Sustainable Fashion

How Many Socks Should I Own?

Just how many pairs of socks do you really need? It may be less than you think!

How Many Pairs Of Socks Featured2

Rejecting the idea of cheap, replaceable, fast fashion in favor of high-quality, long-lasting, sustainable pieces is essential to living a more sustainable life. But buying just enough to live comfortably without being excessive can be a difficult balance to strike, especially with small items like socks. 

So how many socks are too many socks? The average person needs about ten pairs of socks in total. Having a balanced range of socks like dress socks, casual socks, athletic socks, cozy socks, and more depending on your lifestyle will ensure you have a sufficient number of socks for every occasion. 

For the best breakdown of the types of socks you should own, read below. Plus, I have tips for making your socks last longer and specific recommendations for each type of sock from the best sustainable sock brands! 

How Many Pairs of Socks Should I Own?

While the average person needs ten pairs, you might need more or less depending on your job, activity level, or location. I’ve broken it down into types of socks with recommendations for how many pairs of each type you should have keeping lifestyle in mind. 

Look Smart for Work? You’ll Need Five Pairs of Formal Socks

If you work in an office, you should have at least five pairs of formal socks. This means you’ll be able to do a full work week without having to scramble for a fresh pair of clean socks. 

A range of colorful formal socks by Colorful Standard
Organic Active Socks by Colorful Standard (Image by

How many pairs of socks do you need if you work in a more casual place? You should still have one or two pairs of high-quality socks for formal occasions like weddings or funerals. Nobody wants to be running around to the shops looking for a nice pair of socks hours before an important event!

For quality dress socks, check out Colorful Standard! They use organic cotton to make neutral and colorful socks that stay up all day.

Add 2-4 Pairs of Casual Socks

To wear with your casual sneakers, you should have a few pairs of everyday socks for casual wear.

A pair of Monstera Socks by Kind Socks
Monstera Socks by Kind Socks (Image by

Ideally, you’ll have one to two plain socks plus one to two colorful socks that express your personal style. Make sure to have both ankle socks and higher-cut ones that can fit comfortably under boots or higher-profile sneakers. 

Organic cotton socks from Kind Socks are great for every day because they’re cute and comfortable! 

Plus at Least a Couple of Pairs of Athletic Socks

Most people can get away with having about two to three pairs of socks you can be active in. Even if you’re not big into exercising, one or two pairs of socks you can hike or walk in won’t crowd your sock drawer.

A Pair of Patagonia Crew Socks
Patagonia 3/4 Crew Socks (Image by

If you live a very active lifestyle though, you should have enough socks to get through an entire week of workouts without having to do laundry or re-wear dirty socks. Nobody wants to put on sweaty socks before a workout!

I love Patagonia’s Lightweight Merino Performance Crew Socks! They’re great running socks because they wick moisture away quickly thanks to their responsibly sourced merino wool. 

Don’t Forget Cozy Socks for Winter

Cozy socks are one of life’s simple pleasures, so don’t miss out! If you live in a warmer place, you can survive with one pair of warm socks to wear on rainy nights. If you’re from a colder place, having three to four pairs will keep your feet warm all winter long!

A pair of cotton socks by Harvest Mill
Organic Cotton Socks by Harvest & Mill (Image by

Using merino wool performance socks as your cold weather pair is also a great option for people looking for minimalist wardrobes.

Harvest & Mill uses American-grown organic cotton to make the ultimate sustainable cozy sock! 

Add Other Pairs of Socks According To Your Lifestyle

Having enough pairs of formal, athletic, casual, and warm socks is sufficient for most people. However, people with certain medical conditions or lifestyles might need a few different types like:

  • Compression socks: pregnant people, athletes, people who frequently use wheelchairs, some people with certain medical conditions like diabetes or varicose veins, or people that travel a lot might want to invest in a good pair of compression socks. They help maintain blood flow and reduce painful swelling! 
  • Toe socks: for running socks that prevent blisters, try ones with individual toes! They’re great for endurance athletes like runners or backpackers.
  • Low profile socks: if you wear a lot of loafers or flats where normal socks show, grab multiple pairs of low profile ones that stay hidden.

Tips for Longer Lasting Socks

Now that you know how many socks you should own, learn how to make them last for years. Although it seems like a few pairs of cheap socks thrown out won’t make a big difference for the health of the planet, reducing the amount of waste you create is an important part of living a sustainable lifestyle. 

  • Invest in good quality socks! As tempting as those bins of cheap socks in the checkout line are, premium socks will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to replace them month after month. 
  • Learn how to darn! If you’re like me, your socks frequently get holes at the heel or toes. Instead of throwing them out, learn how to darn the holes! 
  • Buy multiple pairs of the same type! Do you have a ton of odd socks that don’t have a matching partner? Avoid it by buying packs of the same pair, so you’ll always have a match! Black socks and white socks are the best options for packs.
  • Hand wash your socks! So you don’t have to start a new laundry cycle every time you run out of socks, learn how to hand wash them. You won’t have to wait until your regular weekly cycle to have fresh socks. They’ll also last longer because it’s gentler than a machine.

So, How Many Socks Do You Actually Need?

There is no perfect answer for how many socks you need that fits everyone, but most people find that ten pairs of socks is just right! Depending on your workplace, workout regimen, climate, and more, you’ll want to have a balance of dress, athletic, casual, and cozy socks. 

If you prefer fewer socks or to have extra socks just in case of a foot emergency, that’s totally fine! Have as many pairs of socks as you need to live comfortably without unnecessarily buying socks or not wearing the ones you have. 

Megan Lemon

Megan Lemon

Megan is a sustainability writer based in Fiji, where she lives with her partner in the house they built themselves. In her free time, she free dives, spear fishes, and takes long walks on the dirt roads.