We humans love our socks, and with good reason. There are somewhere around 7000 nerve endings in your feet, and every one of them wants to be cushioned in soft, cozy warmth.
But beyond the longing of our feet for climate control and happiness, socks can be the final word on a person’s style. Anyone can pull on a smart looking jacket, but the perfect pair of socks peaking over the edge of a boot? That’s one powerful inch of knitwear.
Today, I have a few tips on how to wear socks, and then a few socks you might want to try.
With tall boots
Socks and boots can be mastered easily if you keep proportion and weight in mind. Tall, heavy boots can handle several inches of chunky sock. Delicate boots require less sock. A moderately oversized top, or a big comfy scarf will help balance everything going on down below. Unless the boots and socks are really sleek, a tight top can look a little out of place.
Outfit ideas for socks and tall boots:
• Boots, chunky sock, leggings, plaid shirt
• Rain boots, two or three layers of sock, skirt, fitted fleece top
• Boots, chunky cable knit sock, jeans, cozy sweater
When starting out, stick to neutral palettes in your comfort zone. Socks that are close in color to your leggings or jeans will look more natural.
Caveat: make sure your boots aren’t squishing your calves so the socks are spill out like ripped sausage casing. For some reason the fashion industry thinks women have really small calves right now. I look for boots with a wide shaft so there is plenty of room for my muscles and a fun pair of socks.
With ankle boots
When wearing ankle boots with jeans and socks you have two choices
One: Wear the sock on the outside of the jeans
Two: Cuff the jean (one large cuff or several turns in a 1980s look are both fine right now) and let the sock peak out an inch or two.
Caveat: When wearing chunky ankle boots (like Timberland) with socks be careful of a Europe-in-1937 look. Boots are cool, the rise of fascism is not. If your feet remind you of folks gunning for a rematch of World War One, switch it out.
Socks with Docs
I will never have the sort of urban cool it takes to pull off a pair of Doc Martins, but in my sock research I came across a fun trend of statement socks with Docs. Tall socks were worn with a skirt, shorter socks were paired with sharp cropped pants. It’s a cute look that I can admire without feeling the need to try.
This look will never be me, but it might be you.
Socks with sandals
That’s fine. I won’t judge. Honestly, once you’ve crossed that sock/sandal line, anything goes.
General sock caveat: A sock breaks up the line of your leg, that’s why you rarely see socks on a model in a catalog. Socks look warm, fun, creative and interesting, but they also put a glitch into the line of your leg. If you’re going for a long, lean look, the socks will mess that up. Not a big deal, but something to keep in mind.
Here are a few sock ideas to try. Also, this doubles as my list to Santa.
Start your sock quest with a few high quality pairs neutral colors.
In a highly scientific Facebook study, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who felt passionately about wool socks. Smartwool socks are beautiful, comfortable and wick moisture away from your feet. Lynette (previously mentioned on this blog as my most-put-together friend) wears Smartwool socks nearly everyday in black, brown and navy.
Bright and mismatched
Anyone in contact with humans under the age of 25 have seen the love these people have for mismatched socks. There are some gorgeous socks out there in this style. Of course you can just mismatch socks you already have, with also cuts out the family chore of matching socks out of the dryer…
Bas de Laine
My friend Sandy, a native of Eastern Canada, swears by these socks, which you can find in wool or cotton. According to Sandy, “In French Canada if you are called a ‘bas de laine’ it means you are an earthy person …we would say a ‘granola’. I guess that defines me. My kids wear their warm socks in their Birkenstocks – true west coast ‘bas de laine’ kiddos!!”
Boot toppers and leg warmers
These are nice alternatives to socks for tall boots because they tend to be roomier and not smush your pants into your legs. They also don’t pull against your toes when you tug them up past your boots. I like leg warmers better because they serve function (warming your legs) as well as fashion. Boot toppers come in every imaginable color and style, and are ridiculously easy to get on and off.
DYI leg warmers
In my extensive search for sock style I learned that you can make your own leg warmers by cutting the arms off old sweaters.
Now, before you start eyeing your sweater drawer like Lord Asriel looking at the connection between Roger and his daemon,* remember that this only applies to sweaters you really won’t wear anymore. Say a moth bit a chunk out of the front of your favorite cashmere sweater. You can’t hunt down that moth and make her serve her time, but you can enjoy some new legwarmers.
Fabulous, graphic socks aren’t just for 8-year-olds anymore. My friend Alli loves her Narwhal vs Unicorn socks. I know another young woman who wears wild Harry Potter-themed socks. The internet is awash with novelty footwear. Go find you favorites.
My mom makes the most beautiful socks. If you are a knitter, invest in beautiful wool and make yourself some cozy, beautiful socks.
Do you need new socks?
A person can have too many socks. If your sock drawer resembles a mass of swarming, multicolored eels, you may need to go through your collection and get rid of unusable socks.
Recycle your socks if: they have holes in them, they fall down and scrunch up in your boots, they itch, or they in anyway impede your life.
Socks can be recycled into receptacles for loose chalk for your climbing chalk bag. They also make great sock puppets, which are always appropriate at work or in social situations.
Socks, being practical, comfortable and stylish are a Mud and Grace must have. In stepping up our socks, we are showing much needed love to our feet. That said, don’t feel like you have to go sock-crazy. I will always love the simple line of jeans and Fryes, or an ankle boot quietly resolving a pair of slim cargos. And your socks can function just as well without your shoes, all you need is a lazy afternoon, nowhere to go and the nice, cozy pair of your choice. 7000 nerve endings will thank you.
*If you haven’t read the Golden Compass you really ought to.