From cotton-candy pink, silky ones, geeky ones to the plain rich blacks and greys, socks are becoming like lingerie to men.
Years ago, they were the last to get attention in a man’s wardrobe. Men often focused on what was more visible to impress. Socks were either black, navy blue, grey or brown to match the shoes.
Things changed after the introduction of Sweden’s happy socks in 2008 and more suppliers are now giving men’s feet some flair.
Where did socks all start? Early socks were made from soft leather or soft animal under belly hair. Hand-knitted socks were first introduced in the 16th century. In the 1800s, machine-knitted socks became the standard.
The key purpose of socks is to manage moisture because the feet sweat more than any other part of the body under normal conditions. Most socks are formal and should be worn with suits while others are for sport, invisible inlays for loafers and those you wear with casual outfits.
The difference is the material, size and length. A sock is not a sock. You must choose the right pair for the right occasion. I call this is having ‘sock sense’.
A rule of thumb is never ever ignore socks. You never know when you will have to remove the shoes.
Be appropriately colour-coded
Middle-aged men today wear overly colourful socks to formal business meetings. But be careful not to send the wrong signal. Match the sock style to your confidence levels and fashion flair.
Colourful socks are a great conversation starter so be sure to have something interesting and witty to say about your style and your shoes should be of high-quality.
Formal socks (Dress)
If you are dressing for an official function always attempt to match your socks to the colour of shoes, not trousers, unless they are all the same colour. When choosing formal socks, pick solid colours or very fine stripes. Avoid logos or prints on the sides especially if you are appearing on a TV interview where you are likely to cross your legs. Also opt for over the calf socks as the stay up and hardly ever drop to cause wrinkles at the ankles, which is untidy. Discard socks as soon as you have to keep pulling them up to cover un-oiled hairy legs.
Informal socks (Casual)
If you are dressed for an unofficial or semi-formal function, you can match the socks to the colour of the trouser, pocket square, watch strap or even eye colour, lipstick or hair colour. You get the drift?
Remember colourful prints have a different effect from a solid bright colour. Solid bright colours go very well with chinos and corduroys, while colourful prints accentuate jeans and linen slacks.
I would avoid wearing colourful socks with a necktie. It would seem a little confused and over the top too. It would be criminal to wear multi-coloured socks with a tie that has cartoon character like Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, unless of course you are showing up as the party clown.
Good quality socks will be made of natural fibre like wool, cashmere, cotton and silk. High-quality socks are finer and knitted on a machine with 260 needles or more.
Avoid synthetic materials like polyester and nylon as this will make you sweat more leading to discomfort and encourage foot odour.
When wearing loafers or boat shoes, either wear quality shoe-lining socks do not wear any at all.
Mr Mwai is the CEO of The Luxury Network Kenya