Can you wear a suit without socks? This controversial style took off in the mid-2000s and has been hotly debated ever since. If you are looking for the short answer, the most comfortable and pragmatic way to achieve this look is by wearing no-show dress socks.
Read on for more style tips as well as a list of dos and don'ts when it comes to the no sock suit look.
At Boardroom Socks, we tend to follow classic, timeless men’s style while avoiding fads and trends. It is our opinion that the most proper way to wear a suit is with a quality pair of dress socks, particularly when worn professionally. However, when executed properly for casual wear, a suit can be stylishly combined with a bare ankle.
For example, a suit with loafers and no socks can be a sharp, casual look for the summer. He Spoke Style’s Brian Sacawa illustrates this below.
Below is another take on the sockless suit, shown in men's fashion blog Permanent Style. This gentleman is wearing a navy suit with dark brown loafers. Note that this gentleman has an open collar without a tie, further accentuating the casual nature of his suit. This relaxed look is consistent all throughout his outfit, including the apparent lack of socks.
Had he instead worn more formal shoes such as oxfords, the look would be inconsistent. To properly sport a suit without socks, you have to maintain a cohesive casual look from head to toe.
It is important to note that the gentlemen featured above are likely wearing no-show dress socks. Going sockless in dress shoes is not only unhealthy but can also damage your shoes.
Closed-toe shoes are a warm, dark and damp environment that facilitate the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause athlete’s foot and other infections. In addition to potential health risks, this bacteria will also lead to a putrid smell in your shoes.
Sweat is known to damage leather, so it is extremely important to manage moisture in your dress shoes. Wearing socks adds a layer of protection and moisture management to reduce the buildup of excess moisture within your dress shoes. No-show dress socks are the perfect solution to provide all of the benefits of wearing socks while still sporting the stylish, bare-ankle look.
Another helpful tip is to rotate your shoes, avoiding wearing the same pair several days in a row gives them time to dry out in between wears. Finally, always be sure to use cedar shoe trees - these further assist in pulling moisture out of your dress shoes while also helping them to retain their shape.
As stated above, the “suit no socks” look is typically only appropriate in very casual settings. Beyond that, there are two other rules that we believe govern wearing a suit without socks.
This seems to be another trend brought on by menswear designer Thom Browne (more on him below) that quickly took off among young, urban professionals. Fortunately, this look seems to be heading out the door of contemporary fashion… If you are planning to wear a suit without socks, please do not hem your trousers to shin height.
As outlined above, the best way to wear a suit without socks is to ensure a consistent, casual look throughout the entirety of your outfit. With this in mind, be sure to choose dress shoes that are casual, such as loafers or dress sneakers. Avoid wingtips, oxfords and other more formal dress shoes.
Shortly after the onset of the Great Recession, the bare ankle trend seemed to flourish in major metropolitan areas - particularly Manhattan. From what I can tell, the earliest pioneer of this look was menswear designer Thom Browne who was GQ’s Designer of the Year in 2008.
Designer Thom Browne is shown above sporting his signature look - a cropped suit with bare ankles and wingtips. While he is certainly an avant garde designer who isn’t afraid to make a statement, this look isn’t for everyone - myself included. As I outlined above, I personally feel the “suit without socks” style is best executed with a consistent look.
In Mr. Browne’s signature outfit, he has a cohesive formal look all the way down to his shins, where he then jars you with his exposed leg. In my opinion, this outfit would look much better if his dress pants were hemmed with a slight break or even no break.
So, can you wear a suit without socks? Yes, but it must be done correctly. In summary, be sure to follow these guidelines:
If you are interested in reading more, Michael Kaplan of the New York Post wrote an article aptly titled, Wearing a suit with no socks is an embarrassment. You can probably guess his stance on the topic of wearing a suit without socks, but it makes for an interesting read on the topic!
And, for more details on those occasions that call for hosiery, read our ultimate guide to wearing socks with suits.
Boardroom Socks is a small, family-owned company based in Charlotte, North Carolina. We specialize in manufacturing premium, American-made men’s socks that are as comfortable as they are stylish. Read our story to learn more and meet the family behind the business.
CEO, Boardroom Socks
Nathan is an eighth generation textile professional, passionate about producing quality hosiery right here in North Carolina. His favorite dress socks are our burgundy merino wool socks. You will also frequently find him wearing our no-show socks. Outside of the office he enjoys fishing, reading and exploring Charlotte with his wife, son and Golden Retriever.
by Nathan James September 05, 2023
by Nathan James July 28, 2023