When it comes to dressing with proper style etiquette, sock selection is an integral but often overlooked part of the outfit. Picking out the correct socks, or building an outfit around them, can be a challenge. You want to ensure that you’re dressing appropriately for the situation at hand while portraying confidence and showing a bit of your own style. Everyday work attire can become extremely monotonous. Our goal is to help you separate yourself from the pack while keeping you looking coordinated and professional. The key is to be comfortable in your own shoes, as well as the rest of your outfit. You may even like to be a bit bold with your choices and make a statement from time to time – but you never want to cross over that line to loud and tacky. You’re looking for something that gets attention but doesn’t scream for it.
Hardy Aimes said “A man should look as if he bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them” and Southern Scholar is here to help you do just that. Our goal is to provide you with the products and the know-how to get the most out of your look, every time. This is our go-to guide for pairing socks to your outfit to ensure you leave the house looking your best regardless of the occasion.
THE PERFECT SOCK MATCH
When picking out socks for your outfit, there are two distinct ways you can go:
1. Simple & Classic – A simple guide for a classic look: match your trousers. You can go a shade or so up or down, but the rule for this look is to match, match, match. If you’re wearing dark blue trousers, go for dark blue socks; if you have on gray slacks, go for gray socks, etc., etc. It’s a rule for a reason – it’s clean, simple to apply, and it has worked for generations before and will work for generations to come.
Remember, too, that you need to take into account the entire outfit when it comes to matching. Socks are just one piece of the puzzle. Never stick with one color throughout. If your socks and trousers are the same shade of blue (or something very close), add in a white shirt for contrast.
Another tip? Try to match the color of your suit with a sock that has the same base – but with a complementary accent color (more on this in the next section). Let’s stick with the navy suit for now. Pairing that outfit with a navy sock with orange stripes would prove to be a striking look. If you’re going to go down that road, let it guide the rest of the outfit. Mix in different shades of orange and blue into your tie, pocket square, or other accessories.
2. Styled & Coordinated – There are two words to guide you through the process of the perfect styled look. Those are complement and contrast. Complementing your outfit delivers a coordinated, attention-grabbing look. Take a look at a basic color wheel. Complementary colors are those that are opposite on the color wheel. So, for our hypothetical navy suit, try pairing it with a sock that has an orange or yellow base (notice how that color is directly opposite the blue wedge on the color wheel). If you have a pattern on that sock, try to utilize patterns with different sizing and spacing throughout the rest of your outfit – again, shirt, tie, pocket square, etc. In laymen’s terms, if you’re wearing polka dot socks, stray away from polka dot ties and squares.
For a different kind of styled and coordinated look, try to get a little more experimental and contrast your slacks with your socks. Go for colors that aren’t next to each other on that color wheel – but still capture the eye. Mix in some red socks to go with your navy trousers. Or, you can try something like blue socks with gray pants. From there, let that selection focus down the rest of your color choices for the remainder of the outfit. Be sure not to get “gimmicky” with your color pairings when you’re trying to contrast – more on that below.
SOCK MATCHING DO’S AND DON’TS
After you’ve selected the track you’d like to go on for your sock choice – simple and classic or styled and coordinated – remember these basic rules when making your selections:
Don’t “over-flash.” There’s a difference between being stylish and being overly garish. If you’ve gone bold with some cool socks, go subtle and classic elsewhere. A little experimentation goes a long way – but too much goes too far. Check out our “Penmen” sock, for example. It’s got a bold, colorful design – and the rest of the outfit offers classic, traditional styles.
Do pick colors that naturally pair well. Avoid gimmicky or holiday theme combinations (red and green, black and orange, etc). Instead, go with complementing (opposite on the color wheel) and associated (adjacent on the color wheel) colors that go well with each other and let them guide the rest of your choices. Here’s an example: the “Casino Royale” sock, with its bold red and black striping, goes with black loafers and a light gray suit.
Don’t “over-match.” Don’t repeat patterns or stick to a single hue throughout your outfit. If you’ve got a striped tie on, stray away from striped socks. If you’re wearing a polka dot pocket square, avoid polka dot ties. If you’re matching a navy sock to a navy suit, be sure to add some contrast with a white shirt or pocket square so you don’t come out looking like you’re part of the Blue Man Group. Take our B.B. Kings, for example. These blue multi-striped socks go perfectly with a lightly textured grey suit and a white pocket square.
- You can never go wrong with white accents for contrast. White pairs with everything. Everything. Feel like you have too much of a single color or hue in your outfit? Swap in a white shirt or pocket square. Just make sure you stay away from white socks.
THE SOUTHERN SCHOLAR DIFFERENCE
Southern Scholar’s premium sock of the month club delivers the best dress socks in the world to our customers. Honored with the top rank for subscription boxes for men by TheAdultMan.com, the awesome dress socks from Southern Scholar are designed in-house, from scratch, and with a specific business casual and business professional outfit in mind. Every pair is also crafted with our unique Signature Material Blend for superior comfort. The sock subscription styles adjust to the seasons with brighter colors in the warmer months and more subtle tones in the cooler months. These men’s socks are designed specifically for the busy modern professional – created to dress up or dress casual, but always look stylish and confident while staying comfortable, durable, and in just the right position. Open up one of these men’s subscription boxes, and you’ll have everything needed to make an impact with your look, from the feet up.
If you like this, be sure to check out our guide for winter layering to pick out the best sock styles and outfits for the colder months!
The Southern Scholar