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I’ve got a decent wardrobe (thanks Dappered!) but I keep feeling like there’s one area that is lacking…socks! All I know is “black shoes, black socks,” and I’ve read that other than black, your socks should match your pants… but what do you do with brown, or really any colored shoe beyond black? Where can a guy find stylish socks? I tend to prefer the thicker cotton socks, but I don’t even know where to start or what’s stylish without going too far.
This column has addressed kilts, cowboy boots, keeping a clean apartment, chivalry, and what a junked up car says about you. High time we covered something as basic as socks. Not that I don’t appreciate all you weirdos out there with your unique quandaries…
I’m going to assume we’re limiting the scope of this question to oxfords/lace ups/dress shoes, since you probably don’t need help matching socks to athletic shoes, and boat shoes look best without socks. There are a couple variables when it comes to socks. First, formal wear. When wearing a suit, your sock should match your pant. So you’re not really making a decision on the sock, because it should always match the suit pant. What you ARE making a decision on is the correct color of shoe to match the sock and pant. Think of black and grey tones being on one side of the spectrum, and brown/blue/red tones being on the other side. Black and charcoal suits should be paired with black shoes, and depending on the color of the suit, matching socks. Brown and navy blue and linen/taupe/khaki colored suits should be paired with brown or burgundy shoes, and depending on the color of the suit, matching socks. Now, maybe you’re picturing solid-colored socks, but patterns apply here too. The majority of colors in the pattern should follow these rules. If you have an argyle pattern with mainly black and grey, but also a hint of light blue, you can still wear them with a black suit and black shoes.
If you’re dressed more casually, you can match your sock to your shoe, instead of your pant. Wear a black sock with black shoes and jeans. Wear a brown sock for khakis paired with brown shoes. To me, though, the rules seems a bit more fluid when talking jeans and chinos. I doubt anyone would kick you out of the club if you wore khaki-colored socks with your khakis and brown shoes.
Where to buy stylish socks? Well if you’re talking solid colors, there’s really no style involved. Plain black socks are plain black socks. Although I know it’s your preference, I’d caution you against wearing too thick a cotton sock with your lace ups. First, they’ll make your feet look like they belong in slippers, perched on an ottoman. Also, thick colored cotton athletic socks have a tendency to fade very quickly in the wash–I know this only from personal experience so I can’t tell you why this is the case–whereas thinner socks made to be worn with dress shoes hardly fade at all. I’d encourage you to try patterned socks; they’re much more fun than solid colors. Small pin dots, window pane pattern, checker pattern, and stripes–there are a ton of options out there. If you’re worried about “going too far,” start with subtle patterns–small dots, thin stripes, monochromatic colors. Best not to start with these guys, but instead work up to it. Know what I mean?
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