happy. The best part is that they have a lifetime guaranteed so you can always return them for a brand new pair at any retailer."

Something to note: May need to size up if you have wider feet

Smartwool Hike Light Cushion Crew Socks

Material: Merino wool, recycled nylon | Sizes: Small (4-6.5), Medium (7-9.5), Large (10-12.5) | Colors: 6 | # in one pack: 1 pair

With stripes that harken back to the days of tube socks, these crew socks promise to provide a little bit more comfort. One reviewer said they love these because they're "warm, comfortable and well-made," and have used them on a handful of trails, while at work, and when wanting to keep warm in the wintertime. Made with the brand's trademarked Indestructawool and Shred Shield technology, these socks are thick and work to prevent blisters.

Something to note: May not be comfortable for very hot days

Best workout socks for women

Feetures Elite Max Cushion No Show Tab

Material: Polyester, nylon, spandex | Sizes: 4-6.5, 7-9.5, 10-13 | Colors: 13 | # in one pack: 1 pair

"A couple of years ago a friend introduced me to Feetures for running and I've never looked back!" shares editorial assistant Sierra Hoeger. "They're comfortable and don't cause blisters, which is the last thing I want to worry about on a run."

The socks combine targeted compression, an anatomical design and max cushioning to keep your feet feeling comfortable with every step you take. It also has a no show tab at the back to help prevent blisters as your heel rubs against the back of your shoe.

Something to note: They may be too thick for certain shoes

Under Armour Elevated+ Performance No Show Socks

Material: Polyester, nylon, spandex | Sizes: 6-9, 9-12 | Colors: 18 | # in one pack: 3 pairs

Assistant partnerships editor Lauren Witonsky recently started wearing these socks and is impressed. "I’ve been reaching for them over any of the other socks I own for wearing with sneakers. The perfect amount of cushioning, arch support and overall comfort."

Something to note: A few customers found that the socks wore out quickly

Puma 6-Pack Runner Socks

Material: Polyester, cotton, spandex | Sizes: 5-11 | Colors: 11 | # in one pack: 6 pairs

When 29,000-plus verified shoppers give a product a five-star rating, you know it has to be good, and this set of socks from Puma is definitely well-loved. They come in 11 color options and are made of a durable cotton/polyester blend; a common refrain from reviewers is that these have good compression, a thickness that offers just enough cushioning, and the right amount of stretch.

One user even commented that they help keep them comfortable during long shifts. "I work 12-hour shifts on a concrete floor. I’m always on my feet whether walking or standing still. These socks are the very best I’ve found! I’ve loaned them out and have yet for anyone to return them to me! They’re worth the money!" they wrote.

Something to note: May not be the best for super high-impact workouts

Balega Hidden Comfort Socks

Material: Drynamix recycled polyester, nylon, elastane | Sizes: Small (6-8), Medium (8.5-10.5), Large (11-13) | Colors: 19 | # in one pack: 1 pair

Thanks to their ventilation panels and moisture-wicking fabric, these unisex socks have perfected the art of keeping you warm and dry. They're also said to hug your feet (with a 200-needle count fabric) without making them feel constricted, which isn't always easy.

One REI customer called the style "one of the best pairs of running socks" they've ever owned, and another noted how good these are at preventing blisters. Yet another reviewer shared the following sentiment: "The cushioning is noticeable as soon as you slip them on, and they feel soft and comfortable."

Something to note: Elastic tops can be too tight, pricey

Bombas Women's Performance Gripper Ankle Socks

Material: Polyester, nylon, cotton, elastane | Sizes: Small (4-7.5), Medium (8-10.5), Large (11-13) | Colors: Varies per pack | # in one pack: 3 or 4

With their honeycomb design supporting the arches of your feet and their breathable, cushiony fabric, Bombas is a favorite of many — whether they're looking for stability in Pilates, preventing shoe chafing or even just a comfy set of indoor slippers.

Several years ago, my mom made the mistake of gifting her children Bombas socks for Christmas, and now we expect them every year. The Bombas gripper ankle sock is made for workouts- whether it's yoga, barre or running after your kids in your home.

Something to note: May lose a bit of grip when you sweat

Best women's socks for all-day comfort

Outdoor Voices Rec Ankle Sock

Material: Recycled Poly, nylon, cotton, spandex | Sizes: 7-9.5, 10-12.5 | Colors: 2 | # in one pack: 1 pair

"These OV socks are my go-tos," says Privette. "I literally have every color and pick up new pairs often. They feel like you're walking on a cloud and are extremely durable. My all time favorites for a reason."

These socks are designed to be worn for casual exercise, so they're perfect for walks or long days on your feet. Shoppers have raved about how "soft" and "comfortable" they are, and many, like Privette, say that they own multiple pairs.

Something to note: It's recommended that you machine wash them on cold and tumble dry on low

Bombas Women's Merino Wool Quarter Socks

Material: Merino wool, polyester, elastane | Sizes: Small (4-7.5), Medium (8-10.5), Large (11-13) | Colors: 3 | # in one pack: 1 pair

Pricey but oh so worth it; you'll look forward to pulling on this pair of Bombas Merino Wool Quarter socks daily. With thick merino wool, these socks promise to keep your feet dry and warm while supporting the arches of your feet with their often-used honeycomb support design.

"Bombas socks deserve all the hype," production associate Audrey Ekman says. "They have the perfect amount of cushioning and arch support and the pair I have has lasted me years."

Something to note: Some say they experience some slipping when wearing these in shoes

L.L.Bean Merino Wool Ragg Socks

Material: Merino wool, stretch nylon, Lycra elastane | Sizes: Small (4-6), Medium (6-10), Large (10-12) | Colors: 3 | # in one pack: 2 pairs

Over 2,400 L.L.Bean customers bestowed a five-star rating on this set of Merino wool socks, and they've been raving about how comfortable and warm they are, not to mention one of the softest wool socks they've tried. One shopper also noted how well they "hold up to lots of wear."

The set comes in eight colors (our fave is the Burgundy/Dark Lagoon Multi) and is made of anti-itch wool that's soft and stretchy.

Something to note: Not for those hyper-sensitive to wool, will shrink in the dryer

Carhartt Women's Midnight Crew Socks

Material: Polyester, elastane | Sizes: Medium (7-9.5), Large (10-12.5) | Colors: 2 | # in one pack: 3 pairs

Carhartt is known as the blue-collar, dependable and durable workwear brand trusted for all ages. These socks employ the same qualities and promise the brand offers in general: to provide comfort, no matter the task. It shows in details like the moisture-wicking and odor-resistant fabric, supportive cushioning in the heel, arch and toe, and a breathable mesh instep.

"They are thin, breathable, soft and comfortable," said one reviewer, who added, "I work 10-hour days in muck boots and am happy with these socks."

Something to note: Size small not available

HUE Hosiery Ribbed Boot Socks

Material: Cotton, acrylic, nylon, spandex | Sizes: One size fits most | Colors: 4 | # in one pack: 2 pairs

With more than 1,400 five-star reviews on DSW's website, these ribbed socks have amassed quite a loyal following — and we're not surprised. The two-piece set comes with two cozy pairs of socks in complementary hues and works equally well for work and playtime.

Many shoppers highlight how cozy and versatile the socks are after putting them to the test. "These are thick, soft and warm, perfect for boots or sneakers. I even sleep with them!" one wrote in a review.

Something to note: May not be for those who like a snug fit

Questions about socks, answered by experts

Do socks need to be turned inside out when washing?

While socks do not need to be turned inside out when washing, it does help to ensure the insides get nice and clean.

"Make sure your socks aren't balled up from taking them off before you wash them," says stylist Samantha Brown.

Is it OK to wear socks to bed?

If you get cold at night or want to keep moisturizer on your feet and off your sheets, you likely wear socks to bed. But in general, Lee recommends not wearing socks to bed because constrictive socks at night can irritate toes and even cause athlete's foot if feet get hot and moisture gets trapped.

"For people who wear socks to bed because their feet are cold, I recommend a loose pajama or cozy sock," Lee says.

Do I have to wear socks when wearing shoes like loafers or Uggs?

While you don't have to, Brown says wearing socks with shoes like Uggs, loafers or slippers will help preserve them and keep them odor-free. In this case, the right socks can also help with wicking moisture away and help to prevent athlete's foot.

"If your feet don't sweat a lot, I think it is fine to go without socks in an Ugg with the wool liner; however, wearing socks may help to minimize odor," Lee says. "With loafers, I usually recommend a no-show sock to help prevent blistering."

While you don't have to, stylist Samantha Brown says wearing socks with shoes like Uggs, loafers or slippers will help preserve them and keep them odor-free.
While you don't have to, stylist Samantha Brown says wearing socks with shoes like Uggs, loafers or slippers will help preserve them and keep them odor-free.Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

What's the best way to fold and store socks?

There's no shame in admitting that you waste time every morning attempting to find a pair of matching socks, but it may be time to organize your socks so that doesn't keep happening. Brown loves using a drawer divider to keep the sock section organized.

"Fold smaller pairs together and lay longer socks in a stack," Brown says.

Meet our experts

  • Dr. Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM, is a podiatrist at Paragon Podiatry in New York City.
  • Samantha Brown is a professional and celebrity stylist based in New York. She has worked over 1,000 fashion shows.
  • Dr. Ashley Lee, DPM, a foot and ankle reconstructive surgeon at Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. She is is double board-certified with the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons in foot surgery, as well as ankle and rear-foot reconstruction surgery.