Animals, bright colours and repeating patterns are essential for any funky sock collectionFelix Armstrong for Varsity

As a proud owner of two feet, nothing delights me more than clothing them with a pair of silly socks. This clothing item is under-appreciated and misunderstood: let this be my manifesto for the funky sock.

As an awkwardly tall man, the inches-high gulf between the bottom of every pair of trousers I own and the tops of my shoes is a fact of life I’ve had to accept. So, I’ve learnt to fill this strange space with the best, funkiest socks on the market. Unlike the stereotype, I’m always overjoyed to receive a new pair of socks and my friends and family have become accustomed to this. Last year, the same friend gave me socks for my birthday and Secret Santa – occasions only a few months apart. In socks lies a world of possibilities. The funky sock can fit in any wardrobe, whether your style is dark academia or dad core.

“What’s more ‘dark academia’ than the funky sock?”

Above all else, socks are fun. From the street to the lecture hall, every young adult must act as a catwalk model simply to fit in. Our age’s obsession with dressing to trends, dressing to type, is ultimately not a mode of playful self-expression but a sombre act of conformity. Nothing can cut through this self-conscious seriousness like a funky sock peeking out from underneath your trouser cuff. This inch-tall space above the shoe is the sole feature of one’s outfit which remains free, unrestricted by norms and trends. So, cover it with bright pink koalas, comic-book characters or the flags of a country you’ve never been to.

If you’re not yet convinced – what’s more “dark academia” than the funky sock? Picture the scene: a middle-aged academic, slouched in a leather armchair in their dusty, book-lined study, framed by a bay window overlooking a cloistered court. They hold your red-scrawled essay in one hand, a copy of Paradise Lost in the other. As you force your eyes downwards, away from their disapproving stare, you first catch their brown cord trousers, then their beaten leather brogues – but what’s that? There, flashing like a pearl in the deep, like the green light on Daisy’s dock, is a bright orange pair of socks, splattered with embroidered brown bears doing the conga. I can only apologise for the fan-fic-esque digression but, the point is, funky socks are the jewel in the crown of dark academia, the tiny detail which elevates the humble Cantab from a thin stereotype to a bona fide Secret History protagonist.

“I go to my smaller, elite group of silly socks every time I need the universe on my side”

If you’ve not yet pulled on a pair of silly socks, I guess you’re not into high fashion or campus novels. Maybe, then, you’re a fan of the supernatural. You’d be in luck because this funky footwear possesses magic powers. Among my large collection of socks, I go to my smaller, elite group of silly socks every time I need the universe on my side. Whether it’s the morning of an interview, an exam or simply a plan I’ve been looking forward to, my silliest socks are the first thing I put on that day. My most charmed pairs feature patterns including regal-looking herons, brightly coloured mushrooms, guinea pigs wearing hats and scarves, and a bright red Keith Haring dancing man.


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There is much to be said against the hipsterisation of funky socks: this can even be seen on Sidney Street, where a rather empty, aggressively well-lit shop offers brightly coloured and, more often that not, octopus-themed socks that will leave you little to no change out of a tenner per pair. But to this I say: any sock can become your funkiest sock. Wear it on a good day, whatever the colour, cost or pattern, and it will reward you with its magic charms and thus become the statement item in your wardrobe, drawing eyes as you walk the street as if it bore a guinea pig in a scarf.