Socks & Shorts: A Trend In The Making

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Fashion rolls through time in cycles — while also sliding up and down on a see-saw.

For the last several years the sockless trend has reached the point where it’s now quasi-normal for with-it guys to wear dress shoes, suits and ties without stockings on their feet.

Ivy Style is here to report on the long-overdue backlash, scheduled to take place in the summer of 2014.* Think about it: if a surfeit of guys are wearing suits with no socks, then the logical alternative (actually illogical, but that’s rather the point) is to wear socks with shorts.

Matthew Karl Gale (“Makaga” in the comments section) has depicted what will happen on street corners around the country as the socked and bare-ankled pass each other with each passing the same judgment.

The socks-and-shorts look can be seen in these two photos below, one dating from 1960, the other from the pages of “Take Ivy.” Now go forth, besocked gentlemen, and spread the word.

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* cannot guarantee an actual fashion trend will take place.

23 Comments on "Socks & Shorts: A Trend In The Making"

  1. Let’s not forget the original long length Trimingham British Colonial hosiery de rigeur below bleeding Madras on a Bermuda buggy ride.

  2. Which are always appropriate—in Bermuda. 😉

  3. Well, my father and grandfather will be pleased to hear they are once again ahead of the curve.

  4. It seems to be catching on with the younger crowd– Sperry topsiders or canvas sneakers with socks and shorts seem to be the norm nowadays with prep school and college kids.

  5. J.I.Rodale | May 28, 2014 at 1:14 pm |

    I just checked my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April the 1st.

  6. Christian | May 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm |

    Another one of those subtle differences between Ivy and preppy, or the 50s/60s and 70s/80s. “Making The Grade” exhorts never wear socks, yet here Ivy guys are wearing them.

    And bravo Matthew for the great illustration!

  7. Spencer Webb | May 28, 2014 at 2:20 pm |

    I’ve been doing midcalf socks with shorts and athletic shoes since I played lacrosse in middle school and high school. Won’t do it with dress shoes though…

  8. I saw the headline and I knew you were going to show that dude in Take Ivy. He can pull it off because he’s young, tall, and athletic. I’m sure 99.9% of Ivy-Style readers, including myself, are not.

  9. Christian | May 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm |

    Finally someone admits why readers hate slim-cut gigolo shirts!

  10. White socks, though…..

  11. here in LA, that’s not a trend. that’s the norm.

  12. An interesting – and dichotomous – pair of young gentlemen making your point. The young man whose photo is on the left is completely authentic in “the look.” White sneakers and white wool socks with light colored shorts and shirt. A durable look throughout the IVY period. The Young man on the right, whose picture was taken in the Spring of 1965, displays a transitory, ephemeral look. First, he is wearing Black venetian loafers – a 1964/65 fad that was quickly discarded. Second, he’s wearing cotton socks. Sure, they’re white … but they’re cotton. Just the wrong material for socks worn with shorts AT ANY TIME IN THE IVY ERA. Moreover, in my opinion, even white wool socks with penny loafers and shorts aren’t the best. For example, the looks on pages 24 and 28 of Take Ivy show that it’s very difficult to get that look right.

    To my eye, however, the left-hand photo is on the money in supporting your contention that socks and shorts can look good together!

    Just my $0.02

  13. Picture on the left is from a 1964 Wittenberg University yearbook. It is in Ohio, and yes the kids were dressing Ivy.

    Here is a link to more pictures.

    Wittenberg 1964:

    Wittenberg 1963 & ’65:

    Wittenberg 1958:

  14. Thanks, OCBD! t’s nice to have you date the picture on the left so precisely!

  15. Glad to help Billax! I agree that the look on the left is great, but I am not sure I could make it look that good.

    Christian – You should have included a pic of the shorter athletic socks with stripes like the guy in the Slim Aarons Bermuda tennis club pic. I expect to see those around soon as well. Nice post, btw.

  16. Worried Man | May 29, 2014 at 11:45 am |

    My dad rocked the short shorts(usually madras), socks, and loafer look back in the early ’60s. He was 20 in 1960 for reference. And he grew up in Spring City, Tennessee, of all places. I’ve got pictures of him looking just like that guy from Take Ivy, and probably from ’63 – ’64. He also liked jazz. Go figure…

  17. I personally feel that socks with a tucked in shirt and shorts looks ridiculous. It doesn’t make any sense to me. A tucked in shirt with shorts is formal, shoes and socks is casual; its cognitive dissonance.

    Also, I don’t understand why everyone uses Take Ivy as gospel for “ivy” style. Those pictures were taken in the 1960s when the Ivies were more egalitarian and merit based. There is no summary of credentials for the students photographed. Why are we assuming (a) that they came from a privileged upbringing and (b) had style. Maybe the Ivies then are closer to the Ivies now, i.e., filled with bright students more concerned with their studies than being fashionable. There is some sort of perverse irony in fetishizing pictures of people who, for all we know, could have no style whatsoever. Like us in 2050 and looking back on 2004 and going “Wow, that hoodie, jeans and flip flop look was really Ivy.”

    For all we know the kid in the madras shorts, white tube shocks, and penny loafers could have been from a middle class background aping ivy the best he could. Food for thought…

  18. Worried Man | May 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm |

    Yes. Good food for thought Shawn. I’ve never really liked the stuff in Take Ivy. And the shorts, loafers, WITH socks is a poor look IMO. Maybe, just maybe, it could be done well by the right person with just the right ensemble and the confidence to kick your ass if you said anything, and then take your girl.

  19. Scotch & Soda | May 30, 2014 at 7:44 pm |

    I cannot bring myself to wear socks with Weejuns or topsiders. Just doesn’t feel comfortable. Besides, much more efficient if you need to spontaneously jump in the surf or the pool. Or, fountain jumping after the symphony.

  20. What kind of an animal would wear weejuns to “the symphony?”

  21. L.A. Trad | May 30, 2014 at 10:21 pm |


    I wear well-polished black Weejuns to the symphony and can assure you that I’m far better dressed than my fellow concert-goers in flipflops (who haven’t come barefooted because it’s a formal event).

  22. Grilled Cheese | May 30, 2014 at 10:24 pm |

    @Worried Man

    As has been commented upon elsewhere, the book Take Ivy reflected a strange Japanese fixation on young American men’s backsides.

  23. Depends on the shoes you like, especially for men, if with shorts you like to wear mainly sandals and loafers, it’s normal you don’t wear socks with shorts as often, I only do with loafers if feet are not dried well, or had to skip washing or couldn’t wash as accurately due to having no time, then I don’t disdain ankle socks. If you prefer clarks, doc Martens, sneakers or other shoes with shorts or you don’t like sandals, it’s normal you’ll pair them more often with socks. I might recommend ankle socks, but that’s a personal choice, I think higher socks look good if patterned. It’s all about self expression.
    If you really like socks with sandals, do like women do and make it look like a studied look :D.

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