Dear Dr. Boli: Where are all my socks? I keep buying socks, and I am absolutely certain that they come from the store in matched pairs. I have taken the trouble to verify this fact by noting each purchase in my diary (for I believe that a well-rounded gentleman ought always to keep a diary, so that his descendants may read the improving and edifying record of his accomplishments, or, in my case, of my purchases of socks). Yet my socks drawer, in which I allow no other species of clothing, contained, at last census, one hundred twenty-three individual socks, no two of them alike. Where are the rest of my socks? ——Sincerely, The Gentleman on the Corner with One Checked Sock and One Mauve Sock.

Dear Sir: Identical socks, like identical magnetic poles, have a strong mutually repulsive force. Nature does not easily tolerate two identical socks in close proximity. With our strong human preference for categorization and organization, we attempt to keep matched pairs together, but nature rebels and separates the pairs at the earliest opportunity.

As to where your particular socks have gone, that depends on many variables, the most important of which is how long you have been missing them. The natural force of repulsion continues to operate as long as the socks exist. If you lost a sock yesterday, it may be in your neighbor’s house. If you lost it last week, it has probably already crossed the state line and may be beyond the jurisdiction of any local authorities. Eventually your missing socks will end up as far away from their mates as they can get, which in your case is a point in the Indian Ocean several hundred miles west-southwest of Kudarup, Western Australia. If you intend to search for your missing socks, that is the place Dr. Boli would advise looking first.


  1. Frances S. Key says:

    That explains everything! I think sock repulsion is the answer to why I walk funny.

  2. Virginia says:

    Lol Frances S., your post is funny. You should have a look at the website, there is a solution to the lonely sock. You insert the SockFix clips in your socks, so they stay together (you do not lose socks…or better said…one sock…anymore). They stay matched as well during the whole laundry process (washing-drying-storage)! Sorry to say that Dr. Boli but I think that this system “kills” the repulsive force you are talking about.

  3. Caren says:

    And here I always thought it was the dryer vortex…

  4. Peter "MoMo" Carducci says:

    As an astrophysicist, I can tell you with great accuracy, that there is a little known layer of the earth’s atmosphere where these missing socks are found. It is known as the “hozone” layer.

  5. JaneC says:

    Virginia–great link! Unfortunately, that doesn’t do me any good with my husband’s socks, as the mates go missing before they ever make it into the wash (since worn socks are discarded at any convenient location in the house).

  6. Robert St. Agamemnon-Fargy says:

    My solution is to buy socks in three’s instead of pairs. That way when one inevitably goes missing you’ll still have a matching pair left.

    Also, limit your color choices to black and white. This not only makes shopping easier, but laundering and sorting as well, especially if you’re color-blind.

  7. Virginia says:

    Hi JaneC, thanks for the post ;-) Actually, to reply to your comment, the clips are to be inserted just once (and for good), of course you can insert them whenever you want, but I personnaly use to insert them before the first wash, right after buying them. And I can tell that (for real, no kidding) I did not lost any socks anymore. Moreover you save time as you do not need to match them (thay are always matched) and you do not need pegs while drying. Anyway, JaneC, I hope this post may help you to see clearly…

  8. Goznor says:

    It’s the work of a Sock Monster. They eat socks and poop randomly-shredded bits of paper. I must have at least three of them infesting my home.

  9. SockFix? How silly! Always buy identical socks – you will then have at most a single unpaired sock.


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