Light in the Loafers

Here at Ivy Style HQ, I’ve lately taken to wearing socks lighter in shade than my trousers, such as a light-gray sock paired with charcoal pants and black tassel loafers.

There’s something about light socks that puts a spring in your step. As you move, you catch the light color from the corner of your eye, especially if you’re wearing pants with a barely-there break.

Gradually this sinks into your mind so that you’re always slightly conscious — which is not the same as being self-conscious — that you’ve got on light-colored socks, and it lifts your spirits.

It’s like the effect of wearing plain white sneakers while playing tennis, which make you feel like you’ve got Mercury’s wings on your ankles and can run down any ball, or wearing patch-madras shorts, which make you all but impervious to being in a bad mood.

Pictured above is a 1984 photo of Steven Wilde from the book “Jocks and Nerds.”

Of course, during Ivy’s heyday, teenagers were fond of wearing white athletic socks with their penny loafers and rolled-up jeans. Below is Paul Newman doing a slightly more grown-up version of the look by adding a collar-popped jacket:

Newman again, contrasting aviator sunglasses with the youthful socks-loafers look:

Light socks, tassel loafers and slim cords by Ralph Lauren:

From the Japanese book “Take Ivy,” which chronicles Princeton students in the ’60s. (Note: Don’t try this at home; or rather, try it at home, just not in public):

From the movie “School Ties”:

Cary Grant at age 60, proving light socks aren’t just a young-man’s game:

And finally, one of Grant’s finest style moments: In “North By Northwest,” Grant is given a random change of clothing that includes light socks and loafers. The outfit superbly conveys that he’s ready for action, which includes nothing less than scaling Mt. Rushmore, getting the girl, and keeping the world safe for democracy. — CC

8 Comments on "Light in the Loafers"

  1. I’ve been experimenting with the lighter coloured sock look myself lately. I’m not sure if I’m going to integrate it into my permanent repertoire but it is a fun look.

  2. Great article and awesome pics. I like wearing bright yellow socks with navy pants and black shoes. With brown shoes, I’m partial to light blue. These create a nice contrast not seen everyday.

  3. Great pictures!

  4. Thanks. I was thinking of posting a note for readers to send their own shots (historic or contemporary) and we’ll do a follow-up post. I’m sure there are endless shots out there of this look.

    If anyone has anything, send it to me by using the contact button above.

  5. I LOVE WEARING LIGHTER SOCKS, BUT USUALLY I CAN ONLY FIND TAN/LIGHT GRAY SO, I LIKE TO GET SOCKS THAT HAVE SOME KIND OF DETAIL ON THEM LIKE CABELING.

  6. What brand and/or model is the loafer in the second picture from above (the guy sitting on the car and the lowcut loafers) and that of the last picture, (Cary Grant)? I really like them, they are low cut enough to be worn sockless, and also look comfortable. Thanks.

  7. Alan,

    Agreed that pale yellow socks are an excellent complement to light or grayed navy trousers (even though some here eschew navy trousers). I don’t care for brown shoes with navy; it’s black or, best of all, burgundy for me.

  8. When one must wear socks this looks great. The key word there being when.

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