To choose one sock from each of infinitely many pairs of socks requires the Axiom of Choice, but for shoes the Axiom is not needed.

Bertrand Russell

Practical? Of course they are – they keep your feet warm, they absorb perspiration from your feet, they provide insulation against frostbite in extreme conditions. The word we use today derives from Old English “Socc” which means “light slipper” and from Latin “soccus” a “low-heeled shoe”. Sometimes made from skins, leathers and even matted animal hair. From 16th Century machine-knit socks were first produced along with the previous hand knitted versions too. Today they are nearly all made by machines – in silk, cotton, wool, hair etc.

So – do not think of the sock is as a banal object to be ignored or disrespected nor left with a hole in the toe!

I remember first visiting Italy nearly 25 years ago and seeing how all the Italian men were wearing their trouser hems so much higher than I had ever seen before. This high hem or shortness of the trouser leg left their socks on full view to the world. It was a revelation to me however I wasn’t brave enough to try the look. I returned home to conservative England happy with trousers breaking at my shoes and my socks only on view, peeping out quietly as I walked.

I can however happily announce that after 11 years of living here in Florence my trouser legs have been proudly and gloriously raised up and my socks are on  full display to world!

This of course gives so much opportunity to play. A simple and elegant grey suit with an added POW of an orange striped knee length sock. Navy casual trousers revealing lion faces on a green background of soft cotton (again knee high). I think I am hinting here that knee high socks are the norm for me.

There are socks everywhere from Zara to H&M to almost every menswear store however here in Florence there is gem of a store that has been here since 1895, located in Via Porta Rossa 45/r. It is called:

I cannot tell you enough how worthwhile a visit to this store is. They sell undergarments of all types, stockings, sleepwear ( I have a night shirt from with the most elegant piping and soft, soft cotton), pocket squares, handkerchiefs, even a bra carrier and of course what seems like an endless supply of SOCKS.

Don’t be afraid to enter the store – the windows will certainly grab your attention – they are almost bordering  a little exhibitionist in their openness -by displaying colourful underwear, stocking and bras etc. As you enter this tiny store you are greeted by wonderful helpful staff standing behind a huge wooden desk (probably the original one from 1895) who know every single product in the store.

It is at this point that a special magic and dance begins that puts every other store that sells such articles firmly in their shadow. As you ask for socks or underwear or any other item (none of which are visibly displayed I have to add here), the folks in Quercioli & Lucherini run around stresslessly and with certainty in finding box after box, which as they open before you they reveal just what you were looking for. I think of it as a style of “choreography of intimates”. Imagine also a  bank safety deposit box vault where long containers are gently removed from their spaces and opened to reveal their secrets – IT’S THE SAME IN HERE I PROMISE. An experience absolutely not to missed.

My suggestion to you – when you’re invited to a dinner party or other gathering  and you have to find something  to take for the host(s) – perhaps wine? Everyone does that. Flowers maybe? Of course but they’ll last a short time. The good old dependable chocolates? Good idea but where’s the wow? How about considering SOCKS? – in a  colour loved by the host, a pattern perfect for him or her, something to bring a smile maybe. I can guarantee that every time I have gifted socks from Quercioli & Lucherini they have proven a big hit! I have to admit also that I take a little pride and satisfaction in the fact that the wines and chocolates brought by my fellow guests are quickly whisked away into the kitchen while my socks are opened to oohs and arrhs and voices of congratulations for such an original gift (perhaps from this posting I can no longer claim the original part – you’ll all be doing it!)

It is sad that we see so many unique and niche stores disappear and larger “all-in-one” stores open up – I implore you don’t let them all die – ESPECIALLY this one. If you’ve never been there just pop in I am sure you fall in love with it. You’ll want to see this dance of finding the article, you’ll want to walk out with something, you’ll want to bring an original gift to the right person too. Invite me to dinner and I’ll bring the socks!