The Stylish Gent’s Guide To Wearing Socks And Sandals

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The Stylish Gent’s Guide To Wearing Socks And Sandals

Words by Ms Lili Göksenin

25 June 2020

Let’s get this straight from the start: socks and sandals have long been the purview of Grateful Dead fans and high-school physics teachers. This is not an attempt to sweep this embarrassing history under the rug. Even just sandals on men provoke some loud, strong opinions. (Male toes? The horror!) But, judging from some stylish men seen on streets around the world, perhaps it’s time to rethink this particular footwear conundrum – can socks worn under sandals actually be… good?

After much internal deliberation and debate, we at MR PORTER are ready to make an endorsement. Yes, they’re a bit of a contradiction. (Socks are to keep your toes warm and sandals are to let them breathe free, right?) But, as you will see below, socks and sandals really are good – with a few caveats. Please take care that all socks are clean and without holes, that’s the number one rule. And, well, use this styling trick sparingly. And, well, use this styling trick sparingly. Not all sandals are made for socks. And not all outfits can support the look. Below, we’ve assembled a few men who have really nailed the look, to help give you a nudge in the right direction.

01. Simple accessories with Birkenstocks

Milan, June 2019. Photograph by Ms Valentina Valdinoci/IMAXTREE.COM

Here, we see the hippy style of Birkenstock sandals and a fairly knobbly pair of knitted socks out in the wild – only this time, the combo is worn by a man who looks more partial to Oud Wood than Woodstock. We think the secret to this success is in the tonality of the cream socks and the white Birks. It’s clean-looking and pairs very well with khaki shorts and a burnt-umber sweater-vest-and-white-tee combo. A jaunty silk scarf also speaks to the care that went into this outfit.

Get the look

02. Choose contrasting colours with Arizonas

Milan, September 2019. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

Yes, this is another Arizona-style sandal, but this pair is fabricated with a sumptuous print, so they feel completely different to the crunchier version above. And, if you look closely, the straps attach to the slightly platformed sole with tiny studs, almost like a clog. This gent has also styled his sandals to standout. The rest of his outfit – snow-white cotton shirt and shorts with very clean white socks – is made to feel even more starchy bright thanks to the dark contrast of the sandals and the pouch.

Get the look

03. Try grown-up slides

Paris, June 2019. Photograph by Mr Szymon Brzóska/The Style Stalker

Slides: yes, they are still quite casual, and, yes, probably just for the trend-hounds among us. But as this man shows, the easiest sandal in existence can also easily be paired with athletic socks and a patched tailored shirt without looking like you’re halfway through getting dressed. This get-up is a delightful mix of avant-garde bits (shirt, cross-body bag) and more conventional pieces (cargo shorts, slides), and, because of the contrast, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Get the look

04. Elevate fisherman sandals (without white socks)

Florence, June 2019. Photograph by Ms Valentina Valdinoci/IMAXTREE.COM

From the ankles up, this look is classic Italian tailoring: neatly cuffed trousers with a lovely drape and an artful break; coordinating linen shirt; playful little silk neckerchief. But, instead of a brogue or a wingtip, this signor has chosen fisherman sandals and sky-blue socks. And what an excellent choice. The sandals make the whole look more playful – you no doubt had a similar pair as a child – taking what is a very sophisticated outfit and adding a little wit. And the blue socks? Inspired. As you can see from our selection, many men sway towards white socks when worn with sandals. This pale cerulean detail is a considered approach to what could have been a quite dorky option.

Get the look

05. Get the details right with clogs

Paris, June 2019. Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding

We must, as the kids would say, stan. This man’s socks are fresh out the package – look how they gleam. This is what socks should look like. Especially if they’re going to be poking out of rather wilderness-man-looking clogs. True, these are not sandals in the truest sense, but socks and toe-covering clogs are a very close cousin of socks and sandals, and we would be remiss if we neglected this look. This outfit revolves around the freshness of the pieces. The shirt is crisp, the denim is stiff and bright; even the clogs have nary a scuff. If you’re going to wear pieces that are inherently offbeat, then the details must be perfect, otherwise you veer into messy and that’s the last thing you want to be.

Get the look

The people featured in this story are not associated with and do not endorse MR PORTER or the products shown

Let it slide

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