You probably don’t need us to tell you that being a man during the warmer months comes with its own unique set of style questions: do these sunglasses suit my face? How bad are my sweat patches? And as discussed here: can I, should I, unleash the mankle?
Swapping socks for skin is something that’s become increasingly common (and divisive) since designers like Thom Browne took to dramatically cropping suit trousers back in the mid-to-late noughties.
While (much like the beard) many have been quick to call peak-mankle on the trend, it’s a look that only seems to rise in line with the mercury. So here’s everything you need to know about the spring/summer style phenomenon of going sockless.
The Mankle Manual
To mankle or not to makle isn’t the only question that men face. Despite making the switch from fashion jargon to bona fide style move, the specifics of how to do it well can still be confusing.
Essentially, there are four key techniques to pulling off the look; each one best suited to a specific trouser type – be it jeans, chinos or smart trousers.
The Trouser Roll/Fold
First up, the straightforward and subtly effective trouser roll. A casual and unfussy option that works particularly well with chinos, simply fold the hem over a few times to the desired height.
As a rule of thumb, the slimmer the trousers or jeans, the skinnier the cuff (fold) should be. But keep in mind that a wider roll leans more casual than a narrower roll and vice-versa.
The Pin Roll
Alternatively, opt for a slightly tighter, cuffed look. Especially popular with sneakerheads, the pin roll involves pinching excess fabric on the inside of the leg and folding back against the ankle before rolling it over onto itself.
An ideal option for styling jeans to show off those new limited-edition kicks, this video gives a pretty thorough tutorial on how to get it spot-on.
For something a little cleaner, turn trousers up with measured precision. This is an excellent way to spruce up warm-weather suits while still looking smart.
Although you can do this manually, it’s much better to opt for off-the-peg turn-up trousers or get a tailor to alter the hem permanently.
As men’s appetite for ankle-baring grows, several brands and retailers have started to do the hard work for us by heightening hems. Step forward cropped trousers.
Different from turned-up trousers in that there is no noticeable fold, cropped trousers are cut to hit just above the ankle with no need for rolling. This season is likely to see the widest range of styles yet released onto the market.
3 Non-Negotiable Rules For Going Sockless
Get The Cut Right
There are very few of us who can pull off the wide-leg trouser trend at the best of times, let alone when trying to combine it with a flash of flesh. When looking for the right cut of trousers, the length is a given (they should finish at or just above the ankle) but also consider the circumference.
For the most socially palatable way to go sockless, play it safe with slim, tailored or skinny legwear. To maintain a streamlined look, ensure they fit well in all areas including the seat (i.e. the butt), thigh and calf.
Pick Your Moment
It isn’t just odours that can cause the sockless look to kick up a stink (we’ll come to that shortly). As with all things, there is a time and a place to pull this move, so always bear in mind the formality of the occasion and the expected dress code.
Top level dos and don’ts: barbeques, summer weddings, casual offices – yes. Funerals, court appearances, board meetings – no. Simple enough.
Always Wear Invisible Socks
There’s more to wearing shoes barefoot than meets the eye. Despite the effect of ‘going sockless’, no-show or invisible socks are an essential piece of the puzzle.
Unless you like athlete’s foot, foul-smelling shoes and the potential for fungal nail infections, use these smartly engineered liners to keep foot sweat and odours at bay, while also saving on the agony of blisters. As an extra tip: look for versions with rubber grips on the heel that stop them from slipping off.
Choice Of Footwear
As well as drawing attention to your ankle, cropped and rolled-up legwear brings footwear choices firmly into focus.
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 pin-rolled or turned up, there is a wide range of denim that can be experimented with for 2017. When it comes to going sockless, this hard-wearing workwear fabric needs an equally robustly shoe.
Try teaming ankle-baring denim with trainers, chunkier lace-ups such as Derbies or brogues, or suede desert boots. And just because there’s a gap in between, don’t forget to make sure the colour of the shoes complements the wash of the denim.
Chinos/Lightweight Casual Trousers
The shoe you opt for should complement the chosen trouser material. If you’ve decided on a style that leans toward the weightier side of the spectrum (like a cotton twill chino), then you’ll find it works well with most footwear silhouettes, including luxe minimal trainers in leather or suede.
At the other end of the scale, linen or linen-cotton blend trousers will look odd with anything too bulky. In this case, reinforce your legwear’s continental leanings by teaming with loafers, drivers, espadrilles, boat shoes or sandals. Then carry on the Mediterranean vibes elsewhere with neutral tones, beach-ready basics and open collars.
Sneakers are the obvious – and only – choice for pairing with joggers when going sockless. However, because this look can appear like it’s fresh off a treadmill, it’s important to create balance with the rest of the outfit.
Opt for premium fabrics in neutral colourways for the joggers and whether sliding into slip-ons or lacing up knitted versions, keep the kicks as clean and simple as possible. Then make use of smarter pieces (anything with a collar such as an overshirt, polo shirt or shawl cardigan) up top to swing the pendulum back to the centre.
Cropped Smart Trousers
Cropped smart trousers are fast becoming a key piece of the contemporary menswear arsenal, perfect for wearing with a simple T-shirt or as part of a tailored separates look.
These trousers pair best with smart-casual silhouettes, such as minimal leather low-tops, loafers or driving shoes. Avoid anything too chunky to maintain clean lines, using dark leathers to dress up or lighter colours and fabrics to dress down.
You only need to look at the Italians to see that loafers are the perfect shoe for going sockless when wearing equally breezy unstructured tailoring.
Having likely already dressed down your suit with an open-necked shirt or T-shirt, use Derbies to smarten up for casual weddings, or swing the other way and allow clean white sneakers to take your two-piece down another notch.