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Going Sockless – 6 Ways to Avoid the Stink

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We’ve already introduced some classic sockless pairings in a Pinterest board as a way of staying cool while looking effortlessly stylish. Now we’ll teach you how to execute these looks while avoiding all the common downsides of going sockless including sweaty feet, odor and ruined shoes. 

Unless you’re one of the genetically chosen ones who can walk blocks upon blocks in the 90+ degree summer heat without shedding an ounce of sweat, going sockless is probably not without its share of less-than-fresh complications. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways, regardless of your sweating propensities, to go sockless while staying fresh.

Here’s how you can keep your feet and shoes as fresh as the look itself: 

1. Use foot powders like Gold Bond Medicated Foot Powder. They contain talcum and baking soda which not only absorbs sweat but deodorizes – a must for going sans socks in the summer heat.

2. Wash your feet with anti-bacterial soap.  The cause of foot odor can be as nasty as the smell itself. The odor is a by-product of the gas expelled by bacteria when eating and digesting the dead skin cells off your feet. Now if that doesn’t make you want to wash your feet a hundred times and dunk them in alcohol, we don’t know what will. So wash thoroughly not just for your own sake, but for those around you as well.

3. Give your shoes a break and use cedar shoe trees. Just as your suits need a break from the rotation once in a while, your shoes should also get some bench time to dry up and deodorize. Cedar shoe trees will not only maintain the shape of the shoe, but deodorize and absorb moisture. No shoe trees? Buy some. Waiting for the shipment to arrive? Try crumpled up newspaper as a makeshift alternative that’ll work fairly well to the same effect.

4. Use porous leather or cotton Terry cloth insoles. Insert them into any pair of shoes for a bit of extra cushioning and to wisk moisture from your feet. The cotton insoles are easily washable but the leather insoles gets our pick on style.

5. Keep them clean: if your shoes are made of canvas, cotton or other synthetic, washable material, a gentle cycle in the washer will keep them clean. In between washes and for leather and suede, try an anti-microbial spray. Letting them bake in the hot summer sun (without your feet in them) will help too.

6. Low-cut, loafer liners

Want the sockless look without actually going sockless? You can pull a fast one on all the street photographers and people watchers by using a pair of low-cut invisible socks, aka loafer liners. Loafer liners are cut well below the ankle to give off the illusion that you’re not wearing any socks, while keeping your ankles cool and absorbing moisture just as any normal pair of socks would. Yes, we’re indeed wearing a pair in the photo above. Sharp eyes will note a peek of green near the heel of the left foot.

Where to get them:

1. MS & Co loafer socks

2. hook + albert loafer liners – they’re colorful and fun

Going sockless is a great way to mix up your looks and elevate your sartorial game during the warm weather days. Now’s the perfect time, so try it out! Whether you choose no-show socks or like to go complete sockless with your next outfit, we hope these tips have been helpful. Feel free to leave your comments below (and share some of your own tips) and email us at concierge@blacklapel.com at anytime if you have any questions or simply would like to talk about the weather forecast in New York City.

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27 thoughts on “Going Sockless – 6 Ways to Avoid the Stink”

  1. denise Anderman says:

    Try inkblaat insoles – They were designed to be used without socks. Machine wash/dry and a bunch of different fun designs. http://www.inkblaat.com

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Very interesting! Maybe we’ll give them a shot as warm weather approaches. Thanks for the rec, Denise.

  2. I like to pair them with shorts, but even then most of the time I have to wear at least a pair of ankle socks (dark and plain, never white).
    But it’s true that many other guys don’t, though many those who do I often noticed they wear much lower vamped loafers than mine and those of the pictures here :), I don’t know where to find those models, though.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Loafers do come in many different vamp styles. You’ll find high vamps like these, and low vamps like these. Which style is right for you is mostly a style choice, though comfort plays a role.

      Of course, you can go sockless with more than just loafers (as you can see in this Pinterest board).

  3. Men’s 10-13?

    1. We’re not sure what the question is here, Brian. Would you mind giving us a little more information about what you’re asking?

  4. Robert Wayne says:

    I just go ahead and wear socks. It’s better than having stinky feet.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There’s no harm in that, Robert.

      By the way, all but #6 above are still relevant tips even for those who keep their feet socked.

  5. My feet stink far worse whenever I wear socks.

    I think this whole paranoia of going sockless is a load of bunkum. I scrub in-between my toes with loofah everyday, yes I trim my toenails, yes I wear foot moisturizer, yes I use foot power in my shoes which always have paper stuffed in when I take them off and still even with socks on, it smells worse.

    Sockless is the only way to go , and looks good too (But ONLY with narrow pant legs, never regular or wide…never! it’s like white after labor day. don’d do it. You’ll look like a mid age father who tucks his polo into dad jeans with an oversized belt

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We love the sockless look as well, Carl.

      For the rest of the year, it sounds like you might want to try out different breathable natural fibers. For more on overhauling your sock drawer, check out our guide to stepping up your sock game.

  6. The link to the classic sockless pairings is broken. I would like to see that page if it’s still available.


    1. Black Lapel says:

      The original story has been converted into a Pinterest Board called Eight Ways to Go Sockless This Summer (we have since updated the link at the beginning of this story). There you’ll see the pairings we suggested for the guy who’s sick of socks.

      Of course, nobody can stay mad at socks forever. Check out our Guide to Stepping Up Your Sock Game when you’re ready to return to kiss and make up with your sock drawer.

  7. For a true no-show sock that is stylish and comfortable, check out FLAT socks by Summersox.com… They are great for boat shoes, loafers and sandals

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Those are some low down dirty socks, minus the dirty part. Thanks for the heads up.

  8. Where are those teal loafers from? They look so buttery!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      They’re APC’s Bryan!

  9. This is an awesome article, thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad to hear it helps. There’s still plenty of summer left to use this advice. Enjoy!

  10. Black Lapel says:

    From Compass reader Dean Christensen:

    “When your feet ache, roll a rubber ball or hi-lite marker between the heel and the ball of each foot 3 to 5 times to relax them. If your feet are too hot or cold, wrap your bare feet in a clean dry towel that you had in an icebox or a warm dryer and you will cool or warm them up. I suggest that you wear loafers for the ease in using these tips. I suggested these tips to others who are pleased with the results.”

    Thanks for sharing your podiatric-wisdom Dean! – Team BL

  11. We don’t have to wear socks to keep our feet clean.

    If we’re dumb enough to wear shoes or boots over soiled feet, our shoes or boots will get soiled.

    Ditto for out socks. To keep comfortably sockless, we gotta use our heads.

  12. Those brown penny loafers, where are they from?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Remi, the brown penny loafers are from To Boot. They are the Senato Loafers. http://www.parkandbond.com/product/129534806

  13. thanks for the pointers – I highly recommend the half-sock brand “mocsocs” which you can find on Amazon.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the suggestion. They’re unusual and pretty cool looking. Do they stay on?

      Here’s a link for our other readers: http://mocsocs.com/?page_id=330&category=1&product_id=13

  14. I’ve also heard that taking a few old (Black Tea) tea bags and placing them in cold water and allowing them to steep for a while makes a foot bath that completely stops your feet from making any bad odors. I haven’t tried it yet, but I plan to.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice tip Max. Definitely give it a try and let us know if it works!

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