Imagine this: you’re heading to a friend’s wedding—the perfect time to break out your new suit. You’ve chosen a solid color of shoes, shirt, and tie. Suddenly, you find yourself staring into your sock drawer, trying to decide whether you should wear your favorite socks with the flamingos on them or merely stick with your trusty grey ones. Nobody wants to be that guy who can’t pair his socks with his suit. So, the question remains, what color of socks should you wear with a suit?
In short, it’s best to wear socks that are the same color as your slacks. To keep your outfit looking smooth and classic, a neutral shade that matches your suit is generally going to leave you looking elegant and stylish.
That said, modern society seems to be more lenient on fashion rules concerning socks with suits nowadays.
For that reason, I’m going to cover some unspoken customs of sock and suit fashion, so you can avoid clashing the two at your next formal event.
Dress Sock Etiquette
A long time ago, socks were considered a luxury. These days, however, socks are such a mundane and common article that they’re hardly given a second thought.
Though, as a modern-day gentleman, it’s important to keep dress sock etiquette in mind. Believe it or not, the way you wear dress socks can either make or break your entire getup. And, in an even remotely formal situation, it’s best to know the primary fashion laws that will keep you looking and feeling your best.
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Should Your Socks Match Your Shoes or Your Pants?
Whether your socks should coordinate with your shoes or your pants seems to be a controversial topic. However, I’m going to give you a much needed, clear-cut answer: always match your dress socks to your pants, never your shoes.
If you pair your socks to your slacks, the result is a clean, classic look that will not distract or make you look goofy. Not only does it create a more seamless look, but matching your socks to your pants will leave you with plenty more options to choose from. For example, if you opt for burgundy socks with a navy stripe and wear them alongside a navy suit, you’ll find the small color detail will make a huge difference.
On the other hand, if you match your socks to your shoes, the entire outfit is destined to fall apart. Brown socks with brown shoes will only look like you’re wearing boots. Not to mention, you most likely spent a generous sum on your dress shoes; it’s important to not wash them out with the same color of socks towering above them.
If you’re hoping to maintain a smooth look, allow your shoes to run a show of their own while your socks complement your pants.
Additional Tips For Choosing Socks
Aside from matching socks to your slacks, there are various other customs to keep in mind when you’re choosing a pair for your suit.
Although you can always mix things up and add some personal flair, here are a couple of basic tips to ensure that you look your best.
First things first: ditch your white socks. White socks almost never pair well with a suit. In a formal situation, keep it classy and avoid white.
Also, never mix and match your socks—especially while wearing a suit. Socks come in pairs for a reason, and you shouldn’t try to breach that threshold. Even two black colors can have different hues, so make sure to keep your socks together as they came.
What Color of Socks To Wear With A Suit
With dress sock etiquette out of the way, let’s get into what color of socks you should wear with your suit.
Most men have cardinal colors in their closets: black, navy, and grey. However, with the variety that the sock industry has put forth in recent years, there is an infinite number of colors and styles to choose from.
Therefore, if you know what you’re doing, you can employ socks to either tie your entire outfit together or to simply make a statement.
While the color of your pants is a beneficial judge for socks in a formal setting, it’s essential to consider the type of event you’ll be attending as well. You wouldn’t want to wear a pair of bright orange socks to a funeral.
That said, let’s cover the best instances to wear particular socks.
When To Wear Neutrals
Neutral socks act as some of the safest, most clean-looking choices when paired alongside a suit. The basics—black, brown, grey, and navy—are a must-have for any man’s wardrobe and are particularly useful for most formal occasions. Neutral shades make for a sophisticated impression that is perfect for any traditional setting.
For black-tie events, you’ll want to avoid making any bold moves with your socks. It’s best to stick to thin, black dress socks that emulate elegance instead of taking the plunge with a loud-colored sock.
If you’re needing to create a professional look, opt for a solid neutral that pairs well with the color of your suit. Black or grey slacks with black socks will always be appropriate for professional and formal circumstances. F
or a streamlined-yet-classy look, opt for a slightly different hue alongside your black suit.
On the other hand, navy and brown are good options for business-casual apparel. However, be careful not to pair navy or brown with a black suit unless you’re looking to make a classic fashion faux pas.
Remember to always stay in the same hue-realm as your pants, and neutrals will continue to be your most reliable colors of socks to pair with a suit.
When To Wear Patterned Socks
Like I mentioned before, patterned socks are all the rage these days. They’re bold and add a refreshing flavor to your look, and they’re certainly a fun choice for anyone if worn appropriately. Regardless, it’s best to keep the brightly-colored socks in the drawer when attending more serious or no-nonsense events.
More upbeat occasions, such as weddings or office parties, make fine settings for colorful and patterned socks. However, it’s essential to bypass tossing on a pair of patterned socks without consideration.
You’ll also need to coordinate your patterns with the rest of your outfit’s textures.
For example, if you’re wearing a windowpane suit, opt for socks that don’t clash with that style to dodge looking too busy. Additionally, it’s helpful to choose patterns that include the hue of your pants in one way or another, even if it’s only a small amount.
All in all, ensure that your socks are on the same color spectrum as your suit to really nail the look you’re shooting for.
How To Match Colorful Socks With A Suit
Let’s be honest, it can get a little boring to wear neutral, traditional socks at all times.
Luckily, colorful socks are a secondary essential that can work great.
That said, using your colorful socks to create contrast can easily be a disaster waiting to happen. But, when done well, you can allow your socks to steal the show in the best way possible. A few useful tips can help ensure that, with the right amount of colorful spark, all eyes will be glued to your ankles.
If your outfit is simple and lacks substance elsewhere, colorful socks can add the perfect amount of life to your ensemble.
Keep the colors fitting for the occasion to maintain a fun and eye-catching look without overpowering the rest of the outfit. Without disregarding your shirt and tie, pair colorful socks with a grey suit to add just the right amount of spice.
Socks are equally useful as a complementary article. Matching your sock color to that of your tie and pocket square will ultimately tie everything together. You can even choose a pair that’s an entirely different color altogether, so long as you maintain the subtlety and tone of the rest of your gear.
Regardless, if the occasion is appropriate and you’ve got the socks, don’t be afraid to sport them.
So, what color of socks should you wear with a suit?
Well, you can keep it simple and clean with a pair that matches your pants or dip your toe in the pool of possibility and toss on a bright, contrasting pattern. After considering the event and the remainder of your getup, I hope the tips in this article have helped you narrow down your options.
Regardless, the choice is ultimately yours.
The unspoken rules that govern the combination of socks and suits can be tricky to navigate. But, when you acknowledge the norms, and stick to some basic tips, you’ll discover just how many options you have.
So what color of socks do you like to wear with a suit?