Yesterday my colleague Edward wrote about the angst inspired in some men when they realize they’ve bought some fine brown shoes but haven’t got a clue what suit color to pair them with. Another issue that’s not all that easy to grasp, especially if you’re not all that au fait with color, is how to coordinate your socks.
I recently had a friend complain to me about how most of the style advice aimed at men treats us all like idiots who can hardly dress ourselves. In his defense, I did recently see an article entitled ‘How to iron a dress shirt.’ Seriously?
While I appreciate my friend’s critique, he’s a big-shot in the New York fashion world who already knows everything there is to know about how to dress well. How much of his style came naturally to him and how much he learned from studying the best examples, I don’t know. But what he didn’t seem to realize is how baffling it can be for someone who doesn’t know that much about color to have to coordinate not only shoes and a suit but socks, as well!
If nobody had told me, I’m not sure I could have trusted my instincts about what looks good. In fact, I would probably have continued to wear black shoes and socks for the rest of my life while fearing to venture into brown, oxblood and gray shoe territory. Not to mention all the glorious dress-sock colors and patterns I’d have been missing out on!
Match your socks and your suit
As for the advice, one rule of thumb when it comes to coordinating your socks, shoes and suit is to match your socks and your suit (rather than your shoes). Usually, your socks should be the same color or darker than your suit. If you’re wearing a dark blue suit, wear navy socks. The reason given is that you’re creating one long line of color down to your shoes.
While I can totally get behind this rule (I probably dress like this most days), I’d hate to think that anyone would stop experimenting with their style because of it. A rule is good if it stops someone who doesn’t know any better from making a fashion mishap. But just think of all those amazing instances of when an unexpected sock/shoe/suit combination has given you that little “zing” of pleasure and surprise. Here’s one:
What about pinstripes?
Besides the “match your socks and suit” rule, what other suggestions are there? Some of the most obvious rules for suits (never wear white socks, always wear dress socks) shouldn’t need to be mentioned. There are, however, more complicated things to consider like: what should you wear with a pinstripe suit?
The answer to the pinstripe question is that you can choose to accentuate the stripe in the cloth by matching it with your socks. For example: if your navy suit has a gray stripe running through it, wear gray socks. This may or may not work, depending on the stripes’ color, so be careful!
Try matching your socks and your shirt
Finally, don’t be afraid to match your socks with your shirt and tie. Say you’re wearing a navy suit, try pink or purple socks with a matching shirt – surprisingly debonair!