Written by Dominic Wallace
Underwear So Underrated: Pull Your Socks Up!
“Pull your socks up”
…To make an effort to improve your work or behavior, because it currently fails to meet expected standards.
As a naïve young schoolboy, I recall the vivid memory of utter confusion when, whilst on an educational excursion to the Houses of Parliament in London, I was berated by a supposed judge for conversing with my acquaintance during the entirety of his apparently enthralling act. “You over there, PULL YOUR SOCKS UP!”
Embarrassed at being singled out and amazed at how he knew the height at which my weathered socks sat around my skinny ankles, I was left bewildered. The phrase stuck with me ever since and from there grew my misguided fascination with socks.
The word sock is derived from the Old English socc, meaning ‘light slipper’, which in turn comes from the Latin soccus, meaning ‘light, low-heeled shoe’, acquired from the Ancient Greek sykchos.
The evolution of socks has seen a progression in both materials and practical uses. As early as the 8th century BC, both animal skin and animal hair were used to wrap around the feet of the Ancient Greeks, purely for warmth.
The Romans used leather or woven fabrics as footwear for protection, but by 1000 AD the concept of socks were seen as a distinction of wealth and nobility. The invention of the knitting machine in 1589 and the introduction of nylon in 1938 were key revolutions in the mass production of socks that we witness in the modern era.
So, why do so many men still fall foul of the footwear fashion faux pas in the sock department?
Firstly gentlemen, you must learn to respect your socks. Treating socks as a chore or an irrelevant part of your attire is the greatest mistake you can make. You can empty both pockets on an Armani suit, but neglect your choice of foot covers and the suit will be deemed worthless. Remember, your suit is only as stylish as your socks.
Which socks are the right socks?
The spectrum of socks that are deemed acceptable to compliment your attire is far grander than you may ever have imagined. Sure, the safe options are to keep within the color of your chosen suit, so black with black, brown with brown, blue with blue and gray with gray. However, it is not necessary to perfectly match the tone of your socks and suit. In fact a different shade within a similar color range can add a subtle, yet effective contrast to your look.
For those with more confidence in your fashion sense, who believe socks to be an unspoken way of projecting personality, you can try adding some more striking shades to your feet. As long as they are bold, you will be surprised at just how many colors of the rainbow you can add to your sock drawer. As a rule of thumb, block colors are a safer bet as opposed to patterned socks and one should always endeavor to unite light-colored socks with dark suits and vice versa.
Can sports socks be worn with suits?
Negative. They are designed as sports socks for a very good reason. They are thicker to absorb sweat and cushion feet during exercise. Thick sports socks, which tend to be ribbed, protrude clumsily at the ankle and should only be donned with sports shoes. Simply put, dress shoes require dress socks.
White socks; yes or no?
Absolutely not, ever, under any circumstance, whatsoever, should an aspiring gentleman be seen sporting white socks in conjunction with a suit and dress shoes. Regardless of whether you are Johnny Depp or Johnny No-mates. This is the single biggest no-no in men's fashion. End of story.
Ok, I have dress socks that compliment my suit. Anything else?
Holes in socks are totally unacceptable and prove to suggest you are cheap, lazy and unhygienic. Buy socks several pairs at a time and on a regular basis. Socks will inevitably age and form holes, so always update your collection and utilize your birthday and Christmas wish lists as an opportunity to expand your sock selection.
Finally, short socks which expose your hairy legs when sat down are highly inappropriate and should be avoided at all costs. Ask any Italian gentleman to show you their socks and they will likely showcase a pair of fine cashmere numbers that fall just short of knee-high, accompanied by sock suspenders. Italian’s have long been renowned as the authority on socks, so take note gentlemen, it is quite literally time to pull your socks up.