clock menu more-arrow no yes
Tommaso Boddi/Getty

Filed under:

Grippy Barre Sock Death Match

We put five studios' barre socks to the test

Imagine a world where you go to barre class and you don’t forget socks. Hell, imagine a world where you don't even need use them. What would happen?


Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

I’ve long believed that something is *up* with this sock business — and I use the word business, because that’s what it is. We’re all silently forking over tens of dollars to prevent ourselves from slipping, but has that ever even happened? Is it all a conspiracy, or is the world of doing faux-ballet in regular workout socks a fiery hellhole we should never allow ourselves to know exists!?

While I’m trying to hold myself back from the edge of thinking the entire fitness world is a farce, let’s chat about the reasons grip socks are used in the first place. It’s said that wearing socks during your workout increases circulation, helps you grip onto slippery surfaces, and makes for more enjoyable enhanced cushion or comfort or who knows.

Image: Carlye Wisel

Studios are making so much money — so much!! — off branded grippy socks, but they can’t all be worth it. So, in order to make sure your fiscal footie investment worth it, we’ve pitted socks from five leading barre studios — Pure Barre, Pop Physique, The Bar Method, Physique57 and Exhale — against each other, like they’re all front row-types trying their best not to drop their weights first during arm circles.

Could this be the most arbitrary thing you’ll read all day? Oh, definitely. But if you’ve blown money on socks with puff paint doodle dots on the bottom, you’re part of this, like it or not. We may as well put our investigative reporting chops to good use, because soon you’ll only have one pair to buy, no matter where you barre:

On To The Challenges!

Are you even going to like them after being forced to grab a pair at 9:59 when the class starts at 10? Let’s find out:

General Fit, Feel and Comfortability

Being the sweatiest person in barre class sucks, and I’d know, because it’s always me. When grip socks are too thick, they just cause you to overheat like an off-brand iPhone charger. None of these five were straight up woolen, but the Exhale organic cotton blend used for their Core Fusion classes felt more like a dress sock and while Bar Method’s cotton pair fit snug and comfortable like a low-cut athletic sock, the sizes ran small and a bit too thick. The thin material of Pop Physique’s was soft and comfortable, but still, the top-of-foot elastic takes some getting used to.

Winners: Pure Barre and Physique57. Pure Barre’s were easily the softest with the best fit, and Physique’s ran a close second for generally feeling high-quality and worth the spend.

Design and Style

Boutique fitness is expensive enough, and having to fork over $12ish bucks for yawnsville socks because you foolishly wore Birkenstocks to class really puts a damper on the look-at-me-I-made-here-without-faking-sick! parade you’re allowed to throw yourself afterwards. If you’re gonna splurge on socks you can’t even wear inside a normal pair of shoes, they may as well be cute, right?

Sadly, most grip socks are exactly what you’re picturing, and most of these are those. Physique57’s monogrammed tab feels super-luxe, but they’re still more straightforward than stylish. Bar Method gets some bonus points for making them in every shade of the Crayola rainbow (they even have yellow!) and while Exhale’s are similar to the others, they’re a little, er, manlier, and not fun enough to make the half-a-class cost worthwhile.

Winner: Pop Physique. The cute pastels! The inventive use of a thin material! That top hole! Have you ever heard of a grip sock bordering on sexy? Exactly. Trophy emoji deserved.

To The Performance Ring!

This is what really matters — are these socks even worth it? We investigate:

Planking On A Wood Floor

Otherwise known as the slipperiest surface around, right? It’s insane that we workout on a polished side of a tree, but hey, until someone creates my dream gymnastics-pilates hybrid class, we accept the world we’re given.

I’ve often attempted planks at classes and blamed my socks for why I couldn’t stay upright — but also have fallen flat on my stomach because those damn dots weren’t far enough down and an actual sock material on hardwood floors makes for brilliant low-budget ice skating. Pure Barre, Exhale (which has wooden floors), and Physique57’s all couldn’t hold their ground while planking-to-pike, and though The Bar Method’s was by far the best of the conventional ankle options, it couldn’t beat…

Winner: Pop Physique. Their new design made for the only pair with grippy dots all the way up to the toes, easily making for the best grip on the same surface that’s inside their classrooms.

Plié-ing On Carpeted Surface

I’ve never understood why some barre studios opt for wall-to-wall carpet their joints. Isn’t that impossible to get sweat out of? Isn’t that just a terribly slippery surface for movement? Oh my gosh do you think that’s why the studios are carpeted?! Sorry, sorry, I’ll keep the conspiracy theories to myself and just stick with evaluating the sock equivalent of candy buttons.

Carpet for the most part tends to work fine with all five pairs unless you’re on your tiptoes; then you’ll need all the help you can get. All the socks tested passed our carpet test on a surface similar to the one found on The Bar Method, Physique57 and Pure Barre’s studio floors, but when doing the dreaded plank pose, they slipped and slid under the pressure.

Winner: Pop Physique. Again! Their grippy dots act like a magical kickstand to keep you from sliding.

Popping Your Tush Up On A Mat

There’s always some sort of an ass-dance in barre class that involves you sticking your heels further off the ground than even Christian Louboutin himself would encourage. Physique57, Exhale and The Bar Method all worked decently on a black plushy mat, but still, there was definite slip.

Winner: Pop Physique and Pure Barre. The grip ability between the two was both impeccable and too close to call.

So, which pair should you invest in?

Definitely Pop Physique.

Image: Baltimore Sun/Getty

Their ballet-inspired design alone is worth owning a pair, and the grips prove to hold on more tightly than a Tinder date who simply cannot get the hint. Never has a sock stood up to so much while looking so good. And what are those dots made of, rubber cement? The performance level on these is out of this carpet-lined or wood-paneled world. But, if you’re a traditionalist who’s into the black tank-black leggings-black socks look, Pure Barre’s are a strong contender and worthy buy, as they’re the best of the full sock options. They’ll take you through any workout, and if you slip a little bit during planks, well hey, that’s just the floor telling you to take a break.

The Contenders

Still curious? Here’s the full 411 on all the grippy-bottomed ones we tested:

Pop Physique Pop Socks

Design: The brand’s new limited-edition design is thinner than the traditional plushy grip sock, and includes a unique top-of-foot cutout.

Grips: Thick, sticky dots as well as sticky, oversized cheeky phrases like "Barre Whore" and "J’Adore Barre"

Material: 82% Bamboo, 16% Polyester, 2% Spandex

Size, Cost and Color: They come in one size fits most, retail for $12 and are available in grey, pink, purple, black and mint.

Pure Barre Sticky Socks

Design: Thick, plush ankle socks with Pure Barre sewn into the toe as well as a ribbed bridge and ankle.

Grips: Semi-sticky flat dots as well as the Pure Barre insignia in grippy text.

Material: 89% Cotton, 8% Polyester, 2% Nylon, 1% Spandex

Size, Cost and Color: They come in two sizes, and the socks are always black, but Pure Barre offers a variety of bright-colored bottom dots; all colors retail for $12.

Exhale Grip Socks

Design: Thick, semi-plush ankle socks with Exhale sewn into the toe as well ribbed athletic detailing in the bridge as well as the plush, ribbed ankle tab.

Grips: Sticky flat dots in tight lines as well as the Exhale insignia in grippy text.

Material: 86% organic cotton, 13% spandex, 1% nylon

Size, Cost and Color: Exhale socks come in four sizes ranging from x-small to large and retail for $14. They also come in two colors, black and slate gray.

The Bar Method Grip Socks

Design: Semi-thick ankle socks with inspirational phrases or Bar Method’s symbol sewn into the toe, as well as ribbed detailing in the bridge and a plush, ribbed ankle tab.

Grips: Sticky flat dots condensed into very tight lines as well as The Bar Method insignia in grippy text.

Material: 82% cotton, 16% polyester, 2% spandex

Size, Cost and Color: The Bar Method’s socks come in three sizes ranging from small to large and come in a full rainbow of colors with varied phrases on the toe. They retail for $13.

Physique57 Grippy Socks

Design: Semi-thick ankle socks with Physique 57 sewn into the toe as well as ribbed detailing in the bridge and 57 sewn into the plush, ribbed ankle tab.

Grips: Sticky flat dots in tight lines as well as the Physique57 insignia in grippy text.

Material: 86% Cotton, 13% Spandex, 1% Nylon

Size, Cost and Color: Physique57 socks come in two sizes, medium and large, and are available in black with blue bottoms. Socks are available online in a set of two for $22.

Farewell From Racked

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Essays

Best of Racked

Best of Racked Funny Stuff