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Your comprehensive guide to wearing socks

Your comprehensive guide to wearing socks

We have some news for those of you who might be treating your socks choice like an afterthought: the foot-hugging garment has the power to make or break an outfit. They also have the ability to drive you crazy when one half of a pair goes missing (again). Who knew such an often unseen piece of clothing held such power? Our stylists did. 

Because we believe your sock choice is key when getting dressed in the morning, we’ve tapped stylist Millie Rich to break down a few sock guidelines for you. First piece of advice to commit to memory? Always wear socks with closed-toed shoes. Your feet (and those around them) will thank you.

Invisible socks

Photographed: Reiss Shortie Short Socks ($15)

What they are

No-show socks live up to their name — they have a barely-there design that goes over your toes and has a bit of rubber so they won’t slip down from your foot.

Why they’re great

If you’re someone who prefers the no-sock look, these will help you achieve that without requiring you to go sockless or get dreaded smelly feet. 

Which shoes wear them with

These are great with trainers or smarter shoes like loafers if you want a super low-profile sock that gives you that no-sock look.

Trainer socks

What they are

A slightly higher, often ribbed, cotton sock that sits just under your ankle.

Why they’re great

They’ll give you the comfort and support you need while working out.

Which shoes to wear them with

Trainers only. You should really only be wearing these socks while working out, as they have an odd ankle height that tends to ruin any non-workout looks. Think of them as function over fashion.

Calf socks

What they are

Cotton socks that hit at your calf and tend to come in solid colours. They also come in a variety of thickness levels, and usually the thicker they are, the more casual they look. 

Why they’re great

They give you something to wear with trainers when you’re not working out. They also give you an easy way to jazz up your look. If you want to go a bit more daring, opt for a solid pastel sock. Trying to ace the athleisure trend? Look for sportier styles with stripes or logos at the top. 

Which shoes to wear them with

Your everyday trainers.

Smart socks

What they are

These socks are a bit smarter and shinier than your standard pair. You’ll often find them with big polka dots or novelty prints.

Why they’re great

Much like a tie or bow tie, smarter sock are a great way to add a pop of personality to a more formal look, especially if you opt for a subtle pattern or a novelty print. 

Which shoes to wear them with

Your smarter shoes, like brogues, Oxfords, or monk straps. They’re not meant to be worn with your trainers – you should also avoid wearing them with shorts.

Hiking socks

Photographed: Hikerdelic Smoothie Sock ($19)

What they are

This type of sock is usually made from thicker, hardworking fabrics, like bamboo or wool, which are meant to endure long hikes. But the way guys are wearing them today is more for style than function. They’re usually crew length, meaning they’ll hit mid-calf. 

Why they’re great

They’ll give a style-forward edge to your look, especially if you tend to follow more cutting-edge styles. Because of the thickness, avoid wearing them in warmer temperatures. 

Which shoes to wear them with 

Lots of guys on the streets of London are wearing them with trainers and hiking boots. But if you’re not one to typically lean into trends, don't hesistate to stick to the calf sock.


Words: Allison Pavlick