Dress Socks for Dummies

Dress socks say a lot about a man, maybe even more than ties. Socks are not the first thing people notice, but, sooner or later, your coworkers will glimpse your socks. To you socks may seem an arbitrary choice, and in high school you were right. Nobody cared. In the professional world, however, a man’s socks are the window to his soul. Follow a few easy rules, and avoid dress sock faux pas:


  1. Always match.
    Wear dark dress socks with dark trousers, and lights with lights, without exception. Match dress sock color with trouser color whenever possible.
  2. You are not fooling anyone.
    Throw away all or any skin toned dress socks, especially if you are a man. You will look like you are wearing stockings, and everyone you see will assume you are also wearing women's underwear. Skin toned socks did not work for Louis Armstrong. They will not work for you.
  3. Christmas in July?
    Humor your aunt by wearing those snowman socks she gifted you for Christmas for three to four hours. After she goes to sleep (apply eggnog if necessary) burn all and any holiday socks with the Yule Log. Nobody gets promoted for being cute. And if I ever find cartoon character socks at your house, I will inform the authorities.
  4. Sock height.
    Save your ankle socks for the gym, and your knee socks for the soccer field. Formal socks should ride a few inches below the knee. In Enlightenment Era France you got the guillotine for showing any calf. Never let your coworkers see your legs--bare skin is a sign of weakness. Likewise, socks that go above the knee may inspire gossip that you wear pantyhose to work.
  5. Lost in translation.
    All you jet-setters out there would do well to remember that not all cultures wear shoes while conducting business. If you are doing business in Japan, for example, wear socks you feel confident exhibiting to your partners and rivals overseas, or you will be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Until you have refined your fashion sense, play it safe with socks or you will be sorry. Socks can be the crowning feature of your suit, or your Achilles heel. Once you feel more confident in your personal style the right colorful socks can bring out your skin tone. Just remember, socks are not underwear, even if you keep them in the same drawer. People will see your socks. Choose responsibly.