The Ultimate Suit Socks Guide for the Modern Gentleman

Chances are you’re familiar with the trope of receiving socks for your birthday or for the holidays. For some time now, a disappointing gift of socks has been a go-to punchline in films and on television. You know how it goes: The family gathers in a circle as dad opens a box and musters an appreciative smile for a new pair of tube socks.

Nowadays, reality bears no resemblance to that cliché. The sock industry, and in particular the men’s fashion sock industry, has exploded in the last decade, becoming one of the fastest-growing areas of menswear. The men’s statement sock is here to stay.

From the runway to the boardroom, men in suits are sporting bold colors and offbeat patterns on their feet and ankles. We’re here to help you navigate your way through the rules of this trend with our suit socks guide.

The Suit Socks Guide Rules

#1: Treat Socks as a Statement

Statement socks are pushing designers and clients to treat socks like ties and pocket squares—not just a functional piece of clothing, but an open canvas in which you can express your style and personality without pulling too much attention away from your suit.     

Maybe you work in an office where the dress code leans heavily towards conservative. If you like bolder looks, this can be a problem. When you’re craving unconventional cuts and wild patterns, a standard navy wool suit can seem… well, a little dull. Statement socks are a way to infuse your personality and individual aesthetic into a more professional setting.

Take this quote from fashion writer Josh Bearman to heart: “Socks are like lingerie for men. Only you know it’s there under your pants, but then when you walk, you give a little peek of what you’ve got on underneath.” A statement sock gives you an extra layer of confidence beneath your clothes.

#2: Clash—But Be Smart

Maybe you’ve been told that your socks should never clash with your trousers. We’re here to give you permission to ignore that advice and clash away. Indeed, this may be why so many men have embraced this trend—statement socks give you a chance to feel fashion-forward and like a rule-breaker all at once.

Let’s dispense with the idea that your statement socks shouldn’t stand out. Standing out is the entire point of making a statement. Just make sure to back your sock selection with logic: The socks you choose will work better if they connect in some way to your outfit as a whole. If you’re wearing a dark wool suit in winter, don’t wear thin, lightweight socks designed for fair weather; if you’re wearing a pale linen suit in the heat of summer, thick socks in dark tones won’t look—or feel—right.  

#3: Skip the Gimmicks

The line between a fiercely individualistic pair of socks with a playful sense of whimsy and a pair emblazoned with Tweety Bird can be a thin one. In a world where bold patterns and unconventional color combinations are increasingly common, it can be tricky to fall on the right side of the line between daring and ridiculous.

Just follow these guidelines, and you’ll be fine: no cartoon characters, no jack-o’-lanterns or Christmas trees, no sports team logos, no catchphrases, no pop-culture references. Above and beyond that, however, you should be good to go.

#4: Know When to Go Sockless

Just as you can make a bold statement with your socks, you can make an equally powerful statement by going sock-free. As always, though, be smart about it: Unless you live in a warm climate, this might not be the best look to whip out during the winter months. When warmer temperatures swing back around, though, go ahead and give the sockless aesthetic a try.

In the not-too-distant past, the sockless look used to be considered wholly inappropriate for formal occasions. Those days are gone forever: Skipping the socks when donning a tux or a three-piece suit can look spontaneous and irreverent, yet still occasion-appropriate.

This look works best for laid-back events—summer dinners, backyard weddings, warm-weather dates, and outdoor concerts—though it may be a tough sell at the office, depending on the formality of your workplace.

Just ask yourself a basic question: Is this a situation where you’d expect to see someone else’s feet? If the answer is no, consider reaching for your favorite statement socks instead.

Before You Need Suit Socks, You’re Going to Need a Great Custom Suit

Socks have spent many decades on the sidelines of men’s fashion, but no longer. Exciting colors and unique patterns help you make a bold statement with your socks.

In the realm of menswear, however, socks are a supporting player, while a great suit is the star. Before you worry too much about your socks, make sure your suit needs are covered.

That’s where Knot Standard comes in. We design and create custom menswear, from suits to separates to outerwear, to provide you with clothing that fits and flatters you better than anything you’ve ever worn. Schedule an appointment to visit a Knot Standard showroom to meet with a personal stylist who’ll work closely with you design a suit that fits all your needs. Great socks won’t make the man—but a great suit might just do exactly that.