MEN'S DRESS SOCKS
There is one basic rule of thumb when it comes to men's dress socks: the colour of your socks should match the colour of your trousers as much as possible. Navy trousers? Navy socks. Black trousers? Black socks. If in any doubt, choose the darkest colour socks (you can never go wrong with black dress socks). You get the picture – it's a safe and simple option. But colour is not the only thing a man should pay attention to. Continue reading... or buy your dress socks now!
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Men's Guide To Dress Socks: 6 Things To Keep In Mind
As an item of clothing, men's dress socks are more important than you might think. Their role should not be underestimated. Although mostly hidden, socks can still add a unique touch to a man's formal attire. While the wrong sock will attract unnecessary attention, probably making you feel uncomfortable, wearing a sock that properly fits the occasion will not only add to your comfort, but will also elevate your outfit and offer a glimpse into your personal style. Though fashion rules may seem annoying and, of course, you will always find the exceptions to them, they are still useful guidelines that will help you overcome the struggle of the “what sock to wear” dilemma. The advice below will give you an idea of what your dress socks should be. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when choosing the right dress socks for men.
1. COLOUR. What is the right colour for dress socks?
Choosing the right colour for your suit socks is not a complicated task, but it can still be tricky. Ideally, your suit socks will be in a colour that pairs with your trousers or suit, but not shoes. Suit socks are an extension of your trousers, and they should look balanced with the rest of your outfit, especially in a no-shoe situation.
Matching colours exactly is a safe option with regards to choosing neutral solid colours which work best together. If you have brown trousers, pair them with brown dress socks. Simple as that. However, for a strong but understated look, you can try out different shades. Wearing suit socks that are a few shades darker than your trouser legs won't be a mistake. It is perfectly fine to combine a grey suit with black dress socks, or a navy suit with a pair of dark grey dress socks. Plain coloured socks will also combine well also with patterned trousers. Try to avoid suit socks that are lighter than your trousers. Say “no” to white socks when dressing for a formal event, and do not mix and match.
Patterned and colourful
Colourful dress socks have recently become popular in the world of men's fashion. Depending on the formality of the occasion, they can be a fun alternative to the long-established rules of colour matching. Remember that funny dress socks will catch the eye. That should be OK, otherwise, why would you wear them? Your job, though, is to not make them too distracting. Choose your novelty dress socks deliberately and do not overdo it. Try to keep it simple and subtle, and stick to recognised motifs, such as traditional argyle, stripes, polka dots, or anything else minimalistic. Pay attention though, as socks with patterns are usually multi-coloured. Pick ones with the right base colour, smartly contrasting if needed, and reference your sock colours in your outfit. You can coordinate your patterned dress socks' base colour with any element of your clothes: your tie, bow tie, your pocket square, etc. The last option would be your shoes.
2. HEIGHT. How tall should your dress socks be?
It is important to ensure that you wear formal socks of the correct length. The basic guideline says that in any business setting a true gentleman should not have his bare legs exposed. To make this possible, the best men's suit socks give enough coverage to prevent skin from being seen even in a cross-legged, seated position.
Mid-calf / crew length
The ideal dress sock height falls somewhere about the mid-leg. The most common height for formal socks is the crew length. This covers up the part of your leg above the ankle up to the point where your calf muscle starts. Mid-calf suit socks are supposed to be slightly taller than crew length, hitting right on your calves but not covering them up completely. This length might not work for everyone though. Because the calf has a sort of diamond shape, mid-calf length dress socks could slide down a bit. [Just to be clear: all socks will sag down to some level when you walk.]
In the sock fashion world, the terms crew socks and mid-calf socks are often used interchangeably.
Over-the-calf / knee-high length
Quite taller than men's crew or mid-calf socks, knee-high dress socks hit over the calves, reaching your knees or going even slightly higher. This is an optimal option for any formal occasions where you want to be confident about the height of your suit socks. They usually have wide cuffs compared to shorter mid-calf socks, which helps them stay in place and not sag easily.
Because long suit socks also envelop the leg, they are often mistakenly thought to be appropriate in cold weather only. Indeed, when made of wool, knee-high socks offer exceptional comfort and warmth during the cold season. However, if made of a thin, natural fabric such as silk, viscose, or cotton, knee-high dress socks provide good breathability and ensure comfortable wear even on warm days.
3. MATERIAL. What should your dress sock be made of?
The types of fibre that men's suit socks are made of have a great effect on their performance. Apart from being well-fitted and looking good, dress socks that you wear on formal occasions should also have certain functional properties such as softness, moisture-wicking capability, air permeability (breathability), and thermal control. Because suit socks are usually thinner than regular ones, they wear out faster, and so tear resistance should also be factored in.
While there is a wide selection of natural and synthetic fabrics, none of them will fully satisfy your preferences for all the properties mentioned above. There are, however, a few natural fabrics and blends that generally perform very well and are commonly used for formal socks. These are cotton (preferably mercerised, Pima, or Egyptian cotton), micro-modal, wool (mainly of Merino sheep), and luxury fabrics such as silk and cashmere. Depending on usage and environmental conditions, each of these materials has its own strong sides and costs. You can try them out to see which one suits you best.
As mentioned before, suit socks can be made of either 100% natural fibres or blends that combine natural and synthetic fibres. While it is a matter of personal choice, we strongly recommend limiting the amount of synthetic fibres in your dress socks to a moderate level (no more than 25%). Even a small amount of man-made fibres adds significantly to socks' durability and elasticity.
4. FIT. How should your quality dress socks sit?
No matter how much you spend on your suit socks, make sure they fit you comfortably. Your heel must be seated exactly in the heel pocket and the toe seam should be situated in the toe area. There should be as few folds and wrinkles as possible. The best dress socks sit snugly on the feet.
When looking for the best fit, the first thing to pay attention to is the socks' size. Size does matter. Many brands sell one-sized suit socks assuming they will fit everyone. Unfortunately, they do not. It is true that certain synthetic fibres that are used in socks increase their stretchiness. However, no matter how stretchy they are, the main property of those synthetic fibres is elasticity, or elastic recovery — the ability of a fibre to stretch and then revert to its original length. Therefore, one-size socks will feel either too tight or too loose. Your best choice would be to buy suit socks that come in a few sizes (e.g., Small, Medium, Large). Know the size you are looking for. Because there isn't one unique standard for sizing, use sock size charts as guidance to understand the different sizes available and see what is suitable for you. You can check out one such sizing chart by clicking here.
Each one of us has a unique body composition, including our feet. It is important, therefore, that garments such as socks and hosiery that we wear directly on the legs and feet demonstrate a certain degree of elasticity so they can adapt well to different forms and shapes. The socks' elasticity depends on the type of knitting and the material they are made of. Since knit fabric is already stretchy compared to the woven fabric, historically, socks were usually made by knitting. This allowed them to stretch, even when made of 100% natural fibres that were hardly elastic themselves (e.g., 100% cotton socks). Among the knit fabrics, however, ribbed is stretchier than plain. Things are different when we use synthetic fibres. Dress socks that contain Spandex, Lycra or Dorlastan (all are different names for elastane) have a much greater elasticity and ensure a snugger fit. In our view, quality natural fabric blended with 1-4% elastane is a good composition for your formal socks.
As said before, all socks tend to slide down to some degree. Pay attention to this detail and make sure that your dress socks feature a proper cuff. When sufficiently wide and fairly elasticated without feeling too tight, the cuff will help keep the sock up and won't put pressure on your leg.
5. PRICE. How much should you spend on your dress socks?
One of the most important considerations is finding the right price for good quality dress socks. Like with many things, the price of socks can range from literally a few dozen cents to more than a hundred euros per pair (check out the Falke's finest cashmere socks). Some luxury socks brands will be asking for even more; try doubling that amount! Ouch! But does paying more mean buying better quality? Not in every case. Cheap socks that sell for under a euro will most likely be poorly finished, short-lived, and made of regenerated yarns. On the other hand, paying more than 20 euros for a single pair of black formal socks made of cotton may seem too extravagant for many of us, even for the value they offer. Not that we can't afford expensive suit socks, it's just that we never thought we had to.
6. AESTHETICS. What else is important when wearing dress socks?
The devil is in details. One small hole in your sock, believe it or not, can and will destroy your otherwise elegant look. Make sure your suit socks look fresh and clean. It pays to invest in your accessories and have a few pairs of brand-new dress socks in your arsenal.
Let's sum up
A well-dressed classy man gives off a confident air and his attire sets him apart in any room he enters. Dress socks are often overlooked as a fashion accessory. However, when properly selected, they offer an opportunity for a man to show his taste and a glimpse of his style, and add to his sophistication and professionalism.
Though fashion tips on men's socks and so-called "rules" can seem bothersome and, of course, there are exceptions, it is still important to know the rules before you can break them. Here are the 6 things to keep in mind when choosing the right dress socks:
1. Play with colours and patterns smartly. Coordinate them with the rest of your outfit. When in doubt, go for the safest choice: pick solid, neutral coloured dress socks that match your trousers (not your shoes).
2. When dressing up for formal events, make sure you pick socks of the right length. The idea is to prevent your bare skin from being seen. Therefore, the proper sock length should fall about mid-leg or higher.
3. There are many different fabrics and blends, and each has unique properties. Try out a few to see which fabric suits you best.
4. Know your foot size and choose your socks accordingly. Don't be tricked by brands selling “one size fits all” socks. Proper suit socks should provide a snug fit.
5. It is not necessary to spend excessively on a decent pair of suit socks. Cheap quality socks, on the other hand, will be of a rather disappointing quality.
6. Make certain that your dress socks look fresh and clean. Always have a few extra pairs of good quality suit socks in your wardrobe.
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