Picking the right socks for mens shoes

Unless you are an OAP on a walking holiday, you shouldn’t wear socks with sandals.

However the world of sock etiquette is not 100% set in stone. Some rules are worth following, some are worth bending and some are worth breaking all together.

But before you break the rules, let’s learn them.

Get the right length

High coloured socks

High and bright
Source: Ask Andy About Clothes

Classically, it is frowned upon to show one’s ankles.

This theory has limitations in the modern world, where ankle socks and trainers are a popular choice for many.

Fine Italian shoes worn for formal occasions, are best with socks that come up to the knee. This emphasises the classical, sophisticated nature of the shoe into the sock, and eliminates the risk of a sneaky peek of ankle!

Many men find knee high socks too restricting, so opt for the mid-calf variety instead. These offer the sophisticated look without the restriction.

Get the right fabric

Socks Closeup

The 70% and up rule

Thinner cotton socks are ideal for mens black shoes such as Oxfords and brogues. Dress shoes of this variety often look quite dainty, so big woolly socks will detract from this.

However, woollen socks are ideal for chunky walking boots due to their fantastic insulating properties and hard wearing nature.

As a rule of thumb, buy socks with a minimum 70% natural fibre content, such as wool of cotton. They are breathable so will help keep your feet healthy and odour free. Whilst polyester might be cheaper, it will result in pongy feet!

Get the right colour

Blue and black socks and tights

Maybe a tad too daring for us
Source: Flickr

The age old rule is that the colour of your socks should match your trousers. The reason for this is to make your legs look longer. This is a simple rule that many choose to follow, but it can be broken.

Bored by black on black? Team your black trousers with a bright sock for a pop of colour. If that’s too jazzy for your taste, look for patterns such as argyle – stylish but subtle.

We found this great colour guide, which can be used for more than just socks.

Get it white

Many people avoid white socks at all costs, but there are times when they can be worn without issue.

For example – exercising. Can you imagine Wimbledon without white socks? Exactly. If you want to channel your inner Roger Federer don’t forget to finish off your look with a tennis jumper and racket.

However, wearing white socks with mens leather shoes that aren’t trainers just looks odd. Michael Jackson tried, and no man should try again.

Get them off

Deck shoe with no socks

Rather dapper, but somewhat chilly
Source: Dam Style

Some shoes are better without socks. For instance, a pair of deck shoes are traditionally worn without socks, as they are quite low cut.

Not wearing socks can make your feet hot and sore, as well as make your shoes smell. There are many things you can do to keep your deck shoes fresh, but for the winter, you may want to sacrifice style for comfort. Or failing that, just wear some boots.

If you can’t bear to be without your deck shoes and need to wear socks either pick ankle socks or wear your trousers so there is a whole break – a break being where the trouser touches the shoe creating a fold. This will “hide” the socks and fool fashion aficionados.

Whether you wear ankle high, coloured, white or no socks at all, make sure you think it through. And whatever you do, never wear socks with sandals. Please.

Sandals and socks billboard

Enough said.
Source: Flickr

Posted in Men's style guides.


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