The newest member of the House of Representatives was into fun dress socks before fun dress socks were cool.
Republican Rep. John Curtis has about 300 pairs of socks, half of which will now reside in D.C. He’ll leave the other half behind in Utah.
“It’s kind of like leaving your kids at home,” the congressman said.
Explaining how he organizes his collection, Curtis admitted he’s a bit of a neat freak.
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“If you were to go into my closet, what you’d see is all these different bins by color, and I have separated for all the holidays — Halloween, July Fourth, Christmas,” he said.
The story behind his hobby is “random,” he said.
“A number of years ago, before people were wearing crazy socks, I was in a department store in Provo, and they had some socks that were on the discount rack because nobody would buy them. They had some fun stripes on them, so I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just buy those,’” the former mayor of Provo said.
He and Corey Norman, Provo’s former deputy mayor and now Curtis’ chief of staff, decided to keep up the hobby.
“We had so much fun with them that we started looking for socks. Back then, they were really hard to buy — go into department stores, search online, [we were] looking for socks everywhere,” he said.
Collecting turned out to be a good idea politically.
“They made me approachable. If you walked down the street in Provo, two or three people will stop and ask me to see my socks,” the congressman said. “It was kind of this way to approach me that was safe for people, and it was a fun thing. People who would otherwise not know how to approach me would come up and say, ‘Let me see your socks.’”
Curtis’ sock habit has never stopped him from doing business, he said.
“You can sit in a dark navy suit with your feet under the table and nobody would know, or you could choose to put your leg up ... and show them off,” he said.
Last January, he counted his collection for the first time and found he had 300 pairs.
“As soon as I found out how many I had, I gave a bunch of them away to my son-in-laws,” Curtis said.
Still, the socks keep coming. “I get them almost as fast as I give them away. A lot of people give me socks,” he said.
His favorite pair is the first one he bought off the sale rack six years ago: striped with a black, brown and blue background.
“I still wear them,” Curtis said. “They’re kind of fun to me because they’re where it was all started.”