Written by Leslie Foss
Smartwool socks are loved by hikers, skiiers, and other outdoor enthusiasts for their wonderful wicking wool fibers, keeping feet warm and dry without getting too sweaty. But Smartwool also makes cozy knee high socks for stylish winter wear that do all those things while looking great. Case in point: the Optic Frills Knee High.
Pros: I first bought these socks for their good looks. The pink heather color is gray with pink strips, a wide pink band at the top, and a red toe and heel. The combination of colors and pattern is yummy. But after I wore them for a day with my tall boots, I appreciated how warm they were without being bulky. This used to be a problem for me: too thick and your shoes fit too tight; too thin and your feet are chilly. They were also comfortable and stayed up with no adjustment needed. My feet didn’t slip around, and best of all, the socks look great peeking out of the top of your boots! You could also wear an open-toed clog or shoe with these, and let the red peek out. Fun!
Tall girls will appreciate the length of the Optic Frill Knee Highs. But even if you don’t usually buy “tall” sizes, you can still enjoy these socks. I was dubious of the extra couple of inches that would go over my knee, expecting it to bother me. I’m 5’8” tall, and ordered the medium. This turned out to be the right size for my feet and legs. They do go over my knee cap as they are supposed to do (except if you have exceptionally long legs), but I love this feature because they keep my knees warm, and you can easily fold them down a turn if you want them right below your knee joint. The top band is a little stretchier than the rest of the sock, so you avoid that constricting feeling, and they leave no lines on your skin. Or, scrunch them down for a more casual look.
The company describes these socks as everyday active wear, made lightweight and stretchy, with 76% wool, 22% nylon, and 2% elastic. They have a knit-in arch support and come in three sizes–S, M, and L, which even fit up to women’s size 11. You can choose from four rich colors: pink, charcoal, loden, or wheat heather. Care is easy: machine wash in warm water (not hot), and let them air dry or toss them in the dryer on tumble low. Turn them inside out before you do, to help keep them looking new.
I have been emphasizing the warmth factor, but you can wear these socks in any weather and your feet will be comfortable. The special merino wool fibers buffer your skin against heat and cold, and wick moisture away. Mildew doesn’t get a chance to grow, keeping odors at bay.
Cons: The main drawback is price–these socks are not cheap–about $22 to 24 a pair, depending on the website or store. This requires you to think about how much you normally spend on socks. “Are my feet and the style worth it?” My answer was yes, but you have to decide for yourself.
One more drawback to note is the wool may wear out faster at the bottom if you wear them a lot with no shoes. Unlike their sporty counterparts these socks are not made to take a beating. Knowing this you probably should wear them as you would a nice sweater or skirt, not casually around the house, but as part of a cute outfit for work or going out. I have not had mine long enough to know how long they’ll last with moderate wear.
Smartwool’s Optic Frills may be pricey, but they are worth the investment. They combine style with great performance so you can stay toasty in your fashionable skirts and boots.