Notoriously ugly and often uncomfortable, choosing the best compression socks for women can be difficult. Once strictly the provenance of grandmothers, in recent years, these accessories have come into their own as one of the hottest trends in athletic performance gear. During that time, the marketplace has become crowded with sock options in varying levels of compression, performance fabrics, sizes, and thankfully, styles.
While I can’t guarantee you’ll be sporting any of these stylish compression socks at Paris Fashion Week next year, they’re definitely way more attractive than those of the past, and what’s more, you’ll find that there are models specifically designed to fit your needs, no matter what those needs may be. Designed to increase circulation and blood flow throughout the legs in order to reduce pain and provide a re-energizing effect, you may find that compression socks are a helpful accessory if you have a job that puts you on your feet for large parts of the day (nurses have sworn by them for years); if you’re a runner or hiker, or participate in other athletic activities that also rely on lots of leg/foot use; and of course if you travel a lot. Pregnant moms also may find compression socks especially beneficial in helping to relieve the swelling that goes hand-in-hand with this stage of life, although as with anything else during pregnancy, you’ll want to consult your doctor before giving them a try, to make sure they’re right for you.
Here’s my look at five of the best compression socks by need.
1The Best For Standing On Your Feet All Day: A Pair Popular With Nurses To Combat Pain and Soreness
Arguably, few people spend more time on their feet at work than nurses. Go2 Compression Socks has received hundreds of positive reviews from nurses across the country for their 20 to 30 manometers of graduated pressure as well as their panoply of bright designs. Extra cushioning on the sole adds bonus comfort. This brand is unisex, but is offered in four sizes, so be sure to consult the size chart included on the page before ordering.
- Available sizes: Small - X-Large
2The Best For Travel: Cult-Favorite Compression Socks The Jetset Swear By
Word has it that one highbrow Manhattan travel writer simply won’t fly, especially on long-haul trips, without Wanderlust Air Travel Compression Socks. Offering true medical-grade graduated compression beginning at 25 to 30 manometers of pressure at the foot and ankle and descending up to the knee, this sock comes with a 100 percent “love at first sight” satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer. It also gets the recommendation of more than 1,200 Amazon users, who give it 4.5 stars.
- Available sizes: Medium-Large (women's shoe size 5-9), Large-X-Large (women's shoe size 9.5-12)
3The Best For Running: Socks That Use Bands Of Compression To Reduce Muscle Fatigue And Damage
Runners are known for literally pounding the pavement, so it stands to reason that they’d be picky about protecting and revitalizing their feet. 2XU Striped Compression Socks reduce vibration and increase airflow and moisture management, and provide antibacterial and SPF 50 sun protection. While these socks offer lighter compression than the above-referenced brands, they do boast 360-degree knit construction for a consistent pressure.
- Available sizes: X-Small-X-Large
4The Best For Pregnancy: A Pair With Graduated Compression And Extra Space In the Toes
Designed specifically for women, Fytto 1020 compression socks feature a roomier toe box, which is a key asset during pregnancy to help keep those swollen feet comfortable while still forcing blood volume upward. They offer true graduated compression to effectively revitalize the body and reduce leg discomfort and swelling due to poor blood circulation, and cuffing that provides compression to the base of the knee without being too constricting, reducing potential skin marks due to tightness.
- Available sizes: Small-Large
5The Best To Try: Socks With Moderate Compression, Airflow, And Moisture Control
If you're intrigued by the idea of compression socks but are wary of how intense and constricting they can be, these socks from Sockwell are a great starting place. They offer moderate, graduated compression for all-day wear, with a seamless, non-abrasive toe closure. Additionally, their cashmerino-rayon blend incorporates bamboo to provide natural odor control, thermoregulation, and moisture management.
- Available sizes: Small/Medium-Medium/Large
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