Pity men in summer. The heat and the sun expose their lack of sartorial balance in the most comprehensive fashion. There are those who resist summer altogether and refuse to shed their trusty pullovers. Most men, however - especially thirty-something men - rush straight into their summer uniform, a subtle mix of brown and beige, the chinos and the polo shirts. And when it gets really hot, of course, they start taking it all off again, exposing their boxer shorts and bellies.

At least polo shirts cater for arms, and chinos for legs. The part of the male anatomy least catered for is definitely the feet. Most men struggle on with their feet boiling inside thick woolly socks.

But alternatives to woolly socks are legion. The most expensive - usually more than pounds 25 - are made from cashmere. Thin, cool and comfortable beyond belief. It's like walking around with talcum power being showered over your toes. And at the end of a very hot day you don't feel like ripping them off and amputating your feet. The worst are definitely thin socks which involve nylon. Even after a short period on a hot day your feet start swelling in revolt.

I've never worn silk socks. I've never liked their see-through shine; it always looks rather flashy. It goes against the solid character socks must possess to ground people. And you always feel as if you are in danger of sliding off them.

The best alternatives to silk and cashmere are variants with wool and cotton - perfectly comfortable without busting the budget. The truth is it's probably best not to try the cashmere at all, because once you have discovered that sweaty old socks can be that comfortable, you will find it difficult to look another wool sock in the eye again.

All socks tested are available from the sock department at Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 (0171-730 1234).