BEYOND THE GOLF COURSE: THE LOVE OF ARGYLE SOCKS
I’m a late comer to argyle socks. Growing up, I thought they were mostly the tacky footwear worn by senior citizens, and so I dismissed them. Boy, was I wrong. Fortunately, as my taste and style evolved and developed post-college, that mindset changed.
It all began in my mid-twenties when I added a couple of very nice cotton argyle sweater vests (in spring pastel shades) to my wardrobe. This was shortly followed by my first pair of argyle socks in red, black, and yellow, on a white background. From that point on I was hooked, and I have always had several pairs of argyle socks in my collection.
While I enjoy pastel argyles in the spring, I think it’s the earth-toned colored argyles of fall that I love the most. The weave and pattern of argyle just sort of say “fall” to me. So as we celebrate this colorful season, let’s take a look at the history of these wonderful socks.
The argyle pattern of overlapping diamonds (or lozenges) had its origins in western Scotland, and is derived from the tartan of Clan Campbell who lived by the town of Argyll (by the way the Clan Chieftain is also the Duke of Argyll). The argyle pattern was used on kilts and plaids, and was also knitted into socks (sometimes known as “tartan hose”) that were worn by the Scottish Highlanders since at least the 17th century.
Following World War I, Pringle of Scotland, known for the premium knitwear they produced, made a sweater in the argyle pattern of the Clan Campbell. The Duke of Windsor fell in love with it and began wearing both argyle sweaters and socks on the golf course. The Duke, as I mentioned in a previous post, was very much a fashion trendsetter, and whatever he wore, all of the fashionable gentlemen wore. Thus argyle clothing was enshrined as a men’s wardrobe staple.
These great argyles from Ralph Lauren Polo really show the beautiful tartan plaid.
In the 1920’s Brooks Brothers became the first American retailer to manufacture argyle socks for men, and the rest is history. These wonderful socks have remained popular for almost one hundred years now.
I have grown to love argyle socks, but have a special affinity for them in the fall. The layered diamond pattern seems to especially shine when combined with the rich hues and colors of the season.