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Bric-a-Brac: L is for...

Luminous socks

Along with deelyboppers, the epitome of ghastly-but-fun fashion nonsensista that the 1980s retched out, with high street clothiers quickly noticing the potential of these pop star endorsed bits of garish towelling fabric and stocking (arf) them in large baskets with big arrowed signs above. Possibly the first time socks were ever cool, children everywhere insisted on owning a pair of pink, yellow, green and orange and then, in a further innovation, wearing a different colour on each foot every day. The material wore out at the heel very swiftly and was at the total mercy of the unpedicured, while the non-towelling type preferred by teenagers proved slightly more durable, but still looked hideous (and, as a quick experiment involving a cancelled lightswitch attested, were not actually luminous). Schools went so far as to ban them, even in primary establishments where uniform wasn’t compulsory, and the craze had mercifully bitten the dust by 1986.



  1. Keir Hardie

    January 13, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Guilty as charged. Towelling, non-matching. My own independent innovation, as it probably was for many others, as it was so obvious.

  2. johnnyboy

    January 13, 2010 at 10:50 pm

    Fluorescent they were, indeed. I had a green pair; towelly, short of length, but bought for one purpose: to wear whilst I ran the Falkirk half-marathon in 1984 on the premise that if I did keel over into a ditch, my day-glo pins sticking out would alert the appropriate authorities to clad me in tinfoil and shove a Mars Bar down my throat.
    In the end I felt so good at the last (it ended in the local sports stadium) I sprinted the final 400 yards, whereupon a do-gooder track-side marshall grabbed me just before the finish and told me this was for people who had actually run the full 1/2 marathon (he thought I’d just jumped out from the crowd and sprinted for the finish-line). Twerp.

  3. Adrian

    January 14, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Don’t forget legwarmers, those none more 1983 items of clothing that were all the rage for about 2 weeks..

  4. Martina

    January 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Oh dear. Not only were my favourite luminous socks a garish yellow, they also had plastic fruit charms dangling from them! C&A, what were you thinking?!

  5. Richard Davies

    August 9, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    I remember my cousin wore non matching ones in 1985.

    They seemed to have mini-comeback in 1989 to wear with Burmuda shorts.

  6. johnnyboy

    November 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I have 5 pairs of black/coloured striped socks (non-towelly kind), each set differing in colour stripes that I wear whether they match or not. It’s nice when folks at work point out that my socks don’t match. I just give them a look as if to say “…and?”

  7. Arthur Nibble

    November 30, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Struggling to find a present for me on honeymoon last year, my wife bought me a three-pack of pink, yellow and lime green socks. We’re still together!

  8. Matthew Burlem

    March 3, 2011 at 3:08 am

    I was always a pedantic sod and got annoyed with people calling them ‘luminous socks’ when they actually meant ‘fluorescent’, cos ‘luminous’ means that it glows in the dark!

  9. Joanne Gray

    May 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    I never had the socks, but I remember with fondness a pair of luminous green fingerless gloves that I rarely had off my hands because I loved them so much.

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