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Cotton, Polyester or Merino Wool: What are the best materials for socks?

Blog, News • 18 June 2023

Confused by cotton? Want to know more about Merino? Puzzled by Polyester? When it comes to choosing the best material for your socks, we like to think of ourselves as the experts. 

We understand that socks must be both stylish and comfortable, crafted from the finest materials to keep you – and your feet – happy whenever you’re wearing them. 

Socks are a fundamental part of your wardrobe and are some of the hardest-working items of clothing you can own. You may not consider the finer details of socks on a daily basis but that is what we’re here for. 

Three of the most common sock materials are Cotton, Merino Wool and Polyester. But which ones are best for your feet? 


Simply Active Cotton White

One of the most common materials for clothing, cotton offers breathability, durability and comfort. London Sock Company designs are primarily made with the finest Scottish Lisle Cotton, from our flagship Simply Sartorial styles to our 100% Cotton socks. 

Cotton offers moisture-control

Cotton is naturally absorbent and lightweight so it is an excellent material for socks, especially for more fast-paced activities. This is where our Simply Active and Simply Trainer styles excel, as they combine performance and comfort while playing sport or simply walking for long periods of time.

The best for soft and breathable socks

Cotton socks will keep your feet cool and dry, which prevents any lingering odours throughout the day. Breathability is a key component of what makes a sock comfortable and high-performing – particularly with sports socks. As an added bonus, our Simply Active socks have an anti-bacterial treatment to avoid any ‘old gym socks’ smell. 

Cotton is a hypoallergenic material

Soft on skin, cotton doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or materials that may aggravate any sensitivities you have. Socks should feel and look great, however or wherever you wear them.

Merino Wool

Merino Wool in Royal Navy

Merino Wool is one of nature’s highest-performing materials. As it is much thinner and softer than regular wool, it is the perfect material for socks. Our Merino Wool styles are finely crafted from this luxury fibre and offer several excellent benefits. 

Merino Wool regulates temperature

Merino wool adapts to the temperature. When it’s cold, the natural fibres bend to trap in air and insulate your feet and when it’s warm outside, the wool moves sweat away from your body to keep you cool. This impressive natural process ensures that Merino Wool can be worn throughout the year.

Wool is odour resistant

Merino wool has antimicrobial properties that naturally repel odour-causing bacteria. This means you can wear our Merino Wool socks for a long period of time, even on the warmest of days, without worrying. 


Unlike Merino Wool and cotton, Polyester is a manufactured material. This synthetic fibre is formed of tiny strips of plastic woven finely together – so small you have to use a microscope to see them. Polyester is often used in clothing because it is very durable, it does not need any special care and it is very strong. Without a doubt, these are excellent qualities to have in some items of clothing but as there are several concerns when it comes to wearing this material.

Comfort issues

Polyester does not absorb moisture, so these socks can feel uncomfortable on warmer days, cling to your skin and retain unwanted odours.

Lack of breathability

Another one of the biggest issues with Polyester is a lack of breathability. As the fabric is created from plastic fibres, it does not allow for air to flow through it, which increases heat and discomfort


Polyester is a byproduct of petroleum so there are also several ecological concerns with its manufacturing and inability to be recycled. In a world of fast fashion, polyester socks contribute to the world’s growing clothing waste problem. 

Not suitable for sensitive skin

As with many man-made materials, Polyester is not hypoallergenic so can cause uncomfortable reactions and irritations on the skin.

Browse our Cotton and Merino Wool sock styles

A draw full of London Sock Company socks

At London Sock Company, we steer clear of 100% Polyester designs and design our socks with materials that we know are comfortable, breathable, and natural.

Discover our Simply Sartorial, Simply Active, Simply Trainer, 100% Cotton socks, and Merino Wool styles for high-quality, long lasting socks crafted from the best natural fibres. 

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