Once upon a time, there were only two sock categories – dress socks and sweat socks. That was the same time when socks had a purely utilitarian purpose, and the only job they had when ‘thrown’ into an outfit is to not stand out and clash. Times have definitely changed, and socks have gone through not only a transformation in terms of the birth of numerous new styles, but also design, color, pattern, and this, in turn, has put them in the spotlight. The spotlight we’re talking about is the fact that they’re no longer serving a simple purpose of keeping the feet warm ‘blend’ with the chosen footwear but have rather become a powerful styling tool. Therefore, a lesson on how to style them for maximum effect is in order. This is a fairly new territory so attention must be paid.
Before embarking on a journey of specific sock-search, one must first master the art of color. This is where a highly handy tool in the form of a color wheel steps onto the stage. This is the simple part and here’s the skinny - the sections on either side of a color are similar, directly opposite is complementary while your contrasting hues are separated by three sections of the wheel. Your best bet is to go with contrasting as complementary can be a bit harder to pair if you’re not a color expert. Of course, there is always the safest possible approach, and that is to go with a color from the same family. For instance, pairing colorful socks with beige chinos. This is a great way to start, but we’re not here to merely stay on the safe side, so once you’ve passed this neophyte step, it’s time to play.
This is a field that is really fun and since jeans are a regular ‘weapon of choice’ for many, it’s time to experiment. First of all, stripes are an unmistakable choice. You can go tonal – putting striped socks in similar shades to the jeans to use. Of course, there is a way to show some boldness in the stripe area if you go with stripes in colors contrasting or complementary to your jeans such as red or pink. Now, if you really want to make a statement, there are always super-bold and vibrant geometric print socks and even the fun animal-print ones. When playing with multi-color socks just make sure to match at least one of the shades to the shade of your jeans. For instance, if you’re wearing geometric socks that have black as the dominant color, definitely go with black denim.
Whether we’re talking about regular or men’s wedding suits even though they’ve become quite the playground that allows for plenty of mixing and matching, and experimenting with colorful and quirky shirts, certain rules have to be followed. After all, a suit is one of the most polished and ‘serious’ ensembles a man can wear, so even if you do want to take some of the seriousness away, there’s no need to go crazy to make a statement. One Mr. Justin Trudeau is perhaps the perfect example of how to approach this sticky situation. Canada’s prime minister can often be spotted (on his own Instagram) sporting different playful socks. This is great since expressing your interests and passion for something is always an authentic way to go, and it’s perhaps even more stylish than putting on a, let’s say, Rick and Morty hoodie on. However, aside from a quirky personal statement you can take a more subdued and perhaps even more stylish route with suits – always minding the base color rule of course.
Of course, when talking about sweatpants and shorts, the options are virtually endless. Grey sweatpants are the perfect playground as they allow you to go with anything from white socks with horizontal stripes to completely quirky and colorful socks, and the same goes for shorts, particularly if they’re denim or come in a soft neutral hue such as camel. Remember – the right sock can turn an entire outfit around.
Peter is a men's style and grooming writer at High Street Gent, living between Brisbane and London. Beside writing he worked as a menswear fashion stylist for many fashion events around UK & Europe. Follow Peter on Twitter for more tips.