The 1980’s spawned a number of dubious fashions, with the usual suspects of big hair and shoulder pads normally being mentioned first. However, during my teenage years the fashion it was cool to be seen sporting was the simple Terry Towelling sock.
Doesn’t sound all that fashionable, does it?
Looking back, this obviously came out of one of those rebellious teenage moments where kids don’t want to have to conform to rules. In this case, the rule was one of school uniform. In my secondary school, boys were only supposed to wear dark coloured socks with proper shoes. This wasn’t a particularly strict rule. It wasn’t “thou must weareth black socks”, just dark coloured sufficed. Despite this, the teenage rebels fought back by wearing their sports socks and trainers at all times. At this time the sports sock of choice was the short terry towelling kind that came up above your ankle but not quite as high as a normal pair of socks.
How the teachers quaked at this show of insubordination! Well, actually, no. They didn’t. On the odd occasion you might be told off for wearing trainers, but the white socks usually went unnoticed. Let’s face it, the teachers were more interested in getting into the staff room for a quick fag and a cup of coffee. Oh, and at our school, a game of pool. If you were sent to the staff room for any reason (punishment or otherwise) you could just make out the pool table at the back of the room, through the haze of smoke. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had a bar and some optics on the wall too.
Returning to the topic of socks though, fashion trends brought us the neon sock, normally in semi-luminous yellow, pink or green, and occasionally orange. Quite why these were deemed fashionable I’m not sure, but they were, and it wasn’t long before they started to replace their white cousins at school. In this instance, the retina searing colours appeared to do the trick, and it wasn’t long before the headteacher was forced to stand in assembly and decree that white and neon socks were not school uniform and that boys must return to wearing dark coloured socks. This worked, except amongst the die hard trouble makers, for probably a week or so, but as soon as the heat was off, so to speak, white socks slowly began to be worn again, although the neon versions didn’t put in quite so many appearances from then on.