It's mid-April, which means ankle-baring season is upon us. But before you ditch your midcalf dress socks, let's go over some short, simple rules to help you achieve the sockless look and remain odorless and blister-free.
1. Select the Right Shoe
Low-cut shoes are what you are looking for when you want to go sans sock and really let those ankles breathe. That means drivers, loafers, boat shoes, slip-on sneakers (here are nine handsome ones), or your favorite Nike Flyknits. These really lend themselves to the look and are appropriate on hot days outside.
(Here's where to get the above shoes, from left to right, top to bottom: Gatsby marquis red espadrilles, $250, stubbsandwootton.com; Abe penny loafer, $195, jackwerwin.com; Common Projects original achilles low, $398, needsupply.com; Burnished leather boat shoe, $95, sperry.com; Dramer driver shoe, $450, bally.com; Melton tassel loafer, $175, johnstonmurphy.com; Emboss check slip-on, $60, vans.com; Valentino striped leather sneaker, $745, mrporter.com; To Boot New York Flanders double monk strap shoe, $350, nordstrom.com)
2. Trust the No-Show Sock
This is where I remind you that "sockless" is a look, not a life choice. Job from Arrested Development would call it "an illusion." So get yourself some no-show socks. You’ll thank me later. These low-cut cotton slippers look ridiculous when worn by themselves, but under your shoes they will work to prevent blisters and cuts. And you'll still achieve the effortless shoes-only vibe you’re going for. Remember: There are sacrifices that one should make for fashion, but anything that involves bleeding shouldn’t be one of them.
(Loafer sock, two pair, $14.50, bananarepublic.com)
3. Embrace Good Foot Maintenance
Gents, come on, foot care is not only for the ladies. It’s important to maintain your feet, especially in the spring and summer heat—leathery foot odor isn’t a scent you want (or any of your friends should have to put up with). Do them and yourself a favor by tossing a pinch of Gold Bond powder into your shoe before you put it on and rubbing some moisturizer on your feet after you take them off. Bonus: Gold Bond tingles, and it will help prevent blisters and slippery swampiness should you opt to ignore tip No. 2 above.
4. Shorten Up
The key to the sockless look is keeping it clean: That means no bulky, rolled-up cuffs. (We’re not wading into a lake with our loafers on, here.) So think like an Italian and go for a tailored, shorter-length trouser instead. Or go ahead and hem a favorite you already own. A good rule of thumb is to be showing 2 to 2.5 inches of skin. Chinos, trousers, and denim are welcome.
5. The Appropriate Time
Going sockless may be a casual style statement, which is all the more reason to take it seriously. Always consider the occasion. If you work in a conservative workplace (as in, you wear a suit and tie every ... single ... day) then keep your socks on at the office or try the look only on a casual Friday. But if you are the kind of person who often keeps his top button open, feel free to let your ankles join your neck in feeling the breeze. As for nonwork situations, Sunday BBQs are always appropriate, while at Sunday weddings you'll have to consider the crowd. Black-tie events are off limits. Try to remember: If ladies are wearing hose, you should be, too.
And a final tip for the more hirsute men out there: Remember, it's a sockless look. If you've got some major woolliness going on, don't be afraid of a summer trim.