by Nathan James September 28, 2018

Wearing socks with dress shoes sounds easy enough but choosing the right hosiery is important to looking and feeling at the top of your game. This article will cover everything you need to know about socks for dress shoes.

Socks for Dress Shoes - What to Wear

Wondering what kind of socks to wear with men’s dress shoes? Easy - dress shoes should always be worn with dress socks. Wearing dress socks with dress shoes will not only ensure you look the part, but they will also keep you comfortable.

Can you wear athletic socks with dress shoes?

No. In addition to looking slovenly, athletic socks likely won’t fit into your dress shoes and will cause your pants to bunch around the ankles. Be sure to continue reading below to learn more about dress sock thickness.

Are crew socks dress socks?

No. Crew refers to the sock length and not the specific type of sock. In general, crew length socks are typically athletic socks and not the type of sock that would be worn with dress shoes. True dress socks are either knit to a mid-calf or over the calf length.

Is it OK to wear leather shoes without socks?

No. This can lead to a variety of health issues including foot funguses and foot odor, plus this can cause premature wear on your shoes. For further information, be sure to read our in-depth article on wearing dress shoes without socks.

Can I wear no show socks with dress shoes?

If you’d like to go for the “no sock” look while still wearing a pair of socks, you can absolutely wear no show socks with dress shoes. Just make sure this style is appropriate for the occasion. If you’re attending a formal event or are in a professional setting, this likely wouldn’t be appropriate. For further information, check out our article on the best no show dress socks.

Why Socks for Dress Shoes Matter

With some rough back-of-the-napkin math, think about just how long you spend in socks. If you wear socks and dress shoes each work day and work roughly 8 hours a day Monday through Friday, that comes out to over 2,000 hours per year!

Do dress socks matter?

Given how much time you spend wearing dress socks, they absolutely matter. A quality pair of dress shoe socks will not only keep you comfortable throughout the day but they will also ensure your feet stay healthy - more on that below.

Why do you need dress socks?

Just like any other garment, dress socks serve many purposes. The primary reasons why you need dress socks are:

  • Protect your feet from rubbing against your shoes.
  • Keep feet dry to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Added warmth during cold weather.
  • Covering bare skin in formal situations.
  • Last but not least, they’ll ensure you look sharp.

Understanding Dress Sock Thickness

The thickness of dress socks is determined by the needle count of the knitting machine that they are created on as well as the count of the yarn they are stitched with.

Needle count refers to the number of needles that are in the knitting machine’s cylinder, with each needle representing a stitch in the circumference of the sock. More needles equates to more stitches and ultimately a thinner sock while fewer needles means fewer stitches and a thicker sock.

The yarn count refers to the thickness of the yarn used to manufacture the socks. The smaller the yarn count, the thinner the yarn. Thin yarns are also referred to as fine count yarns and are the type of yarn typically used to manufacture dress socks. Thicker, coarse count yarns are found in thicker socks.

Why are dress socks so thin?

Dress shoes are designed to fit snuggly, necessitating a thinner sock. Cramming a bulky sock into a dress shoe will not only be uncomfortable but may cause rubbing and lead to blisters. Thick socks also have a tendency to bunch up around your ankles, breaking the otherwise smooth drape of your trousers.


why are dress socks so thin


How thick should dress socks be?

Finding the right thickness of socks for dress shoes is a balancing act; the socks need to be thin enough to comfortably fit in your dress shoes while also being thick enough that they won’t wear out too quickly.

At Boardroom Socks we describe our dress socks as a “medium” thickness. They are slightly thicker than European brands such as Pantherella and slightly thinner than a department store brand such as Gold Toe. We find that this level of thickness is the best of both worlds; providing both comfort and durability. For added protection, we also reinforce the heel and toe portions of our dress socks to maximize durability.

How Do You Pick Out Dress Socks?

Now that we’ve nailed down that dress socks are the proper socks for dress shoes, how do you pick out which dress socks to wear? This comes down to two key factors:

1. Dress for the Occasion

As with any article of clothing, your dress shoe socks should always be appropriate for the occasion. If you’re attending a black tie affair or serious business function, you shouldn’t wear loud socks. Alternatively if you work in a casual environment, feel free to add more color.

2. Embrace Your Style

Even if you do work in a fairly buttoned up office, there are ways to tastefully express personality with your dress shoe socks. Subtle patterns or solid colorful dress socks both tend to be perfectly acceptable in most business situations.

For more tips on choosing the right pair, be sure to read our guide on how to buy dress socks.


an array of colorful socks for dress shoes


How Do You Pair a Sock with a Suit?

If you’re wearing a suit, should your socks match your shoes or your suit? The easiest, and most traditional, rule to follow is to match your socks to your suit. For more details, we have written extensively on how to match your socks, shoes and pants.

About Boardroom Socks

Boardroom Socks is a small, family-owned manufacturer of men’s socks. Since our founding in 2010, we have been committed to producing the best socks for dress shoes in our home state of North Carolina.


Shop Socks for Dress Shoes

Nathan James
Nathan James

CEO, Boardroom Socks

Nathan's favorite dress socks are our burgundy merino wool socks. You will also frequently find him wearing our new no-show socks. Outside of the office he enjoys fishing, reading and exploring Charlotte with his wife.



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