At a company training meeting a few months ago, I was introduced to a new co-worker. This guy was extremely motivated and on the ball. I was pretty impressed with him, until I looked down and saw that he was wearing white socks with a pair of dark dress slacks. Maybe it’s superficial, but at that moment this guy’s credibility as a sharp shooter and go-getter entirely evaporated. I suddenly saw Steve Erkle standing in front of me. Other people at the meeting noticed as well, and got a laugh out of it. No one took the guy seriously.
You don’t want to be this guy. If you want to impress people, you have to pay attention to the details. It doesn’t matter if you’ve put together an awesome outfit; if you don’t have the right socks, you spoil your whole look.
To help you not sabotage your image or credibility like the guy at the meeting, follow these simple rules when selecting which kind of sock to wear with your ensembles.
Wear dress socks with dress shoes
Don’t try to wear athletic socks with dress shoes even if the socks are black. Athletic socks are thicker than dress socks and don’t match the refined style of dress shoes. If you try wearing gym socks with a pair of dress shoes, they’ll bunch out over the shoe and look goofy. Stick to dress socks. The thin material feels nice on your foot and looks sharp.
With jeans there’s a little more wiggle room. Preferably, you should have dark socks even with denim, but you can get away with wearing gym socks with jeans.
Sock color should match your pants, not your shoes.
This is a rule that many people are confused about. I’ve heard numerous arguments about whether you should match socks with shoes or socks with pants. You should always match socks with pants because when you sit down and your socks are exposed, you want a solid line of color from your pants to your shoes. Socks that don’t match your pant color create a jarring break in your outfit. So black socks go with black pants and brown socks go with brown pants. Absolutely and under no condition should you ever wear white socks with dark pants unless you want to look like Steve Erkle or 1980’s Michael Jackson.
No socks with sandals or shorts
The goofiest thing is to see people who wear socks with sandals. Society’s ability to take you seriously will be reduced to zero if you do this. Sandals were designed to be worn with bare feet, so please, do not wear socks with sandals.
Socks with shorts should be avoided as well. Wearing socks with shorts visually makes your legs look shorter. If you need to wear socks while wearing shorts, invest in some ankle socks that aren’t visible when you wear you sneakers.
Novelty socks are for elementary school teachers
No man should own a pair of orange novelty socks that say “Boo!” on them and are adorned with little bats. The only excuse you have for wearing these is if you’re an elementary school teacher named Mrs. Heart. Keep you sock collection simple and classic and you’ll never go wrong.
Last updated: July 17, 2015