Curious about Boardroom Socks? In this hands-on review, we’ll discuss their offerings, what works and what doesn’t.
Born and bred in North Carolina, Boardroom Socks are a favorite around these parts. They took top placement in our objective over-the-calf sock test roundup back in fall 2019, and continue to put out a strong showing around the internet.
About Boardroom Socks
Socks are one of those things I think fall into two camps in menswear. They tend to be, comparatively speaking, quite affordable. So, it’s an accessible way for those starting their style journey to get in with a modest investment.
That said, some guys tend to go overboard with ‘statement’ or ‘funky’ socks- crazy patterns, small animals, or monocles. Perhaps you’ve been to (or in) a wedding where all the groomsmen had an equally crazy pair to go with their tux.
On the other hand, socks seem to be an afterthought for the more hardcore menswear nerds, who much prefer to invest in jackets and luxe trousers. But, there’s a place, I think, for a really good pair of socks.
Enter Boardroom Socks.
Born, bred, and still made, in the textile hotbed of North Carolina, Boardroom Socks is a family-run company. The James family started the company in 2010 when father Mike could no longer find the quality over-the-calf dress socks he’d worn for decades.
Pulling on seven generations of textile manufacturing in his family, he and his wife, Carol, started the business in their family home. Their youngest son, Nathan, joined, and before they knew it they had 15,000 pairs of socks in the attic!
They’ve expanded their business and their offerings, but remain dedicated to North Carolina businesses.
What’s on Offer?
Boardroom Socks began with offering over-the-calf dress socks in merino wool and pima cotton. They favor a classic color palate, and tend to avoid the loud socks with big patterns or cartoon characters on them.
The selection, though, has expanded quite a bit. While the natural extension was, of course, mid-calf socks in wool and cotton, Boardroom now offers summery no-show socks and winter-themed Donegal Tweed pairs.
Again, though, the colors are versatile and combine nicely with the blues, browns, and greys classic menswear tends to go for.
What I Tested
Boardroom was kind enough to send a range of styles in both wool and cotton. Over the course of the last year, I’ve worn, washed, and-in some cases-dried them in all kinds of environments.
I’ve worn them with foam-filled gym shoes to, well, go to the gym, and with dress shoes with leather insoles. I’ve worn them with golf shoes, loafers, and, on occasion, flip-flops to take out the trash.
Here’s the good news about Boardroom.
Fit and Durability
In the course of my initial review of over-the-calf socks, some of the pairs came in in funky sizes. Some were too big.
Even though they supposedly fit a range of sizes 8-12 (I’m a 10B in Allen Edmonds so it should be bang in the middle), the toe box was a little too big, the heel cup didn’t sit quite right, and the fabric bunched up.
Those sorted themselves out, though. Others, not so much. They fit fine out of the box, but if you accidentally ran a wool pair through a dryer cycle, they became mittens.
With Boardroom, that’s not the case. The fit is excellent out of the package.
The toe seam sits where it should, and the heel cup is comfortable. No slipping. No rubbing. No bunching. On top of it, after at least a dozen washes and a mix of air-drying and machine-drying, the fit has stayed the same, even on the wool ones.
Of course, one of the hallmarks of a good over-the-calf sock is it stays up all day. Even after a year of pulling them over my calves and running them through a washer and dryer, that’s still the case.
Unlike the elastic in some of my cheaper pairs, this holds up all day and doesn’t move. At the same time, though, they’re not compression socks squeezing my calves.
The wool itself also held up pretty well. I didn’t notice any significant pulling, pilling, or wear- even after a year’s worth of putting them through all kinds of environments.
Fabric and the “Smell Test”
Fantastic. Flat-out fantastic. Boardroom knits on 168 needle machines, which puts their socks at a comfortable (pun intended) medium between super-fine dress socks and the squishy tube socks you’ll find by the bargain rack.
That along with additional reinforcement in the heel and toe, makes for a sock that’s both comfortable and durable.
I tested both wool and cotton socks in weather ranging from the 20’s to the 90’s. Yes indeed, I wore wool socks in 90-degree heat. Why? Wool has natural aerating and anti-microbial properties, leaving your feet dry and able to breathe. More airflow=cooler piggies+less stink. That’s a win-win in my book.
That said, the cotton socks also performed well. Cotton tends to retain moisture and odor- and yes, there was definitely more here than in the wool pairs. That said, odor and moisture retention was just fine; even after a workout in these things.
Boardroom is on the more conservative end of the sock style spectrum. You won’t find any bow ties, monocles, or rubber chickens on these guys. If you’re the “funky sock” guy in your office or looking for a pair of “fun” socks for your groomsmen, it might not be the place.
But, if you’re looking for a classic and versatile pair, Boardroom is a solid option.
Even through multiple wearings, washings, and spins through my dryer, I didn’t notice significant color fading, either.
That was solidly in the middle of our over-the-calf sock round up. Some may consider it a little steep, but considering how they’ve held up over a year of use and that you’re supporting a small company employing local people, I think it’s actually a pretty good cost-per-wear value.
What Didn’t Work
Honestly, very little ‘didn’t work.’ I’d consider a couple of suggestions, though.
It wouldn’t necessarily have to be in the dress or mid-calf socks, but a little of that in a thicker sock would be very nice, indeed.
I noticed the fabric of my suit trousers catching on the over-the-calf socks in both wool and cotton-but particularly annoying with the wool ones. This resulted in some awkward bunching around my shins for the first few minutes after standing up.
Now, I don’t have an aggressive trouser taper (between 7.25 and 7.5 inches flat), so if you happen to need something slimmer, it may be worth considering.
There are a couple ways to mitigate this, though. First, the ‘catching’ is caused by static and friction in the wool fibers reacting with the wool in my trousers.
Rubbing a dryer sheet on your socks can help. Second, trying to find fully-lined trousers is helpful, too. But, that’s pretty hard to do. Fully-lined stuff may get toasty, too, especially if you tend to run hot.
Are Boardroom Socks worth it? After a year’s worth of wearing, washing, and drying, they’ve retained their top spot in my eyes. They fit fantastically well, are supremely comfortable, and hold up to your washing machine and drying in durability, color retention, and elasticity.
Are these the boldest socks on the market? Of course not. Is someone going to pull you aside and ask where you got them? Probably not. But, that’s not really the point. If you’re looking for a well-made pair to complement a versatile wardrobe, Boardroom is a great option to last you for years to come.
In an age where fast fashion still holds an uncomfortable amount of clout, something as simple as a well-made pair of socks is deeply satisfying to pull on.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!