They can be described as the Napoleon of a man’s wardrobe, something so small yet capable of a great deal of accomplishment as well as destruction, and yet most men neglect attention to them more than that of a red-headed step child or a politician’s record of kept promises. It is unfortunate that this is the case, as this failure of attention spawns some truly hideous sights. The day that I am able to walk out of my house without seeing the picture of socks coupled with sandals, and white gym socks paired with dress pants as if one was a member of Michael Jackson’s “beat” it” entourage from the 1980’s will probably be the same day that I win a lottery jackpot; at the very least the odds of the two happening are seemingly in perfect correlation with each other. The time has long been overdue to recognize the importance that socks should have in your wardrobe’s hierarchy. The wrong pair can absolutely ruin the most immaculate and dapper of attire. The transformation from Cary Grant to Steve Urkel can be initiated and completed entirely by the choice of the socks you wear. Should you find yourself in a formal or business setting, or on a date, wearing the wrong socks is the easiest way to be dismissed and lose credibility before you utter a word out of your mouth.
In the realm of sartorial style there are probably no easier set of rules than that of how to choose the correct pair of socks to wear, which is what makes the fact that they are so rarely followed today all the more perplexing. As decorative as you can get with your socks, and as the more style conscious amongst us are apt to do, it is not necessary to have a variety of paisley, checkered, argyle and diamond patterned socks in order to add sparkle to your ensemble, in fact most of us would do well to choose a set off socks that simply did not distract from what we were wearing. All one need do is keep in mind a few simple tenets so that you’ll never have to worry about being confused with answering a casting call for another Nutty Professor remake…again.
When dressing up in pants that are not considered jeans, your socks should match or be a close approximation to the color of your trousers. It is not critical that they are the exact color of your pants, but the variation you do wear if not matching should be lighter than your pants color. For instance, should you be wearing a dark or charcoal grey suit, light or plain grey socks would coordinate just fine. Your goal is to make it an easy transition for the eye to follow you up from the bottom of your shoes to the top of your head without an unsightly aberration in your attire. Going from your feet to head should be a very seamless journey for the human eye. As such black socks, while not as oft putting as white when dressing up, should be regulated to black attire. It is also true that since your priority should be an easy transition from shoes, to socks to pants, that the best dressed usually have their socks go up to their calf, therefore never revealing any flesh even when they go to sit down. A simple viewing of Conan or the Tonight Show will attest that not too many male celebrities share this distinction.
As important as knowing how to wear socks it is of equal importance to know how not to wear them. As commonplace as it has become, and sadly so in my opinion, socks should never, ever, and for good measure please repeat those words at least three times upon reading them, be worn with sandals or their various substitutes. A sandal is made for the barefoot and as such should be worn without socks; while not only appearing tacky it just looks bad. When wearing shorts, the socks that should be worn (if any) are ankle socks. Tube and knee high socks, in this case, make you look shorter by cutting the leg, so unless you prefer to be looked at diminutively I’d suggest sticking to the low cut variety.
For those who do want to venture into the world of patterns, beyond basic colors, I commend you. A pattern or design in your dress socks can act to enrich and enliven your ensemble. What must be kept in mind, however, is that they must still conform to the idea of keeping things lively yet subtle. Your socks in this case must still take their cues from the color of your pants, however the pattern can pick up from your tie, shirt or handkerchief. Simply make sure that your socks do not get to the point were they are the focus of whatever you are wearing. It is socks that act as the small pebble that creates the ripple effect for the rest of your ensemble, so be careful where you cast your stone.