Sock it to me


I’ve finally fulfilled a long-standing ambition. That’s right. All of my socks are now the same.

This means pairing them up after laundry will be a breeze and there’s now zero risk of leaving the house with a paisley-patterned right foot and a TIE fighter on the left like some sort of sock-illiterate clot.

This might seem trivial to you, reader, but to me it saves a lot of precious synaptic action early in the morning. It helps me to harness the zombie.

Why did it take so long to reach the relatively simple state of sock perfection? Well, there was a policy clash for one thing. Ever experience those? Operation Omnisock dictates that you throw out all of your socks in one big go. But I also have a frugality ethic and it felt wasteful to bin the motley crew and spend money on a whole bunch of not-strictly-needed new socks. After all, the trusty old socks had done nothing wrong.

Of course, this is precisely why there’s a need for replacing the whole drawer in one go. When you have, say, ten pairs of decent but non-identical socks, you end up replacing some of them sometimes and enabling a constant stream of sock use and sock replacement for years and years until you yourself are worn out and condemned to landfill.

It is up to you to wrestle control of this maddening situation and to escape eternal sock hell.

Wear and tear took their natural course this week and, understanding the significance of being down to five pairs, something awoke in me and I leaped into action like a crazed, invincible sock-replacing ninja.

Anyone who thinks I’m bored is wrong.

I think the delay in reaching this state was also down to a kind of scepticism about efficiency gains dependent on standardisation. I like diversity and I like having certain kinds of choice. I don’t doubt the efficiency of the personal uniform (the idea being to remove the decision-making process of getting dressed, freeing you up to start making apparently more important decisions) but I doubt whether we’re really living once that kind of decision-making has been removed from life. It’s surely better to have fun with getting dressed according to your mood, it being part of the substance of life. I mean, why not just replace all that inconvenient food with soylent and have your pesky sex drive nulled with diethylstilbestrol? Why, then you could really get on with stuff!

But back to my socks. I bought 15 identical pairs on eBay for £6. When they arrived, I slung the retired five. The nuisance of pairing is gone, baby, gone. Life is bliss now. It’s like having your brain removed. Pass the soma.

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Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

2 Responses to “Sock it to me”

  1. Drew says:

    Another approach is to just not give a shit about appearances, and focus on comfort. My uniform is comprised of jeans, cotton t-shirts, Blundstones (ease of use, also handy going thru security), comfy socks, Under Armour briefs (because they last forever and are versatile), and a few sweaters. Lots of grey, blue, and brown, such that virtually any combination of clothing “goes”.

    How do I decide what to wear? There are generally two criteria: 1) is it clean? 2) is it next in line to be worn, on the top of the pile? (I reverse stack my clothes so that the freshly cleaned clothes go on bottom)

    Right now I’m wearing a grey t-shirt, a grey sweater, blue jeans, brown Blundstones, grey UA briefs, and some cozy wool hiking socks, black. I’ll be wearing something remarkably similar mañana.

  2. I’m too much of a ludicrous popinjay not to give a shit about appearances (and I genuinely enjoy it all – it’s not a fear/aspiration thing) but there’s wisdom in what you say.

    I’ve been experimenting with a personal uniform (busted). It’s comfortable black jeans, loose white shirt, black campers, my eyeglasses, and, once outside, a navy peacoat. Works like a charm but, for me, only when I’m feeling lazy. The look is something like ‘art student temping on a lighthouse.’

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