Socks today are not merely padding between our soles and shoes, but rather another opportunity to express our trendy, classic or rugged selves. Clothing companies understand the elevated role footwear plays, with some going as far as betting their whole business model on helping people pick their pair of hosiery.

The Independent tried socks from sock sellers big and small to recommend what pair men slip on for everyday wear. The results ranged from pairs featuring polka-dot and bananas bunches to cushioned fabric to a pair inspired by an iconic US president. Beyond style, brands are offering classic cotton as well as blends with spandex, wool, alpaca, silk, and of course, luxurious cashmere.

The one thing that’s clear is it’s time to think beyond the plastic-wrapped multi-packs and department store nondescripts. Evaluate price, pattern and plushness when purchasing a pair. The socks featured here were worn at the office and weekend hangouts with friends and could help your sock drawer rival your closet.

1. Bombas Men’s Originals Calf Sock: $12, Bombas - Best Buy

New York City-based Bombas is one of the startups that have sprung up during the last few years aimed at changing how people purchase socks. Their original calf-high sock (63 percent cotton, 30 percent polyester, six percent rubber and one percent spandex) is loaded with “tech,” including arch support, extra padding on the sole, rubber on the top and a Y-stitched heel on the bottom. If a variety of colors and patterns is not enough, Bombas pledges to donate a pair of socks for every one purchased to shelters, community organizations and non-profits.

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2. Waddington - Cashmere Men's Pantherella Socks: $85, Pantherella

While many new players have slipped into the sock game in the last few years, some legacy brands just cannot be topped. Pantherella is one of those. The Leicester, England-based company has been making footwear for more than 80 years and is celebrated for its sartorial ribbed socks and opulent cashmere styles. To take your sock game to the next level, try the Pantherella Monogrammed Waddington (85 percent cashmere, 15 per cent nylon) socks marketed as “the most luxurious socks in the world.” They’re sure to be the first thing you will want to put on and the last you will want to take off.

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3. The Standard Crew Light: $20, Darn Tough Vermont

The Standard Crew Light socks feel almost strong enough to wear on a hike up the Green Mountains in Darn Tough’s home state of Vermont. The style is Darn Tough’s lifestyle offering, boasting all-weather comfort with a fit free of bunching, slipping and blisters. Better yet, the company offers an “unconditional lifetime guarantee” so shoppers can make returns if they run into any issues.

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4. Kennedy Lux Athletic Socks: $19.50, American Trench

The Kennedy Lux Athletic socks were inspired by a photo of U.S. President John F. Kennedy on a yacht. The footwear from Pennsylvania-based coat manufacturer American Trench offers a sock-drawer staple that can be worn with wingtips in the office or sneakers on street. The stripes up top, as well as toe and heel, add a pop of color to the classic crew look.

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5. Studio Sock: $10, Arvin Goods

You will hate to cover up the variety of bold, fun colors offered by Seattle-based Arvin Goods. The company’s studio sock are a great option for the sneaker wearer or person trendy/brave enough to pull off socks and sandals. The hosiery features terry loop padded footbed for extra comfort and, like all Arvin Goods’ basics, is made from 100 percent donated/upcycled materials with minimal water and no toxic dyes.

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6. Athletic Socks: $28, Lady White Co. 

If you’re going to spend more than $25 on a pair of socks you want to make sure you’re getting something special. At first, Lady White Co.’s no-frills, one-size athletic socks might not look up the task. But the organic cotton made in a 50-year-old hosiery factory in Nagoya, Japan offers snug yet breathable footwear that will ensure your money is well spent. The olive color, in particular, can be styled to wear for a 9-to-5-setting and beyond.

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7. Build Your Box - Small Box: $59, Nice Laundry

The founders of Nice Laundry set to solve many the woes of men’s hosiery — boring colors, missing socks and worn-out pairs — by allowing customers to build their own boxes of six to 18 pairs. The New York-based startup offers no-show and dress socks in patterns, including herringbone and arrow print, that will make you professionally standout at work or add fun flare on the go. The small box allows you to mix-and-match six pairs and styles and the initial order comes with a guarantee that if you don’t love the first pair you try you can send the rest back for a full refund.

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8. Banana Sock: $8.40, Happy Socks

The offerings from Stockholm-based Happy Socks are unlike anything most adults have in their sock drawer, featuring bright colors with bold symbols — including orange socks with watermelons, yellow socks with strawberries and pink socks with bananas. While the crew socks probably won’t be a good fit for the boardroom, having a pair on hand would look pretty fly with shorts or a rolled pant cuff and sneakers.

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Verdict: Best men's socks

Bombas socks are a close competitor to the hard-to-top Pantherella socks. You wouldn't go wrong if you went with either choice. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.