Before it’s too warm: socks, sandals and how to wear them
This is a post about how to style socks with sandals, the former of which may be the best solution for the problem of what to wear with straight-leg pants because all the rest of the shoes suck with them. As a bonus, socks also seem to be a great way to fill the boring space between your feet and the hem of your short dress/skirt/shorts.
If you’re wearing backless sandals, make sure they cover a good portion of the top half of your foot (mostly so that your feet don’t slide out — these are the one exception I can think of). Any variety from something for a wide foot to a narrow one works
Sandals that don’t split your toes work best for this trend lest you give your thumb a wedgie which, honestly, actually, isn’t the worst thing?
Grey socks work best with metallic and beige-to-brown shade sandals (they casualize the metallic sandals and create broader outfit pairing options for the brown ones). Black socks are good when your shoe has a black sole.
Autocorrect is trying to adjust sole to soul
When wearing something short, the best sock length comes up to right around mid-shin.
THE MAIN EVENT
The problem: Pants are great, and many of them (suiting trousers, straight jeans) look better* with sandals than they do with other kinds of shoes.
This is perfectly fine when the weather is above like, 75 degrees but what about for the rest of the days? What if you don’t like your toes? (I am a firm believer that it’s ok to be realistic about covering up the physical traits you don’t love about yourself, but if and only if you’re willing to pinpoint and then glorify the ones you do.) What if it gets so cold where you work that your digitals turn purple after just one hour at your place of employment? What if?
*What I mean by better is that the outcome with sandals is more unexpected, or less committed to fulfilling the role of one specific genus of style identity, therefore leaving some flexibility on the table (sidewalk) for you to experiment with self-expression.
The solution: Socks. But what makes a combo work?
~I’m so glad you asked.~
There are two components to pay attention to: the actual sandals and your choice of socks (1) and what clothes you choose to wear them with (2).
The obvious sock/shoe combination includes a pair of Birkenstock-style sandals, which I will frequently (though not always!) suggest you surprise by pairing with something dressier than, say, jean shorts or sweatpants. Here are two recent examples employing white jeans (which always look dressier than blue ones for wtvr the reason) and beige trousers:
The reason this pairing is the most common: because the shoes are easy to slip into, and wide/rugged enough to weather a pair of socks. They also cover the majority of the foot, which makes them seem more like shoes than sandals even though they’re de facto sandals.
In the photo with the white jeans, which would have probably looked too pristine with a pair of ballet flats or leather ankle boots, but too informal (because of the hooded anorak) with a pair of sneakers, I went with a pair of satin slides to offset the denim and the khaki jacket. (The combo against the grey socks, which are like a wool/cotton blend was more a play on textures than anything else.)
In the other photo, my straight leg, fresh-pressed suit pants (not to be confused with oj!) are styled with sequins and more suiting (button-down shirt) on the top, so the key was to pare down the bottom portion — which is why I’m wearing rubber sandals with wool socks (an unusual contrast, but one that works because of the rest of the outfit; a pair of regular cotton/tube socks, for example, would have made the shoe combo too informal to melt up through the rest of the look).
That took more words than I expected it to! Here are two other ways you might consider a combination.
With more pants
Same grey socks — this time with brown shoes. The combo of grey and brown expand the outfit options to come from the brown —> ivory family or the navy —> white family. It also works as a soft neutral backdrop against other basic colors like denim or black/white and builds a nice contrast against the silver buckles and wood sole on the sandals.
The length of these jeans is a solid reference for when you want to wear daintier sandals. The key is really to go with a shoe that either covers a lot of your foot, or at least has a strap or lace-up that hits the bone on the top of your foot. (For the practical reason that it’s easier to walk, but also because it looks more deliberate than sliding into a pair of slippers.)
👆🏻 Here’s the rest of the look — a black tube top (use a bathing suit if you like this look but don’t know how to recreate it) with a shacket (shirt-as-jacket) over it. I’m particularly into the combo of black tube and white shirt because it’s versatile. Wore the top half, for example, to a fashion show last September, and a bris the following week.
With something short
Now let’s figure you want to wear something short — maybe boxers, maybe a mini skirt, maybe shorts that are so short you straight up look like you’re in underwear. Or maybe they’re not that short. Either way: is it feasible to style socks with sandals in this environment too?
I say, yes. It’s a little riskier, but these are low-stakes risks, so the worst that could happen is when you go home, you change and never wear the combo again.
The key ratio to consider when styling w something shorter is length of socks to the length of shorter thing. Mid-shin is a good place to land with your socks for anything above knee-length and lower shin but still a solid 2-3 inches above ankle for things that are knee-length or slightly longer.
You just wanna make sure the top of the socks are in the same vicinity, basically, as your calves.
Ok ready to see something ridiculous?
School drop-off was fun this day! Here’s a good jean jacket for you, and here’s the Martin Martin inner jacket I’m wearing as a shirt. The shorts are from the brand Amotea, but truly, any pair of boxers (from the literal to the fancy) will do, and actually, now that we’re all here together, I think I might advise you towards a pair of shoes more like these — dare I break my own rule. Or better yet:
In sum: rules are helpful, soft guardrails that might help you understand your fashion boundaries better but none are so rigid that they *must* be kept (or broken). A helpful reminder that might inspire personal disruptions in otherwise areas of your life. What?