How To Match Socks With Your Outfit | Men's Socks Guide

Posted by Rishi Chullani on

Matching Socks is of paramount importance for all of you aspiring dapper gents out there. From deciding on sock material and length, to choosing how to match socks based on color and pattern, it is imperative that one is informed on the plethora of choices available. In this guide, we’ll discuss socks material, length, plain dress socks and how to match socks with your outfit!

Who wants to repeat the tried and tested method of wearing boring socks. You know the type. Charcoal Greys, Navy Blue’s and Black Socks. Makes you feel like you have been permanently settled in Gotham. Or related zip codes. No color and, a clear, streamlined, but boring visual aesthetic. ‘Rules’ being conformed to over and over again for the sake of apathy, simplicity and a willingness to remain risk averse.

Colorful Socks

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Now, there is nothing visually wrong with your plain old socks – just like there’s nothing wrong with Joe who lives down the block from you. He just happens to be bland, boring, and well, you get the picture. In an effort to fit in, he never really stands out. Which begs, the question, how do we match socks to our attire? In a world where we often feel that blues, greys and navys are the safest way to go, socks can help inject our wardrobes with much needed color, personality and flair. In this guide, we’ll discuss different ways of matching socks, from the tried and tested down to the downright bold, in addition to evaluating the ideal sock for its quality, material and length. Hope you enjoy this guide!

Plain Dress Socks

Looking to keep your style game safe and neutral? Standard plain dress socks will do the trick. Standard black, grey and navy socks are best reserved for formal occasions, daily work, important presentations and meetings. Especially in companies that require more formal attire. While black socks are best reserved with tuxedos for black tie attire, grey and navy socks will always work with grey and navy suits respectively.

Hence, as a general rule of thumb, which has permeated men’s sartorial database since eons, keep the color of your dress socks matching that of your trousers. Choose a pair of socks that are a shade darker or lighter than your trousers – which lends to a streamlined silhouette without and breaks, thereby making you appear longer and put together. And yes – definitely do NOT opt for white socks with your suit! Under absolutely zero circumstances will this be permissible.

Plain Men's Dress Socks

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Textured Socks

Tired of the tried and tested plain old dress socks? Textured socks are a great way to add variation to your ensembles. It is important to remember that textured socks can add weight to your look, which necessitates the pairing of textured socks with similar, rugged materials, such as denim, wool or leather. Furthermore, consideration should be made for shoe size as these socks will take up more room.

Men's Textured Socks

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Statement / Colorful Socks

Given the drab nature of standard, conventional socks, fashionable, colorful socks have made a strong impression on menswear in recent years. While socks are a great way to add color and personality to your wardrobe, you want to balance it out with an ensemble that is not too loud on all fronts i.e color, pattern, tonality.

If you are wearing patterned pants, for example, you would want to avoid strong argyle checkered socks. If you have colorful pants, a colorful shirt and mustard yellow boots, wearing bright orange socks may be slight overkill. Again, just like with anything else style related, moderation is key. It’s important to use your discerning eye to judge overall balance with respect to color, pattern and tonality (contrast in strength of color and pattern between different pieces of your attire).

Men's Colorful Socks

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When matching your colorful / statement socks to the rest of your attire, it is best to complement other colors in your ensemble, as opposed to directly matching them. So a blue or pink shirt would look great with burgundy socks, while a lilac shirt could be complement by blue or green socks (if you’re really bold!).

Pink Socks Blue Shirt

Coordinating your socks with the rest of your ensemble is a great way to inject your ensembles with added flair and personality! Courtesy of

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Colorful Socks!

Socks Quality

When evaluating which socks to purchase, there are five elements to look for with regards to quality:

Wicking – A good pair of socks should not just absorb sweat, but allow it to distribute perspiration through the fabric, towards the outer surface (known as ‘wicking’). This is incredibly important so that your foot stays dry and sweat evaporates before smell formulating bacteria have a chance to start feasting on it.

Sock Padding – Your socks should insulate your foot from impact with the ground, and prevent skin from rubbing against the inside of your shoes.

Sock Fit – Loose socks provide for an unaesthetic look given that they bunch up, in addition to rubbing against your skin, causing blisters. An ideal sock should pull snug against the skin from toe to toe

Slim Sock Fit  - Given that dress shoes are generally well fitted, a pair of slim fitted socks is of paramount importance.

Socks Materials

Discerning which material of socks to use can go along way towards elevating your sock game! Common base materials include cotton, wool, nylon & polyester.

Cotton socks are absorbent and ideal for soaking sweat off the skin, but do not wick moisture towards the surface and doesn’t allow wetness to evaporate quickly.

While wool socks breathe easier, they too, like cotton socks, don’t wick moisture adequately.

Synthetic socks, while thin and hence weak in terms of providing cushion, can be shaped into fibers that promote wicking.

In general, cotton socks are ideal for casual shoes or informal dress shoes, while fine wool or cashmere dress socks are best reserved for formal leather shoes and dressier occasions.

Your ideal sock will be broken down into three components:

  1. A natural fiber as its base, be it wool or cotton. Wool is best reserved for cooler months, while cotton generally works better during warmer months.
  2. A synthetic component that encourages wicking and will help keep your feet dry.
  3. Elasticity, which helps the socks stretch and keep them snugly fit!

Socks Length

As a general rule of thumb, the lower the cut of your socks, the more informal the occasion that they are suitable for. Hence, ankle socks are ideal for the gym and lower cut socks that land just above the ankle can work for casual settings. Conversely, for occasions that are more business casual or formal in nature, mid calf or higher socks will provide the appropriate aesthetic.


Men's Colorful Socks


General Guidelines Summary For Matching Socks

Now that we’ve gone through a discussion of wearing socks, we thought breaking it down into a set of guidelines would help further illustrate our points!:

1. For a standard, conservative look match your pants and socks.

If you are looking for your clothes to flow seamlessly, wearing socks that are a shade darker or lighter than your pants is your best option. As long as your socks and pants are in the same range of hue, you will have a seamless transition from pants to socks, helping create a smooth, elongated look with no breaks. This is ideal for more formal settings such as work, presentations, an important meeting or your next black tie / gala function!

Plain colored dress socks

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2. White Socks should be strictly reserved for athletic shoes / casual trainers only.

While low cut white socks make for a great look at the gym, they should be strictly reserved. Only. For. The. Gym. With the rest of your attire, either stick to your classic grey’s, navy blues or blacks, or introduce some color with statement / fashionable socks.

3. Be Mindful of your socks and shoes combinations.

Just as we advocate complementing your socks with the rest of your attire, we would suggest the same with your shoes. Simple guidelines, such as avoiding black socks with brown suits, will keep you in good standing and ensure you always look the part!

Men's Socks Infographic

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4. Avoid Clashing Patterns.

If you are wearing patterned pants, it is best to avoid wearing patterned socks, especially if pattern and proportion are similar (much like with matching ties to suits and shirts). For example, argyle checkered socks should not be worn with checkered pants. However, given that most pants are generally of a solid color, patterned socks are a great way to spice up your ensemble!

Patterned Pants & Patterned Socks

While these socks may look great, checkered socks with plaid pants could be considered too busy. Courtesy of

5. Contrast your socks with your ensemble for a bolder look.

If the rest of your attire is fairly muted, now is the perfect time to bust out those colorful socks! For example, contrast the muted tone of your charcoal grey or navy suit (assuming they are being worn at a cocktail party or somewhere slightly less formal than work) with a stronger polka dot or camouflage pattern!

Alternatively, if you are wearing chino’s and a dress shirt or a sweater, try something even more colorful, like camouflage socks or flower patterned socks. Generally, the less conservative your attire, the bolder your socks combination can be!

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Colorful Socks.

 Men's Colorful Socks

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6. Synchronize the boldness of your socks with how informal your attire is.

Generally, the less formal your attire, the bolder your socks combinations can be! For office attire, you are best off wearing your boring but safe charcoal grey and navy blue socks.

For business casual attire in a looser office environment, you can add some color with colorful argyle checkered, stripes or clean polka dot sequences.

For informal attire or when you’re dressing up for the evenings, a party or date night, try adding in something even more playful and colorful, such as a camouflage pattern, a floral pattern or something quirky like hot air balloon patterns!

Colorful Men's Socks

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Men's Colorful Socks


7. Don’t overpower the rest of your outfit.

While statement socks are ideal for making an, ehmmm, statement, you don’t want to overpower the rest of your ensemble. Bold patterned argyle checkered socks with plaid pants may be overkill. However, just as with coordinating tie patterns to your suits and shirts, proportion is everything. Fainter pinstriped pants could be accompanied by larger polka dot patterned socks. The trick, as with everything else, is to balance your socks out with the rest of your ensemble. Checkered Shirt, Plaid Suit, Striped Pants and Patterned socks will definitely go overboard. Find your sense of balance, and you’ll be good!

8. Match Your Socks To Your Tie or Pocket Square.

Have this gnawing feeling that matching socks to the rest of your attire is overwhelming? Fret not! Matching Socks to your ties or pocket squares is a great way to bring together the rest of your ensemble. You can try and coordinate with color, pattern or both! Additionally, you can incorporate colors by seasonality e.g wearing olive green socks with a maroon tie during the Fall Season!

Men's Colorful Socks

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9. Wear Cotton Socks for more breathability.

While finer wool socks are ideal for dressier occasions or even wearing your suit to the office, cotton socks with a suit worn in a more informal capacity such as a cocktail party are ideal for giving your feet more breathability.

10. Length of socks should match formality of occasion.

As a general rule of thumb, the less formal the occasion, the lower your cut of socks can be. Hence, lower cut socks are best for athletic purposes. Slightly above the ankle cut can work for casual settings, while business casual and formal settings would require mid calf or higher socks!

And that’s a wrap for this one! We hope that you have found this article both enjoyable and informative!

Please feel free to view The Dark Knot's range of colorful men's socks.

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