One of the subjects we’ve yet to cover on ‘Guy Style Guide’ is socks. Finding the ideal pair isn’t as difficult as you might think, and today I’m going to introduce you to some dress sock possibilities.

Let’s take a closer look at the various fabrics, textures, lengths and colours you’re likely to find in the highstreet and which ones will work best for your feet. Remember, if you have any queries or questions, feel free to leave a comment below…

Choosing Fabric

Woollen socks are an enduring classic that refuse to die; and with good reason; most modern weaves are warm, soft and reasonably inexpensive. Wool is more resistant than cotton or silk, and thick enough to keep your toes toasty on all but the coldest of days.

If it’s true luxury you’re after, then nothing beats a spot of cashmere. Weight for weight, cashmere is warmer than wool, so you’ll get all the warming benefit minus the thickness.

Remember though, cashmere requires more maintenance than more robust textiles, and are certainly more expensive.

Cotton is cheap, easy to maintain and relatively inexpensive. The thin weave makes it an ideal choice for dress socks, particularly when infused with other materials, such as lycra or nylon, to give it an added stretch and strength.

Again, cotton’s natural thinness does have the disadvantage of wearing away more quickly than other fabrics and it won’t last as long as thicker materials.

Choosing a colour

You needn’t concern yourself when it comes to colour as, once again, the rules are pretty simple and come down to whether you’re wearing light or dark coloured suits:

Dark Suits
Always match your socks to your suit colour, not your shoes. So, if you’re wearing a navy suit with black shoes for example, you need to wear navy socks. Simple.

Light Suits
In this case, it’s best to go for socks a shade or two darker than the suit, but a few shades lighter than the shoes. It sounds difficult to find a match, but you’d be surprised by the range of sock colors that’ll do the trick.

Choosing the right fit

Obviously you want socks that fit, and (just like belts) buying a size larger than your feet seems to be the ideal way to go. For example, if you have size nine shoes, you should find a size ten sock.

If you can only find socks for sale in a small, medium or large, try to find the size key either on the label or by the store display. This should give you an idea of the sorts of sizes that’ll fit in each category (e.g. Large: 9-12).

There’s some debate over length; some say the rule is, “the sock should be long enough to cover your skin whenever you cross your legs”, while others enforce a strict, “must cover calves” policy. I say, find a length that works comfortably on your body. Certainly, as with skinny ties and one-button suits, it seems that ‘shallow’ socks are a contemporary flair; try to find dress socks that match your unique set of needs.

Rules to remember

  • Never, ever wear white socks with dress shoes. You’re not a fifties gangster, so don’t dress like one!
  • Never wear heavily patterned socks with heavily patterned suits. It’ll look too busy and become a distraction.
  • Match textures. If your socks are made from shiny silk when your suit is made from matte wool, guess where people’s eyes are going to end up? That’s right – straight on the socks!
  • Got a hole? Then please, for your sake and mine, throw them away! Socks aren’t expensive, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a brand new pair.
  • Sockless isn’t a sin, but it can be. Always use caution when going without socks. Remember, it’s not appropriate for formal occasions and will definitely leave you with stinky shoes unless you keep your toes well cleansed.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.

3 Responses

  1. Blank Label

    how about colorful socks? certainly not professional or ‘dressy’ but makes me think of the Paul Smith man. God i love it!

  2. Johnathan

    Ah! You got me!

    I’m a big Paul Smith fan, and I’ve actually added the topic of ‘wearing colourful socks at work’ to my list of forthcoming articles (along with “sports socks” and “casual socks”).

    I did briefly consider adding in a section as part of this post, but I felt that it actually warranted an article all to itself. Needless to say, I’ll definitely be writing it sooner than later!