Dubbed a public display offence by The Telegraph, a fad to be killed by Fashion Beans and a ‘pasty, hairy’ mania by The Economist the ‘mankle’ is perhaps the most unfairly maligned male fashion statement of the 21st century. And while no-one takes the man-shaming of the Daily Mail and co. completely seriously, there’s no doubt that—beyond a small subculture of Europe-looking fashionistas—most Australian men are uncomfortable exposing their knobbly bits in public.
But as suits get smaller, trousers get tailored within inches of their lives, and publications like Elle encourage men to bare more flesh, Australian men have started feeling the pressure to roll up their cuffs and chuck their socks in the trash.
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While this looks suave on someone with fresh chinos, deck shoes, a Vespa and a mild Italian climate to match, it is a little trickier to pull off on a sweaty 40-degree afternoon at Redfern station (me in January) or a chilly windswept morning at Circular Quay (me today) as onlookers gawk at your slowly purpling cankles.
Further: as The Economist points out, after consulting the Royal College Of Podiatry, “Men who go commando… are at unusually high risk of getting athletes’ foot and fungal nail infections: sweat and shoe insoles form a breeding ground for noxious bacteria.”
And that’s not to mention—even professional Australian stylists admit: many Aussie blokes can’t be bothered to shop for themselves, let alone master a precipitous trend that makes even the most sartorially accomplished men sweat.
Fashion Beans summed it up perfectly when they said: “Why queue overnight for Yeezy’s just to stink them out?”.
In a hot climate, which—as you can see from the above map—comprises most of Australia, this is far from ideal. And—unfortunately for the invisible sock wearing crew—you don’t negate this problem by moving south, because then you start to hit English Riviera type temperatures and goosebumps will take precedence over your freshly waxed ankles.
Besides, as Stephen Doig wrote for The Telegraph, while this sort of look may ‘sing’ on the catwalk, it is much harder for those of us in the real world to pull off. The conclusion? Either move to Ballarat, which has the climate of Central Italy, or just embrace those precious windows between March and May, and September and November, to rock your talocrural contours.