Socks: Choose And Coordinate

Words by: Thom Wong

Generally as much of an afterthought as shoes, socks are the unsung hero of the creatively dressed man. Given next to no coverage by magazines and generally assigned to the back walls of stores, or featured like celebrity mags near the registers, socks can and should be a quick way to spruce up an outfit.

On first glance the offerings can be disheartening – pair after pair of grey and black dress socks with an equal number of athletic socks. This lack of selection has clearly driven some men mad as they then take the drastic step of pairing their oxfords and wingtips with white cotton ankle socks. A man’s socks should accurately reflect his taste in clothes, and while, like t-shirts, they should never be more interesting than you or the rest of what you’re wearing, they should compliment your attire more than just blend in.

Don’t Beige Your Feet

The major chain retailers make fairly interesting socks, but experience has taught me that a five dollar sock will last about five dollars long. That said, few of us have the money to buy $100 Corgi cashmere socks, or take up the company’s offer to have them custom made. For the last year I’ve been buying most of my socks at the GAP and Banana Republic, and find that an understated stripe works well in almost any situation. Of course, you can’t really go wrong with argyle either.

Because Our Time and Our Clothes Got to Coordinate

A majority of men–and women–seem to think that coordinate means matching. This helps to explain the head-to-toe pink abominations Juicy Couture has foisted on us, and the black suit, black shirt, black tie ensemble that was everywhere a few years ago. Terrified of not coordinating, or simply too tired to care, most men reach for the automatic black or grey socks and wash their hands of the entire affair. But as anyone who has ever taken an introductory art class will tell you, coordinating colours is a simple matter of tone (and the all helpful colour wheel). Even without this basic knowledge a man can only really go wrong with his socks if he’s wearing blue shoes with orange socks and grey pants, and even that could look good depending on the person and the rest of the outfit.

That arbiter of style The Sartorialist sets off a near riot every time he posts a man in a blue suit with red socks. While many commenters will praise the “bold” choice, at least as many will question it – with some decrying it to the point of non-existence, as if to say “this cannot be.” If your curious about it yourself, here’s a simple solution – buy a pair of red socks and try it. Maybe you will discover, to your surprise, that red socks were the missing component from your wardrobe, and will then make the leap to radial red and white stripes. It could happen.

Buying Socks Online – Not As Crazy As It Seems

You buy groceries, books, DVDs, and cars – why not socks? As with almost every other consumer product, the internet now has a better selection of socks than any brick and mortar location and shouldn’t be casually dismissed as a source for livening up your feet.

Paul Smith’s online store is currently having a sale on some of its stock.

The Joy of Socks offers a huge selection (but avoid at all costs the “novelty” socks).

You knew was a great source for shoes, but did you know they sell socks? Great selection.

In a Perfect World

Speaking of Paul Smith, if money were no object I would only wear his socks. Immaculately manufactured and showcasing the man’s deft eye for colour, Paul Smith socks are the Christmas gift you won’t be returning.