We’ve all seen them on the train, proliferating more and more throughout the last decade, no one’s really sure how it all started, but I’m not going to address the how, I’m going to address the why. I am of course referring to Jazzy Socks, specifically the type adorning many middle aged men.
The rise of the Jazzy sock is symptomatic of the desperate search for individualisation which the 9-5 has traditionally repressed, but which society is increasingly encouraging. While everything else has remained the same, suit tones of blue and black, which have been worn for decades, the Jazzy Sock has replaced the thin polyester black which for so long hid the varicose veins and sweat stains of men on the precipice of a midlife crisis. This replacement, has I’m sure, been slow and steady, building over the years like an orchestra like a slow crescendo to a cacophony of brilliant (thought hardly tasteful) colours and shapes. I’d love to meet the first man who braved them, though I’m sure he’s dead now and probably didn’t think it was much different from the festive ties at a work party. He’d be wrong though, this trail blazer of the Jazzy Sock started something, something which we as a society have ignored for too long.
It’s worth noting that the Jazzy Sock doesn’t proliferate in the media agencies and tech start ups where a modicum of self-expression and individualism is, if not openly encouraged, at least tolerated and accepted. (Trust me, I’ve been stalking the city, checking mens ankles for weeks). Perhaps there is a correlation between working environments where table tennis and foosball rule, as opposed to black brogues and North Korean-esque mandated haircuts, which make the otherwise unbearable reality of life tolerable. I’d encourage any Sociology Undergraduate to write a thesis proposal on the subject, at once!
However, maybe it isn’t the Jazzy Sock itself which we should be questioning. Personally I wear a variety of strange, and usually odd, socks. The problem I fear is in the contrast, compared to the rest of the outfit. It’s the equivalent to another Instagram photo of a Nando’s, with a thunderstorm of hashtags below, screaming, “I’m normal and mundane, BUT PLEASE RECOGNISE THAT I”M DIFFERENT”. It’s so clear that no one should, and perhaps doesn’t, care. (And yet here I am, for a start). He’s not too different from a teenager, trying to define himself yet undefinable. While the teenager will be defined with time, the Jazzy Sock man’s problem is different, he has been defined already, and somehow while he was sleeping his definition dropped off. He became the man he never thought he would, but he’s not ready to go full midlife-crisis, not just yet. When you glimpse the Jazzy Sock though, you already know, the trouser riding a little too high, the black leather shoe dangling precariously, and the myriad colours and shapes bouncing along with the kinetic force of the underground. You know exactly what to expect.
Even before you look, you know who’ll be sat opposite, yet you look anyway. The bespectacled, bald man (hair still on the sides, obviously), reading the Metro. You’re picturing him now, he’s a bit different for all of us, maybe he’s your Father, or your boss, an uncle. If you can’t picture him, give yourself the once over, it’s probably you. There’s no shame in being Jazzy Sock Man, they’re a product of their environment, the slow depredation of their dreams and personal flair over 25 years as a company man. They almost definitely live a full and active life outside of work, especially on the weekends. Those who don’t, tend not to have gotten past the thing black polyester garments of earlier fame. The Jazzy Sock Man however is rebelling, in his own small way. While his CV has grown, along with his responsibilities, but perhaps not his net income, he hadn’t noticed his personality slowly draining. Waking up one morning, and noticing he is no longer the creative and spritely graduate that university spat out, he scrabbles in the back of his drawn and finds the Jazzy Socks. Given as a gift by a child, forgotten for so long, and now finally it is their time to shine. He slips them on with a small grin, and heads to the office. Like the transvestite who wears women underwear underneath her male clothes, the Jazzy Sock Man has a secret. Except unlike the transvestite, every tube journey, or Boris bike used reveals this secret to the world.
It’s to little to simply celebrate Jazzy Sock Man as creatures in their own rights, indeed we should go further. We should encourage them to throw of the shackles and yoke of the dress code they so desperately want to flout. This is because the Jazzy Sock is only the first symptom in a much larger diagnosis. The stage before they start turing up in full biker leathers or lycra. This is the sign that something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the marriage, or the realisation that career progression after 40 slows dramatically, or perhaps they simply support Arsenal. Whichever it is, the Jazzy sock is their cry for help, its their Nixon contemplating authorising the Watergate break-in. They’ll probably do nothing so drastic as Nixon, and manage to get over it in their own way, but you can make it easier for them. When you next see your Jazzy Sock Man give him a smile, or perhaps a hug. He’ll feel the warm grow from his bejewelled toes, to his heart, and know that it’s all going to be alright.
(But whatever you do, please don’t tell him about Topman boxer shorts, no one wants to see that starting to rise above the belt line when he bends to scoop up his dropped motorbike keys.)
Now I must leave you, to contemplate women who wear Floral Blouses.