Khaki gets overlooked in menswear. It’s perceived as boring, mundane, or (worse yet) associated with the oversized chinos once favored by middle managers everywhere. However, khaki, particularly in hosiery, is actually a versatile shade applicable in any situation from the most casual to much more sophisticated affairs.
Pant puns from 2005 aside, the word khaki is actually of military etymology. Referring, literally, to ‘sand’ (or soil), it was used as the military uniform for early Victorian-era British Imperial Army soldiers stationed around Lahore in modern-day Pakistan. Perhaps learning from the American Revolution and subsequent engagements, the British military had begun to adopt camouflage as standard military dress instead of the easily-identifiable (and detectable) bright red outfits.
Gradually, it found its way into civilian life through cotton jackets, trousers, and other clothing. Since this time, khaki as a color has generally referred to tan with a mixture of yellow and green undertones.
Starting with our most casual option, jeans tend to pair well with most sock options. We like a dark wash or an inky selvedge denim with our khaki socks, but lighter can work well, too. Khaki is perhaps the best dress sock pairing for the more fashion-forward white or off-white denim, too.
Since some of the most versatile shorts are khaki, this is among the best colorways to pair with them, too. While they’re not khaki, per se, beige is close. Try our no-shows to get the ‘sockless’ look without the sweaty feet!
Moving a step further up for the formality scale, ‘khaki’ chinos and khaki socks are, of course, a good pairing. But, most any chino will do fine. Navy, dark brown, stone, olive, or even a burgundy chino would be right at home here.
Use a polo shirt (short or long sleeved) in another complementary neutral colorway to complete the outfit. If it’s warm and you’re at a casual event, feel free to go for the no-show socks. If it does happen to be cooler, try a long sleeve polo and some of our mid-calf socks.
Patterned socks, especially our square knots in blue, orange, and navy, work very well with any of these chino options, too.
Ah, business casual, you most misunderstood of dress codes. As I mentioned earlier, the khaki pant has gotten kind of a negative reputation in the modern world of business casual, as it’s occasionally worn under a blazer and with a ‘performance polo’ of some kind- usually with a sports team or university’s logo on it. But, khaki pants- and khaki socks-are right up next to the grey flannel pant among the most versatile in menswear. Khaki is, after all, a shade of brown. Consider two outfits.
First, a lighter blue sports jacket with a large-scale khaki windowpane. This would have a white or pale pink shirt underneath. Khaki pants in a lightweight wool and some medium-brown tassel loafers. The khaki socks elongate the leg line and blend in beautifully.
Second, a dark brown jacket with a blue and white overcheck. The shirt is a light blue Oxford cloth (for a more casual business meeting) or a poplin (for a more “business-y” meeting). Our trousers and socks are the same as before. Feel free to wear loafers- but this time, try in a dark brown suede.
Third, if you’re a preppy traditionalist and enjoy the classic navy blazer and khaki wool trousers, weave in our patterned khaki socks with some shell cordovan penny loafers.
Brown and “business” used to be a difficult combination to pull off. But, as dress codes have changed, it’s become far more socially acceptable. In general, a more conservative outfit calls for a more conservative sock. In our case, though, it’ll work well in a few different settings.
First, a classic medium blue suit is excellent business attire, but will work very well with our patterned khaki socks even better than a dark navy. Second, a dark brown flannel suit (increasingly common these days) is best paired with khaki if doing the monochromatic thing isn’t quite your style. And third, a charcoal brown (kind of a combination between brown and grey) is arguably the best business suit to wear with khaki socks.
As we move into weddings in the warmer seasons, the attire changes from wool tuxedos to breezier cloth. This also means brighter tones, too. Less deep navy, grey, and dark brown, and more light grey, medium, air force, or postal blues, and tan.
If you’d like to go a little more monochrome, a tan suit with khaki socks will work very well for a summer wedding. If you’re planning on wearing a tie, try a knit one in 2.75-3” in width in navy, green, burgundy, or a darker brown. A white shirt is a little more formal, but a striped, windowpane, or even a small print gingham would work well too. If you are wearing a tie, we’d suggest a solid pair of socks.
If you’re going tieless, though, feel free to have a little more fun with your hosiery. Here, we’d recommend going with our patterned socks and a pair of shoes in most any brown tone.
How about you? Is there another way you’d wear khaki socks?
Thanks for reading.
Yours in Style,
|Further Reading on Khaki:|
|What Color Socks Should I Wear with Khaki Pants?|
|What are Business Casual Socks? Explained, with Examples.|
|5 Socks that Pair Beautifully with a Brown Suit|
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 Editorial Staff December 07, 2023
by Editorial Staff December 01, 2023