«Around your feet, tie your sandals made from brutally hunted oxen skin and, under these, dress them in piloi»

Hesiod, «Days and Works» 
An evolving history, with the Greeks as the protagonists.


The first, ancient sock was invented and designed by a Greek. The history of the sock begins in Greece. From the 8th century B.C "piloi" to the 21st century sock, the Greeks have played a leading part in this story in progress.
It is known that Hesiod lived after Homer's era, around 750-700 B.C. in Askra of Viotia, at the foothill of mountain Helikon. Hesiod wrote his poems during his harsh life as a shepherd. In his masterpiece "Days and Works" Hesiod gave advice to his brother Persis, so that he could protect himself from the cold and properly dress his head and body.

Concerning the feet, Hesiod suggested that Peris wore sandals and, under these, cover his feet with "piloi", a cloth made of wool or animal hair ("Days and Works" verse 542).

The History of Socks

The word "sock" comes from the Latin word "soccus", which was a type of low heeled loose-fitting shoe or slipper, used by the Greeks and Roman comedians. It then passed through Old English "socc" and Middle English "socke". The Latin word derives from the ancient Greek "sykkos", a Phrygian shoe. Some of the Greeks wore sykkos on their feet, then put their sandals on top of them, and like modern day people, they took their sandals off and walked around their houses in their sykkos.

In the 8th century B.C., the Greek poet Hesiod was the first to write of "piloi", socks made from matted animal hair.
The Romans, wrapping their feet in strips of leather or woven fabric, by the 2nd century A.D. were wearing "udones", which were sewn from woven fabric and were pulled over their feet.
In Egyptian tombs of the 3rd-6th centuries A.D. the first knit socks were discovered.

In Europe, socks were strips of cloth wrapped around legs and feet. They were called "leggings". In the Middle Ages, the length of trousers was extended and the sock became a tight cloth covering the lower part of the leg, held by a some kind of a garter. When "breeches" became shorter, socks began to get longer. Around the 12th century feet were added to that hose. Around 1490, breeches and hose joined and were made as one garment, forming tights. These were made of colourful silk, wool and velvet, with each leg a different colour.

Knitted hose was worn in Scotland around the turn of the 15th century, and then in France. William Lee, an English clergyman, invented the knitting machine in 1589, while many of the principles Lee developed can still be found in modern textile machinery today. Queen Elizabeth I refused William Lee the first patent for his knitting machine because she didn't like the feel of the stockings it produced. His machine, she complained, made wool stockings that were far too coarse for the royal ankles. When knitting machines were regularly used in the 1590's, knitted hose became more common everywhere.

European fashion during the 16th and 17th centuries was influenced greatly by Spain. Because of the wealth of the New World, Spanish clothing of that time was beautiful fabrics adorned with embroidery and fine jewels. Men's socks were typically made of knitted silk and embroidered with emblems.

Cotton came into use in the late 17th century, while in the 20th century nylon became popular for stockings because of its strength and elasticity. At the same time, as men's pants grew longer, socks became shorter and shorter.

Over the years, the sock has developed into a clothing item with enough variations to cover all tastes. Consumers can easily find the color, pattern and size of their preferences that best fit their feet.

Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sock

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