How To Style Your Socks

How To Style Your Socks
Socks - maybe not the most interesting thing to read about, but you really don't want to be getting such a simple element wrong. We near enough wear them every day, and if you don't, you'll still need some tips on how to keep your shoes (and feet) fresh. Your socks don't usually get much thought, so instead of neglecting them, here's our complete guide on what socks you should be wearing.

Read more Men’s Style Guides and check out our Store.


The humble sock keeps your feet comfortable whatever you're doing, whether it's hiking up a hill or strolling around in town. They're important and although you may not always think too much about it, sometimes you may need to. So, when buying socks you need to consider your needs, your budget and what socks go with what shoe.

First impressions are vital to everyday life, you want to look your best at all times! So when you're deliberating your jacket, jeans, T-shirt, jumper and accessories, why would you leave out your socks? Socks don't just have to be black anymore and gone are the days where a sock that matches your trousers is the only option! Believe it or not, socks are also very important to the life of your shoes. As feet are prone to sweating, this can cause damage to the footwear, which highlights the importance of a good quality pair of socks. So all in all, your socks can be one of the most important part of your outfit.
mens in dress socks loafers
Your socks need to suit the type of shoe you're wearing


The General Rules of Socks

  • No thin / fine dress socks for athletic shoes.
  • If you’re unsure about how to wear your socks, stick to black.
  • Make sure your socks match each other and have no visible holes. It sounds obvious, but it’s an easy enough mistake to make.
  • Remember you need to ensure that they fit well, so you don’t have to spend the whole day pulling them up as they sag around your ankles.
  • A good pair of socks shouldn't just absorb sweat, but should distribute perspiration through the material to the outer surface which is an actual process called wicking.
  • The sock should cushion the foot from impact with the ground, and prevent the skin from rubbing against the inside of shoes.
  • If you're wondering what colour socks to wear with jeans - black is your safest option.

Lengths of Socks

The length of your socks should to be considered when choosing what socks to wear with your outfit. No show or liner socks both give the illusion of going sockless, while ped and anklets are best worn with trainers or plimsolls, as they’re pretty casual and offer just a glimpse of colour at the ankle. Mid-calf and over the calf length socks can both be worn under your jeans or trainers.
socks length chart
Know what socks you need for what shoe

Material of Socks

  • Common base materials include cotton, wool, nylon and polyester.
  • Cotton socks are absorbent and good for soaking sweat off the skin, but it doesn’t wick moisture towards its surface and it doesn’t allow wetness to evaporate quickly.
  • Wool breathes easily and lets wetness evaporate. It's warmer, but lacks specific wicking properties for speeding moisture away from the body.
  • Synthetics such as polyester and nylon encourage wicking, but provide little cushioning for the foot.
  • Cotton and cotton blends are usually used for striped and patterned socks for casual sneakers and casual or dressier leather shoes.
  • Fine wool blends and cashmere dress socks are good for leather dress shoes and anything that needs to be smart.
mens coloured chinos socks
Socks can be made with an array of materials depending on the style and colour


Size of Socks

Although you'd think that sock sizes are like shoe sizes, most of them aren't. Sock sizes are scaled from XS to XXXL and most 'medium' socks will fit up to about a size 10.5 (UK). Although this is usual, you should still check the size chart before buying as brand sock sizes vary.

Types of Socks

Plain and Dress Socks

If you're more old school, plain or dress socks are the way to go! Standard black, plain grey and navy make the best dress socks, but even white socks can work depending on your outfit and where you are going. Classic black dress socks paired with a smart tuxedo and formal shoes will make you look extremely dapper while pairing plain grey or navy socks with formal shoes will give you a sophisticated look.

The Rules

  • If you’re unsure about styling your socks, stick to something plain or a classic pattern such as argyle.
  • Keep the colour of your dress socks matching to your trousers for suits.
  • Choose a pair of socks that are either a shade darker or lighter than the trousers you’re wearing.
  • Plain white socks and suits are a massive no-no.
Dress socks are always worn with formal shoes


Textured Socks

If you like the idea of plain socks but want to give your outfit a bit of an edge then textured socks are the way to go! Just remember that textured socks can add weight to a look! Not only do textured socks look great with brogues, they can look just as good in desert boots. Just make sure you co-ordinate the sock colour with the colour of your desert boots and your set to go!

The Rules

  • Choose a pair of socks that are either a shade darker or lighter than the trousers you’re wearing.
  • Pair your textured socks with pieces made from similarly heavy/rugged materials for your trousers such as denim, wool or even leather.
  • The socks may make your shoes a bit tighter, so take this into consideration.
mens textured socks brown shoes
Woollen socks are good winter warmers

Bright Statement Socks

Bright, statement coloured socks have made a comeback in recent years, with men becoming more conscious and a lot more confident when wearing fashionable, vibrant colours. If you are going to go for some bright coloured socks, it's best not to draw all the attention to them. You want people to see them but you realistically don't want to be looking like a clown. Where them with boots or some smart shoes, but make sure your trousers aren't too short.

The Rules

  • Bright socks are generally not ideal for important work meetings or really formal black tie events; colourful socks with suits are acceptable, just be careful with how long your trouser leg is.
  • Wearing bright socks are very 'out there' and you need confidence to pull it off so don't be shy.
  • When choosing what colour socks to wear, compliment or contrast correctly otherwise they will clash and look like a disaster.
  • If stuck with what colour to wear you can buy socks with more than one tone of colour.
Bold, statement socks only need to be shown a little

Patterned Socks

Patterned socks are actually quite versatile and easy to style. A simple white T-shirt with either indigo or black slim jeans and a pair of low tops (black or white) will make these socks stand out, and make your day more comfortable and stylish. You can even wear them with a suit for a more snazzy look. As long as the sock colour isn't too bright, you can pair classic patterns such as argyle, polka dot and stripes with smart brogues, lace-ups or even loafers! Just make sure the socks and the shoes co-ordinate.

The Rules

  • Wearing patterned socks with your finest suit is a pretty bold statement; it takes confidence.
  • Patterned socks work well paired with trainers as it gives a much more casual style.
  • Keep your outfit simple when wearing these as you want them to be the main focus of attention.
  • Try to choose socks in a pattern with a base tone that matches the colour of trousers you’re wearing.
  • You can even co-ordinate your patterned socks with a pocket square.
  • When it comes to patterns, it never hurts to stick with classic dots or stripes.
socks and shoes bright
Patterned socks can brighten up a suit

The Ankle Sock

Ankle socks are the best things to wear with trainers - you can't see the sock yet your feet are comfortable and protected. These are by far the easiest to style and wear because if you have black, white and grey pairs, you're pretty much sorted.

The Rules

  • Invest in some ankle socks that aren’t visible when you wear your trainers.
  • Make sure your ankle socks are very comfortable.
  • Ensure the ankle sock fits perfectly as they usually have a bit of elastic material which hugs your ankle.
  • You can experiment with colour, although it's not necessary and neutral colours look best.
trainers and ankle socks
Trainer socks only need to be seen a little bit or not at all
The latest news from style, life, arts, and culture and everything in between. Whether it's a new brand arriving into our style, our latest drops and editorials. You will never miss a beat with us.

The Manual

  • Style
  • Life
  • Collective
  • Grooming
  • News
            Brand Introduction: TAIKAN

            Brand Introduction: TAIKAN

            Functional, desirable and purposeful, three key elements which make up the foundation of TAIKAN (pronounced 'taken') the accessory brand to know.

            read more
            Rugby Shirt Revival

            Rugby Shirt Revival

            The classic rugby shirt is having a moment.   When worn off the pitch the rugby shirt was once a clear indicator of a public school-educated chap w...

            read more