Old Before My Time: Sock Suspenders

Words by: Andrew Williams


As a man gets older his tastes and manner are supposed to evolve. And yet, since crashing through the 30 year barrier a while ago (alright, 4 years ago) I’ve noticed a number of alarming trends creeping into my life. Firstly, I seem to need to pee in the middle of the night. Secondly, manoeuvring into a chair I have an inexplicable requirement to make an “Ahh” noise as I touchdown. I’m sat hear writing this on a Saturday night (dear Lord…); And now, I’m considering buying sock suspenders!

Read enough books on style and clothing you soon realise that while the English receive deserved praise for the quality of our suiting, shirting, shoes and they way they’re worn, there is near universal contempt, and some mockery, for our socks –or rather the type of socks we wear and how we wear them.

Nicholas Antongiavanni in ‘The Suit’ dedicates a near chapter to English shortcomings in this area; and the Italian’s, the Englishman’s natural sartorial nemesis, can be particularly creative in regard to denigrating sayings. But just recently I’ve realised they have a point.

Conduct an unscientific survey of fellow travellers on the Tube and our sins become obvious. Many men wear short socks barely clearing the ankle, others long socks but allow them to lazily slope down and gather at the ankle. In either case the result is the same –the exposure of hairy, pasty white calf. Others, particularly public school boys (read private school) have a habit of wearing hockey socks with suits, in materials all together too thick and heavy for combining with suiting.


Just when I developed this appreciation for an elegantly crossed leg, with taut sock and no sign of calf is a mystery. But you only have to look at pictures of Cary Grant sat cross legged to instantly get the aesthetic.

But long socks, even with elasticated tops, will eventually make their way down towards the ankle. And so, I have reluctantly concluded the only remedy is sock suspenders.