Having a good sense of style is often about paying attention to the details. That means making sure your clothing is clean and pressed, ensuring that your tie is of the appropriate length and includes a dimple, polishing your shoes, wearing a pocket square etc.
The reality is that these small actions, put together, can have a dramatic impact on your overall presentation and can easily be the difference between looking good and looking fantastic.
Unfortunately, one small detail that I’ve noticed many men routinely overlook (and the subject of this edition’s Style NOPE!) are socks.
All too often I see men wear thick, athletic socks with their dress slacks and business suits. Worse still, it’s even common for me to see men wear them with their casual shorts! Needless to say, this is hardly a flattering look. The bottom line is that athletic socks should only be worn for athletic activities. In every other occasion you should be wearing the appropriate type of dress or casual socks (or no socks at all). It’s as simple as that.
For example, when you are wearing dress slacks or a business suit, you ought to be wearing an appropriate pair of dress socks. Dress socks are different than casual and athletic socks in that they are made thinner and often have a slight sheen to them. They are also longer and usually come up to your mid calf. Unlike most casual or athletic socks, you are also likely to find dress socks sold individually and not in a multi-pack. Additionally, while not a rule written in stone, it’s best to match your dress socks to the colour of your trousers for classically coordinated look.
On the other hand, when wearing casual trousers such as khakis or jeans, you ought to be wearing an appropriate pair of casual socks to compliment your outfit. Casual socks are unique in the sense that they are not as thin as a pair of dress socks, but they are also not as thick as a pair of cotton athletic socks. They can also come in a wide variety of colours and patterns. My advice would be to stick with basic colours such as navy, grey, black, and brown, as they will be much easier to pair with the rest of your wardrobe. Of course, as you become more comfortable with mixing and matching different colours and patterns, feel free to branch out with bolder patterns and colours to add some extra flair to your outfit.
Lastly, when wearing shorts my recommendation is to simply go sockless. I’m fortunate in the sense that my feet hardly sweat so I can get away with the sockless look rather easily. However, I understand that for some men going sockless isn’t as feasible. In this case, I recommend wearing a pair of “no show” socks or loafer socks. These will keep you from ruining your shoes with your sweaty feet but while at the same time giving you the aesthetic benefit of going sockless. Remember that nothing screams “style impaired” more than someone wearing a pair of thick, white athletic socks with their casual shorts. Just don’t do it!
Socks are a minor detail that often don’t get much attention from men. As such, it’s not uncommon for me to see legions of clueless guys walking around in a pair of thick, cotton athletic socks 24/7. Do not be one of them! Instead, invest a few minutes of your time in understanding the different types of socks out there (dress, casual, and sport) and when it is appropriate to wear each of them. Remember that having a good sense of style is often about minding the details so don’t let something as simple as a pair of socks unravel your entire look.
Here’s to looking sharp!