Folding laundry recently, my mind wandering aimlessly, I wondered why socks seem to suddenly be so popular.

Maybe it didn’t happen suddenly and I’m just late to the party, but there seems to be a new fascination with socks.

It probably has to do with global warming. Since glaciers are melting and the weather – even in the Lowcountry – is all wonky, we now need socks more than ever.

For instance, recently we walked barefoot on the beach on New Year’s Day, but six days later our feet were freezing. And we don’t like for our feet to be cold, do we?

When I first moved here, in 1984, nobody wore socks. Ever. Even the bankers and real estate agents. Preachers. Doctors. Teachers. Lawyers. Nobody.

Generally, we lived in flip flops (or went barefoot) on weekends and wore sandals to work. When it got a little cooler, in February, we switched to deck shoes (except that boat people wore those ALL the time).

Now that has changed. Sure, there are a few who hold on to their sockless habit (don’t their loafers start to stink after a while?), and I know a couple of hardcore, hippy-like souls who continue to bare their soles in flip flops year round.

But I hardly ever see sockless professionals around town anymore.

What happened?

Cool socks. That’s what happened.

Several ago, my older brother started wearing holiday socks to work at his Big Bank job in Atlanta. He said he got a kick out of flashing a Santa hat at the regional vice president during a budget meeting.

Inspired, I started to collect Christmas socks – Santa, snowmen, pink flamingos in Santa hats. Then came the Valentine’s Day socks, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween.

Recently, though, have I started to notice interesting prints and patterns on everyday socks. And the choices are multiplying. Indeed, if one does a quick internet search for “cool socks,” one gets 41 million results. “Funky socks,” however, gets a mere 5 million returns.

Whatever your fancy, whether wine or bicycles or hedgehogs or avocados, you can find socks to suit it. You can buy socks bearing naughty slogans, socks that look like a beer tap on your calf, and socks honoring Albert Einstein.

Holiday socks have gone wild. Are you aware, for instance, that you could buy President’s Day socks with a portrait of Abe Lincoln and his top hat?

Let’s not forget the simply colorful socks. I recently bought a pair of socks for my colorful son – I don’t how many colors there are, and the two socks didn’t even match one another.

The funniest thing is, it seems to me that the formerly stodgy professional men – the first ones to start wearing socks after the no-socks years – are the very ones who are now wearing the funkiest of socks. We can tell their wives or girlfriends don’t dress them, because the socks seldom match any other part of their attire. But that’s okay.

A new philosophy has emerged. I found this quote on a sock website, noting that the philosopher probably wasn’t talking about socks, but it works anyway: “Philosopher Baltasar Gracian once said, ‘There must always be some novelty… The person who displays a little more of it each day keeps up expectations, and no one ever discovers the limits of his talent.”

There it is. We have explicit permission and even encouragement to wear cool, funky, novelty socks.

Here’s to no limits.