I've been rather consistent in my approach that having a solid base of, well, solids, is a great way to start. But now, let’s talk about fresh ways to style patterned socks. We’ll cover how to wear them-starting with what we know, then working our way up the sartorial ladder toward bolder, more creative, designs.

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Neutral Base, Easy Styling

When working patterns into any part of the wardrobe, start with the classics as a base. If you’d like a patterned suit, try spicing a classic navy with a subtle herringbone. Or, for a little bolder-but still very sartorial-a medium grey flannel with a chalk stripe. The same goes for your dress socks. Start with what you know, and then work in complementary colors for a balanced approach.

patterned khaki dress socks with khaki pants

So, consider this twist on your classic khaki sock. Khaki (or, literally ‘soil’) gets a bad rap in menswear as mundane middle-manager attire. We can elevate it with some pattern.

patterned khaki dress socks with olive trousers and wingtips

Our version works great with, yes, khakis, but also navy chinos or olive cotton pants. Or, we can dress it up with the supremely underrated brown suit. Patterned socks work even better, in my opinion, when they’re dressed down. Medium to lighter wash selvedge denim is a good pairing for this sock, but I’d probably avoid darker, inky pairs if you can. Black is a bit much for khaki.

khaki patterned cotton dress socks with jeans

Black shoes are perhaps a bit extreme here as well, though one might be able to swing a black suede tassel. Burgundy can look nice, though. But, as you might expect, shades of brown are going to work great with a khaki sock.

It works even better with a few colors thrown in, as we’ve done by layering, blue, orange, and green in a tidy knot on our khaki cotton socks.

High Contrast, High Style

The very first article I wrote for this website was on funky dress socks. Sharks, Iguanas, water-dwelling mammals, and obnoxious candy stripes are just too much for the modern sartorial sock scene.

But, there are ways to make this happen. And, it’s what I’ll call high contrast. This means pairing a neutral base (yep, coming back to that again) with a bolder accent for an unusual, but still aesthetically pleasing, combination.

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Take blue slacks and black shoes, for instance. Sure, black and navy might work for many folks (throw on a white shirt and you’ll fit right in at IBM!), but let’s be real-it is a little boring. And, if the navy leans more deep blue than true navy, you run the risk of becoming a kind of monochromatic blob. The addition of our black square knots helps to break up that silhouette in a very good way.

man crossing legs wearing black and blue patterned dress socks with black oxfords

Look a little closer and you’ll notice we’ve woven a few shades of blue together to create a high contrast, iridescent effect that makes for a unique wearing experience.

It’s a phenomenal pairing with blue suede shoes. Or, some cordovan sneakers.

Scale Is Everything

Ultimately, scale is supremely important when you’re mixing patterns in menswear. You can, for example, do an all striped look…as long as you get the scale correct. So, consider the wider chalk striped suit with a thinner, pencil-stripe shirt and then a tie with stripes of varying width. It can make for an elegant look, and it's a next-level menswear move.

The same goes for bold colors. Like red, for instance. A red dot is a pretty assertive style. But, a subtle knot is a great way to add a (say it with me…) pop of color into an otherwise conservative outfit.

man crossing legs wearing black and red patterned dress socks with a dark suit and black monkstrap dress shoes

So, wear it with black shoes. We like a monk strap, but an Oxford is perfectly acceptable, too. Or, bring in the cordovan trainers.

black dress socks with red dots paired with jeans and cordovan trainers

All in all, patterns can be fun in menswear. I tend to say this as I close these memos, but it’s important to remember style is supposed to be fun. Try new things. Experiment. You might just surprise yourself.

Thanks for reading.

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff

Our editorial staff is comprised of menswear experts dedicated to providing you with helpful information. Sharing everything from style tips to sock care instructions, these gentlemen are a wealth of knowledge for both our customers and the Boardroom Socks team.

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