I spent 3 hours at an airport thinking about socks

A 3-hour layover at Mumbai airport’s international terminal isn’t too bad. There are multiple things you could do — shop, watch Netflix, check something off your reading list by actually using that Kindle — which you bought specifically for the situation you are in right now — for once! But, I did what anyone who was spoiled for choice does — nothing! I just sat there near the boarding gate, looking at what everyone else was doing.

There were teenagers near the charging point shouting at each other — PUBG.

There was a girl in her early 20s crying in a corner surrounded by other girls — breakup.

There was a man in his early 30s working on his laptop, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and a funky pair of socks with sandals — wait… what!

Of all the airport looks that I’ve gotten used to over the years, this particular one I can’t quite wrap my head around! What was he thinking? I mean, I know Joan Rivers is long gone and may her malevolently beautiful soul RIP, but that doesn’t mean we are free to commit heinous fashion crimes as we please. We live in a civilized society, man!

Don’t get me wrong, just because I mentioned Joan Rivers doesn’t mean I’m being the Fashion Police here. I clean up good, but I’m no Manish Malhotra, and most importantly, I don’t have to be! Fashion isn’t some inaccessible piece of weirdness only for Bandra boys or South Delhi girls who keep taking very ‘grammable trips to LA… anymore. Not only do we have brands who make the latest trends affordable and accessible for almost everyone, but we’ve also evolved as human beings to get to a place in time where uniqueness is not just expected, but in a lot of cases, demanded!

Today, things are truly different. Just like the 9-5 workweek culture or the general interest in avocados, we the millennials have redefined how we interpret fashion choices — if not fashion itself. Yes, being on trend is still trendy, everyone is still expected to have a ‘style’. But no one is expected to simply follow.

Take socks for example. Just a couple of years ago, if you’d walked into an interview looking dapper head-to-toe, but wearing funky socks, that would have been enough for someone to make a quick judgment about your personality — most probably a bad judgment. That’s why we were all taught about color-coordinating our socks when we were kids — about picking the right shade, color, pattern, etc.

But when we became adults, ankle-length trousers were on trend. And with that, we saw an ironically short-lived death of socks. Yes, grown men started wearing shoes with no socks so that they can show off their ankles. They called it the ‘Mankle’ — as opposed to what? ‘Womankle’? Ugh!

But soon, thanks to athlete’s foot (I’m writing this with pure joy and a wide grin), these men realized maybe socks served an actual purpose — I mean, who knew, right?

Even so, they were not ready to let go of the Mankle, no sir! They found a way to show off their sexy ankles without getting athlete’s foot. That’s how no-show socks were born. And that went on for a while — I may even admit that I’ve also owned and donned more than one pair of no-show socks, and I’m a big enough person to accept your judgment.

But then a few years later, something strange started happening. Funky socks were born! Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit here — funky/crazy patterned socks have been a thing for a long time. But, it was always that one quirky dude in college or at work who’d wear those. But it made it to the ‘it’ list this time. We saw a Prime Minister wearing pairs after pairs of funky socks every single day! And he wasn’t your conventional quirky dude — he was a world leader. Justin Trudeau, the Canadian PM, used socks as a way to get into a lot of hearts and it may have been one of the best political strategies since Ronald Reagan stole debate notes from Jimmy Carter in the 1980 US Presidential Election.

Funky socks made Trudeau seem approachable and fun. It was not just him, America’s all-time sweetheart Ellen DeGeneres also started flaunting some fun prints on her feet while dancing and joking her way into our hearts. A lot of celebrities got with the trend, and people took notice.

We started seeing millennial managers and start-up professionals making funky socks a part of the work culture. This meant that sock companies started making more funky socks. Internet was filled with how-to articles, blogs, and videos on the new — more relaxed — rules of wearing socks.

And guess what all of these rules had in common? SHOES! You don’t even have to keep up with the latest trends or the evolution of socks to know that socks with sandals is not in. It’s never in. It will always be a fashion faux pas. There’s no excuse, really.

But then, we all know that when it comes to comfort, our generation is all in! Yes, we hustle, yes, we push ourselves beyond the accepted limit, but damned if we ever let our outfit or our socks hold us back!

So if we want to sit at an airport in some comfy apparel, working on a presentation, with our feet up on a chair wearing some fun socks with sandals, who’s going to stop us?

If a 30-year-old man was doing that right in front of me who was going to stop him? Me? Nope. I had a flight to catch.

Arjun has a lot of feelings about a lot of things, most of which he pens down. When he’s not at it, he’s clicking and editing portraits, which you can find on his Instagram (@notsoarjun).

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