Fashion fails when it flaunts flash but scrimps on comfort. But here's a stylistic direction that's all about luxury with the lowest of profiles: wrap your feet in socks made of super fabrics like cashmere, merino wool and silk.

Harris Reiss, who sells top-end custom clothing for J. Lucas Clothiers, asserts that men should pamper, not ignore those workhorses of the human body. To that end he sells socks made of white Mongolian cashmere. If that seems extravagant, consider that the fabric gets enormous insulation value with the least bulk. It also feels and looks great, and the price has actually dropped in the last decade. "They're like shirts," says Reiss. "Why not have a group of socks in each color?"

Of course, the solid-color arc isn't the only one to follow. Pantherella, the stalwart British hosiery concern, makes a splash with a selection of patterns and solids. Simon Mendez, whose British Apparel Collection imports Pantherella to the United States, adds that it isn't all about appearance, however. A good cashmere sock should have some component of nylon for its inherent strength. Pantherella's is woven throughout in a grid pattern, rather than by twisting nylon around cashmere thread. Another key element to a great sock is hand-linked toes.

When you reach this level of stocking refinement, some compensation must be made to fabric care. You can machine-wash at low temperatures both cashmere and merino socks (inside out is best), but let them drip-dry to avoid shrinking.

A new wrinkle in the quality hose game comes from GoldToeMoretz, which has employed that latest of luxury fabrics—bamboo—in its Gold Toe sock collection. It mightn't sound inviting, but the micro-thin fibers mined from the super-strong chutes of the bamboo plant act similarly to thread of very fine wools; i.e., they render an incredibly soft fabric. Bamboo socks are not worn for warmth like the woolens, but for their cooling properties. And best of all, these tough little socks can stand up to the heat of a dryer.

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