We've all been there - you wear your best suit to this fine event, only to realize you haven't paid much attention to your dress socks. As a result, you've made a fashion blunder!
If there is anything related to socks for suits that you need to know, you’ll find it here. In this article we’ll cover:
Often mistakenly overlooked, dress socks are a key component of formal attire, and wearing them incorrectly could seriously hinder an otherwise dapper outfit. Whether you're getting dressed up for a wedding, dinner party, or the boardroom, you'll feel like the ultimate gentleman if you choose the right socks.
If you've tried poking around online for suit socks and haven't come up with much, it's because there really isn't a specific type of men's hosiery designed solely for suits.
You're really just looking for dress socks; the same type of socks that you normally wear to the office with dress shoes are usually all you need to round out your suit.
Gentleman's etiquette demands that you know which socks to wear with a formal suit. When searching for the perfect pair, it's important to consider quality, length, and style.
Luckily, we've got you covered. Here's how to navigate the sock-selection process:
Our recommendation is to always wear either wool or cotton socks. Both are high-quality natural materials, offering comfort and breathability that are unmatched by synthetics.
Different fabrics feel different, and you may have a preference. While cotton is lighter, wool tends to be slightly thicker but both offer breathability for all day comfort. High quality cotton will have the softest hand and is the ideal material for the warmest seasons. Merino wool offers the best breathability while still providing warmth in even the coldest seasons.
Finding a pair of dress socks with a reinforced heel is the best practice. They'll prevent the material from wearing away too quickly.
When it comes to wearing socks with a suit, there are two lengths to try out. Over-the-calf dress socks are an ideal choice, notable for their ability to stay up without slipping. This makes them the obvious option for long days with lots of walking.
Mid-calf dress socks are another safe bet, promising the wearer a sophisticated and professional look for formal occasions. The basic rule is the higher the sock, the smarter you'll look.
For example, avoid wearing Oxford shoes with anything lower than a mid-calf sock. It might be doable but certainly won't be pleasing to the eye when you cross your legs.
Last on the list is the no-show sock. Wear no-show dress socks with a suit and loafers if the dress code allows it. The sockless look portrays a casual appearance. Hence, it's best to pull it off with cotton/linen suits and preferably suede loafers for a dapper summery look. (We'll dive deeper into the no-show sock later on.)
You'll elevate your fashion game when you wear colorful socks. A solid color can retain a sense of professionalism in a business environment while allowing you to explore your more playful side.
Life can be pretty drab at the best of times, and it's far too short not to be a little extravagant sometimes. Wearing colorful socks with a pattern will add character to your attire.
When shopping for patterned socks, the possibilities are truly endless - from zig zags to checks and stripes to spots. At Boardroom Socks, we prefer more traditional, subdued patterns for an elegant look.
When wearing colors, match your socks with another item of your ensemble - your tie or pocket square are obvious contenders.
It may seem obvious, but always wear socks that match one another. No one has yet pulled off the odd-sock look, and I don't think you'll be the first person who does.
When picking out a pair of men's dress socks, it's important to give proper attention to how they complement your suit color combination.
A colorful pair of socks will provide a burst of color that will make you stand out and get noticed - just make sure it's not for the wrong reasons.
|Suit Color||Best Sock Color||Best Shoe Color|
A black suit is as classic as they come. It is the most formal of all suit colors, but only a small handful of colors match well. A pair of black socks nicely compliments a black suit, while gray is useful for adding slight variation.
If you're feeling a little more adventurous, red, purple, or light blue dress socks look great and add a spot of color to a wedding or party outfit.
For more information and style inspiration, be sure to read our in-depth guide to socks for a black suit.
As with all dress socks, matching the exact color with your suit is a sure way to look professional and ready to take on any meeting or event thrown your way. But don't feel that the shades have to exactly match. A more tonal look such as the darker blue socks and lighter blue suit shown below is quite sharp without being monotone.
As such, blue socks work really well with a blue suit or trousers. Black and gray socks also look swish and provide a subtle contrast with the blue shade.
Just like black, navy suits are another staple of men's fashion. No wardrobe is complete without a navy suit, and wearing matching socks is a great choice.
Gray, brown, and red socks are also well-suited to navy outfits, providing a sometimes much-needed flash of color.
Be sure to read our entire piece on sock colors for blue suits for more tips.
If you're wearing a gray suit to your upcoming formal event, it can be tempting to pair it with colorful socks - but this isn't always the correct choice.
Gray suits are best matched with gray, navy, or black socks. If you're looking for a splash of color, purple or red dress socks are a great option. Purple is a unique color you don't often see in men's clothing, and it's sure to turn heads for the right reason.
To explore more of our style suggestions, dive into our guide to socks for a grey suit.
After your formal wardrobe is stocked with the core blacks, blues and grey, tan is a great next suit color to add to your closet. While more casual and seasonal in nature, tan suits are a little off the beaten path and will add an element of sophistication to your ensemble.
In terms of accompanying sock colors, earthy tones in the brown and green families are going to be the easiest pairings while blues and reds can add a pop of color.
Our article on sock colors for tan suits is an excellent resource for additional tips.
While tan is arguably a shade of brown, brown suits are popular enough that they deserve their own section here. Similar to its close relative tan, brown suits will pair best with earthy sock colors.
Visit our extensive article on socks for brown suits to learn more about which sock colors look best with brown suits.
Before you raise your eyebrows, green suits can look extremely elegant but it is most important to choose the right shade of green to avoid looking garish.
After nailing down a tasteful shade of green for your suit (such as the dark olive above) complete the look with a subdued color of socks. Earthy tones look great, with tans and khakis being our favorite.
If you're noticing a trend here in our advice, it's because earthy tones look so good when paired together. Browns, tans and olives are incredibly tasteful when combined.
For suggestions beyond these earthy shades, be sure to explore our guide to sock colors for green suits.
Burgundy is the last shade that we've done a deep dive on and for good reason; it is certainly off the beaten path of suit colors but can look sharp when done tastefully.
Given that burgundy suits are a statement themselves, our recommendation is to tone down the accompanying socks and shoes. Try solid black socks with black oxfords to elevate the look while also tempering the pizzazz.
Read our exhaustive article on socks for burgundy suits for more suggestions.
Now that we've identified the different types of dress socks, and how best to match them with a variety of colored suits, we'll explore some additional tips and tricks to truly excel as a suited gentleman.
While there are variations you can make, it's sometimes best to keep it traditional. This is the perfect choice for very professional settings, where flair can sometimes count against being taken seriously.
Wear dress socks that very closely match the color of your suit and trousers, or you can pick a shade lighter or darker for the same effect.
It's very stylish to anchor your color choices to one another. Mixing at random will look jumbled and unprofessional.
Matching your dress socks to the color of your pocket square or tie will make it immediately obvious to others that you've put thought into your appearance. This may prove especially valuable in that next job interview.
Informal outfits offer you a chance to play around more with colors and patterns. Casual suits and accessories are most suitable in less-formal office environments and at social events with a smart-casual requirement.
Alternatively, you could decide to make a major statement and wear socks that strongly contrast with your suit and trousers. This isn't advised for everyone, but if you think you can pull it off, that confidence level is half of the battle.
Even those brave enough to pick contrasting colors should avoid picking patterns that clash. If your suit has any pattern at all, including pinstripes, either pick a pair of socks with patterns in similar colors or opt for solid socks.
While white dress socks can be worn with certain formal attire, athletic socks shouldn't be worn with anything other than athletic shoes. If you're dressed up in a suit, few things will kill your look faster than chunky pair of athletic socks peeking out from under your trousers.
The longer the sock you wear, the more formal the occasion. That's the general rule, and it works. No-show socks are for the most casual of occasions, mid-calf are for great for work suits and other semi-formal attire, and over-the-calf are perfect for everything up to and including the most formal occasions. If you've got a black tie event on the horizon, be sure to read our guide to tuxedo socks.
The "sockless" look combined with formal attire really took off in the early to mid-2000s, largely pioneered by designer Thom Browne. While this relaxed look can be tastefully pulled off in certain casual occasions, we highly recommend not wearing dress shoes without socks.
The best way to achieve the "suit without socks" look while still being comfortable is to wear no-show dress socks. This type of hosiery is designed to sit out of sight below the tops of your shoes, providing all the benefits of a pair of socks while facilitating the no sock look.
So, while you technically don't have to wear socks with a suit, the right socks will allow you to pull off the look without sacrificing comfort.
For further reading on this style, be sure to read our in-depth guide titled No Socks with Suit? Everything You Need to Know.
We hope that this article has been informative and has answered your questions. If you need further guidance on choosing the right socks, don't hesitate to reach out; our US-based team is ready to help. Click below to explore our collection and pick out your next favorite pair of socks.
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.
by Nathan James September 05, 2023
by Nathan James July 28, 2023