Weird things start happening when you adopt a movement-centered lifestyle. Your bras and your waist band start feeling tight. You find yourself avoiding jeans because you can’t sit on the floor in them. You rip your socks and shoes off whenever you get a chance. Then suddenly it hits you. You’ve been uncomfortable your whole freaking life and just weren’t paying attention. #woke.
While I could go on and on about a movement friendly wardrobe, today we’re just going to talk about socks. If you’re here, you probably already know about minimalist footwear (If you don’t, welcome! And check out this post). But it doesn’t stop with shoes. MANY people start hating their socks after switching to barefoot shoes, and this picture illustrates why.
Socks can deform your feet just like shoes can. So if you feel like your socks are irritating your feet, it’s not in your head. They probably are.
What to do?
You could just not wear socks. This is how I roll most of the time, and it’s not as gross as you think. Healthy feet that get lots of blood flow and fresh air don’t grow bacteria the way cramped feet with poor circulation do. So you’re less likely to funk up your shoes. This works out better in shoes that breathe well and are made from natural materials like leather and cotton or hemp.
Wear Bigger Socks
If you have small feet, sizing up in socks is an option. This is a good way to get tights for work or thick wool socks. I wear these men’s socks as house slippers and love them. But this won’t work for everyone. My husband wears a men’s size 13, so sizing up in socks isn’t even a possibility for him.
Wear Toe Socks
The next option is toe socks. I was kind of anti toe socks for a long time, because it just seemed like too much sensory input. Also, they look creepy. I was finally convinced to try them a few months ago by you, dear readers, and I am now fully converted.
Injinji is a favorite brand among barefoot-ers, so that’s what I tried and I love them. They are much more comfortable than regular socks and the material is so soft and stretchy it doesn’t bother my toes. I love that Injinji makes all different kinds of socks, including no-show socks (they call them hidden socks) and foot-shaped socks that aren’t toe socks. I had completely given up on the no-show socks because they all clung to my toes in an uncomfortable way, so finding these ones from Injinji was a real treat.
It does take a little more time to put on these socks because they have a left and a right and you have to deal with the individual toes. But it’s really not much of a cost to have socks that I’m not constantly tugging at.
My only beef about Injinji socks is that they’re kind of ‘spensive. I’m used to getting a 10 pack of socks from Costco for $10 dollars and having a drawer full of them. With my Injinji socks I have fewer and I keep close track of them so I don’t lose any. Getting the wool sock + liner combo gives you two socks and is a good way to save a little money.
I haven’t had them for too long, so I can’t say how durable they are. But they do have a warranty program where you can put in a request for a new pair if yours fall apart. It’s not explicitly stated how long the warranty is, applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and you have to contact them to apply. These Injinji socks definitely seem better than my Costco socks, which usually last me about a year.
Chunky boots socks
When it comes to fashion, thick socks are kind of a must in a woman’s closet. These are my favorite chunky boot socks that some of you have seen in my Instagram posts. I’ve been wearing them for two winters and they are some of the only regular socks I own that don’t bug my toes at all. They’ve also stretched even more over time (real wool stretches, whereas cotton socks can shrink in the dryer).
I also like the wool socks from Injinji as boot socks, but they’re not quite as chunky as the ones above.
Riding boot socks
If you want tall socks to stick out of your riding boots, Injinji makes these that I plan to get for myself next season. Only thing about the Injinji ones is the brand tag is obnoxiously big and red, and I would definitely remove it before wearing. I currently have these regular knee high boot socks and they kind of squish my toes, but aren’t terrible.
Another option that I have yet to try is yoga socks or stirrup leg warmers. These can go over a bare foot or over a thin sock to fill in the space in a boot.
Rethinking your socks is a natural step on the path to toe freedom, and isn’t hard to do. You certainly don’t have to wear toe socks to be good to your feet, but it’s my new favorite way to let my toes do their thing while I stay warm.
42 thoughts on “A Barefoot Guide to Socks That Don’t Squish Your Toes”
REI has Iniji socks on sale right now.
Love your reviews! They help me determine my size and discover new stylish options. Thank you!
Thanks for the heads up and the kind words!! Glad they’re helpful for you.
Have you got any recommendations for woolly/warm tights? Love to wear dresses with lots of layers in the winter, but would also like my toes to have enough space! Thanks.
I don’t know of any warm tights that are toe socks or anatomically shaped unfortunately. But you could modify your tights by cutting toe holes in them and or wearing footless tights and then putting toe socks over the top. These over the knee toe socks from Toe Toe could be worn over thinner footless tights for example. I’ve always done creative stuff like that when I needed warm legs with dresses. Another option is tall leg warmers over the top of thinner toe socks.
I’m new to barefoot shoes and everything but I knit boot cuffs to wear with less chunky socks since I live in LA it doesn’t get very cold so a full thick sock can be overkill. You can buy them on etsy or bootcuffsocks.com
Excellent idea! That can also be good to fill in extra space on shoes that are a little wide around the opening.
I’ve been wearing nothing but Injinji’s for maybe 7 years now. They last a long time, maybe 3 years before I get a hole from my big toenail. Love your blog and your shoe selection is much more extensive and stylish than Katy Bowman’s!
Good to know! That is a pretty long time for socks. Thank you!!
Thank you! This is very helpful. 🙂
It looks like People Socks (the ones that make the ones you use in the house) makes an XL size. https://www.peoplesocks.com/products/below-zero?variant=32224827867217
Oh nice! Thank you for sharing
I found barefoot socks by Be Lenka:
Oh yes! Those came out after I wrote this post. And now I actually carry them at Anya’s Shop for US/Canadian customers. They are good socks!
Hi Anya thank you so much for your great posts! Do you have any recommendations for kid’s barefoot socks? thanks!
I got these for both my boys: https://amzn.to/3jtAlhK
They come in size 3-7 and 7-12. I have yet to see anatomical socks for kids, but there are a few different toe sock options on Amazon.
We haven’t tried them yet, but I’ve been eying Plus12 socks. They have adult and children’s sizes, and they even have a gripper sock for younger kids. https://plus12socks.com/shop-2/?lang=en
Toe socks will be a great option for our kiddo in the future, but it’s been nearly impossible to find barefoot-friendly socks for our young toddler.
Those look great. Socks for little kids are tough, and even for bigger kids. Mine won’t wear toe socks, so we just size up in regular socks for when they really need them (in harsh winter). Otherwise, my kids don’t hardly ever wear socks. Their shoes get stinky, but I guess I can’t blame them for wanting the toe freedom. I might need to get some of those Plus 12 ones to see if they like them!
Update: I ordered one pair of Plus12 socks for myself and several of their gripper socks for my toddler. I’m a fan! My only complaint is that the toe seam is quite noticeable. Otherwise, they’re so great. After scouring the internet for foot-shaped, grippy socks for my son, I am thrilled to have found these! I’ll definitely be buying more.
Hi Anya, Thanks for this guide! With more time at home with shoes and socks off, my feet have definitely stretched out. I’ve started to notice that the compression band that goes around the middle of the foot on a sock has become bothersome for me. However, a lot of the sports (and casual) socks from injinji and toetoe have this band, which they call arch support. Any tips on finding a thin moisture wicking sport sock (mini crew length) that has room for toes, but no compression mid foot. (I bought the socks from your store, which thankfully look like they don’t have this band, but those are cotton and full crew, so I still looking for sport socks)
Hey there! Check out these toe socks from Vibram, they’re the height you’re looking for and have no band around the arch:
Thanks Anya! Btw, I ordered some injinji socks and found that they really don’t apply much pressure around the mid foot. In fact, these are my favorite socks now by far. I guess not every sock that has a “arch support”/compression band around the middle of the foot really applies too much unnecessary compression.
Oh good! I actually noticed after I replied to your comment that several of my Injinji socks also don’t have that compression band. Glad you were able to find some options that work for you.
Do you have any advice for socks that can be worn with flats? Help!
I haven’t tried these yet, but they seem to be the lowest profile of all the ones I’ve seen: https://amzn.to/3smzClT
Check out Maggie’s Functional Organics. The wool hiker and striped footie have fairly generous toe boxes and are made without polyester!
Don’t ever apologize for not shaving! Just because society has conditioned women we have to shave to be beautiful doesn’t mean it’s true! I don’t shave my legs ever and it doesn’t make me less of a woman!
Also, some brands of socks sell “extended” sizes for those with big feet. For example, the socks my size-13 husband wears from Costco can be ordered online in extended sizes that have a range of men’s size 12-16. So if you’re on the low range of that it might work!
Thanks for all the great info! Do you have any suggestions for tights?
Yes! I haven’t tried them myself, but here are some 5 finger tights:
In case you’re still looking for toe friendly tights
Thank you so much for all the info! As it is getting colder I tried to wear Injinji toesocks but it messes with my proprioception to the point where I can’t tell what my toes are doing. I developed a painful nerve twinge in my right big toe. Going sockless for a few days helped but my toes keep turning blue so I was looking for other options. So happy to see there are options!
I’m desperately trying to get more toe socks. I have a hard time with ordering online, it’s REALLY HARD for me!!!!!! Please just send me a phone number….😥 I need toe socks!?!?!?
Hi Anya, I have one pair of toesocks but I also feel this kind of sensoric overflow and my toes get cold after a while. I really want to wear them and feel comfortable. How did you get used to the sensoric thing?
Are there any toe separator socks designed for people with long toes? I have very long toes and my toe separator socks feel tight. I also like to wear them with Correct Toes spacers, and the spacers keep on slipping toward the end of the toe because the toes on the socks are too short.
Great question! My husband has extra long toes and has the same issue. Injinji was a no go for him, but Knitido DE has been one of the best options so far (I would also say Knitido Plus in the USA, but they only carry women’s smaller sizes).
The socks that I currently have are the ZAKASA Mens Toe Socks https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HNKXN8F (which is the same product as the Artfasion socks on Amazon). The toes are already longer than the Injinji socks. Are the toes on Knitido DE even longer than the Zakasa socks?
I wouldn’t know, I have one set of socks from Amazon but they don’t look the same as those. Just out of curiosity though I laid my Amazon ones on top of my Knitido socks and the Knitido toes were nearly .5cm longer than the Amazon ones.
The length of the big toe of the Zakasa socks when new and never washed is 4 cm. Here is a photo with a ruler. https://1drv.ms/u/s!Av6QisRejNEehV1IdS0KUBSbqdKy?e=bpE5YQ .
Do you know if the Knitido DE Socks are longer than that?
So, I got the Knitido DE socks, and they are made out of super stretchy material, so even though they look smaller than the Amazon socks I have, they are really bigger. Thank you for the recommendation!
Oh good. I have been meaning to get out my measuring tape for you but kept forgetting! I’m glad it worked out.
My son has webbed toes – his second and third toes are connected. Are there any toe socks that can be made to fit him?
For him I would suggest tabi socks – they have the big toe separated and the rest are one pocket. This article covers some tabi sock options. I have these ones from Bedrock and I quite like them.
Does anyone make toe socks in sizes bigger than 13?
I normally wear size 13 or 14 shoes, but my toes are really long.
Every brand I’ve tried so far have been too small.
Hey Josh, Creepers Socks goes up to size 14.5 on their chart so you might look into those!