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by Nathan James September 28, 2018

The Definitive Guide to Men’s Dress Socks

Our socks are designed for the consummate professional, a man who appreciates timeless style while demanding the utmost in comfort and quality. Boardroom Socks is quickly becoming the hosiery of choice for gentlemen in law offices, hospitals, boardrooms and banks from New York to Los Angeles. While dress socks may seem very simple, there are an abundance of options in the marketplace. We put together this guide to help gentlemen navigate through the noise to find the best possible solution for their dress sock needs.

Should I Wear Mid-Calf or Over the Calf Dress Socks?

This is a question that garners some debate within the world of men's fashion. An exposed leg is thought of as a faux pas, making the length of your sock very important. If the day's agenda involves presentations, client visits or high level meetings, an over the calf dress sock is best. As your pants ride up when you cross your legs or are seated, the over the calf length will ensure consistent coverage of your legs. If your greatest concern is ensuring that the socks stay up and do not slip, sag or bunch, then we recommend over the calf length. Some gentlemen find the over the calf length uncomfortable and prefer mid-calf dress socks; at the end of the day, your comfort and personal preference are ultimately the determining factors.

Which Material is Best, Wool or Cotton?

We always recommend opting for dress socks that are knit using primarily natural yarns, more specifically, cotton or wool. While the ideal sock is knit with primarily natural yarns, it should also include a blend of synthetic fibers such as spandex and nylon. These fibers make the sock more durable and also provide it with the stretch needed to both fit around your foot as well as to keep the sock up on your leg. Socks made predominantly with synthetic fibers have a tendency to not breathe as well and are typically not as comfortable.

Choosing between the two natural fibers, cotton and wool, is a matter of personal preference. Merino wool dress socks help manage moisture and odor, retain their color for longer periods of time, and also provide more warmth during the colder months of the year. Cotton dress socks are lighter and are cooler during the warmest months of the year. We use premium merino wool and American-grown pima cotton in our dress socks.

What Color Sock Should I Wear?

The color of your sock is driven primarily by the color of your pants and, to a lesser extent, the color of your shoes. With a focus on business-appropriate fashion, our designers recommend the following color combinations:

Dark Navy or Midnight Navy Trousers:

Pair your navy trousers with midnight navy or black dress socks, and either black or brown shoes. To add a splash of color, pair your navy pants with a pair of Tweeds from our Weekender Collection.

Dark Navy Dress Socks

Charcoal Trousers:

Charcoal, midnight navy, grey heather and black dress socks all go well with charcoal trousers. For some extra pop, try a pair of our Sky Blue Merino Wool over the calf dress socks.

Sky Blue Merino Wool Dress Socks

Black Trousers:

Our designers recommend coupling black dress socks with your black trousers for a well-matched ensemble. During the coldest months of the year, warm up with a pair of black merino wool over the calf dress socks.

Black Merino Wool Dress Socks

Blue Jeans:

Ah, the weekend is here and the jeans are on. Our new Weekender Collection is a perfect fit with denim. When reaching into your sock drawer, you can also grab a pair of midnight navy, dark brown, khaki or mid grey heather socks. These looks will work well whether you are wearing loafers, boat shoes, or even a dress shoe.

Boardroom Socks Weekender Socks

Khaki Trousers:

When sporting khaki trousers, our favorite hosiery choices are khaki, dark brown and olive. Brown shoes are the recommended footwear with your khaki trousers. We offer khaki dress socks in both cotton and wool, while dark brown and olive are available in our merino wool collection.

Khaki Men's Dress Socks

Which Color is Most Versatile?

Aside from black, which is certainly the workhorse of a man’s sock drawer, we believe charcoal is the most versatile dress sock. Charcoal goes well with black, blue and grey trousers as well as denim and casual slacks. Our Charcoal Merino Wool dress socks are knit in a heather shade that enables them to pair well with virtually any color.

What is the Best Dress Sock for Formal Wear?

Our black Mercerized Pima Cotton over the calf dress socks were specifically designed for formal wear. These socks are knit using premium mercerized pima cotton yarns imported from Italy. The mercerization process is an additional step in the yarn manufacturing process that strengthens the fibers and makes them more receptive to dye. The end result is a very durable sock that has a deep, rich black color with a lustrous finish. This sock pairs exceptionally well with black tie attire.

Men's Tuxedo Dress Socks

How Should I Care for my Dress Socks?

To ensure longevity, avoid washing your dress socks with stiff, rough fabrics like denim. The rubbing of jeans on socks may degrade the strength and color of the fibers. Most importantly, never wash your socks with towels or other fabrics that have lint. Always wash like colors together, and avoid bleach at all costs. The properties of bleach will not only erode the color of the socks but will degrade the fibers and could lead to premature holes. We recommend washing in warm water and either air drying or tumble drying on low heat. If available, washing dress socks in a lingerie laundry bag is a great way to ensure they are handled gently.

Nathan James
Nathan James


President, Boardroom Socks

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