When it comes to the fashion world, a lot of things that were previously considered to be uncool such as denim on denim combinations and mom jeans have slowly made a comeback in a big way, whether it is on the runway or street fashion. One of the most universally controversial fashion trends – both for men and women – is the combination of socks with sandals. Wearing socks with sandals is not only considered to be unfashionable but also unnecessary by many. However, just like with other previously derided fashion missteps, are they acceptable now?
Do socks go with sandals? Although wearing socks with sandals can seem like a downright fashion faux pas, it can look effortless if you do it right. Socks paired with sandals have been seen on several runways in the modern fashion world as well as influential fashion icons such as Kanye West, Kacey Musgraves, and Justin Bieber.
One of the combinations that have been proven to work is combining sheer socks that don’t go beyond the mid-calf with platform heel sandals. Pairing tube socks with athletic slides from brands such as Adidas or Birkenstocks have also proven to work well and is one of the most popular combinations you will find. Colored socks are a bit harder to pull off, but if you are bold in your fashion choices, try pairing them with a sandal that is neutral-colored, or opt to go all out by pairing them with bright sandals as well.
The history of pairing socks with sandals
The earliest discovered evidence of socks being paired with sandals is detailed at the archaeological site that is found between Dishforth and Leeming in England. This discovery indicates that socks were worn with sandals by the Romans at least 2,000 years ago, between 250 and 420 A.D.
The earliest known pair of socks that have survived throughout the years were created using a knitting and crotchet technique known as nalbinding. They feature split toes which were designed specifically for use with sandals. They were excavated from Egypt in the 19th century.
In the Czech Republic, the pairing socks with sandals is believed to be mostly done by older men and is regarded to be quite unpopular. In Russia, it is claimed that the combination of socks and sandals most likely originates from the post-Soviet era when wearing shoes, including sandals, with bare feet was generally considered to be unhygienic.
In the modern fashion world, sock became more prevalent on the runway in the 2010s especially when it came to menswear. James Long, a British designer, was ahead of the curve when he styled models with socks and sandals for his Spring 2015 show. In the Men’s Fashion Week 2016 spring collections, socks, and sandals were similarly popular in Milan, with the unique combo often seen on many runways, including those of Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, and Versace. Other luxury labels such as Marni and the Calvin Klein collection also showcased a variety of ways on how to pair socks and sandals during this period.
During the New York Fashion Week that took place during the spring of 2016, Robert Geller, a renowned fashion designer, took elevate the sock and sandal pairing with mandals, or man sandals, and toeless socks. His runway featured Velcro-strap sandals as well as thong-style leather designs that were effortlessly paired with cashmere half-socks to achieve a casual and cozy look.
The different ways of combining socks and sandals
1. Sheer socks combined with sandals
Sheer socks are considered to be more on the elegant side, so they are best paired with fancier sandals such as a ladylike slide or a suede platform heel. You want to go for sheer socks that reach just below your mid-calf as they perfectly complement a variety of leg shapes.
2. Tube socks with sandals
If you plan on wearing tall tube socks, then you might want to pair them with Birkenstocks or athletic slides. These sandal designs are generally heavier, and thus they go extremely well with socks that provide fuller coverage. In this case, you will want to forego the sweatpants and instead show off your bold look with a pair of shorts that will elevate your whole look by adding an element of sophistication.
3. Colorful socks with sandals
Brightly colored socks are a great way of showing your personality. To allow them to truly pop, consider pairing them with neutral-colored sandals, such as brown, silver, or white. If you want to be more daring, you can try playing with colors that will tastefully clash, such as red and orange, or electric blue and purple.
4. Patterned socks combined with sandals
Combining patterned socks with sandals can be one of the hardest looks to pull off. However, a great trick that never fails to work is to choose a pair of graphic socks and wear them with sandals that have details that match with that of the socks. For instance, you can coordinate the color of the strap of the sandal with the design on the cuff of your socks.
5. Muted socks and sandals
If you want to wear socks with sandals and still maintain a streamlined look, opt to pair neutral or monochromatic socks and sandals in the same color. This way, you will achieve a low profile look, especially when you finish off your look with classic jeans and a t-shirt.
Tips on wearing socks with sandals
- Start by pairing them with an outfit you are comfortable in – When trying out a new fashion trend, it is always wise to start by adding it to something familiar to see if it is something you will incorporate into your look regularly. In the case of pairing socks with sandals, you want to try it with an outfit that you have been wearing frequently, or something that always makes you feel comfortable. That way, you will have the upper hand when it comes to your research and consequent development of the pairing.
- Match the color of your socks to that of your outfit – Matching your whole outfit is generally considered to be a misstep in fashion, but in the case of pairing socks and sandals, you want to coordinate the color to some extent to make your whole outfit appear intentional rather than a last-minute decision. Matching your sock color to that of your outfit or even your sandals can help to tie your whole look together and allow you to pull off what is often thought as the impossible.
- Ensure that the sandals won’t stain your socks – It is not uncommon to end up with socks that are stained when pairing them with sandals especially if the dye rubs off on them or the sandal footbed is not clean. As a result, you will end up with very dirty socks at the end of the day. To avoid this, ensure that the footbed of the sandal is completely clean before wearing them, or at least carry some wipes with you to wipe them clean when they get too dirty.
Some benefits of wearing socks with sandals
Despite the bad press, pairing socks with sandals could be beneficial for your feet:
- Socks keep your feet warm – Along with your hands and the head, the feet are a main outlet of heat for the whole body. If you intend to wear sandals when the weather is cold outside, you might want to throw on a pair of cozy socks under them to keep your feet warm and consequently maintain the core temperature of your body.
- They protect from germs – Sandals are open shoes, which means that they leave parts of your feet exposed when you wear them. As you might know, public spaces are breeding grounds for viruses and bacteria, and walking in sandals without any covering on your feet makes it easy to come in contact with them. This could lead to nasty infections if you have an open wound on your foot. Therefore, wearing socks with sandals will keep your feet protected from germs.
- They keep your feet from getting injured – Wearing sandals not only keep your feet protected from germs, but also from debris or sharp objects that could cause a puncture wound or cut. Adding a pair of socks under them will further protect your ankles and feet protected from potentially dangerous objects that may get into your sandals as you are walking.
- Socks prevent shoes from rubbing against your feet – Blisters are small pockets of body fluids that tend to develop due to friction and rubbing. Wearing sandals without socks could result in the development of blisters, especially if the material of the footwear rubs against the skin.
- Moisture-wicking socks will reduce sweating – Feet tend to sweat a lot, and wearing sandals that are not breathable will only cause your feet to sweat more. To curb such a problem, consider wearing socks that will absorb the moisture that tends to build up when you are on your feet for extended periods.
Socks may not be the most obvious accessory that comes to mind when you intend to wear your favorite pair of sandals, but by pairing them with the right outfit, they might just work for you. If the approval of this pairing by top fashion brands and celebrities is not enough for you, consider the numerous benefits of wearing socks under your sandals to be convinced that it can work.