Going Sockless in the Summer

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As a teenager,
flip flops were a staple for me in the summer. I would go through
a pair or two each season. But as I got older, I stopped wearing
flip flops. Why? Well, for starters, I realized that men have really
ugly feet and that most people probably don’t want to see my
ugly man toes all the time. Additionally, flip flops just became
too casual and adolescent for my maturing style sensibilities. As
I started to dress more “grown-up,” flip flops didn’t
seem to fit in anymore. Now I only wear them when I’m going
to the pool or the beach.

Despite giving
up on the flip flop, I still enjoy liberating my ankles and calves
by going sockless during the summer. Apparently a lot of other men
do too. I’ve noticed more and more men taking the sockless
route when wearing closed toed shoes. Walker Lamond from Rules
for My Unborn Son
picked up the sockless habit from his dad.
And many of the men in Esquire and other men’s magazines
are sporting shoes without socks.

But the first
time I decided to go the sockless route, I ruined a pair of shoes
and almost ruined my marriage (I kid about the marriage part). I
didn’t take any precautions when I decided to wear my low-top
Chuck Taylors sans socks, and in a few weeks I had a biological
hazard on my hands. I tried a few things to get rid of the odor,
but the stink was as entrenched as the BP oil spill. Thus the shoes
were sadly demoted from everyday wear to yard work use only.

This summer
I bought a new pair of Sperry
that I planned on wearing sockless. To avoid my boat
shoes suffering Chuck Taylor’s stinky fate, I looked into how
a man can go sockless without the smell. Here’s the lowdown
on what causes smelly feet and how I’ve kept my Top-Siders
smelling like petunias, or at least from overpowering toddlers and
small animals.

What Causes
Foot Odor

The key to
preventing foot odor when you go sockless is knowing what causes
your dogs to smell in the first place.

The main cause
of foot odor is sweat. While sweat is odorless, every drop of it
is a breeding ground for the bacteria that causes foot odor. Your
feet produce copious amounts of sweat because 1) your feet are packed
densely with sweat glands and 2) you stick your feet in shoes that
have little or no ventilation for hours a day.

Once you have
plenty of sweat going, the bacteria that live on your feet start
growing and producing smelly stuff. The main culprit for your stinky
feet is brevibacteria. These suckers eat the dead skin that sloughs
off your feet every day. After digesting your microscopic skin particles,
the brevibacteria expel methanethiol, a gas that smells sort of
like rotten cabbage. That’s right. Your smelly feet are the
result of millions of little bacteria letting out a huge collective

How to Prevent
Foot Odor When Going Sockless

To prevent
smelly feet you need to prevent two things: 1) sweat and 2) bacteria.
Here’s your battle plan.

1. Wash
your feet more frequently and vigorously with anti-bacterial soap.

I bet most men devote zero time to washing their feet while in the
shower. Like me, they probably think that the suds that wash down
their body are enough to clean their feet. When you decide to go
sockless, that just won’t cut it. Every day you need to destroy
the dead-skin-eating bacteria that causes foot odor. Scrubbing vigorously
with your favorite anti-bacterial soap will do just that.

2. Don’t
wear the same pair of shoes every day.
You need to give your
shoes time to dry out in-between wearings. Remember, a wet shoe
is a smelly shoe. Give your shoes at least a day of rest before
you put them back on. More time is better.

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19, 2010

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