By CATHI AYCOCK

To say that Frank Coyle’s staggering sock collection started with the sincerest form of flattery and blossomed into the sincerest form of friendship gives the humble foot covering a lot of credit.

But stranger things have sparked goodness, kindness and joy, why not socks?

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From polka dots to the Virgin Mary, socks are now festooned for fashion.

“I can’t take full credit for wearing colorful socks. My close friend Chris Cantrell was wearing chirpy socks long before it was cool,” Coyle admits, saying Cantrell gifted a pair of fun socks to him and he adopted the accessory.

“It really was an act of pure emulation. I’ve gotten a lot of flattering, undeserved attention about my socks over the years. But the main reason I wear them is because they make people smile,” says Coyle, who lives in Brentwood.

The happy factor plays out with friends and strangers. Coyle believes that people find it easier to approach him because he is showing a bit of his personality publicly.

“My wife and I were at the hospital visiting a friend in intensive care. And elderly couple were there and when they saw my socks started laughing and asked me about them. It seems like a small thing, but somehow the socks are a people connector,” Coyle says.

Coyle has passed on his sock obsession to a family friend, who is now known for wearing his own colorful socks.

“About five years ago, we were at a Christmas party with some great friends, Joey and Pam Abney and their son Tripp. I was wearing Santa socks and Tripp asked me about them. On the spot, he asked me to buy him a pair of UT socks,” Coyle says with a laugh.

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Tripp Abney and Frank Coyle share a love of colorful, fun socks. Now both are known for sporting them on a daily basis.

With the orange festooned socks wrapped, Coyle gave the socks to Tripp for Christmas. A tradition that continues to this day.

“Now Tripp has a collection of socks and wears them almost every day,” says Coyle.

For all the feel-good emotions that wearing the socks bring, Coyle has another reason to wear them every day.  Coyle admits to being “a bit of a fashion guy” who also loves creativity and art.

“I met my wife in a sculpture class, so I’ve always been a visual, creative guy I guess,” says Coyle, who has been wearing eye popping socks for a decade, well before the recent uptick in men wearing colorful patterned socks.

Coyle says men traditionally have had fewer ways to accessorize and show their personality. He believes that the wild sock trend, that has menswear designer offering brightly patterned socks and men scooping them up, is fueled by the dearth of style options.

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Just a portion of Frank Coyle’s sock collection. He has been collecting the funky accessory for years, and loves that they are “a conversation starter” that seem to make people smile.

Men don’t necessarily wear a tie every day any more, which most fashion pundits would cite as the bastion for men to show personal style via their wardrobe. But nearly everyone wears socks, making them the perfect options for adding wit to even a plain pair of jeans and a button down.

“When I first started wearing funky socks, you could find them here and there. Now, literally everyone carries some kind of colorful assortment,” Coyle says with a laugh.