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In Defense of Gifting Socks and Ties

Extravagant socks and eye-catching ties actually make perfect gifts.

By: Marc RichardsonDate: 2023-12-14

Growing up, I remember – quite vividly at that – that there was an almost universal aversion, albeit whispered, to giving a pair of socks or a tie as a gift. They were, we were told, the things parents gave to an uncle you didn’t know all that well, or easy stocking stuffers for dad, ostensibly from the kids, but chosen and paid for by mom. Ties and socks felt impersonal. They felt boring. They felt like filler, fluff—who, we wondered, would open that up and be happy.

What a difference a few years make, because now I think that socks and ties would make great gifts. Please, I tell my girlfriend, friends, and family, please give me a cool tie or extravagant socks.

There are some things that we’re hesitant to treat ourselves to, but don’t think twice about giving as gifts. It’s much easier to give a nice bottle of wine to someone you care about than to splurge on a weeknight bottle – though perhaps that’s not too hard either. Coffee table books, high-end candles, hand-forged knives; they all make great gifts, but it’s easy to talk ourselves out of lavishing ourselves with gifts.

The same can be said for socks and ties.

An extravagantly luxurious pair of socks can feel like an unnecessary purchase, just like a new necktie might feel redundant. We stand there, in the store, feeling how soft and delicate the fabric is in our hand, imagining the outfit that they’ll complete, taking it up a notch, right up to the precipice of perfection—and then we remember that we already have dozens of pairs of socks and ties at home, which have always served us well.

There are even some, among them, that would qualify as treats!

And this is why ties and socks are some of the best gifts you can give – even if you grew up thinking the opposite. They’re amazing because they’re exactly the type of things that people don’t treat themselves to, even when they really, really want them.

The key, though, is to veer outside the conventional comfort zone. Most people who wear ties on a regular basis have the basics covered. What they’re less likely to have is something made from the finest Italian silk, done up in an irreverent medallion or paisley pattern, with thick block stripes or rendered in a particularly vibrant hue. These are the ties that people think twice about buying – but that they really wish they had bought.

The same goes for socks. Staid charcoal socks—great as they are—aren’t what’s going to wow, especially over the holidays. But a pair of socks that feature abstract shapes, bold colours or eye-catching patterns, and happen to be so soft and comfortable that you wish you could wear them on your hands, too? That’s the pair of socks that someone is going to look forward to wearing.

The best part about giving someone a nice pair of socks or a special necktie? They immediately take on a little extra meaning. The dozens of ties and socks that we already have in our closet, which we bought over the course of building our wardrobe are just that— building blocks—things we’ve had forever, with the luster having worn off a little bit. But give a pair of socks or a tie, especially the kind that people wait to be gifted, and, suddenly, they’re special. People remember where they came from.

And, at the end of the day, when we’re giving a gift, we all want to be remembered for all the right reasons.