The basic rule of thumb for men’s socks is an easy one:
The color of your sock should match the color of your trousers.
That means wearing black socks with black trousers, dark gray socks with charcoal trousers, blue socks with your blue jeans, and so on.
But that’s boring 🙂
Yeah, it’s a good rule that keeps most men looking sharp and will always be appropriate for business settings — but for adventurous dressers, it gets dull after a while.
So what about mixing it up?
When you want to liven up a simple outfit. Got something basic going on for the day? A pair of unique socks turns something like a jeans/T-shirt or khakis/collared shirt combination into something that seems a little more deliberate. It’s like a pocket square in a jacket — it tells people that you don’t look this way on accident. You put some thought into the outfit.
When in Doubt, Go Classic
If you’re just getting started breaking out of the matching trousers/socks mold, cut your teeth on some traditional patterns.
These liven things up a bit, but are still usually two- or three-tone at the most, and generally not too radically colored.
So what’s a “classic” sock pattern?
Argyle, for one (the angled plaid pattern of diamonds and lines) — that’s been a traditional sock style for men for the better part of a century, and you still can’t go wrong with it. In terms of color, argyles can start at a very simple black/gray combination and go all the way on up to vivid oranges and greens.
Solid colors with small figure patterns like paisley are also a good, traditional option, as are simple stripes of an equal width.
If you start with those, and keep the colors at least somewhat restrained, you should be able to slide into colored sock habits very easily. It’s not quite as thought-free as matching your trouser color, but it’s close.
2. Coordinate with the Rest of the Outfit
Keep in mind that “coordinate” doesn’t mean “match” — your socks don’t have to be the same exact color as any other piece of clothing on your body.
But it is nice if there’s some natural sympathy, so be thinking in terms of colors that work well together. It always looks good if your socks fit into the same general theme as the rest of your outfit.
That can be as simple as picking out one of the colors from your shirt or jacket pattern, and wearing socks in a similar shade. It doesn’t even have to be something that people consciously notice as coordination — their eyes will see it as a “good match” even if they don’t think about it themselves.