Guilty Pleasures: Black Socks


In my last post I confessed to one of my guilty pleasures being loafers with bows on. This week I confess to another guilty pleasure. This one may seem rather plebeian by comparison, but I can’t help that.

On matters of men’s dress I’ve probably read the same books and surf the same websites you have.

So we should all be familiar with the gospel of matching the colour of your socks to your suit or trousers, right? The aim is to create a faultless line of colour along the leg to the shoe.

The funny thing is that no matter how many times I read this advice it just doesn’t seem right to me. As far as I remember I was always taught the opposite truth: socks should match ones shoes. That was what my father told me, as did all the old tailors I worked with back in my retail days. I should say that in this we are chiefly referring to business dress. When it comes to the weekend jeans and chinos far greater latitude is permitted.

On the face of it what I was taught makes perfect sense, to me anyways. The most basic business shoe in a man’s wardrobe is a black oxford. Likewise, the most common business attire is a Navy Blue or Grey suit. Well, I don’t know about your part of the World but over here if you enter any retailer you’ll find row upon row of black socks. And should you have a mind to, conduct a straw poll on the tube ride home and you’ll find the black sock is confirmed as king. It stands to reason, therefore, that if the contrary were true then the most common sock to be seen would be either navy blue or grey.

But regardless, and as plebeian as it may sound, I actually really like black socks with my suits and black shoes. I like the continuation of colour from the shoe up the calf, particularly if the sock is taut and the legs crossed –reminiscent of the long black riding boot of the Brummell dandy. I also have to confess that I like the contrast of a matt black sock and polished black leather. All of which puts me beyond the pale.


  1. Michael Poplawski said:

    I don’t know if I agree. A black sock with a black shoe might make it look like a boot. In the photo I think that Cary Grant is wearing socks that match his suit not his shoes, it just happens both are very dark. I’ve seen a lot of photos of CG wearing socks that match the color of his pants but are much lighter. My personal choice would be match the pants or go for some other color that isn’t meant to match anything, but compliments the outfit.

    November 5, 2010
  2. Robert said:

    I see no fault with your argument. I sometimes wonder if those who are against black socks are more against the fact that every man and his dog wears them rather than them not looking good.

    I must admit that I wont wear black socks with a light suit but have nothing against them when wearing navy or charcoal.

    November 7, 2010
  3. Skweekah said:

    Socks are an area where I go a little wild — some colour, a pattern, luxury material. Looking for a good pair of socks to me is a journey. I often admire my collection whilst they dry on the clothes line. When I observe men wearing black socks, I often think that their wives or children simply picked them up while doing the groceries or were purchased as a quick and easy last minute birthday gift.

    November 9, 2010

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