The Sockless Debate

August 15, 2013 BY PERMANENT STYLE

yo6Photo from Style Forum (, homepage image from Film Noir Buff Style Forum (

Written by Simon Crompton

Once more, it’s hot in London. Once more, there is the temptation to wear shoes without the socks that normally shield hot, moist feet from structured leather. For some men, going sockless is a godsend in the heat and even a deliberate style statement. For others it’s abhorrent. Why such impassioned feelings?

First, the benefits. Sartorial men don’t like normal socks – the ones that only go halfway up the calf. They slip down and look messy. Instead, they wear long socks that reach to just below the knee. These are far more elegant, but they are disproportionately hot. Fine merino and cotton in the summer is normally fine – but on an extra hot day there is just too much material.

The contrast between full-calf socks and no socks at all is, therefore, particularly noticeable.

The problem is, there is another reason for wearing long socks. They prevent the flashing of pale, hairy calf when a man crosses his legs. You will appreciate that if you have dressed in smooth, scrupulously fitted suiting, shirting and silk accessories, plus some burnished oxfords, a hairy leg rather undermines the effect. “No!” shout these upholders of the sartorial tradition, “you are missing the whole point of the long sock!”

So where do we find balance? Perhaps the sockless look should be reserved for more casual outfits: linen trouser, loafer, long-sleeved polo shirt. Certainly, it is not for the office or high-impact business meeting. And none of us should be afraid to wear some little invisible socks underneath the line of the shoe, to protect against that structured leather.

Simon Crompton is a London based, freelance menswear journalist. His personal blog, Permanent Style, can be found here.

tommyton-men-no-socks-shoes-2-1Photo from Millenium Male (