Are ski socks worth 20 bucks?

Ask Dr. Flake

Can you really put a price on superior warmth, breathability, and read-to-me-by-the-fire coziness? Um, yes. Just ask Lord Wigwam or Lady SmartWool, who demand, and regularly receive, double digits for their regally comfortable stockings. It's not a total sham: Ski socks aren't like the white tubers made by Guatemalan orphans and sold for $5 per three-pack at Wal-Mart, where another nonunion exploitee probably put them on the shelf. No sir. With bourgeois-pig ski socks, you've got padded shin reinforcements, superior cuffs that won't slip down, and materials (such as wool and synthetic blends) that wick, dammit, wick. SmartWool also builds in elasticized arch and ankle braces to keep the sock in place in your boot. And, judging by the 1989 neon-and-stripe-motif stockings still swimming around Doc Flake's snake-handler's-dream of a sock drawer, ski tubes have an impressive life expectancy. They may not be worth 20 bucks, but they're definitely worth the $19.95.