Ever planned an outfit around your socks? Probably not. While jackets, pants and shoes are common foundations of our daily look, the humble sock is often an afterthought.
But as the stylish man is well aware, accessories make (or break) a stylish office look. Meanwhile, fashionable tweaks on the weekend take an off-duty ensemble from drab and demure to blazing hot.
And socks play a huge part. Click through the slideshow for the 20 best sock brands for men in the new season. Then read on below for tips and ticks on how to make the most of your sock life.
Breaking It Down
Preppy argyles, ribbed solids, stripes and spots: how does one decide on the perfect sock? Just like anything, it’s subject to personal taste – for the most part. Playing around with texture, colour and print is the ultimate goal – mixing and matching patterns (of the same scale) and contrasting fabrics with your trouser for the best sock-game you’ve ever played.
Despite its expense, you can’t beat wool for moisture absorption (sweat in summer) or insulating the feet in winter months. Being a natural fibre, some woollen socks come blended with synthetic fibres (nylon, elastane or polyester) for added strength and to reduce tearing and onset of holes.
The most common sock material is cotton. Like wool, it often comes blended with synthetics like Lyrca for the fit and to increase the longevity of the sock for everyday wear. Cotton is easy to maintain but isn’t as soft-to-touch as wool or as insulating.
Reserved for dress socks, cashmere and silk are a much rarer, lighter alternative to wool. Less bulky, these socks have a subtle sheen that adds elegance to a cashmere-silk suit and – like wool – the fabric breathes well and retains heat in winter.
Structure & Fit
The best socks are meticulously made with an emphasis on strong seams, which make the sock last longer, as well as reenforced heal and toe. Certain brands are even making size-specific socks, which gives a better fit for the meticulous gent.
Mid-length socks are the most common types, with knee-lengths more associated with sophisticated events like black tie galas (where showing mankles is far from appropriate).
How To Wear It
Plain & Tonal
Matching your socks to your trouser is the easiest and safest method to sock wearing. The key is in choosing a pair of socks in the same base colour as your bottoms and then adjusting the shade: darker or lighter than the trousers.
Going for a light grey suit for summer? Look to charcoal socks. Paired with a rich brown brogue, the darkness of the sock lets the punch holes in the leather shoe pop.
For the weekend, khaki chinos take on a heritage look with olive green sock and suede smoky brown lace-ups or Chelsea boots.
In the same vein as above, textured tonality comes by way of denser knitted socks or ones with a coarser, thicker yarn. Introducing some texture adds depth and point of interest without brash colour or look at me prints, which depending on the type, can feel a bit Halloween-esque.
Thicker wool looks rugged with rubber tread brogues and in the boot variety too, adding a speckled element to the sock with marl fleck. The best pant options are those made of heftier fabrics – think selvedge denim, wool trousers or thick canvas cotton pants.
Packing a stylish statement is easy with classic prints. The first thing: pick a base colour that matches the trouser you’re wearing. Then look to traditional prints, modernising the old-world patterns with on-trend colours from the current season.
The Italian origins of paisley florals give a Euro effect to a suit and shoe combo, while the golfing argyle print is an all-American prep accent for chinos and a t-shirt – especially in a muted-hue.
Differing solid colours – between sock and trouser – is a bold yet relatively easy style move to pull. For the courageous gent, look to contrast block-colour socks. Think pairings like crimson red and pastel blue, ensuring one of the colours is softer in saturation than the other.
A less brash colour-block is the pairing of complementary colour, looking to emerald green socks and navy chinos, finishing the look with deep brown lace-ups as a cool alternative to black.
Sock Do’s & Don’ts
- No white socks or sports socks with dress pants – ever.
- Jeans can be worn with almost every sock – though avoid sports socks and chunky sneaker combos.
- Dress shoes should be worn with finer gauge socks for a neater, cleaner fit.
- Light coloured sneakers look best with block-coloured socks – not classic business socks.
- Keep socks clean and hole proof – chuck them out when they’re old.