By Michele Ward, the Uniform Girl – Michele Ward is the General Manager of Postal Uniform Discounters)
In a previous entry I wrote about postal shoes, including the care, history and styles. Now it is time to address another component of the postal uniforms that are important to your aching feet: the postal socks.
The USPS employee labor manual section on authorized uniform items does not offer too many clues on which socks can or can not be worn as part of the official uniform; it states “Calf-length, crew style, or quarter-length uniform blue-gray, black, or white with blue stripes” are approved socks. Each sock manufacturer must submit samples to the Natick Testing Facility of socks that they want approved to be sold on the postal allowance. I would imagine that they do some type of wear-test up there before certifying – I have a vision of a hamster running the wheel in blue striped postal socks but somehow think this might not be the method of testing! After contacting Natick, I have been told that socks are approved for the USPS based essentially on color and sizing, that they must be made domestically, and that they must be of commercial quality (any commercial type fiber is allowed). In recent years we have seen many new fabrics come into play for the comfort of your feet!
Traditionally, most of the postal approved socks are made of a mixture of cotton, nylon, and lycra, with cotton accounting for about 75% of fiber content. Breathable and comfortable due to the high cotton content, these “standard” socks are still the largest selling type of socks for postal workers.
Manufacturers have been coming out with an extra padded sock for years as well. Thorlo has been the market leader. Thorlo not only makes postal uniform socks but are also well known in the sporting goods, outdoor, and backpacking industries. The padded socks tend to concentrate extra cushioning, usually at the ball and heel of the foot. But unlike the “standard” postal sock, the extra cushioning socks are primarily made of acrylic, for its added durability and breathability. Most also have added nylon for increased wear.
Our newest offering is the X-static sock, which combines the comfort of mostly cotton with the addition of silver fiber. Naturally antimicrobial and anti static, the addition of the silver fiber helps these socks eliminate odor and move the moisture off of your feet and out through the fibers. And if you have handled as many returned worn postal shoes as I have, you would agree that many postal workers can benefit from these as they have stinky feet!
Another innovative sock is the Wright Anti-Blister socks. These double layered socks provide superior moisture management and protection from bacterial growth. The two layers of material move slightly to absorb friction, offering better comfort and helping to eliminate blisters. We have seen sales of these socks increase each year since we added them to our catalog, and we keep hearing good things about them. So I assume that they work, and work well!
About ten years ago a breathable waterproof sock was added to the product mix. When I first heard about the Sealskinz socks I didn’t believe that a waterproof sock would be breathable so I asked to wear-test a pair. I wore them while camping and hiking for about a week. Sure enough my feet stayed dry, cool, and blister free. After the wear test we at Postal Uniform Discounters (www.postaluniformdiscounters.com) started stocking this sock. It seems like we were onto something good, as nearly every postal uniform company copied us and started to sell this product as well. Sealskinz also now makes a waterproof breathable glove, and their products are used by various US military personnel here and overseas.
Up until a few years ago, postal approved socks only came in crew and over the calf lengths. The crew length comes up to the lower calf area, and the over the calf go up close to the knee. These two lengths did not incorporate what has been happening with sock wear in general, ankle and quarter lengths. So in 2005 the USPS added quarter length socks, which pull up to about the ankle. This has been a huge help to those who wanted to even out the tan on their legs down to their ankles!
So as you can see there are many new choices and options for socks that you can purchase with your USPS uniform allowance. We have even more choices on the sock page of our website, http://www.postaluniformdiscounters.com/postal-uniforms-footwear-socks.html. So come for a visit and do your aching, tired (and sometimes smelly) feet a favor!
To view all of the newest items please visit our website www.postaluniformdiscounters.com.