Sock It To Me

Often overlooked.  Purely optional flair. One of my favorite parts of an outfit.

Socks (technically referred to as hosiery) are the hidden bonus in a man’s outfit. There are the usual culprits or rules as far as socks go, the sartorial bonus rules, and then the advanced or screw your rules options.

Generally speaking, guy’s should have socks that get as far up their legs as possible. The theory is that a man’s ankle should not appear when he crosses his legs.  Nor should part of his calf. This is why over-the-calf socks for dress pants and suits make the right impact.

Generally, black suits get black socks in most wardrobes.  Jeans are matched with white crew socks.

Basically, you want to use the sock to extend the line of the leg. The color of the sock to match the color of the pants.  In casual wear, you see the white cotton socks showing up because they are … well … because.

The sartorial rules expand on this a bit.  The idea is for the socks to match the base color of the pants.  A blue based sock with a navy suit or a black based sock with a black trouser.  The khaki of chinos ask for dusty or tan socks.


Patterns like argyle and stripes will allow you add a pop of interest while still saying safely in matching a base color of the pant with the base color of the sock. When you are using fancier shoes with your jeans or casual wear, look at matching the color of the shoes with the sock.  When I say match, just stay in the same color family.  You don’t have to get them spit spot perfect.


The level of comfort involved let’s you escalate.  As Grant Harris, of Image Granted and Style Editor for Primer Magazine, has described “Your socks should match only your personality.”  Or as Nathan Lane observed in The Birdcage, “One Does Want a Hint of Color.”

If you want to coordinate the socks with the accent color of your shirt, tie, or pocket square you will create a subtle patterning that will enhance your overall outfit.

As GQ recently reminded us, especially in summer, let your socks show some personality. This is a vanity post.  I think socks are great.  The more color and pattern, the better in my mind; you should consider adding just a hint of color to your outfit.  It is an easy step to up your style.