What You Should Know About Styling Socks and Going Sockless

What You Should Know About Styling Socks and Going Sockless

To go sockless or not to go sockless? Whatever your preference, we've got you covered with our guide to styling socks and rocking the sockless look.

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Summer is slowly creeping up on us, which means getting dressed every morning is about to get a lot more fun. Gone are the days where you've got to layer up with jumpers, jackets and a sturdy pair of boots; now you're free to mix bright colours, patterns, and all sorts of footwear. Now that you've got the option of loafers, boat shoes, trainers and plimsolls, you've also got a big decision to make; socks or no socks?

If you want to play it safe, you can stick to going sockless with loafers and boat shoes; then throw on a pair of anklets when you're wearing trainers or plimsolls. If you want to mix things up a bit, then you can wear argyle socks with your brogues and go sockless in your Converse. Once you open your mind to breaking the rules a little bit, the outfit options are really endless.

mens patterned socks with black brogues
Men's Patterned Socks With Black Brogues

How to Match Socks with Your Outfit

For some, the challenge of styling a pair of socks can be just as intimidating as going sockless. With so many lengths, patterns and colours to choose from it can be hard to know what you can wear with what. Luckily, rules were made to be broken; gone are the days where a sock that matches your trousers was the only option.

The Rules

  • White socks rarely look good; unless you're going for a slightly sporty look, leave them in your drawer.
  • Wearing patterned socks with your finest suit is a pretty bold statement; it takes confidence.
  • If you're unsure about styling your socks, stick to something plain or a classic pattern such as argyle.
  • Pull your outfit together by matching the colour of your socks to some detailing in your jacket or shirt.
  • Make sure your socks match eachother and have no visible holes. It sounds obvious, but it's an easy enough mistake to make.
  • Matching socks are a must

The Socks


If you're a stickler for rules and really want to keep your socks and trousers matching, then a plain pair in grey, black, or navy are about as adventurous as it's gonna get. If you go for a less neutral colour, or a textured fabric, then plain socks can add a cheeky hint of colour to an otherwise simple outfit. These can be slipped in to your brogues for a day in the office or paired with your trainers for casual wear; their versatility makes them a definite sock drawer staple.

Mens Plain Socks in Various Colours
Mens Plain Socks in Various Colours


Bright socks are a little harder to style but ultimately, confidence is key. You might be able to get away with certain styles in formal situations but if you're unsure about it, play it safe with something a little less eye-catching. A pair of tie-dye or paisley print socks wouldn't look out of place at a festival, but when left to peek out from between your jeans and trainers, they can be worn on the streets too. If you're really proud of your sock-choice, then you can whack on some shorts and let everyone bask in your risqué footwear.

Mens Bright Socks in Various Colours
Mens Bright Socks in Various Colours - SHOP: HufSocks


Patterned socks are almost as versatile as a plain pair. Argyle, polka dot and stripes are all classic patterns; it's perfectly acceptable to wear them with your smartest lace-ups or even a pair of loafers, as long as your choice of colour isn't too crazy. Socks emblazoned with multiple patterns can be worn to make your everyday jeans and a t-shirt combo a tad more fun; these are best paired with trainers as they're a much more casual style.

Mens Patterned Socks
Mens Patterned Socks - SHOP: Huf - Socks


The length of your socks is also something that needs to be considered when you're putting together your outfit. No show or liner socks both give the illusion of going sockless, so they're easy enough. 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; ensure that they fit well so you don't have to spend the whole day pulling them up as they sag around your ankles.

Chart of Sock Lengths
Chart of Sock Lengths

Should Socks Match Pants or Shoes?

Many people ask this question often and the answer is, its up to you. As we have stated about there are more politics to sock wearing than just matching them. I think its best to take it as a case by case basis as to when you want to match your socks.

Socks and Shorts

The socks and shorts combination is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. It's not quite as taboo as socks and sandals, but it is difficult to get right. If you're willing to give it a go, then mid-calf length socks are the way to go. Don't be tempted to let them sit around your ankles; if you're going to do it, do it properly and pull them all the way up. For a casual look, you can wear them with trainers and loose-fitting shorts and you'll be ready to hit the pub. If you're heading somewhere a bit smarter, lunch in the sun perhaps, then brogues and tailored shorts are the best combination.

Mens Long Socks with Shorts Street Style
Mens Long Socks with Shorts Street Style

Socks on the Streets

There seems to be two types of men styling up their socks; hipsters and fashion-forward businessmen. Don't let that put you off though, because they're paving the way for sock-lovers everywhere. Favoured by the likes of students and festival-goers is the jeans, socks and trainers combination; just a hint of colour peeking out at your ankle helps to brighten up an otherwise dull outfit. Here are our favourite sockless men on the street

Mens Street Style Socks
Mens Street Style Socks - SHOP THE LOOK: Look One Look Two | Look Three
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man | Pinterest

Business formal has got a whole lot funkier these days, with waistcoats, bowties, checked jackets and coloured trousers all being worn by young professionals. Patterned socks have also managed to creep in to the look, and make an appearance somewhere between the tops of their shiny brogues and the bottom of their neatly-hemmed trousers.

Mens Street Style Socks
Mens Street Style Socks - SHOP THE LOOK: Look One | Look Two | Look Three

Going Sockless

Daring to bare is often seen as a risqué option; there's some sort of taboo about slipping in to a pair of shoes without your socks on. When done properly, there's no reason why going sockless can't be a sophisticated option.

The Rules

  • Make sure you wear a pair of slim-fitting trousers or jeans.
  • Trousers and jeans should also finish at or just above the ankle.
  • As well as washing your feet, you've got to freshen up the insides of your shoes.
  • Even though the sockless look can be pretty sophisticated, bear in mind that some formal situations will require you to stick to a more traditional sock-and-brogue combination.
  • Keep your ankles in check; no one wants to catch a peek of unsightly leg hairs.
  • Wear your shoes in before going sockless for the first time; you don't want to rub up any blisters.

Mens Sockless Shoes

Mens Sockless Loafers

The perfect option for a formal occasion; loafers are traditionally worn barefoot. Nothing says suave sophistication like a shiny leather or slick suede pair of loafers. They can be teamed with your best suit for a day in the office, or dressed down with slim-fitting jeans and a crew neck jumper for a more casual occasion.

Mens Loafers in Various Colours
Mens Loafers in Various Colours - SHOP: G.H. BassLoafers

Wearing Sneakers without Socks

If you're wearing trainers purely for a sporting purpose, then it's probably best to keep the socks on. Otherwise, you can go sockless in a pair of low-top trainers teamed with slim-fitting jeans or your most outrageous pair of Summer shorts. Joggers should be avoided; you don't want to look like you've rolled straight out of bed and forgot to put your socks on. Wearing sneaker without socks is best done in the summer,

Mens Trainers in Various Styles
Mens Trainers in Various Styles - SHOP: Saucony | Garment ProjectTrainers

Boat Shoes

These are a great option when you're trying to master the smart-casual look as they can bring an edge of formality to your everyday jeans and a t-shirt. They're easily worn sockless and are definitely a Summer shoe, making them perfect for these warmer months.

Mens Boat Shoes in Various Styles
Mens Boat Shoes in Various Styles - SHOP: Timberland | SperryBoat Shoes


A fresh white pair of Converse or some classic slip-on Vans are also great Summer shoes that can be easily styled whilst going sockless. They can be worn with anything from the casual half of your wardrobe, or even with some suit trousers and a shirt if you're feeling brave. Wearing Plimsoll without socks is best done in the summer, one of the most popular thing is wearing vans without socks.

Mens Plimsolls Converse and Vans
Mens Plimsolls Converse and Vans - SHOP: Converse | VansPlimsolls

The Trousers

When choosing your trousers or jeans, it's essential that they finish at or just above your ankle and are slim-fitting. A timeless pair of suit trousers are perfect for a day in the office or a formal event; if you want something a little more adventurous, then a checked pair can help to jazz up an otherwise classic look. Jeans can be worn for occasions that call for a smart casual or casual outfit; with so many washes to choose from, your options aren't limited. A popular look to go for it wearing black socks with grey pants.

mens smart trousers and slim fit jeans with loafers and trainers sockless
Men's Trousers and Jeans - SHOP: SelectedTrousers | Levis -  Jeans

The Invisible Sock

One of the best-kept secrets about going sockless is that you don't actually have to go sockless. If the thought of your bare feet squelching around in a pair of sweat-tainted shoes all day makes you shiver, then the invisible sock is the way to go. They sit just below the back of your ankle and and cover your toes so that you can give the impression of going sockless whilst remaining as comfortable as you would do in socks. Ingenious, really.

Invisible Socks Mens Black and Grey
Men's Invisible Socks

Avoiding Foot Funk

If you've decided to shun the invisible sock and go completely barefoot, then it's important that you give both your feet and your shoes some TLC to avoid any embarrassing odours. This can easily be done with things you'll find lying around your house; just line your shoes with some baking soda, alcohol, teabags, kitty litter or baby powder and leave it to work its magic. If that sounds too much like hard work then you can just chuck them in the freezer to help kill off any bacteria.

Men Without Socks on the Streets

Sometimes when you're on the brink of trying something new, a little inspiration from other like-minded men can help give you the confidence to rock a new look. In order to nail the smart casual look, you can throw on your favourite suit jacket and some smart trousers; accessorise with sunglasses or a hat and then go sockless in your favourite low-top trainers to add a casual edge. If you want to keep things a little smarter, then try a pair of brogues; they can also be worn sockless but they help keep things formal.

Mens Street Style Sockless
Mens Street Style Sockless - SHOP THE LOOK: Look One | Look Two | Look Three

Loafers and jeans are a pretty fail-safe combination for day-to-day wear, and a knee-length coat can help to transition this look from the streets to a casual working environment. For a completely casual look, slim-fitting trousers can be paired with an unbuttoned, untucked shirt and a pair of trainers.

Mens Street Style Sockless
Mens Street Style Sockless - SHOP: Look One Look Two | Look Three
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man | Pinterest

Your Quick Guide to All Things Socks

  • Remember if you're wearing socks to make sure they match,  are clean and don't have any visible holes
  • Choose the right socks for the right occasion. If you're styling a suit and socks, going for a bold pattern usually works well
  • There are less rules to wearing socks than there are being sockless, so go wild with this one and try some styles you wouldn't usually
  • When going sockless a good thing to consider is, is it sunny enough? You don't want to look like you are forcing a style
  • Trousers are key for this look so make sure you are going for a slim pair regardless of the material
  • Check the occasion, more formal occasions will need a more polished look
  • Keep your hygiene in check, no one wants a wiff of foot funk
  • Invisible socks are the best way to achieving this look without getting blisters

On That Note...

The decision is up to you; socks or no socks? Both are perfectly viable options that suit a range of formalities. Going sockless is surprisingly easy and definitely helps to transition your Spring wardrobe in to Summer. It can be done in pretty much any style of shoe and with the invisible sock in your possession you don't have to worry about actually going barefoot.

Styling socks is a little harder if you opt for something patterned or brightly coloured, but as long as you wear them with confidence you'll (probably) nail it. Socks are so often overlooked and end up in an unloved, mismatched bundle in the underwear drawer; it's time to embrace them again and give them the attention they deserve.


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