by Richard Dawkins
Stephen Potter, in one of his splendid “lifemanship” series of books, recommends odd socks as a woomanship ploy to arouse the maternal instincts (“Buy our patent Oddsox brand”). But there’s a much better reason to wear odd socks.
How many hours have been taken out of your life in quest of a matching sock? How many perfectly good socks have you wastefully thrown away simply because the matching sock is lost, or has a hole in it? Shoes and gloves, like proteins and many other molecules, have chirality: there’s a left one and a right one and you can’t rotate either to make the other. Hands are chiral, so are feet. But (with rare exceptions) socks are not. Socks fit feet more approximately than shoes, and any sock will fit the left or right foot equally well. So, unlike shoes, there’s no obvious reason why you have to buy socks in pairs. Theoretically you could buy a dozen identical socks and choose any two of them at random each day. If you lose one, no matter, you now have eleven from which to choose. But alas, as far as I know, socks are only ever sold in pairs. And that’s ridiculous.
My solution is to abandon the attempt to match socks altogether. Wear odd socks deliberately, the more different the better. Brazen it out. Wear one red and one blue sock, as I am today. Or one yellow and one green. I wouldn’t go so far as to wear odd shoes. I don’t think the fashion would catch on, and anyway it would be bad for the gait, might make you limp. But socks are another matter. Be bold. Make a fashion statement of odd socks. Fight the tyranny of the matching socks. Sock it to conformity. Be an individualist, not a slavish sock puppet. Matching socks suck.