Free The Ankle?

To mankle, or not to mankle? That’s the question that style-conscious gents have been pondering of late. Ever since Thom Browne took to dramatically cropping suit trousers back in the mid to late noughties, the idea of baring a sizeable area of ankle has been front and centre of menswear debates.

The sockless, ankle-baring look is something that’s become increasingly common over recent years; and its popularity tends to soar with the mercury. So, have we peaked on flaunting the flesh? Is it time we took a page from the Victorians’ book and covered our ankles back up?

Here’s everything you need to know about this spring/summer style phenomenon.

On The SS15 Runways

A slew of designers and brands opted to send ankle-baring outfits down the SS15 runways. Interestingly, this season the cropped legwear reigned supreme, overshadowing the humble trouser roll.

French label Ami showed a series of looks inspired by American TV shows from the late 1980s to early 1990s, with hems raised just a touch over white trainers and smart black shoes.

At Billy Reid there was a variation on the US theme, with casual wardrobe staples infused with a South American flavour and trousers either cut just above the ankle or styled with the hems rolled up ever so slightly:

Sockless, Ankle-Baring Outfits On The Ami and Billy Reid SS15 Runways

amiBilly Reid

Elsewhere, it was the Italians who lent the sockless aesthetic a more sophisticated edge, with Brioni and Emporio Armani in particular showcasing a myriad of sleek, neatly cropped tailored ensembles.

Whether in the form of suiting or dressed-down separates, both brands made full use of a slightly shorter trouser this season:

Sockless, Ankle-Baring Outfits On The Brioni and Emporio Armani SS15 Runways

BRIONIEmporio Armani

At Gucci’s nautical showcase, the ankle was awarded pride of place, with both clean crops and rolled hems featuring on everything from jeans to naval trousers.

Low-key British designer Margaret Howell also got in on the action. Carefully measured turn-ups made the cut this time around, however, working across a range of relaxed fitting legwear:

Sockless, Ankle-Baring Outfits On The Gucci and Margaret Howell SS15 Runways

The Mankle Manual

Feeling inspired by all this high fashion ankle-baring? Then check out these four main ways you can pull off the look in a stylish manner:

The Trouser Roll/Fold

First up, the straightforward and subtly effective trouser roll/fold. A casual and unfussy option, it’s simply a case of folding or loosely rolling your trouser hems a couple of times to the height you feel looks best – this technique works particularly well with lightweight chinos in the summer.

The Trouser Fold/Fold

The Pin Roll

Alternatively, you could go for a slightly tighter roll – one that’s especially popular with sneakerheads and those that favour a more streetwear-led style. The pin roll involves a precise and affected method of bunching and folding the fabric of your hem before rolling it over onto itself.

An ideal option for styling jeans to show off your new limited edition trainers, this video gives a pretty thorough tutorial on how to get it spot on:

The Turn-Up

For something a little cleaner and in many ways ‘smarter’, take inspiration from Margaret Howell and turn your trousers up with measured precision.

A great way to spruce up your warm-weather suits, a straight turn-up will keep your ankles breezy and your style the right side of refined.

Note: Although you can do this manually, it’s much better to opt for off-the-peg turn-up trousers or get your tailor to alter the hem permanently for you.

The Trouser Turn-Up

The Crop

Finally, we have what’s likely to be the purist’s preferred option: the clean crop. As the industry’s appetite for ankle-baring grows, brands have become wise to the fact and started doing the hard work for us by heightening trouser hems.

Step forward cropped trousers. This type of legwear has been growing in popularity for a while now and spring/summer 2015 is likely to see the widest range of styles yet released onto the market.

Cropped Legwear

Invisible Socks

Once you’ve decided to roll up, turn up or crop, you’re quickly faced with the dilemma of what goes between your trousers and footwear. Suddenly, sock choice is no longer a mere afterthought but the difference between an outfit that’s on point and one that’s way off the mark.

No-show or ‘invisible’ socks get our vote. These smartly engineered liners keep foot sweat and odours at bay, while also saving you the agony of blisters. In summer at least, the invisible sock is the only option for an uncovered ankle.

  • Falke Step Invisible Cotton-blend SocksFalke Step Invisible Cotton-blend Socks
  • Pantherella Invisible Footlet SocksPantherella Invisible Footlet Socks
  • Hugo Boss Stay-on Shoeliner Invisible SocksHugo Boss Stay-on Shoeliner Invisible Socks
  • He By Mango 2 Pack Invisible SocksHe By Mango 2 Pack Invisible Socks
  • Topman Grey Invisible Liner SocksTopman Grey Invisible Liner Socks
  • Pringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 PackPringle No Show Trainer Socks In 3 Pack
Your Choice Of Footwear

As well as drawing attention to your ankle, cropped and rolled-up legwear brings your footwear firmly into focus.

Oddly enough, when your trousers and shoes are separated by some distance, there’s more pressure on the pairing to perform. Without the visibility guard of a generous trouser break, smart shoe choice becomes integral to the success of your ensemble.

With this in mind, here’s a quick and dirty primer on what you should be wearing with what. After all, you don’t want to put in all this hard work only to fall at the last hurdle.


Whether rolled or turned up, denim’s a major trend for spring/summer 2015. This hard-wearing fabric needs an equally robustly structured shoe, even if your jeans are lighter weight versions.

Try teaming ankle-baring denim with trainers, chunkier formal silhouettes or suede desert boots.

Men's Denim Turned-Up/Rolled Hems - Sockless Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

REISS SS15suitsupply ss15burton ss14j crew spring 2015bally ss15Calliope ss15sarar ss15todd snyder white label ss15river island ss15banana republic pre aw14m&s ss15new look aw14
Cropped Smart Trousers

Cropped smart trousers are fast becoming a key piece in the contemporary menswear arsenal – perfect for cutting a refined figure in warmer conditions.

Often slim fitting, this type of legwear pairs best with similarly streamlined silhouettes, such as minimal trainers, suede loafers, driving shoes or espadrilles. Just don’t go too chunky with your footwear so as to keep the synergy.

Men's Cropped Trousers - Sockless Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

h&m spring 2015zara 2015reiss ss15de fursac ss14next summer 2015avva ss15reiss ss14massimo dutti may 2014massimo dutti ss15massimo dutti march 2015mango man ss15mango man ss14
Lightweight Casual Trousers

Whether linen, cotton or a blend of the two, the shoe you opt for should complement your chosen trouser material. If you’ve decided on a style that leans toward the weightier side of the spectrum (like a chino), then you’ll find it works well with most footwear silhouettes.

However, linen or linen-cotton blend trousers will look odd with anything too bulky – for example, Nike Air Max trainers or Goodyear-soled brogues. In this case, reinforce your legwear’s continental leanings by teaming with drivers, loafers, espadrilles, boat shoes or sandals.

Men's Lightweight Casual Chinos and Trousers - Turned-Up/Rolled Hems - Sockless Outfit Inspiration Lookbook

massimo dutti ss15j crew february 2015suitsupply ss15reiss ss15sarar ss14gant rugger ss15mango man march 2015el burgues ss15massimo dutti may 2014corneliani ss15avva ss15mango man spring 2015
Final Word

These days, exposing your ankles is far from a fashion faux pas – if anything, current trends dictate it’s quite the opposite. It may not be a look for everyone, but at least now you know how to pull it off correctly.

Will you be going all-out and ankle-baring this spring/summer? Or is this one style move that puts too much skin on show?

Let us know your thoughts on this often polarising subject below.