The Socks Conundrum

Sometimes even the most simple of tasks is a struggle. What should be an easy process can become complicated and confusing – especially when you start overthinking and focusing too much on the details.

For some this happens when it comes to tying their shoe laces. For me personally, it happens when I’m sitting in front of a laptop and forget how to spell a word or phrase a sentence. Yet for others, it happens when they’re getting dressed each morning.

Based on some of the emails we’ve been receiving lately, it seems that many guys out there are having trouble deciding what socks to wear with the outfit they’ve put together. And here at FashionBeans, we can sympathise with this issue.

It used to be so simple just a few years ago. Menswear was not as popular then as it is now – even a pair of striped socks made a statement. That’s if you could find a pair of striped or bold coloured socks in the first place. Today we’re spoilt for choice, and it’s this choice that can leave you feeling overwhelmed when it comes to making what should be such a simple decision.

In addition, every man with even a passing interest in fashion these days believes that wearing a bright sock is enough to separate them from the pack and give them automatic style kudos, which simply isn’t true.

Like most things, style is based on understanding the rules and then breaking or bending them slightly. But nonetheless, there are still guidelines we should adhere to. We’ve all seen bad examples of socks within an outfit – it’s easy to do wrong, and often is.

Getting Your Sock Choice Right

Luckily, that’s where we come in. We’re set to outline a few simple rules, tricks and techniques to bear in mind when pairing your socks with your outfit, taking the stress away from the process. After all, we’re fairly sure you have more important things to be focusing on than whether your socks are really working with the suit you’re wearing to the office.

But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s reintroduce the colour wheel – your best friend when it comes to integrating any item of clothing into a look:

The Classic Colour Wheel

It’s all very simple really: the sections on either side of a colour are similar, directly opposite is complementary and contrasting hues are separated by three sections of the wheel.

Complementary colours are more difficult to pair than contrasting ones, but it can be done if you alter the tone and strength of one of the hues. For example, green and red are complementary, but if you change the red to a shade of pink they can be combined a whole lot easier.

Tips & Tricks

Use the tips and tricks below in conjunction with your colour wheel basics to always nail your choice of sock.

1. If In Doubt, Go Tonal

This is the most foolproof method you can use: choose a pair of socks that are either a shade darker or lighter than the trousers you’re wearing.

For example, if you’re wearing a mid-grey suit (and if you aren’t, why not?), think about wearing a pair of charcoal socks.

Maybe all your dark socks are in the wash? Then why not try a pair of cobalt blue socks with your navy chinos? It’s extremely difficult to go wrong when you utilise this technique.

Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings - Tonal Trousers & Socks

2. Tonal Textures & Patterns

Stick to the rule above but this time introduce some texture or a subtle pattern to your sock choice.

For instance, you could reach for a charcoal pair made from thicker wool, complete with a fleck/marl, to pair with your grey suit. Alternatively, you could incorporate a subtle stripe or polka dot into the mix.

Just remember that textured styles can add weight to a look, so if you do start using thicker socks remember to team them with pieces made from similarly heavy/rugged materials such as denim, leather, tweed, wool and corduroy.

Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings - Tonal Textured & Patterned Socks

3. Make A Statement

When venturing into the world of statement socks it’s imperative you bear in mind the colour wheel.

As an easy introduction, try picking some socks in a pattern with a base tone that picks out/matches the colour of trousers you’re wearing.

You could go one step further by opting for more vibrant block-colour socks in a complementary or contrasting colour to that of your legwear. Think pink socks with navy denim or a preppy yellow sock with burgundy chinos.

Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings - Making A Considered Statement

4. Be Bold

Finally, if you do want to integrate some bright and bold socks into your outfit, always reference the colour wheel to make sure that you’re working within it correctly.

Regardless of how cool you think it may make you look, if your choice of sock is not complementary or contrasting correctly then it will clash and look like an eyesore.

Of course, the easiest way to introduce a bold coloured or patterned sock into any look is to give it a neutral base to play off – white trousers, black jeans and dark grey chinos will anchor nearly any type of design you can think of.

Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings - Bold Socks

Socks & Trousers Gallery

Below is a selection of images featuring socks and trouser pairings – hopefully they will offer inspiration for future combinations you can try out:

  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
  • Men's Socks & Trouser Pairings
Men’s Socks
  • Reiss Raskol Ribbed Socks CharcoalReiss Raskol Ribbed Socks Charcoal
  • Pringle Endrick Socks In 3 PackPringle Endrick Socks In 3 Pack
  • Topman Bjorn Borg 5 Pack Socks Topman Bjorn Borg 5 Pack Socks
  • Falke Cool 24/7 Cotton-blend SocksFalke Cool 24/7 Cotton-blend Socks
  • Falke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend SocksFalke Airport Wool And Cotton-blend Socks
  • Pantherella Short Wool-blend Ribbed SocksPantherella Short Wool-blend Ribbed Socks
  • Pantherella Ribbed Marled Cashmere-blend SocksPantherella Ribbed Marled Cashmere-blend Socks
  • Anonymous Ism Marled Cotton-blend SocksAnonymous Ism Marled Cotton-blend Socks
  • Topman Navy/burgundy 2 Pack SocksTopman Navy/burgundy 2 Pack Socks
  • Paul Smith Houndstooth SocksPaul Smith Houndstooth Socks
  • Corgi Dot-patterned Cotton-blend SocksCorgi Dot-patterned Cotton-blend Socks
  • Burlington Preston SocksBurlington Preston Socks
  • Happy Socks 4 Pack Nautical Gift SocksHappy Socks 4 Pack Nautical Gift Socks
  • Happy Socks Geo SocksHappy Socks Geo Socks
  • Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Camouflage Cotton-blend Socks 217165Paul Smith Shoes & Accessories Camouflage Cotton-blend Socks 217165
Final Word

There you have it, a few simple tips and tricks that you can utilise the next time you’re picking out socks for your outfit.

After all, there are more important things you should be spending your time and frown lines on – like whether it’s actually possible to resurrect Reebok Classics in the modern age or whether a bucket hat is really as fashionable as the industry wants you to believe.

But as always, we welcome your thoughts and opinions on this topic, so make sure to leave us a comment below. Trolls need not apply.