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:
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:
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:
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 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:
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.
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.
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 Socks
- Pantherella Invisible Footlet Socks
- Hugo Boss Stay-on Shoeliner Invisible Socks
- He By Mango 2 Pack Invisible Socks
- Topman Grey Invisible Liner Socks
- Pringle 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.
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.
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.
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.