If you head to Olympia and catch the Washington state Legislature in action, you’re going to see a lot of suits, slacks, and skirts in shades of gray, brown and blue. But these days, lurking beneath the pant legs, are a rainbow of colors and patterns.
The funky socks of our state legislators have gone public thanks to State Representative Laurie Jinkins.
Jinkins started the hashtag #walegsox and she goes around snapping photos of snappy socks and posts them on Twitter.
“When Reuven Carlyle was in the House he wore some colorful socks and every day he would come in and show me his socks and then ask to see mine. Mine were always black, cotton socks. So I thought, you know, I should really step out and start doing something more interesting. So I started wearing them myself.
“Then I thought, this is kind of fun, I should pay attention to how many other people do this. So I just started the hashtag for fun. It’s been very interesting because I believe it has resulted in more people wearing more interesting socks.”
Jinkins says she has slowly acquired about 40 pairs of fun socks.
“Either they’re very colorful or they have sayings on them. I wonder about myself sometimes because most of the socks I get as gifts have swear words on them. I’m wondering what that says about me that people give me socks with swear words on them! I mean, I’m wearing a pair today that say ‘badass’ on them. I have a pair that say ‘hellraiser.'”
If you search the hashtag #walegsox on Twitter you’ll see socks printed with doughnuts, Sasquatch, race cars, Gumby & Pokey, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a fair share of patterned tights.
“There’s a bunch of people with Statue of Liberty socks on and one of them bought them for everybody, the staff people in our caucus, to wear. So they all wore them on one day, together.”
Representative Jinkins says she never posts names to go with the socks, so you don’t know who’s a Republican or a Democrat. But everyone is getting in on the fun.
“A lot of what we do is really intense. There can be a lot of emotion around it. Sometimes it’s just a lot of really hard brain work because it’s very technical. This is just a way to have a few lighthearted minutes a day. I have a new legislative assistant and she comments on the number of people who walk up to me and pull up their pant leg and then I snap a picture and we never say a word to each other. It’s well known, people kind of seek me out now. My one rule is you have to be on the Capitol campus and wearing the socks. I don’t post anything that’s somewhere off of the Capitol campus.”
She says she now picks out socks to inspire her. The day we spoke she was expecting an intense day on the floor, a discussion of gun control. That’s why she wore her ‘badass’ socks. She saves her Wonder Woman socks for days she needs strength.
“On cutoff day I wear my ‘Scream‘ socks usually because that’s usually a day where members and lobbyists are screaming, ‘Please move my bill!’ People end up unhappy. That’s a tradition now for me.”
So what has become of her little black, cotton socks?
“Slowly, I have given them away but I do still have five pairs in case I really feel like I need them. I haven’t worn them in a long time!”