What Is a Crew Sock? Ultimate Guide to the Best Crew Socks

What Is A Crew Sock?

Crew socks are most likely one of the more popular type of socks.

Even if you don’t know what they exactly are, you probably have a few pairs lying in your sock drawer right now.

Crew socks are everyday socks. Their signature thick and ribbed feature, make them one of the most popular types of sock in the sock industry! 

What Do They Look Like?

crew socks


Crew socks are thick ankle-length socks that are ribbed. 

Common materials used to make crew socks are made of cotton or a blend of natural and synthetic fibres. 

In terms of design, they can be plain or adorned with simple designs like red or navy stripes at the opening of the sock. 

They are a great option for both sports and everyday casual wear among young people. 


Crew socks have a variety of different lengths. 

It depends on the maker, the brand and various other factors. 

However,  their standard size from heel to cuff is about 15-20cm. 

The smaller version of crew socks are called micro crew socks and are about a quarter of the regular standard crew sock's length.

Like ankle socks, micro crew socks are your typical short socks.

However, crew socks are slightly longer than your average ankle socks as ankle socks sit right at the ankle. 

How They Fit

Crew socks should fit snug, but not tightly.

One size fit all crew socks will generally work for feet sizes of 7-12. 

If your feet are smaller or larger than the average size, it might be a wise idea to tailor make a few pairs. 

A pair of socks that don’t fit properly will defeat the purpose of socks. 

They will not protect the feet well from friction and they will slip off easily. 

What to Wear It With

Crew socks pair well with essentially any shoes. 

For casual wear, pair your crew socks with sneakers or converses.

The best pairing for high top shoes and sneakers are micro crew socks.

Unlike ankle socks, micro crew socks provide some protection to the ankles, making it an excellent choice to prevent against chafing at the ankles.

For active wear, pair your crew socks with athletic shoes.

crew socks

For hiking, pair your crew socks with hiking shoes.

Crew socks make great hiking socks for warmer climates since they’re thick enough to provide adequate protection to your feet from friction, cuts, and blisters. 

They’re also short enough so that your feet don’t feel suffocated in them during the hike.

Purpose of Wearing Crew Socks

Think of crew socks as “multi-purpose” socks. 

Their strong moisture-wicking property brands them as the go-to socks for both casual and active wear.

Most crew socks are made of cotton or a blend of cotton and other synthetic materials. 

The technical properties in the fabric's composition pulls sweat and moisture away from the skin and into the exterior of the fabric making it easier to evaporate. 

The antimicrobial properties of crew socks can also help fight off foul smells and odours. 

Why Are They Popular?

Debatably, crew socks are the most popular everyday sock. 

They match with basically any casual or athletic outfits. 

They are comfortable and provide sufficient protection against friction without being too suffocating on the feet. 

Unlike no show socks and secret socks, they don’t slip off easily.

What Do People Wear With Crew Socks?

  • Wear micro-crew socks for your workouts - they hit slightly above the ankle and are perfect for active wear. They act as a better protective barrier than ankle socks and no show socks. 
  • Wear regular crew socks for casual attire. You can wear these with sneakers, converse, or more dressy alternatives like oxford shoes. 

History of Crew Socks

Why Was It Invented?

Crew socks started gaining prominence and notoriety in the late 1940s. 

These socks were originally worn by the United States Navy ship crew. 

Sock length, size, and colour were standardized, meaning everyone on the crew wore the same length of socks. 

After World War II, they socks began circulating outside military distributions and started becoming readily available to the public. 


What Are Rules for Wearing Crew Socks

There aren’t really any rules to wearing crew socks. 

However, crew sock shouldn’t be worn with dress shoes or in formal workplace settings. 

In a professional or formal setting, always opt for a pair of dress socks with your dress shoes. 

Dress socks are thin and light. 

Grab a pair of crew socks or white socks from your sock drawer and look at them. 

They’re probably thick and bulky, with a towel-like feel.

These thick towel-like socks are made this way to absorb sweat during sports. 

Thus, making them the perfect go-to choice for sportswear, sneakers and athletic shoes.

Not surprisingly, these bulky white socks are not going to sit well in your dress shoes. 

Your dress socks are made for your dress shoes. 

Different Types of Crew Socks

Micro Crew Socks or 1/4 Crew Socks

The “mini” or smaller version of crew socks are called micro crew socks. 

Their size is in between an ankle sock and a regular crew sock. 

Micro crew socks are good alternative over classic crew socks during warm hikes as it provides the necessary coverage and protection without getting overheating your feet.


3/4 Crew Socks

The length of the 3/4 crew sock is between the 1/4 micro crew and the classic regular crew. 

They provide even more protection than the quarter crew, but don’t have the full length of the standard crew sock. 

Materials Used to Make a Crew Sock

Crew socks are usually made out of cotton or a blend of cotton and another fibre. 

There are many different types of fibres available to make socks, but we will be discussing the most common 4 types as they make up 90% of the socks manufactured around the world. 



Cotton is a lightweight and breathable material, making it one of the most commonly-used fibres for manufacturing socks. 



Polyester is a synthetic material that is warm and soft. It is arguably more durable than natural fibres, which makes this material another excellent choice. 



Wool is a great insulator. Socks made from wool are extremely warm, which makes it the perfect option for colder climates.  



Nylon is a versatile material.

While alone, nylon socks are water-resistant and not breathable, it is usually added to other fibres in blends.

By adding in nylon fibres, the new blend will become stretchy and more durable. 

How Are Crew Socks Made?

The sock-manufacturing process is not an easy one. 

It’s actually one of the manufacturing processes that requires the most human intervention.

#1 Pattern Coding

When a sock pattern is chosen, it needs to be “translated” into a code the machine can read.  

Every pixel needs to be coded with a thread colour to correspond to the chosen design.

#2 Choosing the Yarn


Is the sock being created for professional athletes? 

Or, is the sock created for the everyday consumer? 

Depending on the function and design of the sock, the yarn needs to be chosen based on its material and colour.

i. Material

The fibre selected must fit the purpose in which it is created for. 

If your sock is designed for sweaty feet, you should choose a material that does not trap moisture.

We’ll discuss 4 common types of sock fibres in the next section.

ii. Colour

Choosing the precise colours is important in replicating the sock’s design. 

In terms of the colour selection process, the industry standard is the Pantone system. 

#3 Knitting Socks

knitted pattern

Socks are knitted in a circular-shaped knitting machine which gives them its tubular shape.

By doing it this way, a side seam is not needed to connect the sock together.

Factory workers are stationed to monitor and inspect the process to make sure the machines are set up properly, so that mistakes can be avoided. 

Just imagine, the sock machines produce thousands of pairs of socks, but the spelling on every single sock was programmed incorrectly!

Workers are a vital line of defence in making sure production is as error-free as possible. 

#4 Sewing Socks


The knitting will create the tubular body of the sock, but we still need to connect the foot and toe part to the body of the sock. 

This process can be automated by a machine, or can also be done by hand. 

When done manually, workers will also monitor and remove defective pieces.

#5 Shaping

Completed socks are put onto a flat foot form to be formed into the desired size and shape. It is then steam pressed to keep its shape.

#6 Pairing

sock pairing

This is the final step of the manufacturing process. Left and right socks are manually paired together. 

While pairing off the socks, workers will also inspect to see if there are any defects that have escaped the first and second line of inspection.

Crew Socks vs Dress Socks

Crew socks and dress socks differ in their feel, texture, formality level, and occasion used.

You can almost say these two types of socks are opposites. 

In terms of feel, crew socks are thick while dress socks are thin.

This goes without saying that the shoes used with these socks are different as well.

The moisture-wicking properties of the crew sock makes them perfect for athletic wear like runners. 

They’re also great for occasions where you’re likely to break out into a sweat. 

On the other hand, dress socks are for more formal occasions. 

Only wear dress socks with your dress shoes.

Our Verdict

Crew socks are one of the most multi-purpose socks available. 

Their versatility makes them one of the most popular socks amongst men, women, youth, and children. 

Definitely stock up on a few pairs of crew socks in different lengths - I guarantee you’ll find multiple occasions to wear them.


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