What Color Socks Should You Wear?

Socks come in various colors and patterns.  However, matching them with your outfit can be challenging.  

This guide will outline a few tips to help you confidently select the right socks for formal occasions, casual wear, and workouts.

Dress Socks

When selecting dress socks, the goal is not to disrupt the visual line of your body.  

For example, white socks under navy pants would create a visual disruption.  

However, dark navy or dark red socks paired with tan shoes allows the eye to easily travel up and down the body with no drastic changes in color.

As a guide, consider these three rules when selecting socks to wear with your formal clothes:

1. Use Pants Color as a Guide

Your sock color should follow the color of your pants rather than your shoes.  When you match the color of your socks to your shoes, you give the visual impression that the shoes will look like a boot, which can be unflattering.

However, matching socks precisely to the color of your pants is nearly impossible.  Therefore, consider going a shade or two darker or lighter than your pants. For example, if you have blue dress pants, consider wearing dark navy socks.

2. Patterns Must Be Thoughtly Selected

When deciding on pattern dress socks, match the dominant color with your pants and the accent color with another part of your outfit.  For example, if you have a light blue pocket square, wear a sock that contains a light shade of blue in the pattern.  Other areas of your outfit that provide matching opportunities include a tie, cufflinks, tie bar, eye color, eyeglasses, or hair color. 

Additionally, you can use the color wheel as a guide and select monochromatic, complementary, analogous, and triadic colors between your socks other parts of your outfit.  For example, socks with purple will pair well with a green tie.

Finally, pattern socks are more casual and should be worn with smart casual to semi-formal wear.

3. Expressive Socks Break Nearly All the Rules

From tacos to beer cans, expressive socks are worn as a way to showcase your personality.  Wear expressive socks for casual to smart casual use only.  We don’t recommend wearing expressive socks to the office, especially if the design may be offensive or inappropriate.  

4. Still Lost?  Don’t Be. This Tip Won’t Fail You

Social media is a goldmine for style ideas.  By just searching in Instagram or Pinterest navy dress pants or monk shoes (or whatever you are looking for advice on), you’ll see an endless list of pictures.  Just look at the sock colors that the people are wearing:

Dress Pants
An endless list of style ideas.

It’s an excellent way to see ideas for a particular outfit or shoe style quickly.

Casual Socks

When wearing casual socks, color selection is more forgiving.  Consider the following:

1. Black or Charcoal Almost Always

Dark colors will pair well with most semi-formal to casual outfits, including chinos, denim, khakis, and other pants.  

No-show socks that don’t rise above the shoe collar can be worn with shorts or dresses. Also, consider matching the sock to the skin tone or shoe color, so it isn’t as obvious if it does become visible above the shoe line. 

2. Never White

While widely worn, white socks are best for athletic activities only.  It’s best not to pair white socks with casual or semi-formal outfits.

3. Wear Bold Colors With Confidence

Bright colors, patterns, and designs are an extension of your style.  When wearing a casual or smart casual outfit, use socks to express your personality.  For a better look, be sure to match the dominant color of your sock with other parts of your outfit.  Again, use a color wheel as your guide.

Workout Socks

Performance is more critical than color selection, given the limited time you wear workout clothes.  However, if you want extra style points in your workout attire, consider the following:

1. Standard Colors are a Staple

White and black are standard colors for workout socks.  Whether running, weight lifting or playing organized sports; you can never go wrong here.

2. Have Fun

Athletic apparel brands such as Nike, Addidas, Under Armour, and more make bold and bright socks that make a statement.  A splash of lime green or yellow can add a nice little dash of confidence to your athletic wear.

Theo Lawson

With a five-year background in men's fashion, Theo Lawson has shifted his focus to the world of socks. To him, socks are more than just a piece of clothing - they're a way to express yourself and make a statement.

To improve his knowledge, Theo consults with manufacturers and interviews industry leaders to stay up-to-date on the latest sock trends. His dedication to the field has earned him the trust of companies, celebrities, and sock enthusiasts, making him a true testament to the impact that one person can have when passionately pursuing their expertise.

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