When it comes to something as basic as socks, you might not think there would be much difference between one pair and another. Stylish men and serious athletes know better. They also know this: It's hard to improve on a classic. Wigwam has been making socks in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, since 1905 and is responsible for many of the innovations you've never thought much about, including the colored toe seam and the integration of stretchable, breathable nylon fiber into wool. But the brand doesn't invent for the sake of invention. These Badger Staters know a good thing when they see it.
And the brand's classic El Pine socks are a very good thing, indeed. When you think of a classic boot sock, the El Pine – a marled number made of homespun ragg wool reinforced at the heel and toe – is probably what springs to mind (even if you didn't know its name). The wool in this sock is sourced from American yarn spinners, and the whole thing is constructed domestically to ensure maximum quality. Though Wigwam now does a fast trade in technical socks for skiers, boarders, and outdoorsmen, the company hasn't changed the process of constructing an El Pine since 1948 because there is really no room for improvement.
Let the ultrarunners and polar explorers have the more complicated stuff. We're sticking with the El Pines because they're thick enough and tall enough to shield our shins when we pull our boots tight and because they heat up perfectly if you lay them across a radiator for five minutes before pulling them on. Classics stay classic for a reason. [$15; wigwam.com]