Sock-iquette: Your Guide to Guys’ Footwear

    13th March 2013

    Happy Wednesday! Intern Gabi’s here to grace us with her POV on what guys – both in college and out – should be wearing.

    Take it away Gabi…

    This may seem nit-picky, but socks are totally important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been horrifically turned off by a guy JUST BECAUSE OF HIS SOCKS.

    Picture 14

    The first instance that I can remember happened in 3rd grade. To get to know our classmates, we all took off one shoe and put it in a pile in the middle of the room. We then had to take a shoe, find the owner, talk to them, learn about them, and then present our findings to the class.

    We gathered back together in a circle, sitting pretzel-style, since that’s how you do things when you haven’t yet reached double digits. I remember looking around and one boy was wearing white tube socks, and they just didn’t fit right. There was probably an inch of extra sock hanging past where I could see his toes were, and it was just SO BEYOND IRKSOME that I literally thought about it every single time I talked to him, which probably made him think that that surprised/crinkled-nose face I made was my natural facial expression.

    And that was in third grade.

    SO, to keep you guys (and maybe your friends who aren’t as style savvy) steered clear from the fate of my poor classmate above, I’ve put together a few basic sock and shoe combos below. Never again can you say you didn’t know you shouldn’t wear white tube socks with boat shoes, again. Ever.



    Socks: Dickies, $12 for 2 pairs
    Shoes: Vans, $55

    This look is like, totally Cali-cool. Let the look stay true to its roots, and keep the rest of your look SoCal-skater-inspired for consistency. I’ve seen this shoe-sock combo with mint chino short-shorts and a v-neck sweater tied around the shoulders, and I could feel the wearer’s internal disconnect. Pull the socks ALL THE WAY UP and remind me why I had a crush on that quiet, new student from the West Coast who leaned against his locker and was always late to class. Middle school crushes *sigh*


    dressSocks: Merona, $4
    Shoes: Johnston&Murphy, $135

    Sure, you can wear plain black or brown dress socks, but why not add just a hint of visual interest with some fun patterned socks? The argyle in this pair is a classic pattern that works for the office, but the punchy coral and mint tones will definitely catch my eye when you walk by me, or loiter conspicuously at the water cooler.


    noSocks: Dickies, $12 for 3 pairs
    Shoes: Tretorn, $60

    Don’t do the visible ankle sock. Just…don’t. Find one that sits below the line of the of the sneaker, so it gives the illusion that you aren’t wearing any socks at all. Ankles are cool, show them off! The ankle bone is really cool (it rotates!) so why not let it bask in the light of day? If you’re wearing long pants, feel free to wear fun high socks like these.



     Socks: Urban Outfitters, $10 for 2 pairs
    Shoes: Johnston & Murphy, $135

    In an ideal world, you wouldn’t wear any socks with a boat shoe. I understand that sweaty-feet-stank is totally preventable with socks, but these shoes show a lot of foot and just don’t really look good with socks. Thankfully someone invented these brilliant no-show socks, so now you can keep your feet cool and look the same.

    Tell me: What is the worst footwear faux pas you have seen? Ever guilty of your own? Be honest…

    …And now that you know what’s hot and what’s not, share pics of your shoes AND SOCKS on Facebook or by tweeting at @StyleGF with the hashtag #SUYS!

    • Chris Rogers

      Socks with sandals! Also a coworker recently wore a brown and black shoe to work…

      • Style Girlfriend

        wait, the shoes were brown AND black? I…don’t understand.

        • Chris Rogers

          No, apparently he had two pairs of the same shoe…a brown pair and a black pair, left shoe was one color, right was the other color. He says he got dressed in the dark and didn’t notice.

          • HelloNurse

            You gotta love those explanations that raise more questions than they answer…

            • Scott

              Haha, well those of us with sleeping spouses often gather clothes or dress in the dark.. I try to pick stuff out the night before but a change in weather after seeing the morning forecast can cause a change of plans.. When I find a pair of shoes that works I often go for multiple colors, because finding out their discontinued when you try to get more later on has driven me crazy in the past..That said, I’ve never mixed up the colors, except when we did it on purpose with Chucks in like 2nd grade.

    • ATLien

      You know, every pair of “no-show” socks I have ever bought, a slight amount of the sock still peeks out of the top of the shoe…. and my feet are pretty big. The last time I bought socks, I even bought the smallest women’s socks I could find and they still peek slightly. I don’t feel like this looks too bad, though.

      Maybe I’ll try these from UO, but it is kind of an expensive habit buying socks all the time, only for them to not work. Has anyone had any success with “altering” their socks ? I have thought about it, but I think they probably wouldn’t last long.

    • anthony

      NDC boat shoes… ALL DAY

    • WideEyesTightWallets

      White socks with dress shoes. I think the worst of this goes all the way back to prom days (surprise, surprise, bad fashion at prom???) when I saw a few guys wearing white tube socks with their tuxes. Like you brought up, there has to be consistency. If you are wearing formal clothes, wear them top to bottom, and all the layers in between! I think a lot of people forget that your socks don’t stay hidden the same way your underwear does, especially with the modern ‘no-break’ pants that most stylish fellas are wearing these days.

    • Derric

      As far as no-show socks go, Effortless Gent posted ( ) about these which I’m planning to pick up a few packs of for summer:

      Thicker cotton, Barron says there are grips on the heel so that they don’t slide up, and if they do slide up they’re colorful. $12 for three pairs is cheaper per pair than the UO ones too!

      • Chris Rogers

        I like those, but it still feels wrong wearing socks with boat shoes/sperry’s.

        • kellen owenby

          I agree. I live in ATL and I see teenagers wearing tube socks with sperrys and it makes me want to punch someone…

    • Dave

      There are some people around the office that think black Crocs can pass as dress shoes when worn with dress pants….

      • Michael Bailey

        I….I have no words…

      • gabi meyers


      • Style Girlfriend

        I don’t want to live in a world where this is true.

    • Michael Bailey

      Every time I see a guy wearing white tube socks with and dress shoes, I feel like organizing an intervention. My older brother STILL does it.

      I think I own one pair of white tube socks, and they never get worn outside the house. I have ankle socks, but they’re for the gym because they show too much. If I feel like going sock-less, I generally just go sock-less.

    • redsa6729

      Nice to know I’ve been doing something right. I’ve been doing the skate shoes + tube socks for 15 years now (since I was a skate kid growing up in Cali coincidentally) and it didn’t seem well received when I moved to Texas. And I think all my work socks qualify as “fun” since I have around 20+ pairs of argyle, striped, polka dot, and even fair isle in my rotation.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I had SUCH a crush on a guy in college who wore thick tube socks pulled up all the way with skate shoes. He was a total Cali kid…who just happened to be from the middle of Pennsylvania. Funny how that works out :)

        • redsa6729

          My college years could’ve used more Megans and Gabis to appreciate my sock + shoe game.

          • Style Girlfriend

            we’re out there!

    • NECS

      I’ve probably invested way too much money in:

      1) Original Penguin socks… no matter how colorful they are.

      or 2) these super comfortable thicker socks for my desert boots.

      • gabi meyers

        i love, love, LOVE those original penguin socks! Hope to see them in some #SUYS pics ;)

    • Leigh

      One question: If wearing low-cut (they sit just below my ankle) socks with standard casual shoes and shorts, what colour should the socks be?

      I have a lot of plain black low-cut socks, and a lingering few pairs of white low-cut ones that (infuriatingly) have a black logo on the cuff. I dislike wearing the white ones to do anything but work out, because the black logo breaks the generally ignore-able sock.

      But wearing the black socks looks kinda funny unless the shoe itself is black, so the sock sort of blends into the shoe.

      What should I do? My warm-weather shoe options are currently sitting at one pair of burgundy lightweight sneakers (the H&M version of better-looking Keds) and a black suede pair of Vans OTW Ludlos.

      I usually wear “real” mid-calf socks with fun designs under my chinos, but it’s gonna get too hot for long pants, and I dislike wearing long sock when it gets hot.

      • gabi meyers

        I’d say you could go with the plain black ones with the burgundy sneaks and the black vans. Have you tried turning the white socks inside out? If you can still see the logo, I’d say buy a couple cheap packs of plain white socks like these ones from target:

        • Leigh


          If I did get logo-less white socks, would it be better to wear them with the burgundy and then wear black ones with the Vans?

          • gabi meyers

            I think yes!

    • Max

      I try my best to wear no show socks with my vans authentic or anything else that is very low.

    • Arkhangael

      Rightly said. I am a fan of nice socks.
      To be perfectly frank, I have a socks fetish. I just love good socks. WHich means the latter never get thrown out. (currently thinking of that ‘clean your closet’ post on Style Girlfriend)
      My latest craziness has been getting a collection of Hugo Boss socks. They felt so nice that I kept buying them until good sense was poured back into my head.

    • Bronello_Cucinelli

      Black wingtips, no socks. OBViously.

    • Gare

      I shouldn’t admit this, but…

      I go to the gym straight after work. One day last summer as I sat in the locker room, I realized I forgot my socks and tennis shoes. After a few swear words and quickly debating either going home in rush hr traffic and coming back, or just working with what I had, I chose the latter. So, sleeveless-t (ohhhhhyeaaah), b-ball shorts, black dress socks, and…my black dress shoes was the combo. Remember the old Rockport commercial where that guy ran a marathon in his dress shoes? That’s what I was thinking.

      Most of the women at my gym are married anyway. But at one point, there was a group of about 3 women working out right next to me. I had no idea what they were talking about, but there was an awful lot of giggling going on. And, admittedly, I didn’t feel too cool running on the treadmill either.

      • Style Girlfriend

        hahahah, can totally picture this. I’ve worked out a few times in a regular bra when I’ve forgotten a sports bra, which was annoying, but at least no one could see it. I feel for you, but am duly impressed by your commitment to fitness!

    • Zed

      Me, I think Gold bond powder is the solution. Apply to foot, shake off excess, rub in with hand. If the shoes are nice, just be careful not to get any on the exterior (especially suede).

      I mostly use GB with tight-fitting climbing shoes; even though I sweat a ton in the gym, my feet remain cool and dry. No socks required.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Oh, that’s so interesting! Are climbing shoes meant to be worn without socks?

        • Zed

          Short answer: yes.

          Long answer: Usually. To get extra purchase on the rock (or if indoors, plastic), most climbers size down severely: e.g. I wear a size 13 dress shoe, and my climbing shoes are size 11. The idea is to have a single powerful point of contact. Any extra fabric prevents you from getting a tighter fit. Of course if you are renting, borrowing, demo-ing, etc., socks are a must.

          Of course, Gold Bond also works with your feet in loafers. I’d recommend everyone who loves the sock-less look to give it a try.

    • Paul E Norman

      I read in GQ a while back that if its too hot to wear pants, its too hot to wear socks. I agree with that, if you are going to wear shorts (with the exception of the gym) do not wear socks. I wear boat shoes and loafers without socks all the time. At first you will have sweaty feet, but your feet adjust and begin to sweat far less after some time. If the sweat gets to you there are a lot of options as far as sprays and powders to prevent sweat and smell. I am also against white socks for anything including the gym. For some reason white socks just look like little kid socks. I always go for black gym socks.

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