Dress Sock Length: Mid-Calf or Over the Calf?

Dress socks are generally knit to either mid-calf or over the calf lengths. As the name implies, mid-calf socks tend to reach approximately halfway up a man’s calf while over the calf socks reach fully above the calf, sitting just below the knee. Mid-calf socks are a bit higher than crew length. Over the calf socks are also often described as “knee high” or “long socks.” Mid-calf styles are occasionally described as “calf-length” or “calf-high.”

 Comparing Mid-Calf vs Over the Calf

Historically, the primary length of men’s hosiery has been over the calf but as menswear has moved to a more casual look, mid-calf socks have increased in popularity. Each length has its advantages; however, much comes down to personal preference.

guide to men's dress sock length

Over the Calf

Grey Over the Calf Socks

We have noticed that younger generations have a tendency to view knee-high (over the calf) socks as a dated style for older generations; however, nothing could be further from the truth. These longer socks are more formal and are considered the top choice for professional settings, regardless of age.

Ability to Stay Up

Without a doubt, over the calf length socks will always do a better job of staying up on your leg when compared to mid-calf socks. The primary reason for this is because your calf acts as an anchor and prevents the top band of the sock from sliding down your leg. If your primary concern is having a pair of socks that will stay up throughout the day, then you should opt for an over the calf length.

Leg Coverage

Exposing bare skin when crossing one’s legs has long been considered a faux pas in professional and formal settings. During presentations and meetings, attention should be paid to what you are saying, not your hairy leg! One of the benefits of over the calf length dress socks is that they fully cover a man’s leg and thus prevent any skin from showing in the event his trousers rise up.

Special Occasions

Over the calf is almost always the dress sock length of choice for formal wear. The same benefits of socks staying up on the leg and of full leg coverage are important as you dress for weddings, charity benefits and holiday parties.

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Red Mid Calf Socks

Mid-calf dress socks are generally considered more of a casual dress sock length and the following in menswear for this length is growing as trends have shifted toward more casual attire. Men of all ages are devoted wearers of mid-calf dress socks.

Casual Look

Mid-calf length is viewed as a more casual look in men’s hosiery and when viewed on the timeline of menswear, it is the more contemporary look. This is the length to pair with jeans, your Casual Friday attire, a Saturday night out or a trip to the beach.

Less Constricting Fit

With its lower profile on the leg, many men find that the mid-calf length feels much more comfortable; the feeling of socks all the way up to the knee can be intolerable over a long day for some gentlemen. For gentlemen with very large calves, the shorter length may be a better fit.

Cooler in Warm Climates

Mid-calf dress socks, with a shorter length, cover less of your legs and keep you cooler in hotter temperatures. And when it comes to shorts, it’s a bit of a faux pas to pair over the calf socks with shorts. Summer is best enjoyed wearing mid-calf length dress socks.

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In Conclusion, it is Your Choice

We recognize that both lengths have a place in your and that sock length is a personal preference. At the same time, the setting may influence the length you need. We don’t judge – wear what makes you comfortable, just make the choice Boardroom Socks!

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Sock length


C Michael Lanphier

C Michael Lanphier

In Canada, overo-the-calf socks definitely help the leg stay warm during fall, winter and early spring! Merino wool is the fabric of choice! It clings to the leg and has a lovely spring-y feel. When worn with knee-length underwear, there is assurance of a layer of warmth.

Willie Swart

Willie Swart

IIn South Africa we wear long socks with short pants The socks come to about 4 Inchs belowr the knee

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