Could there really be rules related to how one pairs dress socks with dress shoes? If you are aiming for the right visual and professional look, there certainly are factors to remember. However, rules were made to be broken and in this article, we will give you both sides of the story. You will learn the rules that dictate how to properly pair dress socks with dress shoes but we will also give you some great ideas on how to bend those rules and still look sharp.
The Rules – The Official Ones
There are three hard and fast rules related to how one matches dress socks with dress shoes. They may sound a bit dated in today’s world of fashion, but they are still considered timeless suggestions to form a foundation for your dress code. If you want to be certain that you are presenting your very best sartorial sock and shoe self, these rules will steer you straight.
Rule #1 – Never Wear White Socks with Dress Shoes
Well, that pretty much takes away our biggest play. White socks rarely look attractive with dress shoes of any color. Fashion experts point to the fact that even trying to cheat on this rule by wearing light brown dress shoes cheapens the look of the socks. Don’t even get us started about white socks worn with black dress shoes or pants.
Rule #2 – Never Wear Solid Black Socks with Brown Shoes
The pairing of black and brown is horrid. Some of the top fashion designers in the world continue to struggle to make this combination work and utterly fail. Black and brown are too close to each other on the color wheel to make much of a contrast. This makes anything black close to anything brown just look all black or all brown.
Rule #3 – Always Match Your Socks with Your Pants
If you are dressing for an extremely formal event (think wedding, funeral, special business meeting, etc.) you are dressing in a manner that is supposed to show respect within the confines of the specific event. This means that whatever the color of your pants, your socks should match that color. So, black socks are for black pants, burgundy socks for burgundy pants and so on.
Let’s Bend the Rules a Little Bit
You could just stick to the “written in stone” rules related to matching dress socks to dress shoes or you could take a step into the dark side and see what lurks there. You might be surprised to find that the rule-bending suggestions below not only make sense but can inject a little extra life into your wardrobe selection. Here we go!
Bent Rule #1 – Match Those Wacky Colorful Socks with Accessories
It may not seem like much of a bend, but when you have chosen to wear a brightly colored, bold and dynamic pair of socks, it is sort of a shame to just hide them. So the next best thing is to draw attention to them by making them match with something else you are wearing. Essentially, you can spruce up an otherwise dull and boring outfit with this little gem of a trick.
Bent Rule #2 – Patterned Socks with Dress Shoes
There are two variations to this interesting bending of the rules. They rest on the specific type of patterns worn: traditional and non-traditional patterns. Here’s how you get around the matching rules with each example:
When Wearing Traditional Patterns
Traditional sock patterns include stripes, argyle, and small dots. You can wear socks with any of these patterns on them but should attempt to match them to the color of your pants.
When Wearing Non-Traditional Patterns
Non-traditional patterns are, um, different. They can be oddball shapes that repeat, loud or bright colors and the like. Stick to matching an accessory and you’ll be golden in this outfit.
Bent Rule #3 – Textured Socks with Dress Shoes
Wool socks fit into this category since they give the illusion of being textured. As a consequence, you can get away with wearing just about any color wool sock that is a shade lighter or darker than your pants. Stick to pairing greys with greys, browns with browns and blues with blues to keep it easy.
Bent Rule #4 – Dress Shoes Without Any Socks
What if your sock collection doesn’t allow you to follow either existing sock/shoe rules or the bent rules put forth here? Well, believe it or not, going sockless is perhaps an option! The setting is the most important point to consider. For example, if you will be on a yacht for a private business meeting, it could work well. We don’t’ recommend this for a job interview, however.
There is no excuse for ignoring dress codes. Such rules exist to keep you looking your best in all situations. There are a few ways to get around the guidelines, but you must know exactly what you are doing to pull those off well and while still observing generally accepted protocols.
So, you can have a great sock collection and still have plenty of opportunities to show it off when you want to do so. According to No Cold Feet, wedding socks are one such example. If you look at how sock designers have moved ahead of the curve by destroying the traditional look of socks with new bold, bright and unusual socks, you will know when it is acceptable to show those off and when you should be more conservative. Just be sure to steer clear of brown and black combinations and you should be able to give those fancy socks the forum they deserve.