Why NO MAN should wear socks with sandals

Man wearing socks with sandals.

Socks with sandals… a polarizing fashion faux pas (embarrassing) choice I’m sure we all indulged in as young-lings. It’s comfy and convenient, but can you do it in style?

Socks with sandals is a frowned upon fashion choice due to a combination of factors:

  • The confused sense of functionality that the combination of sandals (meant for hotter climates) with socks (meant for colder climates) gives off.
  • The negative stereotypes associated with this look (i.e. that only people who lack any style or sense of fashion would choose to wear such a thing.)
  • The inherent reasoning that plagues this look in the first place – It is rarely a look that someone plans to wear, but rather that they concede to, out of convenience/ comfort/ and or desperation – and either of these three factors by themselves rarely equates to a formula that will benefit someone’s “look”, fashionwise.

Nobody who wears sandals with socks ever puts in an effort to dress it up in the first place, and that’s the problem.

Why do people actually hate the socks with sandals look?

Black and white pic of man wearing knee high socks.

Well, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in the modern world who wouldn’t most likely have some strong opinions about your socks with sandals.

And one reason is that in most cases, it just looks quite silly, rather. Sandals are meant for open toes, to let them breathe, while socks (usually) are meant for when it’s colder outside, thus warranting the need to wrap your feet up in the first place.

While ancient society did sport the “sock with sandal” look (as you’ll see more info on this down below), in the modern age it is considered to be a confusing look. Like wearing a big ol cowboy hat indoors at the dinner table, it’s slightly strange.

Original image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay. Further edited by me.

But like in my post “How short are leather jackets supposed to be?” I discussed how style can transition from a place of function to pure fashion, transitioning from its intended use to something new entirely (like how bomber jackets were designed exclusively for military pilots before they became a commonplace style choice among the public.)

Now back to my cowboy hat at the dinner table example – like I said it’s not that you can’t do it per se, it’s just that it defeats the purpose of its function in a way that makes it stand out harshly. Like a child in kindergarten who stubbornly decided to wear both his shoes on the wrong foot.

Like kid… that’s not a style choice, that’s just plain stupid.

Though you could argue that some would rather prefer you opt to keep your toes covered, rather than go the “classic” way with your sandals…and go sockless.

Old picture of man wearing sandals.

And this would also be a wise choice, as men aren’t held nearly as high as women when it comes to aesthetics (even in 2020), and so for most men, feet maintenance isn’t as much a priority as it is for women (case and point: when was the last time you heard one of your buds claim they got a pedicure? – Exactly.)

This in a way questions if there is any “winning” way to pull of this look at all…

Where is it considered appropriate to wear socks with sandals?

Two pairs of legs wearing socks with sandals/birkenstocks.

Really nowhere to be honest. It’s “half in half out” kinda look, with sandals being meant more for the heat consuming environments, and socks for the cooler realms. This is one of the few looks that doesn’t have a designated setting.

Just don’t wear it to anything formal or…”cool”.

Is it socially acceptable to wear socks with flip flops instead?

The reason people hate the socks with sandals looks stems from the look in itself being too eccentric for its own good. The look goes against the grain of what is considered socially acceptable so hard, that frankly, most are unable to fathom a justified reason as to why this “look” is necessary at all.

With flip-flops, it is the same deal. That’s not to say slippers or sandals by themselves look bad, however.

Image by Ihsan Aditya from Pixabay

But wearing open-toed anything with socks (in most cases) just makes you look lazy like you got tired halfway through dressing up in the morning and just decided to fudge the last 10% of your attire (and I’m including Crocs in this too, fellas.)

Close up of a pair of Birkenstock shoes on a bed of sand.

Also with anything being more visible, there are just too many other variables not in your favor that could sully the already polarizing sock-with-sandal look even more.

Like pairing a set of playful bright colored socks to go with your darker, more monochrome suit, showing off “just enough” to be cheeky, but not overdo it. However unlike this example – with the sandal and flip flop look – your socks will be on full display, for the world to see. The “star” of the show.

And you always need to pay attention to your star.

The world’s view on socks with sandals-is it the same?

The West ain’t the entire world, and nor does it need to conform to it’s heavy-laden views on subjective style. Style varies, culturally speaking.

In fact, if you must know, the oldest pair of socks ever on record was found in Egypt, dated between 250-420 AD. And guess what key feature was found to be present in them…?

They had split toes! This means that by and large… socks were meant to be worn with sandals!

And even in modern-day Japan no less – people do it too, frequently. However, the difference is in the actual style and culture that they imbue upon their “sandals”. As in Japan, it is common to this day for both genders to wear what is called a “Tabi”, which is a traditional Japanese sock made for thronged sandals like “Geta” or “Zori” (i.e. basically “flip flops” for my western readers.)

A pair of “Geta” footwear. Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

Simply put, these look nicer than the standard “sandal and sock” look that you see on most people these days.

And let’s be honest, the majority of those who wear sandals with socks don’t bother to make it look “nice.”

The Japanese (and many other cultures) who sport this look know what’s up, the people who give this look a bad name, however, do not.

Why do most who wear this style look “bad” though?

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

The first look that comes to mind for me when thinking of “socks-with-sandals” is… shoddy-looking sandal footwear paired with even shoddier-looking socks, maybe a hole or some string lining coming out of it, maybe even a stain or two on them. Overall this look does not give off a very pretty first impression.

Rarely does this look bring out the same style sense in people as they would when putting together a suit (or some other “look” that requires more in-depth wardrobe planning.) Again, this look usually isn’t done to serve any fashion purpose, but rather is used as a last-minute look borne more out of convenience and comfort.

The sandal and sock look almost always looks bad, as the “style” is usually worn by people who lack any sense of it (or who decided to forgo the very notion of it for the day for whatever reason.)

This style could look better, but that would require some semblance of effort, an amount that its wearer almost never wants to give, at least not when it comes to sandals and socks, as like I said…this is usually always a last-minute look or a look done by individuals that lack certain creativity in their style.

It is a style that is applied without any foresight, in the most negative way possible.

If you MUST – Here’s how to wear socks with sandals/slippers etc.

Man wearing colorful long yellow socks whilst wearing sandals/slippers.

By now you should have a sense of why they look doesn’t usually work, and you also should have a sense of how you could do it better. Here are some tips that work:

  • Have some fashion urgency when creating this look

You wanna spend the same amount of time curating this look as you would in putting together any other outfit. Even though the look is casual, you’re planning shouldn’t be. Take it from the celebs, they’ll tell you themselves.

  • Make your socks the star

Your entire foot is on display, and thankfully will be covered by material that is probably prettier than your feet, and if that’s not the case, then make it the case.

Take into account sock colour and how it goes with your corresponding outfit, pick a sock that’s damn pretty, or at the very least helps accentuate your outfit in a positive manner.

  • Focus on sock material

Thicker is generally better when it comes to exposing your socks, and I’d argue for higher quality as well – especially since people will be able to see it.

  • Buy your sandals with purpose (as much as I hate the look personally, sandals are proper footwear.)

With any proper footwear, you want it to look good, be of high quality, and match your outfit. Don’t be like all those middle-aged sock-and-sandal-wearing chaps out there, be better.

Invest in your footwear, invest in your image, you don’t have to err on the pricey side, but don’t skimp on the quality.

“He believes the former forgives the latter, I believe the latter’s all that matters.”

The Knick (Cinemax)

Be like Dr. John Thackery (played by Clive Owen in Cinemax’s hit show The Knick) – just because the disdained sock-with-sandal look has its history seeped in animosity – that doesn’t mean you can’t pull it off today if you really want to.

Just put in some thought as you would with anything else you care about, and at the end of the day, it won’t matter what is known about this look, because, unlike the rest who tried & failed, you’ll actually prevail…if you put in some effort.

The latter’s that all matters.

Stay Rogue.

Dom Jeswal

Im a mixed third culture kid (with even more mixed tastes in fashion, food, manners & ideals) living in Asia. Currently exploring what it means to be a man a "spiced" value in the modern age - and all the interests and skills that come with the territory. Like your average men's lifestyle blog - only with more spice & more focus on info not exclusive to the West.

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