I’m not really one for fashion. My outfits are usually some mix of generic pants and plain shirt of varying colour. Maybe I’ll add a nice jacket here and there, but summer usually pulls a plug on that. I do however, have quite the large collection of socks. This isn’t the most remarkable fashion statement, but it something that I quite enjoy. It’s also, in a way, my way of dealing with some of my own insecurities.

When I was younger, say about 3 or 4, I used to have some very nice Bananas in Pyjamas socks. I was immensely proud of these, which my parents probably caught onto as for my birthday they bought me a couple other pairs. Now this would make for quite the nice origin story, a lad of 4 getting his first pair of ‘cool’ socks and steadily making it a defining characteristic. This, sadly, isn’t the start of how I came to have a large collection of socks. The deterioration of this rather nice tale is because of bullying.

Now my memory is hazy on the specifics, it was a very long time ago and something I’ve dealt with quite a while ago, but I can tell you it started in the local playgroup I went to. One of the boys who I attended the group with was described as “naughty.” I’m not 100% sure what led him to treat me poorly, but that’s really beside the point. What is the point, is that he teased me about my socks, and even at one point stole them when I’d taken them off to play in the sand. I guess in the end I felt that my socks made me a target, and by the time I was attending school full time I’d taken to wearing very plain black or grey socks.

Now another point about the socks I wear, they are usually about quarter leg length. This was also something I felt insecure about at first. During late Primary School and through High School, I felt as if wearing long songs made me uncool, and thus a target. So, for reasons of wanting to appear cool, I wore my socks short, which sometimes, I’m rather embarrassed to admit, I would tuck the front part of my socks under so I could wear them like ankle socks. I can’t really place what led to the change, but I do feel the confidence I gained through dealing with my mental health problems played a part. A chance encounter with a pair of socks that I found rather intriguing placed me back on the path that bullying had strayed me from.

Most of my socks I’ve bought myself, preferring my own taste in socks over that of others. Best places I can recommend for socks are the Fremantle Markets, there’s a very nice little store that sells some very stylish socks. I have however received some socks as gifts, and I must admit the blue ones with boxer dogs on them are a particular favourite of the gifts I’ve received, both comfortable and stylish.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why I choose socks to express myself, in some ways it’s one of the more cost-effective means to dabble in fashion, but at the same time it’s also reclaiming part of myself that I lost to bullying and insecurity. Honestly, whenever I have some smile at me after noticing my socks or paying me a short compliment, often even asking where I bought them, it makes me feel a bit more confident in my sock collection. Also, if we’re being honest, it’s just an incentive to get some more socks.

Words by Mike Anderson, art by Chakris Srisuwan.

This article first appeared in print volume 88 edition 3 SOAP.