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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2005
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Socks appeal
Well-dressed feet coordinate with slacks, shoes

By Lauren Howard
DAILY Staff Writer

lhoward@decaturdaily.com 340-2447

Stringent guidelines of sock selection have relaxed in a generation where "anything goes." Socks can be patterned for expression, thin for dressing up, toeless for wearing sandals or fluffy for loafing around.

When wearing khakis, choose a sock that blends with the khaki shade. Black and navy also are acceptable colors with khaki slacks.
DAILY Photo by Dan Henry
When wearing khakis, choose a sock that blends with the khaki shade. Black and navy also are acceptable colors with khaki slacks.
"Today, whatever you want to do is acceptable," said fashion consultant Jack Osborne of Decatur. "There are very few fashion norms left. Unfortunately America has kind of given up on looking really nice."

While donning a clashing pair of socks may not cause social consequences, fashion experts' flub-proof instructions can aid those striving for conventional style.

Today's increased options shouldn't foil the buying process; an array of colors eases the job of matching your pants or shoes.

The perfect sock shouldn't stand out, advises Royce Teague of the men's tailored clothing department at Dillard's in Colonial Mall. Try to match your pant or shoe with the shade that's least disrupting to the outfit's continuity.

"You don't want to draw attention to your socks," he said. "The color shouldn't change as it goes into your shoes."

Accessorizing your outfits with fitting footwear doesn't require a drawer full of expensive new socks.

Dillard's best seller is the dressy/casual Gold Toe "Fluffies." They come in cotton or acrylic blends and basic shades to complement just about any clothes combination.

Black, brown and gray work well, but remember that dark brown pants and socks may be distant hues in the color spectrum. Go with the darker sock shade if necessary; the lighter shades tend to stick out.

"I never encourage dress pants with white socks," he said.

Khaki's various shades can be difficult to match, so many men, including Dillard's shopper Jerry Thrasher, settle for a black or navy sock.

"If you can't match, then blend," he said.

Osborne swears by his black cotton Gold Toes, which double for his dressy and casual attire. He's had the same pairs for nearly 20 years and insists they're still in fine shape.

"Men's calf-high black socks are acceptable with anything except shorts," Osborne said.

Black socks with navy pants or brown shoes? Osborne, 61, says black is the best choice to blend with men's characteristically dark slacks — and it eases the task of sorting the laundry.

Osborne may not be a stickler for identical colors, but he makes sure not to show any leg.

"One of the worst things is for men to cross their legs and have skin showing. It's a social taboo for skin to be showing out of the pant leg," he said.

He prefers cotton's durability, though dressier duos are typically made of manmade materials like acrylic and nylon. They're usually marked with textured patterns. Avoid large color patterns, associates say.

Most men wear their socks year-round, though some older men revert to a wool sock in the winter. And in the summer, some of the younger men are slipping into their shoes barefoot.

"It's a preference thing. I can't imagine how with the humidity you could have a good shoe life," Osborne said.

For women

Women take more leeway with foot undergarments these days. While mothers may still insist on pantyhose, daughters are increasingly going barelegged or wearing tall trouser socks.

"Lots of people are going without socks," said Dillard's associate Carolyn Pitts.

Many of the mid-length, calf and ankle socks in the men's and women's departments are on sale to make room for the spring shipment.

Slipper socks are tailored for comfort, casual socks are often festive with designs, and toe thongs are designed for flip-flops.

"They usually try to match either their pants or shoes," she said. "Younger people usually like them plain."

Natalie Smith is an exception. She has a stash of patterned socks decked in holiday, graduation and polka dot designs.

Men, however, should reserve patterned socks for special occasions.

"Maybe when they're playing golf . . . Other than that, stick to solid. Leave the frilly stuff to us," Smith said.

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