NZ Woman's Weekly

Colin Hogg on men’s socks and underwear

I was admiring a photograph of Prince Charles in the newspaper the other day. He was dressed in one of those uniforms of his and sitting down so I could see his black socks. They matched.

This is perhaps what makes him a prince and me most profoundly not one – which isn’t to say that the struggle to keep socks together doesn’t go on, it’s just that I know it can’t be won.

Charles probably has a chap whose sole task is to keep his royal socks sorted and carefully arranged in their drawers. I imagine Charles has several sock drawers. He might have a whole cabinet of drawers.

I have one sock drawer and I share it with my wife and 13-year-old daughter. I don’t officially share it with the daughter, but she dips in and out of it enough to make me feel that I do. She has recently even taken to claiming socks I know to be mine. They certainly look like the sort of socks I’d buy.

I only buy black ones, on the theory that I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping them paired up. But, of course, no two pairs of black socks are quite the same – a different shade of black, longer or shorter, or with snazzy little stripes down the side.

There’s always some little difference and there’s almost nothing worse than going out wearing one long and one short sock. I doubt that’s something Prince Charles has ever had to put up with.

When we lived out on Waiheke Island, we had a neighbour who never wore socks or shoes. If he had to get the ferry to the city, he’d paint socks and shoes on. We men are apparently well-known for being useless in the sock and underwear department.

When we’re growing up, our mums take care of our needs. Then, when we’re grown-up, our girlfriends and wives take over. It would be a perfect arrangement if it wasn’t so wrong. Men just don’t care that much about the state of their unseen clothes.

Some recent in-depth research among New Zealand men revealed that more than half of us only bother to think about getting new undies and socks when bits of us start poking through. Eighty percent of us are getting about in socks and underwear that is more than three years old and this is a scandal.

I’m not sure how scandalised I feel, but I do not like anyone buying me undies. My beloved wife knows this, but still occasionally does it anyway – succumbing to some primal female urge to keep her man decently under-clothed.

For some reason, she generally comes home with the brightest pair in the shop, though she equally knows I prefer understatement in the underwear area. The last ones she bought me were in a psychedelic tartan and a bit on the large size. Men should be left to make their own arrangements in this area – and those men who haven’t should get on with it.

An online company has set up locally, specialising in keeping men decently socked and under-panted. Though I doubt they have an easy answer to the eternal sock problem.

Issue 1541

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