Men’s Socks

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 | Tags: , , ,

While men don't have as many accessory choices as women, there is one part of a guy's wardrobe that is often overlooked. Those smelly old socks! We get tips from some men's fashion experts and find out how to work the lowly sock and create yourself a unique sense of style.

The Basics

Get creative with a great pair of socks. Don’t leave them as an afterthought! 

Fabric Options:

  • Wool is classic, warm, soft, and generally inexpensive. It is warm and breathable, and stands up better than cotton or silk. Look for a wool-lycra blend, which helps them keep their shape after being washed.

  • Cashmere is luxurious, warmer than wool but thinner in your shoe. It’s more expensive, however, and also high-maintenance. But if you like to treat your toes, this is the way to do it.

  • Cotton is the old standby. Cheap, easy, and usually colour fast. (Wool colours may bleed). A thin cotton weave is good for dressy needs. Look for a cotton-lycra or cotton-nylon blend for more durability and flexibility. Cotton does wear out faster so don’t spend a lot on them.

  • Silk can be good for summer but often wear out very quickly. Also, their sheen makes them more of an evening sock, according to experts.

Colour:Whatever you choose, it should match your style and the occasion. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Formal: match your socks to your suit pants, not to your shoes. They should blend to give you a long leg. (Plus, if you match your shoes, it will look like you’re wearing booties.)

  • Dark suit: same as formal: match the sock to the pant. Black suit = black socks. Navy suit = navy socks.

  • Light suit: try a shade or two darker than the suit, but a few shades lighter than your shoes. (Shoe tip: Your shoes should be a brown or lighter colour. Avoid wearing black shoes with a light suit.)

  • For originality: match your socks to something else, like your tie, your pocket square, or maybe even your shirt.

  • To make a statement: go with a completely different colour or pattern, as long as it goes with the rest of your look.


  • Matchy-matchy. For example, solid, bright-coloured socks that match your tie or shirt. Unique colour choices should be able to stand on their own.  E.g., if your suit is otherwise conservative and neutral, go for a bright red sock for a surprise.

  • White socks with suits. They’re casual for runners and the gym. They have no place with your suit.


  • If you’re wearing a solid suit, try adding some flair with a patterned sock, like argyle, paisley, dots, or stripes. 

  • Don’t mix patterned suits with patterned socks, but if you’re wearing a patterned shirt, try complementing it with similarly (but not matchy-matchy) patterned socks.


  • It’s all in the details. Subtle ribbing or stitching adds a touch of elegance and class. However, it shouldn’t compete with the texture of the suit or shoes.

  • In general, thin socks are more formal. Thick, cabled, or ribbed socks are for a more relaxed look.


  • In general, your sock size is one bigger than your shoe size. The heel should fit on your heel while your toes are in the toe pocket. 

  • Make sure they stay up. If they bunch around the ankles, it looks bad, requires attention, and can give you blisters from rubbing in your shoes.

  • For suits, over-the-calf, classic dress length is recommended. The snugger the fit, the better.

Can Socks Be Hip?

Oh yes they can! If you’re looking to break out of the boring blacks, browns, and greys, give these sock styles a try:

  • Bold stripes: endorsed by GQ, they are said to show rule-breaking “a rebel streak”. However, make sure your stripes complement your top (e.g. pick up a colour from your tie or shirt), and that they contrast your pants and shoes.

  • Unexpected colours of checkers, plaids, and argyles can take these conservative stuffy patterns and breathe new and irreverent life into them.

  • “Happy Socks” from Sweden range from casual to formal to daring. Brightly designed and even outlandish, these socks lead the charge of rule-breaking foot warmers.

  • Classic “Rockford Red” heels, around since 1890, are making a comeback. Known as the Sock Monkey Socks, they are definitely back into the hip mainstream.

  • Pantherella socks are considered by many to be the finest dress socks in the world. Not new (started in the 1930s in the UK), they are made of merino wool and high quality cotton in a variety of plain and fancy styles. The big draw is the toe treatment, which is hand-finished to create a perfectly flat, great looking sock. 

top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter