Sock It To Me: A Defense of Hosiery

Many guys are accustomed to going sockless in warm weather; some even being daredevils and dressing with their bare ankles exposed to frigid temperatures. Style guides, GQ especially, often endorse this particular whim.

But even with the continuing trend for bare ankles, there still remains proper, breathable hosiery to cover up with and show some style. The option to show creativity through socks even when it’s a bit steamy outside will always remain.

Here are some of my favorites from this spring season. You can even wear double monks with them. — ROBERT I. BROWN

Above, J. Press, $29. Below, Brooks Brothers, $18:

Allen Edmunds, Khaki Casual Rib Socks, $19.50:

Ben Silver, Sea Island Cotton Socks, $34:

Marcoliani at O’Connell’s, $26:

J. Crew, Anchor-Stripe Socks, $12.50:

Ralph Lauren, Tennis Racket Socks, $9:

28 Comments on "Sock It To Me: A Defense of Hosiery"

  1. I started wearing argyle socks about 25 years ago, on a whim. My secretary remarked that her father wore those “goofy socks”. After that, I was hooked; I’ve been wearing them ever since. I usually wear ones like the brown tone Brooks Brothers with my ever present khakis; however, right now I am wearing a Tommy Hilfigur black-grey pair.

    Long live those goofy socks. Cheers!

  2. love Wriggles story! If anything, criticism just strengthens one’s resolve to keep doing something if only to spite the, uh, critic! lol

  3. Anonymous | May 16, 2011 at 9:42 am |

    No man, who places value on style, will ever go outside with blank ankles. But this are just my two cents.

  4. “No man, who places value on style, will ever go outside with blank ankles.”

    Sure he will: on the beach, or when wearing boat shoes and shorts. But those are rare exceptions for most people.

  5. I have never felt a need for any color of sock other than solid black.

  6. Christian | May 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm |

    That’s the most un-preppy comment that’s ever been left here.

  7. Anonymous | May 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm |

    “Sure he will: on the beach, or when wearing boat shoes and shorts. But those are rare exceptions for most people.”

    Excuse me, Sir. I did not think about spare-time acitivities like swimming or yachting. My comment refered to the period of residence in order to work, study or shop.

  8. I love socks. The J.Press navy/red striped are the best of the bunch. It’s like a tie for my feet.

  9. Re: “That’s the most un-preppy comment that’s ever been left here.”

    For some of us, simplicity and minimalism are basic essentials of an Ivy mentality, as opposed to an immature preppy mentality. Owls vs. peacocks.

  10. Christian | May 16, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

    That’s not just Ivy, that’s IBM Ivy.

  11. Cotton doesn’t work for me as a sock material. It’s too absorbent. I favor wool or — gasp! — manmade hydrophobics such as capilene.

    Just to clarify: in praising capiline I am not vying for the title of most un-preppy comment

  12. Anonymous | May 17, 2011 at 6:25 am |

    I have the Rugby version of the tennis ones in green. Love ’em.

  13. No love for Corgi?

  14. Please, please convince J. Press to bring back the “University sock” with vertical stripes. I miss these.

  15. I love socks I have been doing TUBE SOCK TUESDAY every tuesday for a couple months now and I love the RL tennis racket socks! I will be picking up a pair on my trip to DC this weekend!

    Thanks Ivy-Style


  16. Ellington | May 17, 2011 at 10:09 am |

    Nice to see that socks aren’t boring anymore!

  17. Will over at A Suitable Wardrobe has an ongoing series of sock shots, showing how interesting colors and patterns can work with shoes and trousers.

    Paraphrasing the very same Will, men who are considered good dressers never wear black socks except with black trousers, and they never wear black trousers except as part of their tuxedos (or, once upon a time, tails).

    Having said that, I love socks–I have three drawer full! I normally wear something that matches the color of my pants, often in a pattern, but sometimes I’ll pull out all the stops and go for something contrasting. But the, shall we say, exuberant socks are more at home with casual outfits.

    In any case, great post.

  18. Christian | May 18, 2011 at 3:18 pm |

    Will’s one of those “gentlemen don’t wear black kind of guys.” But chic men do, of course, as Alan Flusser points out in my latest story for The Rake.

    When I get a digital copy of it, I’ll put up a link in the Ephemera column.

    Of course, if gentlemanly dressers aren’t into chic, Ivy guys are even less so.

  19. Most Caucasian men aren’t flattered by black, which is part of why it’s not found in classic men’s clothes outside of accessories. However, the stark contrast of black and white looks smashing at night, which is why the tuxedo is a classic.

    The black suit so beloved of late is every much a fashion nightmare as the neon colors of the 80s and the peacock outlandishness of the 70s.

    IMNSHO, anyway.

    You’re right: chic is about fashion, while gentlemen are about style. I go for style, and, judging by the pictures of yourself you’ve shared here, so do you. (You’re not quite as unphotogenic as you like to pretend, by the way.)

  20. Christian | May 18, 2011 at 3:41 pm |

    Henry, thank you for your thoughtful comments today.

    However, I should say that your last remark has a lot of personal definitions/assumptions in it. I don’t think for one minute that “chic” equates to fashion. I think there is timeless good taste chic, and Flusser’s recent footwear preferences — bit loafers and Belgian Shoes — are perfect examples. Hardcore trads might like to think of bit loafers as uber WASPy, but as Boyer pointed out in “Elegance” 25 years ago, they’re really a benchmark of international good taste.

    Also, “gentlemen” haven’t cornered the market on style — anyone can be stylish. And one could argue that the more gentlemanly a gentleman is, the less stylish.

  21. sambarock | May 19, 2011 at 1:05 pm |

    Why there’s no Corgi?

  22. Christian | May 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm |

    The writer included a sock by Corgi but the editor decided to cut it.

  23. I guess we differ on the meanings of the words; “chic” does not have a positive connotation for me.

    I see what you’re saying about the absence of “style” among gentlemen. It depends on what you mean by “style,” of course. I was focusing on the notion of classic style that never goes out of fashion vs. the fashion of the moment that is almost inevitably unstylish.

    As for bit loafers and Belgians, I guess I’m too parochial for either one. But I did buy a pair of white bucks!

  24. Christian | May 19, 2011 at 4:18 pm |

    I’m sure Parisians would consider white bucks on par with bit loafers!

    Here’s the Flusser story, Henry:

    Quote: “guys who are into tradition are generally not into chic.”

    I’m thinking about a “chic Ivy” post…

  25. If anyone could pull of an article about “chic Ivy,” it would be you, Christian!

    Thanks for the Flusser article. I noticed that only his accessories are black….

  26. The RL socks are so whimsical and fab.

  27. EVAN EVERHART | April 4, 2018 at 12:23 pm |

    Socks are so much fun! I don’t understand going without them, including the whole gross sweaty shoe damaging salty shoe swampy thing. Even worse are those guys who wear the “socklets” that look like pantyhose and barely cover your heel so as to look sockless. Who thought of THAT?! Anyway, socks! I always keep Oxford blue, various pinks (usually hot pink, fuchsia, and carnation), burgundy, dark brown, navy, bottle green, pea-soup green, olive green, and spring green in patterns (RL fun socks), and of course gray clocked socks and black clocked socks for more formal events – aside from these, I LOVE dark mustard/curry colored socks and green argyles, or those horizontal striped ones! Years ago I picked up about 8 pair of navy blue with hot pink widely spaced narrow striped socks, and have been parceling them out carefully ever since to make them last. Not sure where to find them these days, at least in over the calf length/height.

  28. elder prep | July 11, 2020 at 9:43 am |

    Regarding Purist’s comment regarding “immature Preppy mentality”, Preppy is never immature but evolves throughout ones properly dressed Prep life.

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