Men’s Socks: The Quintessential Guide

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Written
by RJ Firchau


The days when sock drawers were filled with
nothing but white tube socks are over. Second that for mountains of plain black
dress socks. Whether it’s bold colors, striking patterns, or novelty repeats,
the standard for men’s socks has shifted in a big way.
The necktie is no longer the sultan of
sartorial flair. Men now start from their toes and work their way up — so kick
your feet up and discover how to wear men’s socks the right way.
No-Show
Socks


Getting that sockless look doesn’t mean
literally going sockless. A smartly designed pair of no-show socks will keep
your feet comfortable, stylish, and dry. Plus, they’ll stay put throughout an
active day without slipping off the back of your heel.
No-Show Men's Socks

Some experts believe that no-show socks are
the only acceptable option when wearing shorts, but that opinion is a bit too
restrictive. Regardless of how stylish they may be, if you wear no-shows with
the wrong shoes, you’ll end up with blisters on the back of your heels where
your shoes rub against your skin.
The naked ankle is seemingly everywhere and
publications like GQ magazine utilize no-show socks with nearly every type of
outfit — from jeans with slip-ons to dress pants with Oxfords. The only shoes
should avoid wearing them with is with boots, high-tops or sandals.
Ankle
(Athletic) Socks

Ankle Socks

Ankle socks are often confused with no-show
socks but they are quite different. No-shows sit below the ankle and are meant
to be hidden. Ankle socks sit on or slightly above the ankle and protect your
heels and ankles from chafing.
Ankle socks are not fashion accessories. This
means that wearing them should be limited to the gym or other physical
activities, like moving a friend out of a 4th-floor apartment — or running as
fast as you can away from any friend moving out of a 4th-floor apartment.
This same rule applies to white athletic
socks (at any length). In fact, we don’t recommend wearing white athletic socks
in any situation. Go with black instead, they’re less conspicuous and will stay
looking cleaner much longer.
Mid-Calf
Socks

Mid Calf Men's Socks
Mid-calf socks are the socks that should be
filling up your sock drawer — they’re the workhorse of the modern man’s sock
supply.
The mid-calf style is perfect with sneakers, loafers,
dress shoes, boots and everything in between. Plus they can be found in just
about any color, pattern, thickness or material you can dream of.
Over
the Calf (OTC) Socks

Over the Calf Socks

Short of wearing sock garters, over the calf
socks were once the only reliable way to keep your socks from pooling around
your ankles. But as sock manufacturing improved, this knee-high style fell out
of favor and has never recovered.
If you really are concerned about keeping
your socks up, OCT socks are an undoubtedly a fool-proof solution.
Unfortunately for diehard fans, few retailers still have this style on offer.
Those that do charge exorbitant prices and offer a paltry selection. Some may
say that the knee-high is an outdated style, but unless you’re disrobing in
public, who is really going know how tall your socks are?
NOTE: Do not wear over the calf socks with
shorts. That is unless you want the neighbors to call the fashion police.
SOCK
MATERIALS


Cotton

Cotton Sock Yarn

You’ve probably heard that cotton is king.
When it comes to socks, that’s definitely true. Cotton is the most popular
fabric for both formal and athletic socks.
Cotton is lightweight, cooler, and more
durable than other fibers. It also holds its shape over time.  With its relatively low price, most of your
socks are from a cotton blend. Expect this fabric to be a regular in your sock
drawer.
Wool

Wool Sock Yarn

Wool has been used in sock manufacturing
since the beginning. Wool socks will keep feet warm in cold weather and cool
when temperatures soar. They also don’t absorb as much moisture as other
materials. These characteristics combine to make them a great fit for outdoor
activities such as hiking or skiing.
Pure wool socks can be a scratchy and thick,
so many are now blended with synthetic fibers like rayon. This blending of
yarns makes them softer, while also enhancing strength and durability. The main
downside of wool socks is that they cost more than cotton or synthetics.
Cashmere


Cashmere Sock Yarn
Seen as a luxury material, cashmere’s makeup
and benefits are similar to wool. They’ll keep your feet comfortable and are
super soft on the feet.
However, because they are more likely to lose
their shape or tear, taking proper care of cashmere socks is essential. Investing
in cashmere socks means that you better be committed to hand washing to get
your money’s worth. And don’t even think about putting them in the dryer.
Silk

Silk Sock Yarn

Silk socks are often reserved for black tie
and formal affairs. Not only are they more expensive, but they won’t last as
long as your cotton, wool, or even cashmere varieties.
They’re often blended with wool for added
warmth or synthetic fibers for durability.
It may not be the most practical sock,
there’s no doubt that your feet will feel fancy.
Synthetics

Synthetic Sock Yarn

Generally, we advise steering clear of 100%
synthetic socks unless you’re after a pair for strictly athletic use. Synthetic
socks are famously lightweight but they tend to be less comfortable and
breathable than their natural fiber counterparts.
When blended with a natural fiber like cotton
or wool, synthetics can add a degree of durability and help prevent shrinkage.
HOW
TO WEAR SOCKS WELL


When
in Doubt, Go Dark



Black Sock Stack
If you’re in a traditional industry or are
having tea with a world leader, play it safe with black, brown or navy socks.
This traditional look will keep you under the rader. As much as we love
colorful socks, sometimes it’s better not to stand out.
Try
Adding Texture or Ribbing
Just because you’re wearing conventional
solid socks doesn’t mean you’re left without options. For something with a bit
more interest, experiment with texture. Ribbed socks are available in almost
every neutral color imaginable and the seams add a subtle visual interest.
Wear
No-Shows with Discretion

No Shows Are Sexy

Beware of baring ankle in any formal
environment — many conservative types consider no-show socks to be in poor
taste, especially with suits. If you love making those types of people
uncomfortable, more power to you.
Try
Bold Solids

Yellow Solid Sock

Use solid or color-blocked socks to add a
sense of sartorial know-how to your look. Bold toned socks are the easiest way
to dip your toe into thoughtful accessorizing.
Stripes,
Dots & Argyle
Neutral Socks
The next safe bet after colored solids are
stripes, polka dots or argyle. A three of these sock patterns are timeless and
make for easy matching.
Coordinate
Your Colors

Casual Sock

When it comes to the question of color, we
suggest that you mirror your sock color with another color that you’re wearing
above the waistline. This color continuity ties your outfit together. If
however, you’re already great at color coordination, do as you like. At the end
of the day, if it looks good, it looks good.
Avoid
Pattern Matching

Conservative Socks

Avoid matching the pattern of your socks with
a pattern that already exists in your look. If you’re wearing a polka dot
shirt, avoid dotted socks. If you’re rocking an argyle sweater, avoid argyle
socks. Matching pattern on pattern can look a little too deliberate — and not
in a good way.
Going
Bold School



men's socks novelty socks
Novelty socks are not everyone’s cup of tea
but when done right, this is the just about the most fun you can have with
fashion. These kinds of socks range from boldly tasteful to just plain
tasteless, so step with caution.
Right now we are loving Alynn’s new line of
socks. They toe the line of wearability while still maximizing play.
Cuff
or Crop Your Pants

If you really love your novelty socks, don’t
hide them from the world. Try cuffing your pants or having them tailored with
no break (or even cropped) in order put your socks on display.
Let
Your Socks Be the Star



Bold Socks

We’re big proponents of socks that show off
your personality. But if you decide to rock a novelty pair, consider toning
down the other aspects of your ensemble. The more toned down the rest of your
outfit is, the more striking your socks will be in comparison.
Keep
Your Sock Drawer Organized

Organize Them Socks

The more organized you keep your sock drawer,
the more likely you are to find the right pair for the right outfit. Instead of
folding them inside out, try folding your socks and stacking them in a row
horizontally. This will give you a great idea of what socks you’ve got at any
moment.
Sock
It to ‘Em

Socks

Whichever way you decide to sock up, make
your choices pre-meditated and deliberate. At this point, there’s no good
excuse for a threadbare sock drawer.
Got a favorite pair of socks? Let us know in
the comments.
RJ Firchau
SOURCE:
THE GENTLEMANUAL
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.