What goes with what

Q&A: When should I skip socks?

Q&A: When should I skip socks?

We've said it before and we'll say it again: socks are a small detail that can make a big difference. It therefore follows that the issue of socks versus no socks can be more complicated than you'd think—and laughably polarising.

Few style-related topics get people as tetchy on Facebook and Twitter (except, of course, for the question of turning up your trousers). We at Thread receive sock queries galore (thanks in particular to Mark, Mal, Ross and Stephen for writing in), and even among our stylists there are debates about whether and when socklessness is appropriate. 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, two things to note:

1. By going sockless, we actually mean wearing invisible socks. Bare feet in closed shoes make you uncomfortable—and your shoes stink.

2. Outfits are always more casual without socks. 

With that in mind, Thread's Luke McDonald lays it out. 

Always wear socks if ... 

You're wearing boots 

"An obvious one, but every once in a while you'll see a guy wearing heavy black boots without socks—a look that's impractical as well as jarring. You should always wear socks with boots. The only exception is desert boots: they're lighter, so they can look good with shorts and invisible socks in summer." 

You're wearing lace-ups

"Lace-ups are smart; bare ankles are casual—and never the twain shall meet. Unless, of course, you're the kind of guy who'd wear a blazer and tie with shorts. In which case all bets are off." 

You're wearing anything smarter than smart-casual

"Socks are all but required in certain situations: at weddings and funerals, and at most offices. Particularly among an older crowd, going without socks will prompt raised eyebrows."

Sometimes wear socks if ... 

You're wearing trainers

"This is really a personal preference. With shorts, invisible socks can look better; with trousers, either works fine. One note: nothing ruins trainers faster than wearing them without any socks, so do go for an invisible pair."

You're wearing loafers in summer

"These work either way, but the sockless loafer look is a bit more daring. If you're wearing loafers or driving shoes with shorts, you should of course skip the socks."

Never wear socks if …

You're wearing boat shoes

"In general, visible socks aren't great with ultra-summery items like boat shoes—which makes sense: boat shoes are designed for ... well, boats, and you'll want to slide them off easily without worrying about wet socks."

You're by the sea

"You probably don't need me to tell you that, eh? Boat shoes are the most obvious choice if you're near water, but minimal trainers and loafers can also work."