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A Guide to Stepping Up Your Sock Game

Matching Your Dress Socks Is Easier Than You Think The Dress Sock Game

Let’s get something straight right off the bat: it’s sock season. In the summertime we show more ankle than an Amish stripper (without stinking up our shoes, we might add) but when the leaves start to fall and the temperatures do too, we open up the sock drawer and so should you.

You’ve probably got more socks than any other item in your wardrobe. Every guy should have at least 10 pairs of dress socks that he can count on to get him through a couple of weeks at work without doing laundry. But they don’t have to be a bunch of tired black, blue and gray socks that draw nothing but yawns from just about everyone who’s ever laid eyes on them (including you). So how do you step up your sock game? Scroll down.

In search of the perfect pair of socks we turned to sock guru Vincent Nasserbakht who manages his family’s sock emporium, The Sock Hop, in New York’s Nolita neighborhood. Nasserbakht gave us the rundown on all the things you need to know and questions you should ask yourself as you build the ultimate sock wardrobe. First, we’ll break down the key signs of quality you should look for:

Now that you know what goes into a quality pair of socks, it’s time to start making style choices. First off, how high should your socks go?

Once you’ve determined which length of socks work for you, it’s time to consider colors. Some men shun strong colors while others seek them out. As we’ve noted on The Compass in the past, we like to mix things up a little at the ankle. A pop of strong color in the socks is one of the few ways to be bold and stand out a little without overpowering your whole outfit. “It’s like a release valve for guys who are really boxed up all day,” says Nasserbakht, adding “you can get away with orange socks in more places than you can get away with an orange shirt.” Still, the choice is yours. 

If you’re really looking to mix things up downstairs, there is one way to wear multiple colors. Bring a pattern into play. Patterns can be tricky to pull off, but when done well – the payoff can be huge.

Now that you know what to look for in a well-made pair of socks, you’ve considered the different style options and you’re ready to fill your sock drawer with a killer collection, you may be tempted to order up 15 brand new pairs at once. Not so fast. Before you’re ready to fill your sock drawer with a killer collection, get to know what’s most comfortable for you first. Experiment with a few different brands and options (we like Bresciani, Falke and Mack Weldon for a good combination of construction and style) and figure out what works for you. Once you find the type of socks that feel best on you, the sky (well, technically somewhere around the top of your calf) is the limit.

How are you adding to your sock wardrobe this fall? Leave a comment below.

Special thanks to: Vincent Nasserbakht and the team at The Sock Hop for their assistance in putting together this guide.

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55 thoughts on “A Guide to Stepping Up Your Sock Game”

  1. Mohammed Afifi says:

    Hi Dear,

    if I place an online order how long it take to shipped to Dubai?
    Thank You

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey there!

      All of our orders take 4-5 weeks to ship, so you should expect it then!

  2. Alexandre says:

    Wô. I never thought to have fun with socks. A long time ago I learned that the socks must match the pants. And that’s it.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. teragon labs says:

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess
    I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your
    blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m
    still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers?
    I’d genuinely appreciate it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry about that! And thanks for coming back to us. One approach we use when brainstorming topics is listing pain points many guys face when getting dressed. What questions are they asking? What do they need help with? Trying to solve problems with informative blog posts is a great start. Also, writing about what you know is another easy go-to. Spread that knowledge!

  4. Mason St Sock Co. says:

    This is a great article! Excellent tips in there for stylish men of all ages. If anyone is looking for socks, it’d be cool if you could check out our site, we sell dress socks and more casual socks. Mason Street Sock Co.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you liked it! A man can never have enough stylish socks.

  5. Braden Bills says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out what I should do for my socks. I want to get something more classy. I didn’t even think about getting something with a pattern! I’ll have to give it a shot. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re glad to have inspired you to try new, stylish things, Braden!

  6. Judy Wilson says:

    I noticed that my husband has been gravitating toward socks that come in different colors and patterns lately. It would be nice to give him a pair of socks he would like, so I should look at this guide to pick out a good pair. Getting them with a reinforced heel and toe, and that’s made from natural fiber seems like a good way to pick out quality socks. I’ll be sure to use this criteria when picking out colors and patterns that he would want to wear with his suits.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could help, Judy!

  7. zorab says:

    Wow! what an wonderful socks you have provide with us.I think i am lucky one who is about to purchased a large number of socks from this site. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey, Zorab. Black Lapel actually doesn’t sell socks, but we approve of all the above selling sock brands 🙂

  8. zorab says:

    Thanks for sharing with us lovely socks…through this information we can purchase socks trendy and our choice.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Exactly. We give, you get…more stylish socks 🙂

  9. zorab says:

    Great tips about socks trend. whoever follow these tips will make their selves modern. Thanks for this great lesson , now i got my knowledge on socks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Really stepping up your sock knowledge here, Zorab. We like it. Make sure to check back for upcoming guides on all things menswear!

  10. Maggio says:

    I think there are too many socks out there having a good time whilst some guys have no socks. Send me your socks for the mens homeless shelter… for the original purpose they were meant for – keeping their feet warm. If you have any kind of socks that are in good shape or gifts that you just won’t wear…I can find a good home for them. If you want to pitch in and send some new ones or support the ” Warm socks for cold feet” campaign I have now started just join in- painless. Whilst some of us have so much and others so little, let’s get together and help out.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hmmm…we are reminded of our parents’ attempts at getting us to eat our vegetables by arguing that somewhere children were starving. Even as kids, we questioned the logic. We knew there were no hungry people hanging around our dining rooms waiting to chow down on our leftover spinach.

      That said, we are sympathetic to those who go without. That’s why every article of return clothing we get at Black Lapel is donated to worthy causes like Year Up and Career Gear. So while we don’t feel any guilt for owning quality socks, we do feel a moral responsibility to help others. We know many Compass readers feel the same way. So, guys, if you’re looking for a way to donate socks to those in need, check out organizations like Sock it To ‘Em where they will gladly take your donation of a new pair of socks.

  11. Cris McClure says:

    That was the best way ever to have a well articulated article that was intelligently written. It was paired out in an awesome way, with the best grammar and spelling structure that had just enough slang to keep the reader I interested. Well said my good man I’m gonna see what I gotta do to nominate the author for a Pulitzer!!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Aw shucks, Cris. You’re going to give us an inflated ego. Okay, who are we kidding? We’ve already got a big ego! You’re going to give us an even more inflated ego!

  12. Business Time Apparel says:

    Hey, I like your post. Thanks for such nice tips.

  13. Ryan W says:

    Uniqlo Japan has real nice toe socks. Only problem is that you will either love them or hate them.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      For a “fast fashion” alternative to the kind of high end, high quality socks we talked about above, Uniqlo is where it’s at. We rarely go inside one of their stores without coming out with a handful of socks.

  14. Lisa S says:

    What a great guide! I know what I should choose for my father’s coming birthday present and how to distinguish a good pair of socks. Cool(^o^)/~

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Got a stylish pops, Lisa? Glad we could help.

      Also, check out our Father’s Day gift guide for more ideas.

  15. Alexander says:

    I like the overall design of this article. So stylish. Just like its content.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks, Alexander.

      We’re constantly working to improve our design as well as the content, and it’s great to hear that someone appreciates it!

  16. Seth says:

    Switching to merino wool socks was the greatest simple change I’ve ever made. Feels purely decadent if you’re accustomed to acrylic blends. And if your feet get sweaty, the wool doesn’t absorb it. It feels like wearing slippers all day long.

    And although I felt kind of absurd at first, going with mid-calf socks and sock garters is actually incredibly comfortable and you never have to worry about socks pooling around your ankles or having to pull them up surreptitiously.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Purely decadent is right. A lot of guys think wool socks and think of those old, itchy Irish sweaters but a nice pair of wool socks feel great.

      The sock garters are a seriously old-school touch, Seth!

      1. Jovan says:

        Heyyy… I like those old itchy Irish sweaters. 😉

        No but seriously, SmartWool is a brand I recommend for socks, I own two pair of their argyles. Ledbury also has some great 90% wool socks that are pretty nice.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Ha! We know what sweater we’ll get you for Christmas, Jovan!

          Nice recs. SmartWool and the Ledbury 90%-ers are good options.

  17. Andre R says:

    I love socks! It’s like wearing colorful or patterned briefs except people get to see them (unless you’re one of the ones who sags their pants). I must say over the past year my sock collection has grown and my coworkers love the a so well. Usually I wear a pair that fits in with my outfit whether it be color or pattern but I must say a crazy contrast works great ( for me at least).

    One of the readers mentioned novelty socks. I personally see nothing wrong with them and have quite a few pairs. Maybe not Captain America or Superman with the capes t the back but I have some dinosaurs, bananas, things of those sort. It hi k if you don’t over do it it looks great. I

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Since you brought it up, we’d like to write an open letter to all the guys whose underwear we’ve seen in the last 20 years. The letter would be one sentence long: “Pull your pants up!”

      Ok, we digress, to your point about socks going with your outfit or wearing crazy contrasts, we’re glad you do both. It should be noted that the choices above are not exclusive. You can have over the calf and mid-calf socks in your collection, you can have some that match your pants and some with contrasting colors, you can have some solids and some patterns. It’s all just more ammunition.

      Finally, we have a lessez-faire attitude about novelty socks. We’ve even worn “protest socks” to a wedding (they had Mickey Mouse on them). P.S. The couple is still happily married, so we got that one wrong!

  18. I always say either match your pants, or don’t even try (meaning wear colors/patterns). One or the other.

    I rarely wear non patterned socks anymore. Usually thick stripes. Whether I’m in a suit or not (even jeans and sneakers I still have on crazy socks).

    The only thing I wont wear is what another reader posted above. Vanity socks (in his case, Captain America). Those kinds of things don’t do it for me. To me, it’s like wearing “clever” t-shirts as an adult.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nice, Chris. While we didn’t talk about it above, we love to see a guy putting a little more thought into his jeans and sneakers sock game too.

  19. Jovan says:

    Some will say argyles, horizontal stripes, and contrasting colours shouldn’t be worn with suits. I guess if you must look as conservative as possible… otherwise, I see no issue in picking up a colour from other parts of your outfit and having fun with it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Indeed Jovan!

  20. Talha, Melbourne, Australia says:

    You guys even have me wanting to buy new socks. Great tips though!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad you found it helpful.

      We’ve all added to our sock drawers as a result of writing/preparing this piece, so we know how you feel!

  21. David Hawkins says:

    I like the idea of wearing contrasting color socks, but I’ve got lots of lighter colored pants so bright contrasting colors can come on a little too strong. Any advice?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      In your case, David, contrast the shade of the socks instead of the color. Wearing khaki pants? Go with tan/brown but a shade darker with your socks. Light gray pants? Medium gray socks. etc. This will harmonize your look and smooth the transition from your pants to your shoes but still bring a little style to your ankles.

  22. Jeff says:

    I’m sporting captain America socks today! Going through airport security, it’s the best!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Captain America and the TSA: a match made in heaven!

      For all you traveling men out there, take a lesson from Jeff and put a bit more thought into your sock choices on days when you plan to fly. They will be seen.

  23. ismaila says:

    Thanks for this great lesson , now i got my knowledge on socks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Use this knowledge well. Get out there and build a well-curated portfolio of socks!

  24. Eric S. From Atlanta says:

    Great piece – with perfect timing! I recently started investing in my “sock net worth” by dabbling in bold colors and patterns. I’ve even be fortunate enough to get my hands on a few pair with some really cool and funky designs on them. My most recent acquisition is a pair with mustache prints; and I get TONS of comments on them so I know the efforts are paying off. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work on helping us guys stay stylish.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We love to hear that Eric. Down in Atlanta you have a longer sock-less season but it’s good to hear that you’re investing in a well-dressed ankle.

      You keep rocking the stylish socks, we’ll give dishing out the style tips!

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